Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has required that the tax sector cut the time for enterprises to complete tax paperwork to under 300 hours a year by the end of 2014.

According to World Bank statistics, a Vietnamese business has to spend an average of 537 hours each year to deal with tax procedures, while the average time in other ASEAN member countries is 171. If the time required for declaring and submitting social insurance, health-care and unemployment data is included, tax paperwork will take as many as 872 hours, 4-5 times higher compared with other regional countries.

The Prime Minister also urged the sector to try and reduce the time for tax procedures further to the regional level of 171 hours in 2015.

A survey conducted by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry showed that 24 percent of interviewed businesses ranked the tax sector second from bottom in terms of administrative reform, saying that the sector still requires businesses to hand in unnecessary documents.

Hoang Thi Lan Anh, deputy head of the Reform and Modernisation Division under the General Department of Taxation, was of the view that coordination from the insurance sector is needed in order to achieve the goal of cutting time spent on tax procedures.

At the same time, the Prime Minister also asked the customs sector to halve the time used for customs clearance, make public customs clearance indexes and reduce the paperwork for import-export goods.

Vietnam now ranks 65 th in the 180 nations in conducting customs procedures. However, it takes 21 days to complete import-export procedures in the country, while the time is only 11 days in Malaysia.

At present, all customs departments and offices nationwide have applied the e-customs system in their operation, creating favourable conditions for import-export activities, and helping enterprises cut costs and save time.

However, the e-customs system is limited to goods declaration, while other steps still require interaction between customs officials and enterprises, thus the time taken is yet to be reduced remarkably.

Director of the General Customs Department Nguyen Ngoc Tuc said the sector is taking drastic measures to streamline procedures in line with international standards in the sector, while continuing to implement the national and ASEAN single-door customs mechanism.-VNA