National Assembly deputies on Tuesday challenged Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang on his plans to collect various types of fees, saying such plans should by no means be the measures of choice to address traffic woes.
At the question and answer session, chaired by head of the NA Legislation Committee Phan Trung Ly, deputies voiced concerns that such fee collection plans could hardly win a public consensus.
Nguyen Van Tien, deputy head of the NA Committee on Social Affairs, said the ministry’s suggestions on collecting traffic fees, as well as raising penalties and increasing funds for infrastructure development brought on a headache to the NA.
“The country is still poor, but money is constantly asked for. There should be a cheap yet effective method,” said Tien.
Collecting money from citizens is the easiest way, but restricting such collections is the best way, said delegate Nguyen Ba Thuyen.
“We collect every penny of tax from citizens, yet corruption and inefficient investment cause a hefty loss of trillions of dong,” Thuyen underscored, adding “if we prevent such waste, there would be no need to collect more from the people.”
Meanwhile, deputy Tran Ngoc Vinh stated the road maintenance fee collection scheme has stirred up disagreement as the majority of the population are experiencing tough times. This is because the transport ministry is wasting investments in many works, but still has not had any effective measures to tackle the problem.
In response, Minister Dinh La Thang said collecting the road maintenance fee is provided in the Road Traffic Law 2008 and the directives of the NA and the Government, adding the scheme should have been deployed much earlier.
“The scheme is established on rights and interests of the majority of the population. A reasonable fee and collection schedule will be given out to win the hearts and minds of the people.”
The minister said the inefficient traffic works caused displeasure to the people, as well as the ministry itself.
All traffic projects are making slow progress, with some of them falling 4-5 years behind schedule, and fail to meet the requirements on quality, said Minister Thang. He committed to adopt measures to remedy this situation in 2012, which has been chosen as the year of traffic safety.
At the question session, many delegates wondered if the fines collected from traffic rule violations went to the State budget.
Deputy Minister of Finance Nguyen Thi Minh replied the entire penalties would be paid to the central budget and then used for reinvestment in the traffic safety enforcement agencies in accordance with Circular 89. Specifically, 70% will be given to traffic police, 10% to traffic inspectors, 10% to local traffic safety boards and 10% to other forces.
Delegate Nguyen Ba Thuyen deemed this unreasonable as the traffic management forces already received salaries from the State.
Traffic accidents in Vietnam each year kill some 12,000 people and injure 54,000 others, said Phung Quoc Hien, head of the NA Finance and Budget Committee, at the meeting.