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Thai Binh Natural Disaster Agencies Request $13,200 to Buy Raincoats for Officials

Coming on the heels of Vietnam's annual rainy season, a provincial natural disaster agency has sent a request for US$13,200 worth of raincoats and other related rain equipment for two departments.

On January 9, a joint proposal was sent by two government departments in Thai Binh Province in northern Vietnam: the Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Control and Vietnam Search and Rescue (SAR) for a spending package that would require over VND300 million (US$13,200,) according to Tuoi Tre.

A detailed breakdown of the plan as gathered by Nguoi Lao Dong in Vietnamese reveals that authorities plan to purchase 250 raincoats of varying sizes and 300 sets of protective hats, sandals and water-proof boots. It must be noted that the aforementioned figure of US$13,200 only covers the cost of the raincoats at around VND1 million each. As a result, in practice, the bill is estimated to come in at VND396 million or US$17,400. 

"The proposed price will remain so, if it is passed, our province will also have to adjust the bill according to current law and regulations," Dang Cao Vi, an official from the Directorate of Water Resources told Tuoi Tre in Vietnamese. He maintains that as of June 9, the move remains only a proposition that has yet to be approved by officials in the province. In addition to this, it is understood that the unusual price tag is due to this being the first time the respective authorities have submitted a request for rainy season gear.

The funding request has roused ongoing debates of whether this constitutes a disproportionate use of taxpayer's money. As of today, as reported by Dan Tri in Vietnamese, the People's Committee of Thai Binh Province has signed an order issuing a temporary freeze on expenditures from the Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Control, partially motivated by their proposal for rain equipment.

[Photo via Flickr user Nguyen Dinh Thanh]

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