70 pct of traffic fines given as personal bonuses to police: finance minister

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Vietnam Finance Minister has said 70 percent, or US$85 million of traffic fines last year, were given to traffic police as personal bonuses, which a councilor describes as dubious.

In a statement to councilor Huynh Minh Thien of Ho Chi Minh City, who asked a question during a National Assembly session this month on how traffic fines were being used, Vuong Dinh Hue confirmed that 70 percent of annual traffic fines from road, railway, air and waterway traffic was distributed to traffic police forces, news website Dan Tri reported Wednesday.

Hue said the cash fines totaled more than VND2,540 billion ($121.4 million) last year . 

He said the bonuses took effect in 2007 after a government order the previous year, taking into consideration real job conditions, compensation for injuries suffered on duty, and support for families who had lost their loved ones on duty.

A part of the money was used in traffic safety campaigns, the minister said.

But it's still not clear the persons were directly benefiting from the money because the minister's deputy, Nguyen Thi Minh, had said traffic patrollers receive less than 5 US dollars for a night shift, Dan Tri reported.

Councilor Thien told the Tuoi Tre newspaper on Wednesday, after the statement was made, sharing the opinions of a large number of residents that they are not "happy" with the sharing.

"The residents said that the police already get paid with their salaries and extra time bonuses, so it's hard to understand why they were given further bonuses," he said.

He said if the government feels that traffic forces need further income, it could have just raised their salary, making the payment "official and transparent."

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