Public Complaints Go Unanswered

Public concerns raised with the National Assembly (NA) through the hotline during the recent ordinary session are still waiting for responses from the sectors concerned.

According to the NA’s Inspection Department, which is entrusted to collect complaints, around 1,900 calls and messages were made via the hotline during the second ordinary session of the NA’s Eighth Legislature, which ran from November 24 to December 18.

Land issues topped the public concerns, followed by complaints concerning infrastructure, especially roads, along with salaries.

During the previous NA Seventh Legislature, officials from concerned ministries and agencies were invited to give their explanations on issues of public concern through the media along with each NA session or within a couple of weeks after the session ended.

No officials from ministries and agencies were invited to give explanations during the recent session.

The NA’s department Director General Mr Sinthala Lasouksamay told Vientiane Times yesterday he raised this with NA leaders, but they have yet to decide how the department will coordinate with the ministries and agencies.

According to him, his department had gathered and delivered the concerns received through the hotline to the NA’s committees, members, and the session organising committee.

The NA’s hotline has allowed the public to raise concerns, including misconduct by government officials, with the complaints passed on to high level leaders and concerned sectors.

The assembly began the telephone hotline in the Fifth Legislature, with informants able to submit their opinions and complaints using the free hotline number 156, fax 021 452 627, posting to PO Box 662 or emailing an_session@na.gov.la.

According to a report disseminated at a seminar in Vientiane late October to share national, regional and international experience on corruption complaints, 80 percent of public complaints raised through the NA’s telephone hotline provided factual information on corruption activities.

The report also said that maladministration by government officials had been minimised since the existence of the NA hotline, which had also addressed issues quickly.

However, some deficiencies around hotline responses remained, especially mechanisms for addressing public concerns which weren’t effective enough. A minister also declined to respond directly to some questions, instead appointing a junior technical official to respond.

The government also launched the 1516 hotline number in mid last month to enable ordinary people to provide recommendations regarding government performance.

Earlier this year, the NA planned to extend the hotline term, which is only currently open during NA sessions, to serve callers all year-round so they can provide information on misconduct and their concerns are addressed in a timely manner.

 

Source: Vientiane Times

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