Mixed opinions on Vietnam's decision to import Tet fireworks

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Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security has backed the Defense Ministry's plan to import fireworks for the Tet holiday, but many government officials have not, arguing that the move is "unnecessary" and "wasteful."

The Ministry of Defense has sought permission for its Z121 factory, the country's sole producer of fireworks, to import 20,000 boxes from its long-term Japanese partner for the upcoming Lunar New Year's Eve, which falls on January 30, 2014.

The move came after an explosion broke out at its production unit in the northern province of Phu Tho in October, destroying a large quantity of fireworks.

It said as a result it can only meet demand in the five major cities of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Can Tho and Hai Phong for Tet.

The country's annual demand is around 30,000 boxes, according to the ministry.

The government then collected opinions from relevant agencies on the issue.

The Ministry of Public Security backed its defense counterpart's proposal, saying that the import would comply with current regulations on fireworks management, Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper reported Saturday.

A source from the government office told Nguoi Lao Dong the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Ministry of Industry and Trade also supported the defense ministry's proposed plan.

But the ministries said the defense ministry should consider the quantity to ensure that the import is "economical," according to the source. They also said the government must require the factory to again provide an independent domestic firework supply soon.

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Meanwhile, Bui Dang Dung, vice chairman of the Finance and Budget Committee of the National Assembly, told Giao Thong Van Tai (Transport) newspaper that it would be unnecessary and wasteful to import fireworks as the government tightens spending due to a major revenue deficit this year. He added that legislators had also late last month passed an amendment to the 2005 law on thrift and anti-waste practices.

During a National Assembly session in October, Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung estimated that the revenue deficit this year would likely be over VND63.6 trillion (over US$3 billion), higher than the previous estimate of nearly VND59.5 trillion.

Dung from the budget committee said it would be more meaningful to spend the money on disadvantaged children and the elderly.

Trinh Hoa Binh, director of Institute of Sociology's Center for Public Opinion Investigation, said the proposal would be easier to be accepted on another occasion, rather than this Tet, because the country has faced many challenges over the last year.

The firework issue would be more "relevant" when people's lives have improved and people no longer have to worry about spending, he said.

According to Nguoi Lao Dong's source, the government office will soon report on the situation to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung for a final decision.

Lieutenant Colonel Le Tien Ngoc, head of Z121's sales department, said the factory is seeking approval to relocate its production unit to a new location, the paper reported.

The explosion at its production unit killed 24, injured nearly 100 people and caused property damages of more than VND50 billion at the factory and surrounding houses, including VND20 billion in completed firework products.

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