Be fair to state enterprises, investment minister says

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State-owned enterprises should be assessed fairly since most of them make profit and contribute significantly to the economy, Planning and Investment Minister Bui Quang Vinh said Sunday.

"We shouldn't see state-owned enterprises as burdens to the state budget and the economy," Vinh was quoted as saying in a report on the government's website.

The minister said recent scandals involving loss-making shipbuilder Vinashin and shipper Vinalines were caused by individuals "who knew they were breaking the law but did it anyway for their own interest."

The wrongdoings at some companies have given a bad name to the SOE sector as a whole, he said.

"We have to review and deal with the violations strictly, but we can't disregard the efforts of millions of employees working day and night at state enterprises."

Vinh cited a 2010 report from the Ministry of Finance as saying only 20 percent of state companies in Vietnam did not make profits.

While he admitted that as many as 30 state comapanies had high debt-to-equity ratios (above 3), Vinh said it should not be a cause for concern since many of them took out large loans to expand production.

State utility Electricity of Vietnam, for instance, has borrowed a lot of money to build plants and facilities, but the loans will be repaid once the plants start production, he said.

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