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Further reforms are needed to boost competitiveness: experts

Update: October, 25/2019 - 08:39
Conference attendees speak about ways to improve the business environment at a meeting yesterday in HCM City. VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp

HCM CITY — Despite Việt Nam’s rise in the global competitiveness index, further reforms are needed to achieve economic targets set by the Government, speakers said at a meeting held yesterday in HCM City.

Nguyễn Minh Thảo, head of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM)’s Business Environment and Competitiveness Committee, said that Việt Nam had jumped 10 places to 67th in the global competitiveness index, with 61.5 points, a rise of 3.5 points compared to last year. 

“This is the first time Việt Nam has made it into the first half of the list,” she said. 

The Global Competitiveness Report 2019, which compared 141 countries, was published by the World Economic Forum (WEF). According to the report, Singapore this year overtook the US to become the most competitive nation in the world.

“The most significant reform of the business environment has been the reduction of conditional business lines, as well as the reduction and simplification of business conditions,” Thảo said. 

Other major reforms include the use of electronic transactions in administrative procedures and cashless payments, and in inspection methods.

Thảo noted, however, that the business environment still “has many barriers as ministries and agencies ‘compromise’ to abuse their management rights”.

“Business conditions are still the main obstacle,” she said. “Newly issued business regulations are not practical and go against the direction of the Government.” 

Inspections conducted by authorised agencies are a major concern of businesses. “Some policy provisions are enforced differently among agencies, causing huge frustrations for businesses,” Thảo said. 

“Further reforms should include efforts to enhance competition to promote innovation, regulatory reform to improve allocation efficiency, and new plans to use public resources more effectively,” she added. 

Nguyễn Văn Đức, deputy head of the legal department at the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in HCM City, said the government had launched e-government and promoted the digital economy while supporting a start-up ecosystem.

It has also been helping cities and provinces increase competitiveness indices.

“It’s important to accelerate growth in private sector employment, strengthen property rights, develop more competitive factor markets, and improve enforcement of competition policy,” he said. 

The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) is based on 12 pillars: institutions, infrastructure, information and communication technology adoption, macroeconomic stability, health, skills, product markets, labour markets, financial systems, market size, business dynamism, and innovation capacity.

The Global Competitiveness Report’s competitive indicators include gross domestic product, quality of overall infrastructure, effect of taxation on incentives to invest, and the availability and quality of information and legislation.

Việt Nam is among the countries with the lowest risk of terrorism and among the most stable levels of inflation, according to experts. 

As part of the Government’s goal to improve the business environment, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has recently assigned ministries and relevant sectors to promote reforms for enterprises.

The PM has asked the Government Office to work with agencies to draft a plan on removing regulations related to business activities in the 2020-25 period, which must be submitted and issued by early next year. 

The conference, organised by CIEM, Australian Ad and Aus4Reform, discussed ways to improve the business environment in Việt Nam. — VNS

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