Vietnam's National Assembly plans to pass a long-awaited anti-corruption law

Vietnam's National Assembly opened its fall session on Tuesday with plans to pass a long-awaited anti-corruption law. "Bureaucracy, corruption and wastefulness are very rampant and serious, ... causing concern and discontent among the public," Prime Minister Phan Van Khai told lawmakers in his opening speech.

Khai said the country's economy is expected to grow by 8.4 percent this year, one of the highest rates in the world, despite the outbreak of bird flu, natural disasters and soaring world oil prices, but warned that more challenges lie ahead. Bird flu has killed 43 people and resulted in the deaths of more than 45 million birds in Vietnam, making it the world's hardest-hit country.

The National Assembly is scheduled to pass an anti-corruption law during the monthlong session, which ends Nov. 30. The draft law, which would replace a current anti-corruption decree, requires increased transparency among government agencies and requires officials to declare their assets. It also calls for a strengthening of administrative reforms to help fight corruption.

Earlier this year, Hong Kong-based Political & Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd. rated Vietnam as the third most corrupt country in Asia behind Indonesia and the Philippines.

The assembly is also expected to approve a series of laws on investment, intellectual property and environmental protection as part of legal reforms required to join the World Trade Organization. "Preparations for accession to the WTO have not met requirements, particularly in reforming institutions and strengthening competitiveness," Khai said.

Vietnam has not finished negotiations for WTO membership with some countries, including the United States.

The National Assembly is also expected to vote to dismiss Le Minh Hoang as a deputy. Hoang, a former director of state-owned Ho Chi Minh City Electricity Co., was arrested earlier this month for "intentionally contravening state regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences," reports the AP. I.L.

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