|The National Assembly debate on the draft amendment to the anti-corruption law on Thursday was thrown into confusion as the deputies failed to agree on how to handle the suspicious unreported wealth of a public servant.— VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Dân
HÀ NỘI — The National Assembly debate on the draft amendment to the anti-corruption law on Thursday was thrown into confusion as the deputies failed to agree on how to handle the suspicious unreported wealth of a public servant.
The NA did not discuss the draft law in the main hall, but was divided into 19 separate groups working in different chambers.
According to deputy Dương Ngọc Hải from HCM City, neither of the two solutions proposed by the draft law to regulate the Government’s actions in handling the extra assets sounded “reasonable” to him.
In the first scenario, the officer who is found to have misreported his wealth will have to pay 45 per cent income tax on the total unreported earnings.
The other solution includes no tax charge, but only an administrative fine for the incorrect declaration of assets.
Hải said that it was very common in Vietnamese society to have other sources of income rather than just the monthly salary. It could come from inheritance which in some cases was not officially recognised, or even from smuggling. It could be legal or illegal but none was related to corruption, he said, and that would make the wealth gained from those example sources beyond the jurisdiction of the anti-corruption law.
The two proposals the draft amended law made were very troubling, Hải said.
“If it is necessary to pay 45 per cent income tax on the unreported wealth, what would become of the remaining 55 per cent? Does that imply that the amount is now legalised as all the tax duty is done?” he said.
“The same goes for the administrative fine. After paying the fine, will the unreported asset in question automatically become legal wealth?”
The Government was in favour of option one, while the NA’s Committee on Legal Affairs was leaning towards the other, Hải said.
“But I refuse both of them,” he said.
Deputy Nguyễn Đức Sáu seconded the risk of unintentional legalisation of the undeclared wealth. He said that the lawmakers might want to add a regulation confirming that any handling of the money – by income tax or administrative fine – would not necessarily mean it now would be safe from further investigation or legal actions.
Deputy Trương Trọng Nghĩa also said no to the proposed options, but he had something else in mind. Nghĩa suggested another new solution which was literally a combination of those existing two in the draft law.
He said that any public servants and officers who wrongly declared their wealth and assets would obviously have to receive administrative penalties, but they should also be given a chance to clarify the origins of their misreported wealth.
If they fail to explain the source of income to the authorities, Nghĩa said, an income tax would then be applied but at a much higher rate than 45 per cent.
“I propose it should be more than 50 per cent, at least, and in my opinion, 75 per cent is a reasonable number,” he added. — VNS