Vietnam’s top leaders to skip usual Lunar New Year visits

By VnExpress   December 21, 2016 | 11:00 am PT
Vietnam’s top leaders to skip usual Lunar New Year visits
A Vietnamese farmer waits for customers ahead of the Vietnamese
The government's getting tough on gift giving and wasteful spending this holiday season.

In a break from tradition, top Communist Party and State leaders will not take any official visit trips to cities and provinces during the coming Lunar New Year, or Tet, holiday.

The government portal said in a statement Wednesday that the decision was made by the influential Secretariat, which oversees the Communist Party's day-to-day policy implementation, in a bid to curb unnecessary spending during the country’s biggest festive celebration.

City and provincial officials have also been banned from giving gifts to high-ranking leaders.

Vietnamese have a tradition of visiting others and offering greetings and gifts during festivals, especially Tet, which falls on January 28 next year.

In many cases the gifts can be bribery in disguise that officials use to curry favor with their bosses, according to media reports.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in late November banned government officials from offering gifts to their superiors during the holiday.

“I have instructed them [government officials] not to pay any visit to the prime minister or other senior government, ministry and agency officials," Phuc said at a monthly cabinet meeting. Any kind of Tet gifts would also be prohibited, he said.

In mid-November, Phuc approved a seven-day Tet break from January 26 to February 1.

Fireworks ban

Provinces and cities in Vietnam have also been prohibited from celebrating the upcoming Lunar New Year, or Tet, with fireworks shows, long a staple of the country's biggest holiday.

According to a new directive from the Communist Party's Secretariat, some cities and provinces including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have often been allowed to hold fireworks shows for Tet. The directive stopped short of whether there would be any exception for Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

But this year the money should be used to help poor people, the directive said, adding that any violations will be severely punished.

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