Road maintenance fees will increase toll on public: lawmakers

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The transport ministry's latest proposal to collect road maintenance fees by asking vehicles to pay more when buying gasoline and diesel is unreasonable, legislators said Friday.


The current prices of gasoline and diesel already include many fees and charges like import tax and value added tax, Phung Quoc Hien, chairman of the National Assembly's Finance and Budget Committee, said at a meeting held to discuss the draft Environmental Tax Law.


Furthermore, these fuels are also used in many other sectors like aviation and sea transport, not just road transportation, Hien said.


Under the new proposal, vehicles will be subjected to both the new fees and the tolls when traveling on BOT streets (streets built under the Build-Operate-Transfer investment form), he said.


It's impossible to get rid of the latter, as any such move will discourage businesses from contributing to developing traffic infrastructure in the country, he added.


The proposal made by the transport ministry last month called for vehicle users having to pay an extra VND1,000 (US$0.05) for each liter of fuel.


Those that run on diesel will pay VND100-800 per kilometer and a special device will be established on the vehicles to calculate how many kilometers they run.


However, as a specific plan is needed to set up the device, the ministry suggested a monthly charge of VND180,000-1.4 million ($9.48- 73.76) for every diesel-run vehicle.


The committee also asked the government at the Friday meeting to be careful about imposing environmental taxes on fuel that can affect people's daily lives and production.


It felt that the government should impose the minimum tax rates VND1,000 per liter of fuel - at present. The government had proposed surcharges of up to VND4,000 per liter for gasoline and VND2,000 for diesel.


If the government wants to impose rates higher than the minimum, it needs to adjust other taxes on fuel so the final price increase will not be exorbitant, the committee said.


Mining concerns


At another meeting discussing the draft Minerals Law on Friday, National Assembly representatives said the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) should be in charge of granting licenses to explore and mine minerals.


The NA's Standing Committee of Economics also proposed that local authorities are only authorized to license projects within areas zoned and announced by the MNRE.


Local governments are at present allowed to grant licenses for mineral projects outside national zones and reserves.


Experts have recently voiced concerns that mineral mining projects are being licensed excessively, but not many of them adopt effective operations, posing serious pollution threats to the people and the environment.


While agreeing with the practice of putting exploration and mining rights out to tender, Dao Trong Thi, chairman of the NA's Culture, Education, Youth and Children Committee, suggested that draft makers reconsider the regulation allowing contractors to transfer projects to others.


This can put projects out of the government's control, Thi said, pointing out that some contractors would focus on earning profit from transferring projects instead of the original objective of mining minerals.

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