|Motorbike users in HCM City will have to pay a road maintenance fee from next year if a recent proposal by the Department of Transport is passed by the People's Council at its session in September.—Photo baotintuc.vn
Compiled by Le Hung Vong
Motorbike users in HCM City will have to pay a road maintenance fee from next year if a recent proposal by the Department of Transport is passed by the People's Council at its session in September.
The department has slightly reduced the fees it had initially proposed to the People's Committee.
Now the annual fee is VND50,000 for motorcycles of less than 100 CC, VND10,000 less than proposed earlier, and VND120,000 (down by VND30,000) for 100-175CC vehicles and VND150,000 for those over 175 CC.
There will be no fee on electric bicycles.
Vehicles that transport goods and have a one cylinder engine would pay VND2.16 million.
If the proposal is approved, people's committees in wards, communes, and towns will be tasked with getting motorbike owners to fill forms.
Based on the forms, competent agencies will collect the fees.
According to the department's figures, as of early this year there were over 5.8 million motorcycles registered in the city, not including over one million owned by migrant workers from other localities.
At VND50,000 for each, the city can collect VND290 billion (US$13.8 million) a year for road upgrades and repairs.
According to the National Road Maintenance Fund, HCM City is one of only three localities in the country not to levy road maintenance fees.
However, there are challenges in collecting the fees everywhere and HCM City can expect to face them too.
The proposal for the new fee is based on a Government decree in March 2012 on the establishment, management, and use of the Road Maintenance Fund.
The decree called for collecting a road maintenance fee from users of motorbikes from June 1, 2012, but the Government deferred it by six months since many people were hit by the troubled economy.
However, while many other localities have set their own rates and collected the fees since 2013, HCM City continued to delay it to spare people the additional burden.
According to the decree, the Road Maintenance Fund has two levels of management: central and local.
Sixty five per cent of the fees collected will be managed at the central level, and the rest at the local level.
Australian beef floods Vietnamese market
Due to rising demand in Viet Nam, import of Australian beef has been increasing sharply in the last few years.
According to figures from the Viet Nam Animal Husbandry Association, in the first half of this year more than 72,000 cows were imported from Australia, and the number is likely to rise to 95,000 in the year-to-date.
In the whole year of last year only 70,000 cows had been imported from Australia, while in 2012 it had been as low as 3,500.
In addition to marts and food stores in major cities such as Ha Noi, HCM City, Hai Phong, and Da Nang, the imported beef is supplied to big hotels and restaurants across the country.
But local customers cannot find the meat in traditional markets.
The import of live cows helps businesses supply fresh beef to local customers at the same prices as local beef.
According to the Vietnam Investment Review, the import prices (at Hai Phong and Sai Gon ports) range from $2.8 to $3.2 per kilogramme and the meat sells for VND250,000-400,000 in the local market.
Local beef is sold at VND170,000-290,000.
Hoang Minh Khang, director of the Ha Noi-based foodstuff Hoang Anh Co., said prices of imported beef is not much higher than prices of local beef, making demand for Aussie beef to rise sharply in the local market.
Tong Xuan Chinh, Deputy Head of the Animal Husbandry Department (under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), said the increasing demand for beef in the local market has forced the imports of live cows from Australia.
He said the strict control over slaughtering has helped ensured the high quality of the imported beef.
High price of resettlement housing sparks worry
The nearly 300 families residing at Thanh Da Tenement in the Thanh Da – Binh Quoi Peninsula in HCM City are worried about the money they have to pay for new homes at an upgrade project.
According to a notice from the Binh Thanh District authorities, the 300 households in blocks nos 4 and 6 must move between August 11 and September 10 because the buildings have deteriorated and can collapse at any time.
The families are to move to a resettlement area in Ward 12 in Binh Thanh.
Phan Ngoc Anh Huy, head of the Binh Thanh District People's Committee's board for site compensation, said 243 households in blocks 4 and 6 at the tenement have signed agreements to acquire 410 apartments at the new place.
But most of them are worried about the support and compensation for leaving Thanh Da and the market value of the apartments at the new place, he admitted.
Earlier, at a meeting with these families in late 2013, deputy chairman of the city People's Committee, Nguyen Huu Tin, had assured that the new apartments would by no means be smaller than the ones in Thanh Da.
But any extra space at the new place would have to be leased or bought by the occupants at market prices.
Most apartments at the tenement are 74 to 85 square metres in size, while those at the new place measure 60sq.m. Therefore, people who had 80sq.m apartments will get two units, and have to buy or lease the 40sq.m extra space.
But the authorities have yet to decide their prices.
Ho Dac An, who lives in apartment no 004, block 4, at the Thanh Da Tenement, is one of those to have not agreed to move out.
An, who has to support three sexagenarians in his family, said the management fees at the new accommodation would be much higher than the VND30,000 he pays per month at Thanh Da.
He is afraid he cannot afford the high fees at the new place.
Nguyen Thi Loan, who owns apartment no 011 in the same block, expressed similar concern.
To set people's mind at rest, Huy said the prices of the resettlement apartments must be decided by a council under the HCM City Department of Resources and Environment. But the plan to relocate must go ahead on schedule to enable the tenement upgrade work, he said. — VNS