Vietnam finance ministry says it's been frugal

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Vietnam's Ministry of Finance on Tuesday said it has not bought any cars for seven years, once again rejecting allegations that it wanted government officials to use more expensive cars.

All of the cars at the ministry were transfered from other state offices and even the newest cars were manufactured in 2004, news website VnExpress cited the ministy as saying.

The Finance Ministry itself has never purchased any car, old or new, since 2005, it added.

Criticism emerged after the ministry announced a plan to raise the maximum value allowed for state office cars to VND1.1 billion (US$53,500) from VND800 million.

Many critics said now is not the time to allow government officials to switch to more expensive cars considering the whole country is trying to rein in inflation. 

But the ministry has said the new ceiling does not mean the ministry wants to buy higher-end cars for state offices. The request was only made because car prices have been rising, it explained.

The ministry also noted that the new rule, if approved, will be applied to all state agencies and state-owned companies, not just the Finance Ministry.

Vietnam had 29,524 vehicles at state offices, worth VND13.3 trillion ($647 million), Hanoi Moi newspaper reported in March, citing the Public Property Management Department.

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