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Bill delayed as NA tries to cut down Government fees, charges

Update: September, 11/2015 - 07:40
Chickens are carried to market. Participants at yesterday's seminar discussed the 14 fees needed to cover raising chickens. — Photo

HA NOI (VNS) — The draft Law on Fees and Charges may not be able to make it to the National Assembly (NA) for approval next month.

This is because authorities are still struggling to finalise a list of regulated fees and charges from at least 1,800 existing localised fees weighing on residents.

This emerged at a seminar on the draft held in Ha Noi yesterday by a non-governmental organisation, Red Communication.

The lawmakers were forced to do some head-scratching to detail all the fees and charges to be enforced in the law.

This was to prevent fees rocketing. One infamous National Assembly story that was the subject of recent discussion is about the 14 fees needed to cover the raising of a chicken.

Farmers in the central province of Ha Tinh who wanted to raise a chicken have to pay local authorities up to 14 types of fees, including those for continuous disease checks since the chicken hatched until it grew up, for its eggs and meat and even for the examination of the water it drank.

"The localities list many kinds of fees and charges simply because the law allows them to do so," said Vu Sy Cuong, Associate Professor of the Academy of Finance.

"The 2001 Ordinance on Fees and Charges only regulates a frame of fees for the localities to detail later by themselves," he added.

Most localities never cease to complain about their lack of budget money so they do not pass up the chance of getting new fees and charges from provincial to district and communal levels.

"Residents in rural areas don't have the knowledge to question the fees," Cuong said.

Associate Professor Le Xuan Truong from Academy of Finance said that a detailed list of fees and charges regulated in the upcoming Law on Fees and Charges would help promote the transparency of such fees and prevent localities inventing fees of their own.

Such detailed list integrated into the law document, however, would cause difficulties when the lawmakers wanted to add on or abolish fees, he added.

"Any amendment would require being approved by the National Assembly, which meets only twice a year", Truong said.

"That might hamper our flexibility to adapt fast enough to changes in the future".

"It is a trade-off between transparency and legal flexibility. But we are choosing the former," he added.

School tuition fees have so far not been regulated in the draft Law on Fees and Charges, meaning they will be let float. This could possibly create an education hurdle for the poor, said Truong.

"With college education, it is fine to let the service providers decide the prices. But if schools are allowed to do the same, social security is at stake here," he added. — VNS

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