Indian firms laud HCMC reforms, hope for better support

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Indian businessmen are sanguine about the business environment in Ho Chi Minh City but would like more support from the local authorities, a conference at Caravelle Hotel in HCMC's District 1 heard on Friday.

Speaking at the "Vietnam Latest Regulations 2011" event organized by the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (Incham), the participants appreciated reforms that have been effected in formalities and procedures, especially the introduction e-customs and shortened time in clearance services provided by the city's Customs Department as well as the online tax registration service provided by the municipal Department of Taxation.

Several city officials attending the conference, including Ho Trung Dung, Deputy Director of the Labor-Salary-Wage Department of the municipal Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, Lai Tuan Vuong, Deputy Director of the Investment Registration Department of the municipal Department of Planning and Investment, Nguyen Huu Nghiep, Deputy Director of the municipal Customs Department and Tran Thị Le Nga, Chief of the Tax Collection Division of the city's Department of Taxation, said municipal authorities were continuously focused on making conditions favorable for investors.

For instance, Vuong said the Department of Planning and Investment could consider exempting new investors from paying taxes for a certain period of time. This would apply to new investors making products that Vietnam has not been able to make, he added.

Abhay Thakur, Indian Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, said, "Indian enterprises are happy here because the investment environment and communication between them and the local government agencies is good."

However, "it is necessary to go through some major issues to make it easier for Indian businesses."  Thakur pointed out that some Indian banks have been applying for licences to open branches in Vietnam since April 2007, but their applications haven't been approved.

He said the State Bank of Vietnam asked for backing from the Central Bank of India but the Central Bank of India doesn't have such a policy because the Indian banks are already strong and reliable.

It would be much more convenient for Indian enterprises if Indian banks were licensed to open their branches in Vietnam, Thakur said.

Umesh Kalyan and Anant Chhajed, members of Incham's Board of Governors, told Thanh Nien Weekly that municipal authorities have been trying to improve legal services and the reforms have been very positive. They have made things very convenient for Indian businesses, they agreed.

However, the Indian businessmen also expressed hope that they would see further improvements. Kalyan and Chhajed said one of the shortcomings they found was the low skills of local managerial staff.

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