Hai Phong told to revise fee collection hinh anh 1A view of Hai Phong Port (Photo: baocongthuong.com.vn)

Hanoi (VNA)Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue has asked the Ministry of Finance and Hai Phong city to strictly follow the PM’s instruction on reviewing fees for using infrastructure, service facilities and public utilities at ports in the city.

The Government Office has sent Document 9014/VPCP–KTTH to the city’s People’s Committee to convey the Prime Minister’s instruction on the issue. The previous document from the Government in May said adjustments in fees were needed to ensure they are reasonable, comply with the law and create favourable conditions for import and export firms, as per Government resolutions on improving the business climate.

The document was sent right after the municipal Hai An district People’s Committee required businesses that have imported and exported goods through the city’s ports to pay fee from the beginning of the year to quickly complete the payment. The deadline is September 15.

The announcement by Hai An district also said if firms did not pay the fee by the deadline, they would be subject to administrative penalties stipulated under Decree 109/2013/NĐ-CP, dated September 24, 2013, on price management, fees and invoices.

The district also said they would apply coercive measures on companies that did not follow the announcement.

“Customs units, bonded port and warehouse trading firms in Hai Phong will not allow import-export goods through their seaports if companies do not pay the fee,” the announcement said.

The district said most businesses have executed the resolution that came into effect from the beginning of this year, regulating fees for construction, infrastructure, service buildings and public utilities at ports. However, there were some companies that had not paid the fee.

Under the resolution, individuals and organisations that have shipments stored at bonded warehouses must pay 2.2 million VND (97 USD) to 4.8 million VND (220 USD) per container, an increase of nearly 70 percent from the previous fee.

The municipal People’s Committee said fee collection was legal and suitable with the current laws. In addition, the fee is half of that collected at the Lao Cai border gate, it said.

Businesses, meanwhile, expressed their disagreement with the city’s resolution, saying the fees were unreasonably high and undermined their competitiveness.

The Vietnam Private Sector Forum (VPSF) has proposed the municipal people’s committees conduct direct dialogues with businesses and associations to collect their ideas on the issue. In addition, associations also sent several documents to the Government to resolve the problem.

Pham Thi Ngoc Thuy, VPSF’s deputy general secretary, said the short duration between the resolution’s promulgation and it coming into effect has made businesses passive, as all issues, including contract and price for the whole year, were negotiated and signed beforehand. The fee could make their export products’ prices higher, causing losses for businesses.

Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vu Tien Loc said the resolution could be a dangerous precedent for other localities which have seaports and airports to collect fees in the future, creating disadvantages for the country’s export activities.

Hai Phong Port is the second-largest port in Vietnam with one third of total cargo passing through it.-VNA