A citizen receives his motorbike licence plate at No 282 on No Trang Long Street in HCM City’s Binh Thanh district (Source: VNA)
 
Hanoi (VNA) - Vehicle owners in Vietnam will soon be able to buy their favourite registration plates via auctions, with a pilot programme launching in five major cities, namely Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hai Phong and Can Tho.

The Ministry of Public Security was assigned to run the programme last month by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Colonel Tran Quoc Trung, deputy head of the ministry’s Traffic Police Department said apart from the five selected cities, the ministry would consider other localities if they met standards and were willing to run the pilot the programme, reported Tuoi tre (Youth) newspaper.

The ministry plans to offer licence plate numbers which are believed to bring luck owners up for auction. Other number plates will also be chosen at random.

A detailed roadmap for the auction is awaiting approval from the Government, he said.

Colonel Le Xuan Duc, deputy director of the department, said there were two methods to select registration plates for auction. First, five numbers which are the same such as 88888 will be selected. Second, registration plates with the two last numbers 68, 86 would be picked up.

In Vietnamese, an alternative way to say the number six (luc) deriving from Chinese sounds like loc meaning a windfall of money, and eight (bat), also a Chinese spelling, sounds like phat, meaning progress. Hence, the numbers 68 and 86 are very lucky. People also like the number nine as the Chinese version has the same pronunciation as cuu meaning everlasting.

According to Duc, the People’s Committee of each locality will set its own starting prices for the auctions.

The auctions will be conducted publicly and transparently aiming to limit bribery for the issuance of plate numbers and to increase the State’s income, Duc said.

Additionally, the auctions aims to serve the demand of rich people who want licence plates they thing will bring them luck, he added.

The ministry said the auction was expected to be widely operated across the country after the pilot programme ends and the ministry conducts an assessment of it.

Responses

A representative from the Ministry of Finance’s Public Asset Management Department said it approved of the auctions.

Tran Quang Thang, president of HCM City’s Institute of Economics and Management, said he applauded the movement.

Thang said the money gained from the auctions should be added to public funds to upgrade public works as hospitals, schools and roads.

“In the past, several people, including businessmen, paid an amount of money to individuals to get their favourite vehicle registration plates,” he said, adding that this could result in corruption and extravagance.

Now that vehicle registration plates are being auctioned, the money would be added to the State’s coffers, he said.

Nguyen Binh, a businessman in HCM City’s District 3 said the move aimed to “kill two birds with one stone.”

People got their favourite vehicle registration plates while the State could earn more money to spend on public works, he said.

Ton That Minh, a resident of HCM City’s District 1, said both the poor and the rich could benefit from the programme.

The rich could get their favourite plates and the poor would benefit from upgraded public services through money gained at the auctions, he said.

However, Phan Thi Bich, a resident living in Binh Thanh district said, “It’s unfair because only rich people can buy them.”

Some people asked if plate owners could sell their lucky plates to others.

In response to the question, Colonel Le Xuan Duc said each vehicle had only one plate, the owner could only a plate with the vehicle, not individually.

Major General Tran The Quan, deputy chief of the ministry’s Legal and Judicial Administrative Reforms Department said under the revised Law on Management and Use of Public Assets, adopted by the National Assembly in June, a person who buys vehicle registration plates via an auction can’t sell the plates to someone without a vehicle.

It is estimated that the State could earn 5 trillion VND (222.2 million USD) a year from auctioning vehicle registration plates.-VNA