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NASC discusses decree on customs procedures

Update: September, 18/2019 - 09:14
Finance Minister Đinh Tiến Dũng speaks at a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee (NASC) yesterday..— VNA/VNS Photo Phương Hoa

HÀ NỘI — Customs procedures for shipments in and out of Viet Nam could be about to get a lot easier.

A draft decree on regulations for customs procedures, inspection and supervision for transit goods via the ASEAN Customs Transit System (ACTS) was submitted to the National Assembly Standing Committee (NASC) yesterday.

The ASEAN Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Transit Goods was signed by ASEAN members in 1998, aiming to facilitate goods in transit, create an ASEAN free trade area and boost regional economic integration.

To realise the objective, the agreement stipulated the development of relevant protocols, including Protocol 7 on customs transit.

The Government approved Protocol 7 in 2017. The Ministry of Finance was assigned to work with ministries and authorities in formulating a Government Decree to implement Protocol 7, which this draft aims to achieve.

Finance Minister Đinh Tiến Dũng said the draft decree would create a legal basis for the application of customs modernisation for goods in transit between ASEAN countries, including Việt Nam, and reduce customs paperwork for transit goods.

Dũng said issuing the decree would enhance the competitiveness of enterprises engaged in good transit activities and bring into full play the advantages of the geographical position of the country in the transportation of transit goods.

Nguyễn Đức Hải, chairman of NA’s Committee on Finance and Budget, said the draft decree regulated some contents that haven’t been amended in the country’s legal documents including guarantees for goods in transit and priority regimes in customs procedures.

Notably, the draft decree contained no provisions contrary to current laws and resolutions.

Most NASC deputies agreed on the necessity of the issuance of the draft decree to incorporate Protocol 7 into national law and in accordance with international treaties, and NA vice chairwoman Tòng Thị Phóng underlined the need to ensure smooth links between Vietnam Customs and other countries.

The safety of the information system and interest of Vietnamese individuals, organisations should be guaranteed, she said.

Other NA deputies proposed the Government enhance the capacity of the customs sector, particularly e-customs, ensuring smooth connectivity and strengthening inspection to prevent trade fraud.

Tax relief

Finance Minister Đinh Tiến Dũng said the tax administration agency had made great efforts in recovering outstanding tax debts, increasing the amount of debt collection. However, tax debt is still prevalent.

Total outstanding tax arrears reached around VNĐ81.6 trillion (US$3.5 billion) by the end of last year, up 4 per cent compared to 2017. Of which, VNĐ41.3 trillion was irrecoverable, accounting for just over half of total unpaid tax debts.

Dũng attributed the situation to several reasons.

There are 2,635 taxpayers who died, went missing or lost civil act capacity with tax debt of VNĐ460 billion.

A total 24,113 enterprises were dissolved but did not follow dissolution procedures and owe tax of VNĐ2.07 trillion. In addition, 216 enterprises were insolvent and went bankrupt but failed to pay tax of VNĐ398 billion.

Notably, there are about 731,696 taxpayers abandoning their business addresses or having their business registration certificates revoked who owed tax of nearly VNĐ23.9 trillion, he said.

The Law on Tax Management stipulates that late payment interest is 0.03 per cent per day on the overdue payment.

However, this regulation was ineffective when applied to the taxpayers mentioned above, he said, adding the total fines and interest of late payments reached VNĐ12 trillion by the end of last year.

“Therefore, it is necessary to build a National Assembly resolution on handling tax arrears for taxpayers who fail to pay to the State budget,” Dũng said.

Hải, chairman of NA’s Committee on Finance and Budget, said the committee agreed on the need for a resolution on handling tax debts that can’t be collected by freezing tax arrears or writing off late payment interest for taxpayers as proposed by the Government.

He suggested the Government consider the settlement of tax debts for State-owned enterprises (SOEs) because SOEs were legal entities represented by the State and were in the process of equitisation.

Thus, the freezing and relinquish of tax debts should be handled during equitisation, he said.

The Government should review and report the settlement of tax debts for those related to land use or land rent. Accordingly, debts would be forzen or written off in specific cases, he said.

Lưu, the NA’s vice chairman, said regulations in the decree should be strict enough to prevent tax evasion.

"We should only erase the tax debt when a court has confirmed the business is bankrupt," he said.

His opinion was shared by Nguyễn Thanh Hải, head of NA’s Ombudsman Committee, saying it was necessary to clarify individuals and organisation whose tax debts were erased and why. — VNS

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