|A traffic congestion in Nguyen Trai Road, Thanh Xuan District, Ha Noi. The Government has agreed on suspending the collection of road maintenance fees from motorbike users from 2016. — VNA/VNS Photo Anh Tuan
HA NOI (VNS) — The Government has agreed on suspending the collection of the controversial road maintenance fees from motorbike users starting in 2016 after public criticism said the fee was unfair.
The decision was reached in a monthly regular cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung that ended yesterday.
Transport Minister Dinh La Thang said in a report to the cabinet that although the fee was "in line with the Law on Road Transport and the Order on Fees and Charges," its collection should be postponed due to a number of difficulties in execution.
Loopholes in regulating the jurisdiction of local authorities over the fees collection made it highly dependent on the residents' self-decisions to voluntarily pay the fee or not, said Thang.
That, in turn, resulted in the extreme low collection of the road fees since its first enrollment in 2013 and its decreasing trend through years.
Over the past three years, the amount of fee collected reached merely VND1.2 trillion (US$53.3 million), only half of the amount previously planned in the Road Maintenance Fund at VND2.6 trillion ($115.5 million) a year.
"And the fee collection amount over the first six months this year has dramatically plummeted, down to VND174 billion ($7.7 million)," said Thang. "That was equivalent to only 6.7 per cent of the annual plan."
Another obstacle for the fee collection was the massive mobility rate of motorbikes across localities, especially in big cities like Ha Noi or HCM City, the Minister said.
Thang also blamed the public outcry to universally postpone collecting the fees following unilateral decisions by Da Nang and Khanh Hoa in July to temporarily stop the fee collection.
The two localities said they had to call off the road fee collection because the collected amount was not worth all the efforts to do so.
Though it agreed to suspend the fee collection on the national scale, the cabinet also said that all localities, including both Da Nang and Khanh Hoa, had to continue collecting the fee until January 1 in order to guarantee fairness for the residents.
The recent devaluation of the Chinese yuan showed little effect on Viet Nam's trade activities this year, said the government yesterday.
Both imports and exports of Viet Nam over three quarters increased, by 15.9 and 9.6 per cent respectively, in comparison to the same period last year, reported Planning and Investment Minister Bui Quang Vinh.
Import revenue has reached $124.6 billion, closely followed by that of exports at $120.7 billion.
Exports to China, one of the top export markets of Viet Nam, was deemed not to have been affected much from the surprising yuan depreciation of the Chinese government in August that hit a three-year low rate against the US dollar.
A series of fast responsive measures to promote exports along with the decision to cut the dong rate against the dollar by about 5 per cent since the beginning of the year were successful so far to keep exports afloat.
Meanwhile, GDP growth achieved 6.5 per cent in the last nine months – the highest rate during that period over the last four years, said Vinh.
"The GDP rate in the forth quarter can even reach more than 6.5 per cent, much higher than the expected rate of 6.2 per cent," he said.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said that despite the positive GDP growth, further work should be done to secure the country's economy, including the restructuring of state enterprises, the banking system and the spending of the national budget, especially when the country's public debt climbed to about $110 billion in 2014. The number was roughly equivalent to 60 per cent of the GDP, though the government said that it was still in the "safe zone." — VNS