A high-speed toll booth in Ho Chi Minh City. The finance ministry says government agencies are currently allowed to keep up to 90 percent of the fees they collect from the public to fund their operations or make upgrades. Photo: Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon
While the public has complained about fees collected by government agencies for years, the finance ministry says most of those funds never enter state coffers.
In a recent report sent to the government, the ministry said it abolished around 340 different kinds of fees over the last several years, leaving the country with 301.
Government agencies collected VND31.3 trillion (US$1.5 billion) last year, much lower than the VND42 trillion ($2 billion) collected in 2011, Saigon Times has reported, citing a finance ministry report.
In fact, much of the sum did not enter the state budget as agencies collecting the fees were allowed to keep 60 to 90 percent of the funds for operations and facility upgrades, according to the report.
The National Assembly, Vietnam’s legislative body, has said that fees remain high and continue to overlap.
A recent report by the assembly's economic committee showed the country's tax-to-GDP ratio averaged 26.2 percent over the past five years.
During the same time, the ratio was 21.4 percent in Thailand, 19.6 percent in China, 18.9 percent in Indonesia, 15.3 percent in the Philippines, and 14.8 percent in Cambodia.