Pham Thanh Binh, a representative from USAID Governance for Inclusive Growth (USAID GIG) talks to Thoi Bao Kinh Te Viet Nam (Viet Nam Economic Times) about adjustments made to import and export laws.
Are amendments to export and import tax laws necessary?
After 10 years of implementation of the laws, amendments are truly essential if Vietnam is to meet requirements for development and international integration. Viet Nam has joined several free trade agreements (FTAs) in the past few years, which means the country will have to follow international rules in order to participate equally in the world market.
Besides, the amendment could support the Government's resolutions on business and environmental reform, and increase our nation's competitiveness.
Drafts of the two laws are up for public comment. Do you think the offered adjustments will work in reality?
The adjustments generally seem like they will lift obstacles that have burdened businesses for a long time. However, the specific content must be discussed further.
For example, the laws regulate that businesses have to pay taxes before customs clearance. We examined international rules and found that businesses do not pay fees and taxes right after completing customs procedures for goods clearance. They are given time to prepare the money. If we follow international rules, procedural issues and tax payment should be simpler and easier for businesses.
In terms of a monthly tax declaration, the revised laws give priority to specific businesses. But at present, the number of businesses which are given priority treatment is 38 out of a total 50,000 import-export businesses. The businesses benefiting from this is too few, and most of them are big companies. These priority policies will not create favourable conditions for small and medium enterprises, which are the majority.
If lawmakers keep the preferential tax option, they should expand the number of businesses eligible.
The law compiling committee also proposed that prioritised enterprises can pay taxes without interest within 10 days. However, the proposition is not concrete or developed so it can be applied in many different ways.
Collecting taxes from citizens in border areas should be reconsidered. At present, citizens do not have to pay taxes if they buy goods for personal use. In my opinion, the adjusted laws should clearly regulate just levying taxes on those who buy goods for re-selling inland and to goods distributors.
The concept of ‘tax payers' is currently understood in a variety of ways. How can the concept be unified?
This term should be made clear. I think the laws should simply declare that tax payers are exporters and importers, and those who do pay the tax can be anyone including mandated individual(s) or agent(s).
What should import-export businesses expect from the revised laws?
Import-export enterprises can expect that much of the revisions will create considerable changes in administrative procedures, especially their simplification.
Many items in the laws wish to create favourable conditions for enterprises. For example, importing raw materials for domestic production will be exempted from taxes.
Amendments to tax refund and declaration procedures are good additions. — VNS