Simplified customs procedures and reduced time spent on tax payments are among reforms that have improved Vietnam's business climate significantly over the past year, experts said at an ongoing conference.
This progress came on the heels of a government resolution issued in March 2014 that aims to improve the business environment and competitiveness of Vietnam by reducing costs, time and risks involved in doing business in the country, according to the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM).
CIEM and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) jointly held the conference on March 12 to review the results of the implementation of Resolution 19 and discuss measures to better implement the resolution and enhance the country’s Ease of Doing Business index ranked by the World Bank.
Nguyen Dinh Cung, CIEM’s director, said the improvement in business climate has been seen in several areas.
The average time spent on tax and social insurance paperworks has been shortened from 900 hours to 400 hours while customs clearance procedures at border gates have also been simplified, Cung said.
But the most significant change is in the mindset, he said.
“In the past, we didn't have a methodology to rate our business climate, but since 2014, we have made evaluations based on calculations by the World Bank,” he added.
He told the conference that the government will issue a new resolution on improving business climate with "stronger measures" so that the country's Ease of Doing Business index would reach the average level of the ASEAN-4 group, comprising Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, by 2016.
Many businesses surveyed by CIEM, however, said they still had to pay “unofficial” money that changed hands among officials. They also complained about high shipping costs in Vietnam.
The conference will last until March 16, and discussions will be about the 10 topics covered in the World Bank’s Doing Business report, including starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, paying taxes and trading across borders.
Vietnam fell six spots in the World Bank's Doing Business rankings last October, to number 78 out of 189 economies.
The country remained far below Singapore, which topped the list, and Malaysia and Thailand, which were respectively ranked 18th and 26th.