The National Assembly Standing Committee yesterday discussed draft amendments to the Law on Tax Administration, as well as proposed allocation of Government bond proceeds to traffic, irrigation, health and education projects.
HA NOI —
Minister of Finance Vuong Dinh Hue said amendments to the Law on Tax Administration were aimed at reducing tax collection losses, preventing tax evasion and modernising administrative procedures. New provisions would address fines and penalties for tax evasion and revised tax payment procedures.
National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung blamed increased tax evasion on dwindling tax collections, calling for the rights and responsibilities of taxpayers and tax officials to be made clear – along with strict punitive measures.
But National Assembly Finance and Budget Committee chairman Phung Quoc Hien said many of the articles in the draft law were too general, including conditions for tax debt clearance and penalties. He stressed that, to ensure transparency and equity in clearing tax debts, it was necessary to work out specific criteria.
The elements of tax evasion and fraud needed to be clearly defined in the law to serve as a legal basis for applying suitable punishment levels, he said.
However, some members of the Standing Committee worried that if administrative penalties were too oppressive, it would encourage fraud as well as forms of corruption, such as bribery of tax officials.
The committee also called for effective measures to control and investigate self-declaration and self-payment procedures.
National Assembly Law Committee chairman Phan Trung Ly said a proper administrative system for enterprises and people to self-declare needed to be established because only 20 per cent of these taxpayers were ever audited, making losses unavoidable under current procedures.
The Finance and Budget Committee also formally requested that the draft law included specific provisions on tax declarations and payments via the internet and electronic payment systems.
National Assembly vice chairman Uong Chu Luu and other members of the Standing Committee also suggested that amendments to the law should take effect earlier than the 2014 date suggested by the Ministry of Finance.
Members of the Standing Committee also debated yesterday the allocation of Government bond proceeds during 2012-15.
According to Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh, Government bond proceeds of nearly VND167 trillion (US$7.95 billion) needed to be allocated and could meet 47 per cent of real funding demands of central and local agencies.
VND92.7 trillion ($4.4 billion) proposed to be allocated to traffic projects would meet 49.7 per cent of real demand, Vinh said, while VND39.4 trillion ($1.9 billion) allocated to irrigation works would meet 37 per cent of demand; VND20 trillion ($952 million) for health projects 43.8 per cent of demand; and VND8.78 trillion ($414 million) for education projects 24 per cent of demand.
He also proposed the allocation of VND6 trillion ($285 million) to resettle residents displaced by the Son La hydroelectric project.
He said projects would be chosen based on a list approved already by the National Assembly in 2010, as well as levels of urgency and the likely time it would take to complete the projects.
Due to a lack of funding, many important projects would have to be delayed, including 33 projects of the Ministry of Transport, 20 projects of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and 90 local projects, he added.
Vinh suggested that five new projects which were not on the list approved by the National Assembly in 2010 but in urgent need should be considered for funding, including the Da Nang Cancer Hospital, the Nam Can Bridge, Tuyen Quang Province's Kim Xuyen Bridge, and Tra Vinh Province's Tra Vinh University student housing project.
Some projects on the list which were not urgent could be reconsidered, but it remained necessary to prioritise traffic and irrigation works which were important to public safety and production, Hien said
Vinh also told the Standing Committee that State budget funds of over VND20 trillion ($952 million) would be allocated to 16 national target programmes this year. However, members of the committee expressed concerns over the delay in implementation of these programmes and their unclear goals.
Hien said it was necessary for the Government to define the goals, duration and resources for every part of these programmes before seeking State budget allocations.
Hung said that the programmes which had already received comprehensive evaluations from the Ministry of Planning and Investment and other relevant agencies, drafted specific plans and fulfilled legal procedures would receive budget allocations immediately. Others would get two months to complete these procedures or be withdrawn from the list of national target programmes.
Hien said to ensure the transparency during the implementation of the programmes, the Government should review and adjust the budget allocated to every programme. The Government also needed to prepare specific plans to finance from other resources the remaining 62 per cent of funding needs for these programmes, he said. — VNS