Vietnam lawmakers frown at proposed administrative fines

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Vietnam's lawmakers said Friday they did not agree that the heavier cash fines proposed by a draft law will be able to deter administrative violations.

Ngo Van Minh, a lawmaker from the central province of Quang Nam, said while people keep complaining that current fines aren't heavy enough to deter violations, they have ignored another important cause for the increasing violations - the law enforcer.

Minh made the statement at the National Assembly's meeting discussing the bill on punishments for administrative violations which raises the minimum penalty by five times to VND50,000 (US$2.38). The maximum fine is increased four times to VND2 billion ($95,200) for heavy violations in currency, banking, stock market, natural resources, land and environment sectors.

According to Minh, such big difference between the minimum and maximum fines will allow law enforcers to engage in corruption easily.

Dang Thuan Phong, a member of legislature from the southern province of Ben Tre, agreed. He warned that there will be cases where the law enforcer fines the violator just hundreds of thousands of dong, while the violation should be fined tens of millions.

Meanwhile, To Van Tam from the central province of Kon Tum, was worried that with fines increased to VND2 billion, criminal cases will be handled as administrative violations.

Lawmakers also objected to the draft law's proposal that only fines commercial sex workers, instead of sending them to health clinics for checkups and rehab centers for "recovering human dignity" as current regulations require.

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Minh said if Vietnam doesn't recognize prostitution as a job, it needs to "handle the practice strictly," but if it does, it has to issue related regulations, including management, taxes and periodical checkups.

"Removing the regulation requiring commercial sex workers to be sent to health clinics for check-ups makes me concerned," he said.

Tran Hong Ha, a lawmaker from the northern province of Vinh Phuc, also said it's impossible to send sex workers to their families and local authorities for management, because they rarely work in their native localities and are ready to move to other places.

On the other hand, Tran Tien Dung, legislature member from the northern province of Ha Tinh, agreed with the bill, saying that to send commercial sex workers to rehabilitation centers is to violate their rights to freedom.

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