|Former Ha Noi People's Committee Chairman Nguyen The Thao (right) congratulates his successor Nguyen Duc Chung. — VNA/VNS Photo Van Canh
HA NOI (VNS)— Ha Noi Police Director Major General Nguyen Duc Chung was elected the Ha Noi People's Committee chairman yesterday, the fourth day of the Ha Noi People's Council meeting.
Chung, 48, had been elected vice-secretary of the Ha Noi Party Committee at the municipal party organisation's 16th congress early last month. The standing board of the Ha Noi party committee had agreed to nominate Chung as chairman of the municipal people's committee. The position is voted on by the municipal people's council as per the law.
Chung has a doctor of law degree, a graduate degree from the People's Police Academy with major in criminal investigation, and a graduate degree from Viet Nam University of Commerce with major in business management.
He was appointed vice-director of Ha Noi Police in 2010, director of Ha Noi Police in 2012, and promoted to major general in July 2013. He was awarded the title of ‘Hero of the Armed Forces' at the age of 37, and awarded the Fatherland Defence Order First Class three years later.
Chung replaces Nguyen The Thao, who had been chairman of the Ha Noi People's Committee since August 2007.
High-rise fire safety
Members of the Ha Noi People's Council and the city's representatives questioned the city's authority on the management of fire safety issues in high-rise apartment and commercial buildings during the 14th council meeting on Thursday.
Head of the council's judicial affairs Nguyen Hoai Nam said that fire safety was poor in a number of apartment complexes, which were built for relocation purposes. The absence of automatic fire suppression systems and poor fire hazard management were of particular concern.
Representative Vu Manh Hai from Soc Son District said with an increasing number of high-rise buildings in the city and worsened traffic in recent years, the city's authority must be able to mobilise its fire fighting forces in to quickly respond to fires.
Chief of the city's fire police force Hoang Quoc Dinh said that there was a significant number of old buildings, whose designs and construction process did not comply to fire safety standards and regulations as set out in the country's fire safety and fire prevention law, which came into effect in 2001.
Dinh noted that before 2001 many investors simply circumvented various fire safety issues while the city's construction authority lacked detailed legal and technical guidelines to reinforce fire safety regulations.
Chairwoman of the council Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc said the city's fire police must step up efforts in fire prevention and fire fighting, especially in its numerous high-rises.
She urged local authorities to hold more fire drill activities to help citizens prepare and instruct them on how to react in cases of fire as well as to show them how to prevent fires.
Since the beginning of the year, the city has reported 145 fire cases, which killed eight and injured 29 others.
Also on Thursday, representatives voiced their concerns over rampant tax fraud in recent years and how the city would collect tax debt from some 12,000 companies who abandoned their registered addresses during the last ten months. Representative Le Van Thanh said that it was far too easy to create a company for the sole purpose of illegally trading receipts. The city's planning and investment department's failure to thoroughly inspect these companies and the police's failure to track down and penalise those responsible resulted in companies only existing on paper with hired motorbike taxi drivers acting as directors.
Head of the city's police Nguyen Duc Chung said the police tracked down more than 300 companies, which had abandoned their registered addresses. Notably a case involved Nguyen Truong, who created at least 16 companies to trade receipts with the total amount nearly 5.5 trillion ($240 million).
Chung said there were still a number of loopholes in the current process of establishing companies that allowed individuals such as Truong to hire others to be directors of his ghost companies.
Head of the city's tax authority Ha Minh Hai said Ha Noi's total tax debt last year reached 18.6 trillion (US$820 million).
Hai said the city's tax authority had released information on companies that still owed tax money on six different occasions since the beginning of the year. Notices were sent to more than 59,000 companies in the city to notify them of their tax debt.
He also said that the tax authority was confident that it would be able to collect more than 13 trillion ($570 million) of the debt. However, there were a number of cases in which it recommended that tax collection be delayed when companies faced desperate financial situations and required support to pull through hard times. — VNS