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Central Government Asks for Higher Share of Saigon's Income Under New Budget

As the national government discusses its 2016-2020 budget, local lawmakers are fighting to keep Saigon’s income for spending on projects in the southern hub.

Under the current state budget, Saigon keeps just 23% of its annual income, sending the remainder off to the national government, reports VnExpress. Now, however, central authorities are asking for more, as a new budget proposal would have Saigon give up an even greater portion of its annual income, leaving just 17% for the city itself between 2017 and 2020.

Ho Chi Minh City officials are pushing back. HCMC Party Secretary Dinh La Thang has been especially vocal, citing a variety of much-needed infrastructure projects that would suffer under budget cuts. Implementing flood prevention projects, for example, will cost an estimated VND97 trillion (US$4.35 billion).

“We don’t know where to find that money yet,” he said, according to VnExpress.

As a result, city officials are hoping to reach a compromise in which Saigon would retain no less than 21% of its annual income every year. HCMC Deputy Party Secretary Nguyen Thi Quyet Tam also expressed concerns that the municipal government had already pared spending down to the bare minimum.

As the economic heart of the country and Vietnam’s largest metropolis, Saigon is among the five cities and provinces which are able to not only cover their own expenses, but also contribute funds to the central government. Of those cities and provinces, the southern hub boasts the highest income in the country.

However, central authorities are also beginning to fret over budget woes. Earlier this year, officials sounded the alarm as Vietnam’s accumulated debt threatened to climb to 65% of the national GDP. As a result, some have proposed the construction of public debt clocks in the interest of transparency for government spending.

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