This year some high-ranking officials made memorable statements, which raised great controversies on the media and in the public. Bridge makes a review.
Minister’s wages in 40 years is enough to buy a house for low-income people
Some estimated that with monthly income of VND5 million ($250) (high income), they would have to abstain from food, clothes and others within 15 years to be able to purchase an apartment for low-income earners.
There were families that struggled to book such apartments but in the end, they had to give up the chance because they could not afford it.
At the same time, Deputy Minister of Nguyen Tran Nam spoke at a seminar in August that the poor, with their current income and the current prices, could not buy this type of houses.
“Expecting from wages, don’t think of buying a house. A minister has to save his salary for 40 years to get a house,” Nam said frankly.
VND7.3 million of wages insufficient to live in cities
Just a few people have sympathy with Thanh, saying that he made that statement in the status of a leader, who has to take care of the life of his staff.
Most of readers who work in many areas, including doctors, teachers, engineers, scientists, etc. were shocked because EVN’s average wages in 2009 was up to VND7.3 million, which is 3-4 times higher than the current wages of staffs in other sectors.
Many readers said that they are willing to join EVN, with monthly wages of only VND6 million ($300), VND1.3 million less than this group’s salary two years ago. Some of them uttered: “Hearing the statement by EVN’s boss, whether high-ranking officials of other agencies feel painful for their employees?”
This is not the first time that EVN’s officials made “shocking” statements. In July 2010, EVN’s Chair Dao Van Hung was criticized for making a slip of the tongue: “only the God can answer whether power is cut off or not.”
The State does not threaten anyone and no one can threaten the State
Petrol trading firms said that the decision was unexpected and it did not reflect the market because petrol traders were incurring losses.
The Finance Minister rejected the argument, saying that with 10-year experience of an auditor (Hue was former chief of the State Auditing Agency), he knew petrol trading firms’ business operation as clear as daylight. At the time he decided to cut down petrol price, statistics from the customs office showed that the state-owned Petrolimex group earned profit of up to VND780 per liter, after deducting all related costs and even the government’s permitted VND300/liter profit.
According to Hue, the petrol price is not controlled by the market yet because of monopoly. “If we cause losses for businesses, we will be responsible for it and will pay compensation. However, if any business cannot fulfill their mission, even Petrolimex, we are ready to dissolve it to form another corporation. The State does not threaten anyone and no one can threaten the State,” he stated.
After that, the Ministry of Finance told petrol firms to report their business operations to the Ministry. The Finance Minister’s statement and actions have been warmly supported by the media and the public.
Not playing golf, even during weekend
Thang’s ban was both supported and criticized.
Le Kien Thanh, Vice Chair of the Vietnam Golf Association, said that Thang must respect the laws. HCM City’s Vice Chair Le Manh Ha said that Thang’s ban of golf playing is contrary to the law.
Minister of Home Affairs Nguyen Thai Binh said if officials do not break the Law on Pubic Servants and the laws on labor, and they do not play golf during the office hours, golf playing should not be banned.
The chief of the Minister of Justice’s By-law Document Checking Apartment, Le Hong Son, said that Minister Thang violates the rules on rights of public servants.
Briefly, Thang breaks the rules when he bans his staffs from playing golf.
However, Diep Van Son, an expert of administrative reforms, said that Thang’s ban is extremely reasonable. According to him, three years ago, HCM City filmed traffic rule violators by cameras and its action was protested by the Minister of Justice’s By-law Document Checking Apartment. “I reminded this case to warn anyone who holds the whistle to not blow it wrongly,” Son said.
Son said that Thang’s dispatch is not a by-law document. It is only an internal document which reminds staffs of something. The Law on Public Servants only stipulates the duties of public servants to the Party and the people and their duties in performing their assignments. Thang’s dispatch is necessary because for public servants, assignments are urgent and the top priority. A minister can ask his inferiors to not do something that can affect their personal lives.
Son said that the law should give more power to leaders of state agencies so they can better manage their agencies. Thang’s decision is progressive and it benefits the country. That decision is also good in this time when the transport sector has to deal with gridlocks in cities.
It is understandable why the public backs Minister Thang, because his decision is not very legal but it is very reasonable, particularly in this period of time.
Son concluded: “It is necessary to review the current by-law documents. If they are unreasonable and hinder social development, they should be amended or annulled.”
Interest rate cannot be higher than inflation
Also in the interview, Binh mentioned the trend that banks are the agencies where money is kept safe for the people, not a channel of investment. If people want to invest their capital, they must invest in the stock market, he said.
“In normal conditions, interest rates of banking deposit are unnecessary to be higher than inflation rate,” he stressed.
Experiencing high inflation, Vietnamese believe that interest rates of banking deposit must be higher than inflation. In fact, this has been the policy of Vietnamese banks, though they do not make any statement about this.
Governor Binh’s statement immediately became a hot topic on many online forums and in experts’ talks. Many people said that if interest rates do not higher than inflation, millions of retired people who deposit their money at banks will suffer from losses. Banks are financial intermediaries, which mobilize capital from people to do business and earn profit, not to only keep money for their clients.
One week after the interview, Governor Binh admitted that he had not verbalized clearly to make people misunderstand. He said that interest rates are the income that banks pay for their clients in the next one year while inflation happened in the past, so it is unequal to make comparison between interest rate and inflation.
“The 18 percent of inflation rate that people currently mention is the inflation rate of the last year while the 14 percent of banking interest rate is for the next 12 months. It is inaccurate if you compare the two numbers and say that the banking interest rate is less than inflation rate. We need to compare the current interest rate with the government-forecast inflation rate of 10 percent for next year to see that the current interest rate for banking deposit is higher than inflation,” he explained.
Binh said that the central bank’s mission is well analyzing macro-economics and accurately forecast inflation rates to fix appropriate interest rate policy, in order to contribute fighting inflation while not cause losses for depositors.
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New passenger terminal of Danang airport put into use(18:56 15/12/2011)
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