Hanoi Lawyer - New law aims to clarify bidding on mineral rights
The new requirement for enterprises to bid for the right to exploit minerals was the most forward-looking aspect of the latest Mineral Law said Professor Vu Thu Hanh, from Ha Noi Law University yesterday.
Speaking at a roundtable workshop held by the Government Inspectorate and Embassy of Sweden in Ha Noi yesterday, Hanh said the policy would restrict the beg-and-grant mechanism which had heavily dominated the Vietnamese extractive industries to date.
However, even with advancements in the latest law, there was still room for corruption, the professor said.
He said during the planning phase enterprises could influence planners for their own benefit during the auctioning process
The current organisation of the auction system was expensive and personal responsibility was low, leading to a high possibility of information leakage, Hanh added.
Lawyer Luu Hoang Ha pointed out that the revised petroleum law of 2008 exempted petroleum procurement from the bidding law which left open the possibility of corruption if transparency was not strongly demonstrated.
Nguyen Van Thang, deputy director of the department of Trade and Industry in the central province of Binh Dinh chipped in saying competition was not fair among companies and resulted in a less equal business environment.
The province is home to 350 extractive areas with the total extraction capacity of about 800,000 tonnes per annum,
"The role of social critique, monitoring and evaluation of extractive activities has not been promoted," said Thang.
Trinh Xuan Ben, deputy director of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment's Department of Geology and Minerals, said with an easy transfer mechanism for licences, there was a high possibility of speculation in the taking up of mineral operation licences.
"The transfer of extraction rights generates great revenues for the company. Meanwhile, the State doesn't collected any charges or taxes, leading to the revenue losses for the state budget. Thus the issue of speculation and transfer of mineral operation licences has not been dealt with properly," Ben said.Consultancy in Development Institute deputy director Pham Quang Tu said the extractive industry had a low level of transparency and accountability.
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