Motorbikes crowd a street in Vietnam
The government is near a decision to stop collecting a road maintenance fee from motorbike owners as several cities and provinces have reported much lower revenues than expected since the fee was introduced two years ago.
Nguyen Van Nen, spokesman of the government, told the press on Tuesday that the finance ministry and several other agencies have supported a transport ministry's proposal which called for the fee to be scrapped on January 1.
He said the government is still surveying more agencies and will hold a discussion later this month to decide on the issue.
The fee is supposed to be one of the main sources for road maintenance funds which were established in 2012 and are managed by central and local governments.
According to current regulations, motorbike owners pay VND50,000-150,000 (US$5.2-6.5) to their local people's committee every year.
Car owners pay VND1.56-12.48 million ($68.4-547.6) annually, or when obtaining roadworthiness certificates at local vehicle registries.
In a letter to the government in July, Transport Minister Dinh La Thang asked the government's permission to work with other agencies in revising several circulars related to road maintenance funds to remove motorbike fee as one of its income sources.
Thang's proposal came as many local governments around the country, notably Ho Chi Minh City, have yet to charge motorbike owners the fee, even though the collection took effect on January 1, 2013.
Other cities and provinces have complained it is not easy to collect the fee.
They said many refuse to pay, and local agencies cannot do anything due to a lack of punitive measures.
Moreover, they said, revenues from the fee do not justify the costs of collecting the fee and are too small compared to road maintenance costs.
According to the Ministry of Finance, it is difficult to collect the fee, considering many people transfer their motorbikes without changing ownership documents, and that people often bring their vehicles to other places.
As of June 30 this year, nearly VND1.28 trillion ($56.12 million) has been collected from motorbike owners around the country, much lower than the estimates of VND2.6 trillion ($114 million) a year, official data showed.