>> Road fee may be delayed until next year
>> Hanoi transporters propose road fee be reduced, delayed
>> Road maintenance fee must be transparent: expert
>> No collection of personal vehicle fee this year: minister
>> Transport Ministry alters road fee plans
They raised the request at yesterday’s seminar called “Road maintenance fee: advantages and difficulties to businesses” in Ho Chi Minh City.
The fee, proposed by the Transport Ministry, is planned to be collected on June 1 under a governmental decree that stipulates levying the fee on motorized vehicle users.
The Government, however, has recently requested concerned agencies to consider postponing it until January 1, 2013, in view of the current economic slump and the difficulties people are facing in their daily lives.
At the seminar, which was expected to be attended by a Transport Ministry leader but none from the ministry was present, representatives of the HCMC Goods Transport Association, the Vietnam Freight Forwarders Association and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) voiced their concern that, when added to the existing traffic fees, the new fees would deal a hard blow to transporting firms.
Vo Tan Thanh, VCCI deputy general secretary, told the seminar that hundreds of thousands of companies have gone bankrupt since last year due to their economic and financial difficulties.
Against this background, the Transport Ministry has proposed that the Government apply some new fees, including the road maintenance fee, the fee on vehicles travelling in cities’ downtowns in rush hours, and the fee on personal vehicles. These new fees, at unaffordable rates, will only aggravate the situations of many businesses, Thanh said.
Many of them have already been operating without profit, said Le Thanh Thao, an expert from the Quang Chau Trading-Forwarding and Transportation JSC.
For example, a transporter can earn just VND1.3 million (US$62.3) for transporting goods from HCMC to Tien Giang in a container truck. If the truck travels through the HCMC-Trung Luong expressway, the firm must pay a fee of VND640,000, or nearly 50 percent of its freight revenue.
A fee collection station on the HCMC-Trung Luong exprerssway, which links the city to Tien Giang and Long An Provinces (Photo: Tuoi Tre)
“This high fee, along with other expenses including lending interest, will push operating costs up to such an extent that it cannot be endured by most businesses,” Thao said.
Meanwhile, the rates proposed by the ministry for road maintenance fee are too high and will further worsen the burden on businesses, Thao said.
Ha Thanh Son, director of a transporting firm, said, “Traffic fees accounts for 19 percent of our company’s revenue. To survive, we want to add the fees to the freight rates, but we cannot because our customers want the freight to be kept unchanged.”
NA’s decision needed
Dinh Nan Dinh, deputy chairman of the HCMC Goods Transport Association, said that under the Law on Road Traffic, the road maintenance fund must be first provided by the State budget before being supported by revenue related to the use of roads.
Meanwhile, the Transport Ministry and Finance keep relying on the maintenance road fee as the first source to feed the fund, Dinh said.
Dr. Tran Du Lich, deputy head of the NA’s HCMC deputy delegation, agreed with Dinh and pointed out that the fee is actually “a kind of tax levied on assets that are motorized vehicles,” since road users will not be provided with any specific service for which they have to pay a fee.
He also warned against confusion between “fee” and “tax”.
“If the State builds a new road that is better than the current ones and if people choose to use that new road instead of the old ones, then the State will collect from road users an amount of money that is called a fee,” he explained.
A section of the road that leads to the HCMC-Trung Luong expressway has been damaged for the past few months. (Photo: Tuoi Tre)
Lich demanded that the fee, which directly affects people’s income, must be considered and regulated by the National Assembly, not by any other agency.
Lawyer Truong Trong Nghia, vice chairman of the Vietnam Bar Federation, said the fee must be legal, reasonable and affordable and its use must be publicized and supervised.
“Fee collection must be transparent and there should be a mechanism for it. If the collected fee is used ineffectively, leading to road damage or degradation, the persons in charge of the road maintenance fund must resign from their posts,” the lawyer said.
Nguyen Ngoc Lu, a senior expert in the transport sector, said Vietnam has applied a fee on users of petrol and oil, which has been named “environmental tax,” but how much money has been collected and how the revenue has been used remained unannounced to the public.
Therefore, it is easy to understand why people feel ill at ease when they are asked to pay one more fee in the future, Lu said.
Dr. Lich told the seminar that he would refer all the opinions raised at the seminar to the NA at its session scheduled to start on May 21, 2012.
|Road maintenance fee rates |
According to the Transport Ministry’s proposal, a rate of VND180,000 (US$8.65) per month will be levied on under-12-seat cars and under-2-ton trucks, while the highest rate, VND1.44 million ($69.2) per month, will be applied to over-18-ton trucks and 40’’ container trucks.
The rate will be VND80,000-120,000 per year for motorbikes.
The Hanoi Transport Association has recently proposed that the fee be delayed until 2013 and that the fee rates be reduced by 60 percent. However, according to VnExpress newswires, the fee rates proposed by the ministry may be kept unchanged.