The Ministry of Finance has lifted a ban on the purchase of new cars by government agencies.
According to the document, central and provincial agencies will be allowed to buy new cars based on a strict price hierarchy.
A 2007 document, updated in 2010, stipulates that the General Secretary of the Communist Party, the President, the National Assembly Chairman and the Prime Minister may purchase any vehicle they like.
Top officials at central government agencies, and municipal agencies in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are restricted to purchasing cars valued at no more than VND1.1 billion (US$51,700)
Senior officials at provincial and district agencies may purchase cars for up to VND920 million and VND720 million respectively. Directors of state-owned companies may purchase cars worth no more than VND840 million.
The new finance ministry directive will allow the aforementioned agencies to purchase new cars in the event that their current vehicles are lost or damaged in traffic accidents or natural disasters which render them “unsuitable for traffic.”
Funds for the purchase of new cars will be drawn from the agency’s 2014 spending plan, but all purchases must be approved by the finance ministry or provincial head.
Prior to the recent directive, government agencies were barred from buying new cars under the central government’s resolution on the 2014 national budget.
In August, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung instructed the finance ministry to loosen its ban on automobile purchases to resolve the demand for cars at new agencies and those with damaged or destroyed vehicles.
At a session of the National Assembly, Vietnam’s parliament, in mid-2013, many deputies criticized wasteful spending, including the purchase of more than 1,700 new cars in 2012.
The Vietnamese press estimated that the country has between 34,500-40,000 cars being used by government agencies, which are distinguished by their blue license plates.
According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, government agencies spent VND2.75 trillion ($130 million) in 2012 alone to buy 2,391 cars -- a figure equal to 2.5 percent of total car sales in Vietnam.