Vietnam already sells confiscated merchandise to private companies
A senior official in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region said that auctioning confiscated smuggled merchandise could bring higher revenues to the government budget than the current practice of selling them to private entities.
The idea was put forward by Nguyen Hoang Van, deputy director of the Market Surveillance Department in An Giang Province.
Van told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Thursday that if the 95 metric tons of sugar smuggled from Thailand seized last year by authorities had been auctioned, the local budget would have been increased by up to three hundred percent compared to the modest revenue generated by selling it to private companies.
In that instance, the sugar was sold to companies at a price of VND1.13 billion (US$50,000) in 2017. That same year, An Giang authorities also destroyed 1.6 million packets of smuggled cigarettes collectively worth VND16 billion ($704,000).
Van said the An Giang administration has already approved a plan to auction off confiscated smuggled good in the near future.
He also noted, however, that allowing the auctions could result in racketeers ‘recycling’ the invoices obtained from purchasing the products at public events to justify for subsequent attempts to smuggle similar goods.
Recycling invoices could create greater difficulties for anti-smuggling bodies, according to Le Van Nung, vice chairman of the An Giang People’s Committee.
However, Nung added that the province will keep with the plans in order to pad the local budget. “As this is guaranteed to cause lots of problems in the fight against smuggling in the future, local police will aggressively ramp up their patrol along the border and try to stop invoice scams,” Nung said.
Vietnamese law stipulates that confiscated goods without legal invoices and documents are subject to auction, deputy director Van said.
In An Giang, goods falling into this category that are not claimed by the owner within 30 days of confiscation are earmarked for national ownership.
Smuggling, particularly in sugar and cigarettes, is common in An Giang partly because the Mekong Delta province shares a 100-kilometer-long border with Cambodia, comprised of inland waterways, paths, and rice paddies.