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Honey farmers decry unofficial police ‘beekeeping fee’ in central Vietnam

Friday, June 09, 2017, 12:53 GMT+7

Beekeepers in the north-central Vietnamese province of Ha Tinh are speaking out about a ‘beekeeping fee’ they say local police are imposing on their operations.

Police in several communes in the province’s Ky Anh District, despite having no authority over apiculture operations, are hunting down beekeepers and sending them ‘invitations’ to pay a ‘beekeeping fee’ of VND2 million (US$90) – VND3 million ($130) a month.

Ta Van Hieu, the owner of a bee farm housing 500 hives in Ky Trung Commune, says local police are forcing him to pay VND3 million monthly, a fee he calls “totally absurd.”

Nearby, in Ky Tay Commune, local beekeepers face similar issues, claiming police have been collecting unreasonable and illegitimate fees since 2011.

“Anyone who starts a bee yard here has to pay the fee,” one beekeeper said. “Those who refuse to go to the police station are paid a visit by the officers at their farms.”

Nguyen Luong Nam, head of the Ky Tay police unit, said the fee is issued to local farmers at the request of the commune’s administration, a contradiction of Ky Tay’s chairman, Nguyen Viet Ky, who claims the fees are paid on the beekeepers’ own accord.

“Local social security is threatened when people from other locales setup bee yards here,” he said. 

“Beekeepers have voluntarily agreed to pay police a monthly VND2 million fee to have them keep the commune orderly and safe.”

For the district-level Ky Anh administration, however, that explanation doesn’t seem to hold water.

A Ky Anh leader said district authorities are planning to inspect those responsible for the beekeeping fee collection in the affected communes, confirming that “sending ‘invitations’ to beekeepers asking them to pay a fee is against district regulations.”

“We will check and sanction those found violating the rules,” the leader said.

It is not the first time Ha Tinh, some 350km south of Hanoi, has made headlines for bizarre mandates from local authorities.

In 2015 Ha Tinh emerged as a Saigon Beer-obsessed province after authorities issued fiats requesting that public servants, state offices, businesses, and consumers drink beer brewed by the Saigon Beer-Ha Tinh brewery. Local beverage shops were also asked to persuade their patrons to purchase the domestically-made beverage.

In Ho Do Commune, Loc Ha District, locals were even reminded of the province-backed policy to drink Saigon Beer twice a week via speeches broadcast through a commune-wide public loudspeaker system.

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