Vietnam Prime Minister apologizes for tax hurdles

By Anh Vu, Thanh Nien News

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Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung talks with corporate leaders on the sidelines of a meeting in Hanoi on Monday. PHOTO: NGOC THANG
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has apologized to the business community for complicated tax procedures that have cost them time and money.
“It hurts to know that businesses face many difficulties in paying their taxes. As a top government leader, I want to apologize to enterprises and the public,” he said at a meeting with business leaders in Hanoi on Monday.
Dung made the remark after Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Cuc of the Vietnam Tax Consultants’ Association gave voice to complaints offered by the business community about tax obstacles.
Cuc, former deputy head of the General Taxation Department, said that while the Prime Minister and other high-level tax officials had been very keen to grant tax incentives to troubled firms and create favorable conditions for taxpayers, this sentiment lost steam on the micro-level. 
Tax officials who work directly with businesses, she said, offer nothing but difficulties.
She also said that tax policies are not universally understood at the various tax departments, causing more troubles to enterprises.
The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) submitted 300 proposals to the Prime Minister during the meeting. 
Their overwhelming suggestion was that the government should ensure a level playing field across economic sectors and protect their freedom to conduct business.
The recent survey conducted by the VCCI found that private companies felt provincial authorities had favored state firms in the allocation of land and funds and prioritize foreign investment over helping domestic firms resolve their problems.
The business community also called on the government to simplify procedures for setting up enterprises, investing, trading, and filing for bankruptcy.
In addition, they asked that the corporate income tax to be cut to 20 percent from the current 25 percent.
The Prime Minister promised that the government would “do its best” to remove obstacles and create favorable conditions for businesses to improve production and trade.
Vietnam is home to nearly 500,000 enterprises, 95-96 percent of which are small and micro, according to VCCI.
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