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With Increased Autonomy, Saigon Wants to Raise Tobacco Tax, Traffic Fines

A Saigon leader has announced the first steps he plans to take since the city was granted more autonomy to make decisions by the National Assembly.

VnExpress reports that the city intends to use its newfound power to increase the size of traffic fines and raise tobacco taxes within the metropolis.

Nguyen Thien Nhan, Saigon's party chief, said at a meeting on Tuesday that he wants to increase taxes on goods like tobacco in order to deter usage and protect the environment. Vietnam currently taxes tobacco products at a rate of 41%. 

Nhan also hopes to make several types of traffic fines more punitive in order to improve compliance with rules, though he did not provide a timeline or exact figures for either initiative, the news source shares.

Last week Vietnam's national legislature gave Saigon more decision-making power in areas such as land management, investment and public spending without having to seek approval from the central government. This change will go into effect mid-January 2018.

Saigon contributed 28% of the national budget in 2016, meaning its continued economic growth is important to the entire country.

However, VnExpress also shares that some residents are concerned that the city's new autonomy will draw even more people to its densely populated districts. Saigon's population is now 13 million, and a third of this figure is made up of migrants.

"It would be a disaster if the number rises to 15 million," one meeting attendee noted.

Nhan responded by saying that he and other leaders are almost powerless to stop the migration flow, though he hopes to cooperate with officials from neighboring provinces in order to improve their local economies.

"Once people have secured a good income, they will stop rushing to the city," he said.

[Photo via Destination Tips]

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