Nghe An Province in central Vietnam has received a lot of public criticism after a media report about its plan to spend more than US$20,000 on a Lunar New Year fireworks show, even as more than 200,000 of its residents do not have enough food.
A Tuoi Tre report on Wednesday said the province’s chairman had approved the plan for a 15-minute show on the Lunar New Year's Eve on February 7 in its capital town Vinh.
Nguyen Hai Nam, a spokesman for the People’s Committee, told the newspaper that funding “may come from the province’s budget and private sources.”
Nam did not reveal the estimated cost. But an unnamed source said the show will cost between VND500-600 million (US$22,300-27,000) and most of it will possibly come from the province’s budget.
“Sponsors were sought in previous years but their contribution was not significant,” the officer told Tuoi Tre.
Nghe An has recently received more than 3,600 metric tons of rice under a relief program funded the government. The rice will then be offered to more than 241,000 people in mountainous and border areas ahead of the Tet holiday season, Tuoi Tre reported.
In their comments many readers have called the plan a luxury for a poor province, criticizing its leaders for "burning money" and disregarding those in need.
Some suggested that poor people will prefer enjoying the festival with enough food in the house and the rest of the province would be just as happy watching fireworks on TV.
There were sarcastic comments such as watching the fireworks will make poor families forget empty stomachs, or the province might just want to celebrate the delivery of the rice.
But some argued that entertainment is a part of life and everybody deserves it.
The province received more than 5,400 tons of rice support last year.
Official data showed that the rate of poor families in the province, those having income of VND4.8 million or less per person a year, has dropped to below 8 percent last year.
It reported an average income of VND29 million per person in 2014, compared to the country’s average of around $2,000.