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Fines no deterrent in construction

Update: February, 10/2018 - 09:00
Phạm Sỹ Liêm
Viet Nam News

Dr. Phạm Sỹ Liêm, Deputy Director of the Việt Nam Federation of Civil Engineering, speaks to Kinh Tế & Đô Thị (Economy & Urban Affairs) newspaper on how to bring the Construction Law to life.

Are project owners to blame for many illegal housing projects?

Quite a few construction project owners claim that money can be an effective tool to settle administrative violations at many construction projects. However, administrative fines have not been strong enough to achieve this.

Many people say that the fines are small compared to what the owners gain in term of adding square metres to their homes.

In real life, the land price per square metre and the construction cost norm in a province is set by the local provincial administration. Such a cost norm is many times lower than the actual price unit in the free market. That’s why the sum collected from fines is much smaller than the profits earned by the project owners from illegally construction areas. It is high time for us to take tough measures to prevent or deter such unlawful acts in the construction industry.

Should any encroachments on the approved architectural design be dismantled?

Government Decree 139.2017/NĐ-CP has listed quite a few sanction measures on construction violations, including paying fines or dismantling illegally construction areas. For example, a project owner gets a licence to build a 15 story building. But he or she decides to build 18 stories instead. In such a case, the project owner must dismantle the three extra stories within 60 days after receiving the sanctioning order.

However, in real life, the project owner usually does not carry out the order. They will try all means to avoid the dismantling of the three extra floors, including the acceptance of paying a fine. That’s why, in my opinion, we should adopt more flexible measures. For example, fine the project owner a certain sum of money for the illegal construction space. But the fine must be big enough to detract from the benefits earned from the illegal construction.

But the core of the issue is how to prevent violations during construction. Construction projects without authorised permits have caused many negative effects on society.

Do you think we should impose heavier sanctions on any “protectors” in law breaching construction cases?

I can’t agree more. But how to turn it into life remains a question. In urban construction, to commence a project, the owner must have three permits - a land planning permit, a construction permit, and a certificate stating that the project had been completed under all the required administrative procedures. But in reality, not all the three permits are completed. Most project owners are willing to pay money to get construction permits.

How can we bring the construction law to life more effectively?

Make sure all construction projects are done in accordance to the construction permits. To achieve this goal, we need a fleet of competent construction inspectors.

In my opinion, these inspectors could be State employees or they could be self employed. Whoever they are is not important. What counts most is the quality of their work. State agencies specialising in law and order in the construction field, could outsource the work to construction inspectors. — VNS

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