'Lucky' license plates set to go under the hammer in Vietnam

By Ba Do   February 7, 2017 | 06:33 pm PT
'Lucky' license plates set to go under the hammer in Vietnam
Channeling people's love of lucky numbers into the state budget: Why not?

Vietnamese people are die-hard fans of lucky numbers and are ready to pay a hefty price to obtain license plates or phone numbers with "meaningful" strings of digits.

In that context, Vietnamese authorities have been pushing the country's legislature for a new circular that would legalize the auction of personalized license plates to raise funds for the state budget.

The Traffic Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security has been advocating the auction of license plates for many years but to no avail due to conflicts with the existing Property Auction Law, under which license plates are not listed as valid objects for auctioning.

The department said the proposal was put forward in 1993 when the northern port city of Hai Phong was the first to hold license plate auctions. However, this was stopped by higher authorities.

Ten years later, Binh Thuan and Nghe An held the same kind of auctions, unauthorized, and collected billions of dong (VND1 billion is equivalent to around $44,000) that was reportedly used to tackle poverty. As many of the auctioned license plates were worth over VND900 million, the auctions were flagged by the ministries of finance and public security as there was not a legal framework to govern these sales.

In 2008, the Traffic Police Department continued to advocate license plate auctions and received approval from the government, which ordered the ministries to conduct research and lay out a legal groundwork.

The two ministries drafted a new joint circular that included a number of regulations on license registrations and auction management, but ultimately it was not passed by the national legislature due to conflicts with the existing Property Auction Law.

How the auctions will be organized

According to the Traffic Police Department, Vietnam's legislature - the National Assembly - has recently been urged again to amend the Property Auction Law to legalize the auction of license plates.

With the new legal framework in place, only regular license plates with no special privilege (white plates with black characters) will be eligible for auction.

The auctions will be public and bidders will have to pay a deposit verified by local authorities.

Money made through the auctions will be added to state budget. Local authorities will be allowed to use the money for charitable causes, but will be required to provide quarterly and annual reports to the Ministry of Finance.

According to the department, there still are plenty of license plates with strings of five similar digits, and selling them off will give a big boost to the state budget.

Legislator Nguyen Van Canh said the revenue from auctioning license plates in the next three years may reach up to VND14 trillion ($618 million).

Related news:

> A phone number sold for nearly half a million dollar

> Why Vietnamese are paying six digits for mobile numbers

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