Central Institute for Economic Management Director Nguyen Dinh Cung spoke to Thoi bao Kinh te Vietnam (Vietnam Economic Times) about progress on commerce reforms.

Q: The Government has amended Resolution 19 on key tasks and measures to improve the country's business environment and competitive advantages twice in the past two years. Will you please explain why?

A: The fact the resolution has been updated twice is an indication of how the Government views the imperative need to improve the nation's business environment and comparative advantages.

Objectives laid down in Resolution 19/ 2015 were more ambitious than those written in Resolution 19/2014.

In the 2014 Resolution, our objective was to be ranked 6th among the 10 ASEAN member countries in terms of our business environment by the World Bank. In the 2015 document, we want to be ranked 4th place in ASEAN.

This is a strong indication of the Government's determination to improve the nation's business environment. Many countries in the world have already carried out reforms, and this has put pressure on us to change our policies. I'm confident we'll improve our business environment.

Q: One year has passed since the Government issued Resolution 19/2014. Will you share with us some of the successes that we achieved in 2014 and what targets have been set for 2015?

A: Out of the 10 criteria set by the World Bank to evaluate a country's business environment, we have accomplished five of them. For example, our recently revised Enterprise Law has introduced articles relating to protecting investors. At present, our global ranking is 165th. I'm confident in 2015 we'll jump about 65 steps.

In addition, there are many other indicators. In the past, it took an enterprise about 872 hours a year to declare taxes and pay unemployment insurance, but now it has fallen by almost half.

Q: A very important reflection on the business environment is border clearance, but many enterprises keep complaining about the cumbersome paperwork to related ministries and agencies. What's your view on this issue?

A: Effective customs clearance improves national competitiveness. The Ministry of Finance has instructed the General Department of Custom to shorten customs clearance times, and positive results have been reported. However, some problems remain in Government agencies regarding the management of food safety and quarantine. These procedures are secondary requirements and are time consuming.

Ministries and sectors have tried to simplify paperwork and to change the way inspections are handled by sending customs officers to border posts to perform their duties.

Last but not least, IT in all Government agencies has made the work much quicker and efficient. IT has also helped enterprises cut travel costs and reduced customs clearance times.

Q: To achieve targets set by Government Resolution 19/2015, what specific areas should we focus on?

A: Under the document, by April 30 this year each ministry, office and agency must have an action plan to improve the business environment.

Changes to administrative procedures and co-operation between Government agencies must be based on the country's economic structure and growth model. These changes must focus on raising productivity and efficiency, as well as competitiveness.

In 2015, Vietnam aims to achieve the following:

Lowering the tax payment period to 121.5 hours/year, while developing and disclosing a database on tax refunds;

Processing time cut for import and export clearance to 13 and 14 days, respectively;

Processing time for business establishment procedures cut to 6 days;

Processing time for bankruptcy procedures cut from 60 months to no more than 30 months.-VNA