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Party poopers: Vietnam considers tightening belt on extravagant welcomes for guests

By Staff reporters   November 21, 2017 | 07:32 pm PT
No foreign booze while floral bouquets are reserved for top 'A-class' delegations, unless the guest is a woman.

The Ministry of Finance has tabled a draft circular to regulate the spending of state-funded organizations when receiving foreign guests.

The draft, which is open for comment and would come into effect next year, aims to make receptions for guests, especially foreign visitors, more modest and simple.

Due to the high price of foreign beverages, the ministry has nominated them for the chopping block.

Specifically, the ministry said in its draft that drinks used to serve foreign guests should be made in Vietnam.

The draft also limits spending on flowers to welcome or bid farewell to foreign guests at airports to a maximum of VND500,000 ($22). Additionally, only members of special "A-class" delegations, female members of "B-class" delegations and female heads of "C-class" delegations should receive flowers.

The budget for foreign guests' accommodation would be limited to VND800,000-5.5 million per guest, plus lunches and dinners with a proposed limit of VND500,000-1.2 million per diem.

However, budgets for high-level visits would instead be decided by the head of the unit in charge of receiving them.

For domestic guests, the draft suggests a budget of VND30,000 per guest per half-day for drinks and VND300,000 per meal.

The draft also specifies that only relevant parties should be allowed to attend welcoming and leaving ceremonies, and the state budget must not be used to buy gifts.

The country's lawmakers have been criticizing the government for inefficient spending, with extravagant parties thrown by local officials for high-ranking visitors often used as an example.

The draft is the latest part of the government's plan to reduce the budget deficit. It has set a target of keeping state budget overspending at 3.5 percent in 2017, 3.7 percent in 2018, 3.6 percent in 2019 and 3 percent in 2020.

Vietnam is struggling with high public debt, with its national debt reaching more than VND2,600 trillion ($116 billion) at the end of 2015, equal to 62.2 percent of gross domestic product.

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