HCM CITY — A month after implementing the VAT refund policy for foreign visitors and overseas Vietnamese at the Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat international airports, the results have been less than impressive, officials have admitted.
To date, just 41 cases worth a little over VND40 million had been processed, they said.
At a training course held last week for shops, travel agencies and tour guides, Le Chien Thang, deputy head of Customs Department's Export and Import Duties Division, said the participants had raised problems that he had never thought of.
The questions they raised also showed that the tasks and procedures had not been explained clearly, he said, without elaborating.
Thang said it was the first time the country was giving VAT refunds.
"If we do not manage it tightly, unscrupulous elements can take advantage of it and cause losses to Government's budget."
Thang said an important issue that the department wanted tour guides, sales staff and enterprises to make clear was that tourists are entitled to a refund of 85 per cent of the VAT and the remaining 15 per cent is to be paid to banks responsible for processing the refund.
The Vietnamese government does not retain the 15 per cent for itself, Thang stressed.
One of the reasons that the policy had failed to become popular was that the participating shops had not attached importance to it, and did not bother to display logos and signs that would catch visitors' attention, he said.
Concerned agencies would co-ordinate with each other to discuss the issue, solve problems and make the policy more effective, he added.
As of July 26, 18 enterprises in HCM City with 77 outlets and 11 in Ha Noi with 31 outlets had joined the pilot scheme.
According to the HCM City Customs Department, there was no case of VAT refund recorded in the first week. In the second week, there was just one customer applying for the refund.
Tourists had not understood the policy and procedures because they had not been publicized and explained clearly, the department said.
This led to nine cases of tourists who presented bills and requested refunds at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport, unaware that the policy applied only to purchases made at enterprises that have joined the programme.
Moreover, all the valid invoices presented for VAT refund at Tan Son Nhat were from shops belonging to the Duy Anh Fashion and Cosmetic Co. Ltd., an abysmal result, given that HCM City is a major commercial and tourism hub in the country.
The training course was held by the HCM City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism in co-ordination with the Department of Tax, Customs Department and participating banks. — VNS