Vietnam’s political program for national development in the period of transition to socialism (supplemented and developed in 2011) clearly points out that "the state serves the people, is closely attached to the people, fulfils the democratic rights of the people, respects and listens to the opinion of the people and is subject to the supervision of the people".
With those features, the creation of conditions for people to express their opinions on the contents of policies is essential. Among the measures for promotion of socialist democracy and the strength of national unity stated in the Political Report of the XIth Party Congress, one of the measures emphasised is the "need for mechanisms and laws for the people to express their political opinions and aspirations and realise their rights to self-determination."
Public consultations can be incorporated into different levels and stages of the decision-making process. In Vietnam, public consultations were realised from the '80s with respect to the Constitution, bills and ordinances and on issues concerning the broad interests of many people. This activity has been defined as a separate stage in the Law on Promulgation of Legal Normative Documents amended in 2008 and effective from 2009*. The right of organisations and individuals to contribute to the promulgation of policies is also stipulated in the Law on Organisation of People's Councils and People's Committees and the Ordinance on Grassroots Democracy.
With regards to the activities of the Ethnic Council and Committees of the National Assembly, public consultations is also vitally important, especially in the verification of bills, ordinances and resolutions as well as to gather information, basis and arguments to fulfil the duties assigned by the National Assembly and the Standing Committee of the National Assembly. Besides, the consultation process helps members of the Committees of the National Assembly to maintain the relationship to their constituents.
To enhance public participation and accountability in the process of policy making and legislation in Vietnam, the Public Participation and Accountability Facilitation Fund was established with the objective to support Non-Governmental Organisations to engage in the process of developing and monitoring the implementation of laws and policies at the central and local levels.
Public participation contributes greatly to the recognition of problems in society and forms the basis for policy analysis prior to formulation of policies and laws. The creation of conditions for the people to voice their opinions on national plans and people’s welfare and where the administration directly listens, refines and absorbs has a very important meaning. This is a vivid practical expression of "participatory democracy", a concept that recently appeared in the vocabulary of world politics. This participation also demonstrates that people are respected and heard and that state authorities ensure accountability as well as transparency. At the same time, public consultation is also a source of evidence and additional information for legislation and implementation of policies at different stages. The elected bodies shall then have more grounds, arguments and information before deciding on policies and oversight of the Government and the People’s Committees.
* The Law on Promulgation of Legal Normative Documents and Law on the Organisation of People’s Councils and People’s Committees were subsequently amended in 2015