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Form of government
What is the basic source of law? Describe the scope of, and limitations on, government power relevant to the regulation of lobbying and government relations.
The basic source of law in Vietnam is the Constitution, the current version of which was promulgated by the National Assembly in 2013. The following are also sources of law in Vietnam: laws, resolutions and ordinances promulgated by the National Assembly; decrees, decisions and circulars issued by the government, the Prime Minister and ministers; resolutions and circulars issued by the Supreme Court and Chief Justice; and decisions and orders from the President.
Under the Constitution, the following rights are enjoyed by every Vietnamese citizen:
- inviolability of privacy, personal secrets and family secrets, and the vested right to protect his or her honour and reputation as guaranteed by the law;
- privacy of correspondence, telephone conversations, telegrams and other forms of private communication;
- freedom of belief and religion, which are considered equal before the law;
- freedom of speech and the press, assembly, association and demonstration provided that they are within the confines of the law; and
- to participate in the management of the state and management of society, and to discuss and propose issues to state agencies about his or her base units, localities and the whole country.
Describe the legislative system as it relates to lobbying.
Vietnam has a single-party socialist republic framework, where the President is the head of state and the Prime Minister is the head of government. It is a one-party system led by the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV). The principal legislative body is the unicameral National Assembly, whose members are elected every five years.
The cabinet is entitled to issue decrees while government ministries and the Chief Justice are entitled to issue circulars. Decrees provide detailed guidance on implementing laws and can also regulate issues not yet featured in the laws. Circulars provide more detailed guidance than decrees and also regulate specific matters under the administration of each ministry or the Supreme Court.
Describe the extent to which legislative or rule-making authority relevant to lobbying practice also exists at regional, provincial or municipal level.
At provincial and municipal levels, people’s assemblies are entitled to issue resolutions and people’s committees are entitled to issue decisions. These resolutions and decisions are generally more particular as they fill in certain gaps in the major laws. These resolutions and decisions may cover any aspect, including environmental and taxation issues, provided that they are promulgated within the bounds of existing laws and are only applicable in the locality in which they are issued.
Does the legislative process at national or subnational level include a formal consultation process? What opportunities or access points are typically available to influence legislation?
Under the law and in practice, formal consultations with the public are carried out during the legislative process. For the technical aspects of the law, specialised associate organisations and individuals are entitled to provide opinions on the formulation of legislative documents affecting the specific sector they specialise in. Although the law does not stipulate a detailed consultation process, it is possible for members of the public to contribute to and influence legislation. This can be done through interaction with members of the National Assembly or communication with their offices.
Is the judiciary deemed independent and coequal? Are judges elected or appointed? If judges are elected, are campaigns financed through public appropriation or candidate fundraising?
The Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court is elected by the National Assembly on the recommendation of the President, while the deputy chief justices are appointed by the President from among the existing judges of the Court.
A committee is established comprising the Chief Justice, deputy chief justices and representatives from the Ministry of National Defence and Ministry of Home Affairs to appoint judges in the lower courts.
The judiciary is deemed coequal but not independent. Under the Constitution, state power is unified and the judiciary is delegated to exercise judicial power.
Regulation of lobbying
Is lobbying self-regulated by the industry, or is it regulated by the government, legislature or an independent regulator? What are the regulator’s powers?
Lobbying is not yet a common or recognised practice in Vietnam. Occasionally, some industrial associations, such as automobile associations, may carry out activities to influence regulations in their industries. However, no regulations on lobbying have been implemented by the government, regulators or industries. For this reason, the questions in this section are not applicable.
Is there a definition or other guidance as to what constitutes lobbying?
There is no definition available.
Registration and other disclosure
Is there voluntary or mandatory registration of lobbyists? How else is lobbying disclosed?
Activities subject to disclosure or registration
What communications must be disclosed or registered?
Entities and persons subject to lobbying rules
Which entities and persons are caught by the disclosure rules?
What information must be registered or otherwise disclosed regarding lobbyists and the entities and persons they act for ? Who has responsibility for registering the information?
Content of reports
When must reports on lobbying activities be submitted , and what must they include?
Financing of the registration regime
How is the registration system funded?
Public access to lobbying registers and reports
Is access to registry information and to reports available to the public?
Code of conduct
Is there a code of conduct that applies to lobbyists and their practice?
Are there restrictions in broadcast and press regulation that limit commercial interests’ ability to use the media to influence public policy outcomes?
There are laws and regulations on the press and on publications, but they do not cover commercial interests’ ability to use the media to influence public policy outcomes. Also, in practice, the state keeps a strong hold on the media and the Ministry of Information and Communications may control the press and determine what is broadcast.
How are political parties and politicians funded in your jurisdiction?
The CPV is the only political party in Vietnam, as stated in the Constitution. It is funded by the state budget.
In Vietnam, the term ‘government official’ is more widely used than politician. Almost all political activities are confined to the scope of official activities. There is a clear absence of political campaigns, fundraising or even debates. Activities of government officials are also funded by the state budget.
Registration of interests
Must parties and politicians register or otherwise declare their interests? What interests, other than travel, hospitality and gifts, must be declared?
The following persons must declare property:
- officials from the divisions under the people’s committees that have the rank of deputy and those with the equivalent rank in other government organs;
- officials managing the state budget and properties;
- officials directly engaging with the public; and
- candidates for the National Assembly and local people’s assemblies.
The property subject to declaration includes:
- houses and land-use rights;
- precious metals and gemstones, as well as any capital, valuable papers and other property worth 50 million Vietnamese dong or more;
- property (as defined above) and accounts in foreign countries; and
- taxable income.
Contributions to political parties and officials
Are political contributions or other disbursements to parties and political officials limited or regulated? How?
Political contributions are not yet recognised by any regulation. Disbursements to the CPV and political officials come directly from the state budget and not from members of the public, which includes individuals and organisations.
Sources of funding for political campaigns
Describe how political campaigns for legislative positions and executive offices are financed.
Political campaigns for legislative positions and executive offices are funded by the state budget. Public funding or fundraising (public or private) are not yet recognised by any regulation.
Lobbyist participation in fundraising and electioneering
Describe whether registration as a lobbyist triggers any special restrictions or disclosure requirements with respect to candidate fundraising.
Independent expenditure and coordination
How is parallel political campaigning independent of a candidate or party regulated?
Given the lack of political campaigning in Vietnam, parallel political campaigning is also not a practice in Vietnam. There is no regulation in this regard.
Ethics and anti-corruption
Gifts, travel and hospitality
Describe any prohibitions, limitations or disclosure requirements on gifts, travel or hospitality that legislative or executive officials may accept from the public.
The Penal Code and the Anti-Corruption Law prohibit public officials (including legislative or executive officials) from accepting any bribe from the public. However, a public official may receive gifts that have a value of less than 500,000 Vietnamese dong when ill or for certain occasions, such as a wedding, funeral, traditional ceremony or the Lunar New Year holiday. To incur criminal liability, a monetary threshold of 2 million Vietnamese dong is provided under the law.
The following are considered to be gifts:
- Vietnamese currency, foreign currencies, savings certificates, stocks, bonds, cheques and valuable papers;
- material items, goods and assets;
- services of domestic or overseas sightseeing tours, travel, healthcare, education training, internships, and refresher training and other kinds of services; and
- rights to buy assets, houses, land-use rights and equipment use rights; non-state-prescribed privileges; and use of assets, houses, land and equipment of other persons, free of charge or at a reduced cost.
The same set of rules applies to a commercial enterprise and an individual.
What anti-bribery laws apply in your jurisdiction that restrict payments or otherwise control the activities of lobbyists or holders of government contracts?
The new Penal Code of 2015 explicitly provides that giving a bribe worth 2 million Vietnamese dong or more, or an intangible benefit, to an officer who has power or authority in an enterprise or organisation (other than a state-owned enterprise or organisation), is punishable by six months’ to 20 years’ imprisonment, plus a fine of 30 million to 250 million Vietnamese dong. If the purpose of the bribe is to influence a person of authority, even if the receiver is not that person, the same punishment applies. This means that giving bribes to individuals in the private sector is now a criminal act in Vietnam.
Vietnam is a member of United Nations Convention against Corruption.
Are there any controls on public officials entering the private sector after service or becoming lobbyists, or on private-sector professionals being seconded to public bodies?
The law states that public officials entering the private sector after service may not have dealings in a domain that they had previously managed as part of their responsibilities for six months to three years from the termination of his or her position in government (depending on the position). There are circumstances where public officials are seconded to the private sector, such as state capital representatives in a joint venture between a state-owned enterprise and a private enterprise. However, there have been no instances of private-sector professionals being seconded to public bodies.
Prohibitions on lobbying
Is it possible to be barred from lobbying or engaging lobbying services? How?
Recent cases and sanctions
Analyse any recent high-profile judicial or administrative decisions dealing with the intersection of government relations, lobbying registration and political finance?
There are no recent decisions of this nature.
Remedies and sanctions
In cases of non-compliance or failure to register or report, what remedies or sanctions have been imposed?