Vietnam gov’t asked to cancel road fee for motorbikes

By Anh Vu, Thanh Nien News

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Lawmakers have asked the government to mull canceling road maintenance fees for motorbikes more than one year after they were introduced amid public backlash.
Tran Van, vice chairman of the National Assembly’s Finance and Budget Committee, said at a meeting Friday that the costs of collecting the fee were too high compared to what the Ministry of Transport could actually collect – some 20 percent of what it expected last year.
He said the amount collected via the motorbike fees was not significant and thus the government should consider canceling them.
Van’s opinion was supported by other lawmakers like Nguyen Anh Son, a deputy from the northern province of Nam Dinh, who said the contribution the fees made was “too modest.”
Deputy Transport Minister Nguyen Hong Truong reported that last year the ministry collected VND500 billion (US$23.5 million) from motorbike owners compared to the expected VND2.6 trillion ($122.3 million).
On the other hand, it collected VND5.5 trillion ($258.6 million) from car owners.
Although the contributions made by motorbike owners were not large, the meager collection still showed that they were doing their part in maintaining infrastructure, Truong said.
However, he also said that “if necessary” the ministry will consult the government and the legislature about canceling the fees for motorbikes.
Under current regulations, car owners pay between VND180,000-1.44 million ($8.6-67) a month at centers tasked with checking vehicles’ quality, while motorbike owners pay between VND80,000-180,000 ($3.8-8.6) per year to local governments.
When the ministry announced its plan to collect the fee in 2012, it provoked widespread criticism with many saying that road vehicle owners in Vietnam were already burdened by many fees.
At the latest meeting, Dinh Van Nha, vice chairman of the Finance and Budget Committee, repeated the criticism.
He said that although the ministry claimed to have closed 24 tollbooths when it starting collecting road maintenance fees, nearly 20 new booths will be established along National Road 1A when the transnational road is upgraded in 2016.
Truong said a tollbooth will be set up at every 70 kilometers along the road, making a total of 17.
The ministry calculated that a 20-ton truck will have to pay VND1.5-1.7 million ($70.5-80) in tolls when moving from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, which is “acceptable,” he said.
The deputy minister also said that the fees vehicle owners pay at tollbooths are spent on BOT (built-operation-transfer) projects, while the road maintenance fees are spent on maintaining non-BOT ones.

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