Customers making transactions at the State Treasury of Vietnam (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam aims to rank among four leading countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in terms of business environment and national competitiveness.

Chairing the Government’s recent regular meeting to discuss the building of a draft resolution on improving the business environment and national competitiveness, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stressed that the draft Resolution, which is expected to numbered No. 02, places priority on four key areas: simplifying procedures for doing business; continuing reforms in management, specialised inspections and connecting the national single window; boosting e-payments and providing online level-4 public services; and developing innovation ecosystem and encouraging startups.

According to economists, the Government has made drastic efforts in renewing institutions and ameliorating the business and investment climate, helping the country move 21 steps in the business index tracked by the World Bank from 2015. Performances of some criteria such as logistic services, innovation, e-Government and access to e-public services saw strong improvements.

However, economist Pham Chi Lan said that although there is a significant growth in the number of newly-established enterprises (120,000 firms), the year 2018 witnessed a record high of businesses halting operations. It was estimated that if ten firms started their business, seven others shut down.

This means the companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, were under intense pressure, she added.

Bottlenecks in business conditions and mechanisms as well as irrational tax lines have hindered businesses’ growth, according to Director of the Central Institute of Economic and Management (CIEM) Nguyen Dinh Cung.

“We have reformed strongly in recent years. However, the world is moving faster and there is a competition race among countries across the five continents towards improving the business climate and national competitiveness”, Cung said.

Economists and the business community believed that if reforms in 2018 still lagged behind expectations, the Government needs to double or triple its efforts in the future.-VNA