With the aim of giving more autonomy for investors, improving the investment environment in the direction of transparency, and increasing benefits for investors and businesses, the Ministry of Planning and Investment recently held a workshop to collect comments from experts and foreign investors to amend and complete the Investment Law, said the Vietnam Business Forum, a weekly magazine of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The amendments were drafted on the basis of perfecting mechanisms and policies, creating a clear legal framework, creating strong transition procedures in the implementation of investment projects; resolving the difficulties in investing activities of the enterprises, improving the effectiveness and efficiency of state management of investment activities; and creating a legal basis to consolidate and strengthen incentives and protection of foreign investment, a ccording to Deputy Minister Dang Huy Dong.

After eight years in practice, although the 2005 Investment Law has expanded autonomy and improved the business environment, some contents of this law reveal inadequacies such as the areas which are encouraged in the law are quite extensive, inconsistent and not really focused on attracting investment projects with high quality and efficiency; and the regulations on investment procedures and project implementation are still complicated.

According to Quach Ngoc Tuan, Deputy Director of Legal Affairs and member of the draft law compiling board, the scopes of the amended law include investment activities in Vietnam and investment from Vietnam to foreign countries, rights and obligations of investors; investment policies, incentives and guarantees; and the state management for investment activities. Thereby, there are five major contents to be amended and need to obtain comments from the experts.

For foreign investors, defining this concept is an important basis for the application of investment procedures and conditions for foreign investors in accordance with domestic law and international treaties. However, in the workshop, many experts suggested that the concept of "enterprises with foreign owned capital comprise any enterprise established by a foreign investor" is not specific. It should clearly define the capital ratio of foreign investors in enterprise for it to be considered an enterprise with foreign owned capital.

Regarding procedures to establish enterprises and investment projects, in the draft law, fundamental rules of procedure to implement investment projects are amended towards clearly defining requirements of investors in the process of preparing for investment and responsibility of local authorities in providing information about land planning and construction; investment registration certificates are replaced to reflect investment purposes, the nature of this paper is to note that investors register to implement investment projects; the project area to implement procedures for granting investment registration certificates is narrowed; the one-stop shop mechanism is set to receive and resolve investment and construction procedures; and the records and verification projects are specified.

Representative of the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PVN) said now is a high time to amend the Investment Law as localities and businesses are waiting for foreign investment. However, at this point, there are still problems at the stage of business registration or granting investment certificate.

On the concept of investment fields and investment incentives, the draft also affirms the principle of equal treatment, fair and not discriminate between domestic and foreign investors. In addition, it continues to expand, encourage investment projects using high technology, new technology, environmental protection, production and use of clean energy, investing in agriculture - rural, farming, forestry, fisheries and development projects of education, training, health care, etc.

For overseas investments, under the old Investment Law and Decree 78/2006/ND-CP, depending on the size of investment capital, certificates for overseas investments serves as a business registration or under the investigation of overseas investment projects associated with the establishment of legal persons abroad. But the draft aims to amend and supplement a number of articles such as confirming investors must be responsible for the operational efficiency of investment, additional investment activities abroad which are encouraged such as market expansion, exploitation of natural resources in invested country, supplying raw materials for domestic production, and applying overseas investment registration procedures in the foreign exchange management bodies.

"Domestic investment and overseas investment are separate issues. Because Vietnam cannot apply its law when a corporation exports capital abroad. However, we need to closely manage this capital," stated Professor Nguyen Mai.

According to many participants, the one-stop shop mechanism is implemented at the local level only in the stage of receiving and returning administrative results, but in fact investors must file documents with many different specialised agencies of the provincial People's Committees. Survey results show that investors must perform an average of 18 procedures related to land, construction, deployment environment for investment projects. Many businesses also said that procedures in construction and land are the most cumbersome.

Currently, the project of Investment Law amendment is included in the programme to build laws and ordinances of the National Assembly in 2014. Lawmakers will soon approve to enact this important law to create a basis for increasing funding to attract foreign investment and boost economic development in the future.-VNA