Vietnam lawmakers fear higher traffic fines could increase corruption

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Lawmakers said at a National Assembly meeting Wednesday that a they are concerned the Vietnamese government's proposal of higher fines for traffic violations could also see a spike in corruption, the Tuoi Tre reported.

According to the newspaper, at a meeting with the supervising delegation of the National Assembly's Law Committee, Deputy Transport Minister Le Manh Hung asked for permissions to increase fines as a solution to the "worsening" problems of traffic accidents and congestion.

Fines for violations of road, sea and railway traffic rules should be raised up to VND200 million (US$9,600) at maximum, he said. 

Meanwhile, police officers should be allowed to impose on the spot fines of up to VND2 million ($95.92) for road traffic violations, a 10-fold increase from the current limits.

In case violations pose threats to the public well being, like illegal racing, vehicles need to be confiscated.

"We urgently propose lawmakers to amend the [existing traffic] regulations," said Do Dinh Nghi, deputy chief of Department for Administrative Management of Social Order under the Ministry of Public Security.

"If the proposals are not approved, it will be very hard for us to handle violations," he said.

However, members of the Law Committee did not agree.

Dang Dinh Luyen, vice chairman of the committee, said the government needs to take into consideration people's income, because if the fines are too high, not everyone can afford to pay them. 

Another trouble will be that police have to keep the violator's vehicles while the latter goes home to get the money for paying the fine, Luyen said.

Furthermore, the draft laws on fining administrative violations which was discussed earlier at the National Assembly already allowed officers to impose on the spot fines of up to VND1 million ($47.96), a five-fold increase from the current one, he said.

"It's okay to fine VND1 million on site, but if it increases to VND2 million, it will be easier for violators and law enforcers to make under-the-counter deals, " said Nguyen Ba Thuyen, deputy chief of the lawmakers' delegation from the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong.

Thuyen said the government should make use of science and technology to deal with traffic problems instead of asking for more human resources and more posts.

"I think to add more people means corruption is more likely to happen," Thuyen said, adding that in other countries, police officers are rarely seen on the street, but cameras are installed to observe any violation, which he felt was more "civilized" and "unbiased."

Ngo Van Minh, a member of the committee, asked: "Can you promise that if the National Assembly agrees to increase fines and law enforcement officers' authority, traffic accidents and congestion will decrease in six months. And that if they do not go down, you will take responsibility?"

"You surely do not dare to make such promise," he said.

Last year police handled over 70,000 road traffic violation cases across the country, an increase of 2.3 times from the previous year, the government reported at the meeting.

The report also pointed that cases in which violators act against officers on duty are getting "complicated" with 56 instances recorded last year. Eighteen officers were injured and 63 violators were handed over to police for investigations in these cases.

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