Vientiane residents irked over proposed road fund
A large number of Vientiane residents are concerned about a proposed road fund to which they would be required to contribute, the Vientiane People's Council heard on Friday.
Addressing other members of the Council, Mr Prachit Xayavong said “We admit there are concerns about the transparent administration of this fund. The draft of an article on the creation of the road fund and a survey carried out by the Vientiane Public Works and Transport Department are unclear.”
He said there had been complaints from members of the public to the Vientiane People's Council, expressing concerns about transparency and the extra burden the fund would place on families.
Most people in Vientiane may not be able to pay the required contribution because they are government officials, including soldiers and police, and earn low salaries.
Mr Prachit pointed out that while Vientiane's Gross Domestic Product was high, the cost of living was increasing and ordinary families were feeling the strain.
There had not been a feasibility study on the benefits to be derived from the road fund and people still hadn't received any information about their obligations and the usefulness of the fund, he added.
Vientiane People's Council members wanted the Vientiane authorities to review the situation and make sure the arrangements satisfied the public, who would contribute all of the money to the fund.
There is already a government-run national fund for the development and improvement of roads. If another fund is set up, it will put extra an extra burden on household budgets.
Deputy Director of the Vientiane Public Works and Transport Department, Mr Bouchanh Keosithamma, said the proposed fund would pay for the building and upgrade of roads in local communities.
Most people living in Vientiane's central districts are happy about the fund because it will help to improve roads in the area. For some years now the Vientiane authorities have faced funding constraints and been unable to carry out much-needed improvements.
However, most people wanted the proposed contribution to be reduced by half. For example, they suggested that the 120,000 kip that was stipulated as the payment for car owners be reduced to 60,000 kip.
The draft of the article concerning the road fund states that payments will begin in 2017 to 2020. The suggested rate is 120,000 kip to 1,200,000 kip for cars and trucks and 80,000 kip for motorbikes.
But only 30 percent of the money collected would be used for road building. The other 70 percent would be used to pay expenses incurred and the cost of administering the fund, Mr Prachit said.
By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update January 16, 2017)