Status of co-operatives ‘must be recognised'
National Assembly deputies insisted yesterday that any changes to the Co-operative Law must recognise the special status the organisations have in Viet Nam.
They also insisted the changes must ensure that co-operatives have the same discretion to make business decisions as other commercial entities.
The Government made the Planning and Investment Ministry responsible for overseeing changes to the Co-operative Law and it, in turn, appointed the Central Institute of Economic Management to draft the proposed amendments.
A major objective of the proposed changes is to encourage and create conditions for the establishment of many more co-operatives while ensuring that existing co-operatives work in accordance with the law.
Other important objectives are to ensure the rights and interest of millions of farmer households; small to medium enterprises and million of consumers in the context of the market economy and international integration.
The draft law defines co-operatives as collective self-managing economic enterprises based on their own capital and legally responsible for their financial obligations. In their group discussions, many deputies worried about the consequences of the law's implementation.
They also questioned seeming anomalies.
For example, Deputies Dang Van Khanh, Nguyen Thi Hoa and Tran Thi Quoc Khanh, from Ha Noi, asked why Article 4 of the draft legislation would require at least seven founding members for a co-operative but only four for a "social economic organisation" participating in Government-sponsored co-operative development programmes.
Deputy Nguyen Ngoc Hoa of HCM City argued that if the law acknowledged co-operatives as commercial enterprises, they should enjoy the same status as all such enterprises.
Their members should have the rights to decide to invest where they thought the most benefits could be earned, he said.
Deputy Huynh Thanh Lap of HCM City said: "The priority of a co-operative is to produce and supply goods or services to the market as well as generate jobs and income for its members.
"It means co-operatives must be understood as enterprises that benefit their members."
Deputy Chu Son Ha of Ha Noi suggested that thoughts of making people's credit organisations into co-operatives should be abandoned.
"The business of credit organisations is to make profits from borrowing and lending money," the deputy said.
"They should be made answerable to the Credit Organisation Law."
Many deputies rejected a proposed tax holiday on the profits from supplying goods and services for agricultural co-operative members.
"How can we separate the profits gained from internal activities with external activities?" asked Deputy Phuong Huu Viet of northern Bac Ninh Province.
The deputy said that although he supported the Government's preferential policies for agricultural co-operatives, he would like the new law to clearly define which organisations would have the responsibility to oversee their implementation.
Many deputies rejected an article in the proposed law that would prohibit co-operatives from establishing affiliated companies or raise capital to buy shares in other enterprises.
The new law should define what type of enterprises co-operatives could create and what activities they could engage in, said Nguyen Dang Trung of HCM City.
"These are the ways and means that the co-operatives can generate profits for their members."
The Law on Consumer Rights Protection was passed yesterday with 82.4 per cent approval.
The law regulates the responsibilities of organisations and individuals that sell goods and services to consumers, the responsibilities of State management agencies in protecting consumer rights, and the mechanism for settling disputes between consumers and businesses.
It also enhances the legal status, roles, rights and responsibilities of social organisations in protecting consumers.
Under the law, organisational and individual businesses must publicly list the prices of goods and services. They must also issue warnings of any negative effects their goods and services may have on consumers' health and property as well as preventive measures to curb those effects.
Sellers must also provide information of their capacity to supply spare parts and components of goods; user guidance; and time period, location, deadline and procedures for taking advantage of product guarantees.
Consumers have the right to know the origin of products, and to receive invoices and documents related to transactions.
They also have the right to seek compensation when goods do not meet standards of quality, quantity and functions as publicised, committed or advertised by sellers.
The law lists eight groups of advertising activities that organisations and individuals may not engage in to purposely confuse or entice customers.
The law also includes rules for online trading. Online sellers must create conditions for consumers to study contracts before signing. The Government will issue a model contract and common transaction conditions for the trade of several essential commodities and services.
The law, which includes six chapters and 51 articles, will come into force on July 1, 2011.
Law on minerals
With nearly 80 per cent of votes in favour, the amended Law on Minerals, which includes 11 chapters and 86 articles, was also approved at yesterday's session
Under the law, organ-isations and individuals that wish to win rights to exploit minerals must take part in State auctions to ensure transparency and publicity. To increase the State budget and avoid negative actions, they must also pay fees for the exploitation rights which will be defined based on price, reserves, quality of the minerals and other conditions.
The Government will regulate methods to calculate the fees.
Provincial People's Committees will grant exploration and exploitation licences for small and scattered deposits of minerals which will be used for construction materials or of peat. In all other cases, only the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will have the right to grant licences.
The Law will take effect on July 1, 2011.
More than 83 per cent of NA deputies agreed with a resolution of the National Assembly's supervision programme for 2011 and made plans to hold three meeting sessions next year. - VNS