It took more than six months for a woman in Ho Chi Minh City to obtain a house construction permit, during which she had to file her revised application six times and was requested to pay VND50 million (US$2,230) and $5,000 as bribes.
Pham Ngoc Yen, 40, a resident in Tan Binh District, filed her first application with the Binh Tan District Urban Management Office for a permit to build a house on a plot of land in Binh Tan’s Tan Tao A Ward in late March 2015, she told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
After having to modify her application five times according to different requirements by relevant agencies, Yen submitted her revised application for the sixth time on September 18.
On the same day, Yen registered with the district’s citizen reception office to have a meeting with a leader of the Binh Tan People’s Committee.
Yen was received by Le Van Thinh, the then-deputy chairman of the People’s Committee, who is now its chairman, on October 1.
After hearing Yen’s report about her building permit application process, Thinh apologized to her for the shortcomings of the agencies concerned.
Thinh also directed relevant agencies to fulfill all procedures necessary for him to sign a permit for Yen.
The woman got the permit on October 6, more than six months after the date of her first application.
When asked by Tuoi Tre why Yen’s application took such a long time, Nguyen Thanh Nga, deputy head of the Binh Tan District Urban Management Office, said that the municipal Department of Transport had not replied to the office’s question on whether or not Yen’s planned house was allowed to connect directly with the expressway nearby as she requested.
Asking for a bribe
After Yen’s first application was refused, Thai Binh Quoc, an employee at the then-Binh Tan District Land Use Rights Registration Office, suggested she pay him VND120 million ($5,360) in exchange for his help in obtaining a construction permit quicker, Yen told Tuoi Tre.
The office has changed its name to be known as the Binh Tan District Land Registration Office.
Yen refused the suggestion, to which Quoc responded that he would ensure that she would never be granted a permit, the woman added.
After this, Yen failed to get approval for her application despite it being adjusted in accordance with the requirements of many relevant agencies.
She therefore reluctantly agreed to the demand from Quoc, who had continuously threatened that she could not get a permit unless she paid a bribe.
Quoc then asked Yen to pay him two amounts, including VND50 million and $5,000 in cash.
He also told the applicant that he would arrange for her to meet district chairman Thinh.
At 5:00 pm on October 5, a day before Yen received the permit as promised by the district chairman, Quoc asked her to pay him VND50 million in advance.
Yen then told Quoc that she could not pay him as she had to borrow money for the bribe.
‘Using money to show thanks’
Tuoi Tre correspondents met with Thai Binh Quoc on November 6 and he admitted that he had asked Yen to pay him VND50 million in advance before she got a construction permit.
Quoc claimed that he wanted to use the amount to “show thanks” to those who had assisted him in getting the permit for Yen.
Binh Tan District People’s Committee chairman Thinh told Tuoi Tre that he would strictly handle any wrongdoings, if any, in this case.
The official asked the newspaper to provide him with the necessary information and evidence so that he could order an inspection.