A traffic policeman in Ho Chi Minh City takes notes on a car illegally carrying a foreigners registration plate. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre
The Ministry of Public Security has ordered its local units to track down 513 cars used by foreign affairs officials who have finished their missions in Vietnam but failed to normalize the vehicles so that they have ordinary license plates that do not enjoy privileges granted to diplomats.
Most of the cars are high-end and all have their license plates marked with the letters NG or NN abbreviations for foreign affairs or foreigners in Vietnamese, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported Sunday, citing a ministry source.
The source said the cars are still being used with foreigners' and/or diplomat's license plates although the owners' official missions had ended at least six months earlier. Once the missions end, the owners have to send the cars back to their country or import them officially, paying due taxes. This has not been done, Tuoi Tre quoted the source as saying.
News websiteVietNamNet has reported that there are 513 of the non-normalized cars, registered for 42 embassies and international organizations in Vietnam. Many registrations ended in 2009, and some as far back as 2004.
Luxury car imports attract taxes of at least VND1 billion (US$48,000) in Vietnam. NG-labeled cars, which are registered to foreign embassies and consulates in Vietnam, are not only exempted from taxes but also enjoy traffic priority in Vietnam because cops tend to leave them alone.
The source did not say who were using the imported cars now, according to Tuoi Tre. It has been reported in the past that luxury cars were being imported by diplomats of certain countries on behalf of Vietnamese citizens looking to avoid paying taxes and enjoy special traffic privileges.
Police in Ho Chi Minh City say they have seized several cars in the list but are yet to conclude investigating the cases.
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