Vietnam suspends fines for failing to transfer vehicle titles

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An officer fines a woman for a traffic violation in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City

The government has suspended a decree that fines vehicle owners who fail to transfer ownership to themselves from previous owners.

Since the new decree No.71 took effect on November 10, it has drawn a lot of public criticism.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Vu Duc Dam, chief of the government's office, said the government has ordered the Ministry of Public Security and other agencies to draft detailed guidelines so that the decree's regulations are enforced "in accordance with its nature," meaning that they should target vehicle owners and not the riders.

Before the ministry issues the guidelines, police will not fine any people who violate the regulation, he said.

While it is necessary to spot violations as asserted by the Ministry of Justice, the regulations were "wrongly" enforced, confusing people, Dam said.

In fact, the regulation targets vehicle owners, but in the end vehicle riders are fined for using vehicles that they do not own, Dam explained.

He said the suspension would also allow the Ministry of Finance to work with other agencies to review fees as well as procedures related to the transfer of vehicle titles, because people have complained that the fees were too high and the procedures were too complicated.

In Vietnam, currently, registration fees for old motorbikes account for 10-12 percent of their value, depending on the province and locality they are registered. It is one percent for old motorbikes.

Since it was introduced, decree No.71 has faced objections and criticism from the public and lawmakers who have argued that many Vietnamese people are still poor and many members in a family have to share one motorbike.

They also said it was impossible in many cases to get the title transfer because many vehicles have already been sold and bought many times without the title changing.

Le Thi Nga, vice chairwoman of the National Assembly's Legislative Committee, said in an interview with the Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborers) newspaper that regulations on fining vehicle owners who fail to acquire the vehicle's title from previous owners have been already in place since 2003

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But the latest rules face negative responses from people because their enforcement contravene other laws and the new fines are higher, Nga said.

She said the title right of vehicle owners are subject to the Civil Law and Administration Law. Under the civil law, one is asked to prove ownership only when there is an ownership-related dispute. Therefore, it is illegal that traffic officers ask vehicle riders to prove their ownership of the vehicle in case of traffic violations.

The No.71 decree prescribes a fine of VND800,000-VND1 million (US$38-48) if the new owner of a motorbike has not obtained the title to the vehicle. For automobiles the fine is VND6-10 million.

Earlier, the fines were VND50,000-100,000 for motorbikes and VND1-2 million for automobiles, she said.

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