Government wants freedom in collecting fees, but legislators say no

Thanh Nien News

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 Cars and trucks pass a toll booth in Vietnam. Photo: Diep Duc Minh
The speaker of Vietnam's law-making body National Assembly on Monday refused to give the government's complete freedom in deciding which fees and charges it can collect, arguing that legislators still need to have a say on the important issue. 
Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung was responding to Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung's proposal regarding Vietnam's first ever Law on Fees and Surcharges.
The bill is expected to be passed at the end of this year, but Dung has requested permission to only release a complete list of collectible fees and surcharges after the passing of the bill, news website Saigon Times Online reported.
Speaking at a meeting of the National Assembly's Standing Committee, Hung said the assembly will not vote on the bill without knowing the specific fees and surcharges that will be imposed.
Only legislators have the authority to decide whether a fee is legal, he said, criticizing the government for having imposed excessive fees on people. 
He pointed out that more than 1,000 fees and charges are now applied on agricultural products and that even an egg is subjected to up to 14 fees.
"How is our agriculture sector going to develop with more than 1,000 fees?"
"It is already tiring to remember each of them."
In the current bill, the government recommended a broad list of 85 fees and surcharges applicable in different sectors.
More are expected to be added when the detailed list comes out, as the finance minister said the government is yet to finish reviewing all the current fees and charges, the website reported.
At the moment, the collection of fees and surcharges in Vietnam is managed by a set of regulations issued by the National Assembly's Standing Committee in 2001.
It was the committee that first introduced a general list of 115 collectible fees and charges. Then the government was allowed to add sub-categories, set the amounts, and decide how to collect the fees.
A report on the website of the National Assembly's office said the detailed list has been extended to 301 items since 2001. 
Last year the government collected more than VND24 trillion (US$1.08 billion) in fees and charges, half of which collected from people who registered for their ownership of vehicles and properties, according to the finance ministry's report.
The revenues are expected to increase to over VND29.4 trillion ($1.32 billion) this year.

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