|Farmers harvest fish in the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang. Provinces and sectors are encouraged to improve the country's business environment and strengthen the economy's ability to compete in the region. – VNA/VNS Photo Duy Khuong
HA NOI (VNS) — Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung yesterday called on provinces and sectors to improve the business environment and strengthen the economy's ability to compete regionally.
Dung stressed that sectors and provinces must enhance their competitiveness by increasing technology use, and reforming administrative and tax procedures.
According to Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh, the business environment improved in 2014. Specifically, the registration time for business licences has been cut to three days, just half of the set goal of six days, while time spent on business initiation procedures was reduced from 34 days to 17 days.
The Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) found in a study that Viet Nam reached the ASEAN-6 (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam) average for its ability to protect investors, but it still lags behind the region's average for tax payment and social insurance reforms.
In 2014 and early 2015, the time required for paying taxes was reduced by 380 hours (from 537 hours per year to 157 hours per year) and is set to be cut by an additional 35.5 hours to meet the target set out in Resolution 19 on improving the country's business competition and environment.
The procedure for social insurance payments has been slashed by 100 hours (from 335 hours per year to 235 hours per year), which is still a long way from the target of 49.5 hours per year. The total time for tax and social insurance payments is expected to drop by 480 hours.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Electricity of Viet Nam have issued documents to reduce the time needed to access electricity, which has been cut from 115 days to 85 days and will undergo additional simplification to reach the resolution's goal of 70 days.
The Ministry of Finance and the General Department of Customs reviewed and adjusted policies to address customs procedures for cross-border trade transactions.
Yet Minister Vinh described this as the responsibility of not only the Ministry of Finance and the General Department of Customs but also of related ministries and agencies.
Nguyen The Thao, chairman of the Ha Noi People's Committee, said at the meeting that Ha Noi already integrated Resolution 19 criteria into its socio-economic development. HCM City Chairman Le Hoang Quan also said his city's top priorities were improving business environment, tax reform, customs reform and social insurance. HCM City was set to hold a meeting today on the matter.
After hearing Vinh's report, Dung expressed his concern at the small number of sectors and provinces that had established plans for implementing Resolution 19. Just 12 sectors and 12 provinces had submitted plans so far.
"I want to remind everyone that we need to put all our resources into improving the business environment and cutting red tape," he said.
Dung said considering recently improved performance indexes, the 6.2-percent growth target is completely feasible.
He asked for the adoption of technological advances in public e-services and continuing administrative reform. In order to maintain current growth momentum, ministries, sectors and localities needed to fulfill their responsibilities to their best ability, he said.
The leader told officials to scrutinise existing problems and shortcomings, and find efficient solutions to push the resolution forward.
Without national competitiveness amidst a globally integrated landscape, fast and sustainable development is unachievable, he said, adding that macro-economic stability was the first priority. That stability could be achieved by closely monitoring capital and real estate markets.
Relevant units were also asked to keep track of negotiations for economic and trade deals that afforded the public and enterprises new opportunities. Easing hospital overcrowding was also identified as a key task. — VNS