Vietnam inspectors reject Party official's denial of Da Nang land mismanagement

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The Government Inspectorate on Tuesday (June 25) dismissed a statement made by a former senior official of Da Nang City that the municipal authorities did not mismanage land in a way alleged to have caused millions of dollars worth of losses.

The agency released its response after local media reported that Nguyen Ba Thanh, who was the Da Nang mayor in 2003, denied having caused losses to the state budget while meeting Da Nang constituents Monday. Thanh is also an elected member of the National Assembly, Vietnam's legislature.

Thanh, who is currently serving as chief of the central Party Committee's Interior Commission tasked with fighting corruption, told his constituents that the Da Nang government did not agree with the Government Inspectorate that it had committed "violations" that led to losses of VND3.43 trillion (US$163 million) between 2003 and 2011.

He said that local government did not commit any wrongdoings in terms of its land management or related policies.

He said Da Nang authorities had justified their land-related policies to the Government Inspectorate and inspectors had agreed with them.

However, the Government Inspectorate said in the release Tuesday that it maintains its conclusions that Da Nang authorities had in fact committed wrongdoings in land management.

It said it had not changed its point of view.

Right after Thanh had been appointed to the Interior Commission last January, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung ruled that Da Nang must review the responsibilities of its chairman, vice chairmen and relevant individuals and organizations for land-related misconduct from 2003-2011 and repay the losses it caused to the state budget.

Government inspectors had investigated 46 of 1,061 projects in the city, which has been praised for its rapid growth and has been receiving high rankings from the Vietnam Provincial Competitiveness Index since 2005.

According to the inspectors, the violations included a failure to manage lands after transferring them to investors, many of whom were allowed to resell land at higher prices, as opposed to following through with the investments as promised.

Others violations included the incorrect implementation of land usage fees for several projects, lowering the prices issued annually by the city.

They also slammed Da Nang authorities for giving 10 percent discounts to land users when they made full rental payments within 60 days of being issued lands, saying the reduction caused losses of VND1.3 trillion ($61.7 million).

However, in interviews with the press, city officials said they conformed to laws and the alleged violations were actually legal incentives provided by the city aimed at encouraging investment and had been instituted on behalf of the people.

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