Firms asked to pay for disaster control effort

Ngoc Hung

This is one of the contents in the draft of a decree on establishing and managing the natural disaster prevention and control fund presented for comment by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development at a meeting on the natural disaster prevention and fighting law in HCMC on Tuesday.

For the disaster control fund, besides local companies as compulsory contributors, all citizens aged from 18 will also have to make contributions. In particular, direct workers in the agriculture industry will pay VND10,000 per person annually, officers in military organizations will contribute a day’s wage and workers in other industries will hand in VND30,000 each annually.

Relating to this type of fund, there is already Decree 50 on the mechanism of establishment and operation of local storm and flood control funds. However, as the decree has yet to specify those of working age as contributors, the payment amount of each specific worker has yet to be regulated except for the contribution level of agricultural households and other targets.

According to the committee in charge of drafting the version, classifying the two kinds of fund payers is not yet possible because people’s roles in society are increasingly diversified while the gap in their differing incomes is vast.

Due to these problems, the natural disaster control fund has suffered deficits over the past few years, said Nguyen Xuan Dieu, deputy director of the Directorate of Water Resources under the agriculture ministry. In 2012, the storm and flood control fund of the southern province of Binh Duong collected less than VND10 billion while its spending was roughly VND20 billion, he cited.

“Surveys show that most localities have relied on central or local state budgets to deal with storms and flooding while the storm and flood control fund does not promote its effectiveness when necessary,” Dieu remarked.

At the meeting, several representatives noted that the fund collection from companies and locals in big cities and provinces with huge numbers of enterprises and populations like Hanoi and HCMC could be transferred to other localities which are attacked by storms and floods annually to help them repair the aftermaths of such natural disasters.

This method could help avoid the situation in which a number of provinces and cities do not use up the balance in their disaster fighting funds, while other localities such as central provinces with modest fund balances suffer huge asset damages in the floods and storms season.

Vietnam has lost over VND50 trillion due to storms and floods in the past three years, with the asset damages in 2013 alone amounting to more than half, equivalent to the total damages recorded in the two previous years, the agriculture ministry reports.

The natural disaster prevention and fighting law which was passed by the National Assembly on June 19, 2013 and will be effective from May 1, 2014 includes six chapters and 47 articles.

The law stipulates that natural disasters are irregular natural phenomena which might cause damage to lives, assets, environment, living conditions and socioeconomic activities. They are storms, low tropical pressures, whirlwinds, lightning, torrential rain, floods, flashfloods, flooding and land sliding caused by heavy rain and flooding or water streams among others.