Village officials ‘steal’ Tet money from the poor

After Tet, the officials of Quang Ninh district, north central coast province of Quang Binh, discovered that the Tet allowance for the poor in one of its villages, Thong Nhat, was used wrongly as some officials intentionally deducted the allowance to support relatives.

The family of Nguyen Dai Thap received only VND250,000 as a Tet allowance while signing for VND1 million. (Photo: SGGP)
According to the government’s directive, each person living in poverty should receive VND200,000 ($12) with an impoverished family receiving no more than VND1 million ($58) in total as a Tet allowance. However, all the poor in the village received much less than expected.
One of the victims, Le Thi Do, struggles to feed four children since her husband died a few years ago. Due to such poverty, two of her children had to stop their studies at school to help her at home. She said that the village head, Vo Van Thang, asked her to receive the Tet allowance at the village’s culture house.
“They asked me to sign for the allowance worth VND1 million but later they only gave me VND250,000 ($14) and eight kilos of rice. When I asked them about the difference, they said that every family received VND300,000 ($17) but the allowance had to deduct VND50,000 ($3) for the eight kilos of rice. The difference between the received allowance and the allowance quoted in the list will be used to support the families who nearly reach the poor level.”
Another victim, Nguyen Dai Thap, only received VND150,000 ($9) and 8 kilos of rice as a Tet allowance for his family of five though he also signed for VND1 million.

The family of Nguyen Duy Chuong, was angry with the work of the village chief. Pham Thi Lan, wife of Chuong said, “Generally I think we are grateful for the allowance no matter how much it is. But I’m so angry knowing that the allowance for the poor is used to support those who are above the poor level, even some have cars [and] storied houses.”
Many residents at Thong Nhat reported that most of the families who are listed as ‘nearly poor’ had close relationships with the village chief and members of Thong Nhat’s Fatherland Front Committee. In particular, Nguyen Phong D, an official, has a private car and Le Van N  has a two- story house but received VND300,000 each ($17), ‘the allowance for nearly-poor families,’ village officials said.
The leaders of Quang Ninh district held a meeting about the case with the leader of An Ninh Commune and villages’ chiefs at the office of commune’s People Committee Wednesday morning.
During the meeting at Thong Nhat, vice-chief Nguyen Dai Son and the village’s cell secretary, Tran Van Tho, visited every family in the village to ask them to sign for another allowance of VND500,000 ($29). Two witnesses Pham Thi Lan and Nguyen Thi To said: “These two persons asked us to sign and also ensured that there would be no bad consequences. Then, in total, we signed for VND1.5 million ($87) each but in fact only received VND250,000 ($14) each.”
Besides reducing the Tet allowance, officials of Thong Nhat indirectly reduced the allowance again by deducting the cost of eight kilos. This act went against the government’s directive especially when the government also gave four tons of rice to the commune.
Late afternoon on February 5, Mr. Nguyen Viet Anh, standing deputy secretary of the Quang Ninh district, said that they already collected back more than two-thirds of the ‘allowance for the nearly poor persons’ and expected to collect the remaining amount before the end of the same day.
Chairman of Quang Ninh district’s People Committee Le Huan noted that the district has already directed relevant officials to carry out an investigation and apply disciplinary measures to those implicated in the case. 

By Truong Son – Translated by Truong Son

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