Inflation dominated the discussion at the two-day Government meeting in Hanoi over the weekend, but at the press conference immediately following, the hottest topic was extra fees for vehicles in congested cities.

Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang said there will be no circulation fees for private vehicles or peak-hour fees for cars in city centres this year.

The time frame for implementing these two fees is not yet fixed, according to the minister. The proposals still await approval from the Prime Minister and the National Assembly.

"The Transport Ministry does not want to apply these two fees at the moment, given the country's credit crunch," said Thang.

The fees have caused concern among the public over the last few months, since they will require each car and motorbike owner to pay up to an extra 20-50 million VND (950-2,380 USD) per year.

"The personal vehicle fee is ridiculous," said Hanoian Nguyen Quang Hung. "I have both a car and a motorbike, but I only use one at a time. I drive my car whenever I travel outside the city centre and I take my motorbike to work. If the fee is applied, I'll rent out my motorbike and just drive my car to the city centre since I'd have to pay for both vehicles anyway."

Minister Thang explained that these two fee categories are initiatives from the Government and the National Assembly, and not from his ministry.

If a private vehicle fee is applied, it will affect some 600,000 private cars and millions of motorbikes in Vietnam 's five biggest cities of Hanoi , HCM City , Da Nang , Hai Phong and Can Tho, according to the minister.

Poor people and suburban residents will not have to pay the fee, he said.

Thang said local governments will have control over the particular character of the fees imposed. The Transport Ministry estimated that the personal vehicle charges taken from some 600,000 private cars alone can amount to 12 trillion-15 trillion VND (20 million-25 million USD) a year.

The implementation of the road maintenance fee will also be postponed, the minister said, though it is put in place by the Road Traffic Law that took effect in 2009. The reason for the delay is that there are still no documents providing instructions on fee implementation.-VNA