The head of the Ministry of Finance's public asset management department, Pham Dinh Cuong, spoke to Ha Noi Moi (New Ha Noi) newspaper about abuses in the purchasing and use of public vehicles.
The Government issued a regulation on the management of public vehicles in 1999. What does it provide?
Public vehicles are means of transport that the State purchases for ministries and State agencies. The norm that took shape in 1999 clearly regulated which levels were allowed to use these vehicles and how they were procured.
In 2007, the Prime Minister issued a decision which stated that individuals who were allowed to use public cars must be managers with a coefficient of 0.7 paid for management allowance or more.
Yet the abuse of public vehicles is widespread. Does your department know the exact number of violations?
It's common to see units using public vehicles for private purposes like taking their families on trips to pagodas far from their homes. However, the phenomenon has decreased compared to the past since Government inspectors and the State Audit are keeping a close eye on the issue. We also have a fast mass information system so violations can be immediately detected.
Some units have also purchased vehicles at prices much higher than allowable price levels. However, the number of such violation is not large as the State Treasury, which is given authority to approve purchases of public vehicles, immediately stops units which buy vehicles contrary to regulations.
How are violations handled?
Under Decision No 59 issued under the Law Against Corruption, individuals and organisations causing loss to public property must pay compensation.
In reality, however, it is not easy to handle every violation accordingly. In one case, for instance, a leader was only allowed to buy a public vehicle worth VND800 million (US$444,000), but he paid an additional VND30 million ($16,000) to buy one that he felt was more satisfactory.
The violation was recently uncovered, but the State lost more than VND30 million because the car was sold for only VND700 million ($388,000).
Can violations in the purchasing and use of public vehicles be attributed to loopholes in the current law?
We must promptly re-examine policies to discover any loopholes, particularly when many violations are repeated in a certain area. Decision No 59, for instance, has revealed some shortcomings, and the regulations on prices to be paid for cars are no longer appropriate. The Finance Ministry will ask the Government to adjust them.
What measures are needed?
I think policies should stick close to reality and be updated regularly for the greatest efficiency. The ministry is building a database on public assets.
More than 20,000 public vehicles details will be gathered, including information such as licence numbers, production year and current value.
As regulated, we must report statistics on public assets to the National Assembly Standing Committee and the Government. Except statistics in the area of national defence and security, we will make the remaining statistics open to the public.
In my opinion, every State employee has the right to know how many public vehicles their offices are operating and how they are using them. — VNS