Vietnam’s business environment is still below the average of Asean and experts have urged ministries and agencies concerned to make greater efforts to deal with bottlenecks, especially in tax and customs sectors.
Speaking at a seminar on business environment improvement in Hanoi on Wednesday, many experts said Vietnamese indicators were far below the average of regional countries.
Bui Thai Quang from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) said Vietnam now ranked 149th in tax payment.
According to the Doing Business 2014 report by the World Bank (WB), enterprises in Vietnam spend up to 872 hours, or one-third of working hours in a year, completing tax payments. Specifically, firms spend 335 hours on social welfare payments, 320 hours on value added tax (VAT) and 217 hours on corporate income tax.
The time for tax filing in Vietnam is four times longer than the average of the Asia-Pacific with 208 hours. In Thailand, enterprises only need 160 hours for social welfare payments and 156 hours on VAT.
Meanwhile, Vietnam now ranks 65th among 189 economies in terms of customs procedures.
It normally takes enterprises in Vietnam 21 days to finish export papers, compared to only 11 days in the member countries of OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development).
In addition, it costs firms in Vietnam $610 to ship a container, compared to $450 in Malaysia and $856 in East Asia-Pacific.
The customs ranking is not as bad as the tax sector. However, streamlining customs procedures will help improve the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), Quang said.
Nguyen Dinh Cung, director of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), urged halving the required time for customs clearance in Vietnam as it now takes 14 days for export shipments and 13 days for imports.
Hoang Thi Lan Anh, deputy head of general Department of Taxation’s Reform and Modernisation Department, said Vietnam had improved in terms of tax payment, cutting tax payment time from over 1,000 hours to 872 hours now.
Since 2008, the department has sped up support for enterprises by launching tax filing software and simplifying procedures for them. More than 90 percent of enterprises have switched to using this software so far and over 350,000 companies make online tax declarations.
Bui Quang Thai from the general Department of Customs said Vietnam had deployed e-customs and targets to list in the top three in Southeast Asia by 2020.
According to CIEM, Vietnam is able to cut four out of nine business start-up procedures, thus helping the nation jump by 50 notches. For investor protection, Vietnam can strive to rise to 120th from the current 175th.