Vietnam public officials freeload on free houses

By Thanh Nien News, TN News

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Hoang Cau, a state-owned apartment block for civil servants, in Hanoi. Photo courtesy of Tien Phong Newspaper
A new government regulation has required retired civil servants to return state-owned houses, revealing that many have been living in their free homes far longer than allowedn, according to a report by Tien Phong (Pioneer) Newspaper.
In Vietnam, the government allows certain public officials to live in villas and apartments built by the state budget when they are assigned to certain posts or to missions that require them to live far from their homes.
When the civil servants retire or their missions end, they must leave the houses.
However, a large number of civil servants are still living in their free houses, and many even let their families use the homes
Hoang Cau is a block of 80 state-owned apartments on Tran Quang Dieu Street in Hanoi that was put into use in 2000.
The block was originally managed by the Government Office. But since this year, it has been handed over to the Ministry of Construction.
Tien Phong found that many public officials who retired many years ago are still living in the block. Some officials died, but their wives and children are still living there.
Nguyen Van Duc, former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, retired in 2012, but he is still living in an apartment there.
“No one told me to leave, so I stay,” he was quoted by Tien Phong as saying.
He explained that there are many officials like him, and that he would leave the apartment if others do so, or if the government asks him to.
Hua Duc Nhi, a former Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, also retired in 2012. He then told his son to live in the apartment he was given.
He said he had not received any announcement that he must leave.
“If [the government] revokes the apartment, where else could I go? Back to my hometown?” he asked.
Vu Xuan Thien, deputy chief of the Department for Housing and Real Estate Market Management at the Ministry of Construction, said the 2005 Housing Law does not say that civil servants must leave state-owned houses when they retire. So many have simply stayed on.
An official with the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Construction told Tien Phong some retired senior officials are still living in public houses  even though they have villas else where.
There are around 200 villas and apartments, mostly in Hanoi, owned by the government for civil servants to live in.
Recently, the Ministry of Construction issued a circular on the use and management of public houses.
Under the circular, from March 6, civil servants who retire, or are assigned to work in other localities, or who die or who misuse public houses must leave the homes.
Nguyen Manh Ha, director of the aforesaid department, said there has been a lack of regulations to guide the revocation of state-owned houses.
In many cases, civil servants made a lot of excuses to stay put, he said.
He hoped the situation would change with the new circular.
Duong Truong Quoc, a prominent lawmaker, said civil servants in Vietnam are gradually losing their sense of shame.
It is necessary to revoke state-owned houses from such officials, but the government should also consider those who are indeed in financial difficulties.
Nguyen Minh Thuyet, an outspoken lawmaker who retired in 2011, said law enforcement is not strong enough in Vietnam.
He said civil servants who let their families to live in state-owned houses must be investigated on charges of “misappropriating state properties.”

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