Nearly 1,000 local and foreign businesses on Friday met with Vietnam's newly-elected Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, pouring out their troubles and making a plea for the government to improve the country's business environment.
It was not the first time businesses urged the government to reform economic policies and administrative procedures which are often named among the biggest hurdles for doing business in Vietnam. And, even though the government has many times pledged the best supports for businesses and made certain efforts in recent years, different polls suggested that what have been delivered are still far from expectations.
However, there is sentiment that with the new cabinet, things may get better this time.
"In his recent speeches, the PM always highlighted the importance of businesses and has made bold actions to solve problems for businesses," Huynh Van Minh, chairman of Ho Chi Minh City Business Association, told Thanh Nien before the meeting.
"We have strong faith in the determination [to make reforms] of the new government," he said.
At the meeting in Ho Chi Minh City, Minh urged the government to provide businesses with "transparent, safe and efficient" legal frameworks so they can operate and develop. Once businesses do well, they create more jobs, pay more taxes to the state budget and boost gross domestic product, he said.
"Developing businesses is the most sustainable measure for developing the economy and eliminating poverty," Minh said.
Vu Tien Loc, chairman of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), asked the government to issue a resolution on a national program for developing businesses over the next five years.
"Strong" administrative and policy reforms are needed to reduce risks and costs, especially informal charges, for businesses, he said.
For instance, he said, the government can cut interest rates by 1-2 points next year from the average of 8.5 percent a year at the moment, as it is much higher than other regional countries such as the Philippines with 2.2 percent and Malaysia with 2.1 percent.
The government also needs to revise policies to encourage startups, and collaboration between local and foreign businesses, instead of focusing on attracting foreign investment only, according to Loc.
Responding to businesses' proposals, the new PM promised to introduce measures for improving Vietnam's business environment, and issue policies that support small and medium enterprises and startups.
"I pledged that the government's policies will no longer be inconsistent, so businesses now can operate and expand without worrying about them," Phuc said.
Figures from VCCI showed 428,000 businesses were shut down or dissolved in 2007-15, accounting for 45.5 percent of the number of companies were launched in the years.
Around half of the closures took place in the past three years, the chamber said.
Of 513,000 operative businesses, more than 96 percent were small-sized and only 42 percent reported profits at the end of last year, according to VCCI.