In the last few weeks there have been several pieces of legislation passed through the government and various ministries to assist the country and its citizens in their struggle with Covid-19 and the economic fallout of the last several months of lockdown. I asked one of out legal assistants to outline that legislation for me with the idea that I would then flesh it out into a narrative. But she did such a thorough job of outlining that I think it is better to include her work entirely rather than try to reword it. I did, however, limit it to the primary piece of legislation which is supplemented by two other resolutions that are cited in this outline but not included. So, without further ado, enjoy this update on Vietnam’s Covid-19 response by:
Nguyen Dam Phuong Anh, Legal Assistant
I. Resolution No. 105/NQ-CP of the Government dated 09 September 2021 on supporting enterprises, cooperatives, household businesses during Covid-19 pandemic
To provide additional measures to support enterprises and business households affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, Resolution No. 105/NQ-CP dated 09 September 2021 (“Resolution 105”) was issued and came into effect on the same date, with the following targets:
- Recover and develop production along with prevention and protection from Covid-19;
- Support and resolve difficulties, obstacles as well as minimize the number of enterprises suspended temporarily, dissolved or bankrupt due to Covid-19; and
- Achieve specific goals on supporting those affected by Covid-19 to:
- Receive credit support;
- Renew operations for enterprises suspended temporarily; and
- Implement policies on tax/fee extension, exemption, or reduction along with policies to support employers and employees.
Under Resolution 105, many ministries and local authorities are instructed to implement the below measures to achieve the above objectives as follows:
A. Allowing for the resumption of operations while implementing pandemic prevention methods
1. The Ministry of Health (“MOH”)
MOH is required to monitor and coordinate with other ministries, departments, localities, agencies and units in performing the following tasks:
- Efficiently and reasonably distribute vaccines;
- Keep expanding groups of prioritizing employees for vaccination, including employees working in:
- Key economic zones, economic zones, high-tech zones, industrial parks and industrial clusters;
- Enterprises processing agricultural and aquatic products;
- Enterprises in the supply chain that are dealing with production orders, import and export activities, and use many personnel;
- Enterprises operating in the field of goods circulation and seaports; and
- Key national and local projects and workers in high-risk fields.
- Permit health insurance payments for remote medical examinations and treatment activities; and
- Guide enterprises on the purchase of testing equipment to perform self-testing for Covid-19. Accordingly, enterprises are entitled to:
- Import vaccines;
- Purchase biological products, testing equipment; and
- Self-test for employees with the test results recognized by competent authorities.
2. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (“MOFA”)
MOFA has been assigned to research, negotiate and mutually recognize “vaccine passports” between Vietnam and other countries in order to reopen the economy.
3. The Ministry of Information and Communications (“MOIC”)
MOIC has been required to build a digital platform on pandemic prevention to provide helpful information for enterprises.
B. Ensuring stable production / circulation of goods and overcoming supply chain disruptions
1. The Ministry of Transport (“MOT”)
MOT has the responsibility to:
- Ensure stable production and free circulation of goods (especially essential goods and materials), specifically:
- Instruct localities to uniformly implement the “green channel” of road and waterway transport nationwide, inter-provincially, and inter-regionally; and
- Prevent the creation of additional conditions, permits or sub-licenses that obstruct the circulation of goods or increase business expenses.
- Coordinate with the MOH and other relevant ministries, departments, localities, and agencies to promulgate the regulations and guidance on delivery and transportation of goods
2. The Ministry of Finance (“MOF”)
MOF has the responsibility to direct the General Department of Customs to:
- Allow enterprises to use scanned documents, particularly:
- Allow copies certified by digital signatures for documents that must be submitted as originals in the form of paper/notarized/certified copies customs clearance of goods; and
- The original documents / hard copies are still required after custom clearance for post-inspection.
- Instruct customs branches for the continuous, timely, and safe customs clearance to meet the requirements of producing and machining components for:
- Enterprises in the field of electronics and high-technology;
- Enterprises importing essential goods for pandemic prevention, cures, medical and children’s foods.
- Simplify customs procedures for products that are deemed to be aid or donations from foreign countries or domestic organizations and individuals.
C. Reduce costs, resolve financial difficulties and cash flow
1. The Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs (“MOLISA”):
MOLISA is required to:
- Promulgate policies on the reduction of social insurance premiums or support from the balance of short-term social insurance funds; and
- Instruct Vietnam Social Security to propose exemption of fines for late payments of social insurance that are due in 2020 and 2021.
The above requirements have been implemented through Resolution No. 116/NQ-CP (please contact us for further information).
MOF is required to:
- Rapidly implement the issued policies on relaxation and reduction of taxes, fees, charges, and land rents;
- Propose deferral of excise tax on motor vehicles that are domestically manufactured or assembled to the end of 2021;
- Implement policies on preferential taxes on imports serving Covid-19 prevention and control
This has been implemented through Resolution No. 106/NQ-CP, please contact us for further information).
3. The Vietnam General Confederation of Labor (“VGLC”)
VGLC has been asked to:
- Consider exemption of trade unions fees for trade union members in enterprises and cooperatives affected by Covid-19 in 2021 and 2022;
- Propose the reduction of trade union contributions by enterprises and cooperatives affected by Covid-19 in 2021 and 2022; and
- Study impacts to consider the reduction of trade union fees in its process of amending the Law on Trade Union.
4. The State Bank of Vietnam (“SBV”)
SBV is required to:
- Encourage credit institutions to continue reducing interest on existing loans and new loans; and
- Introduce policies on debt restructuring, exemption and reduction of interests and fees, debt category retention for borrowers impacted by Covid-19 towards the expansion of eligible beneficiaries, scope and duration.
- Ministry of Industry and Trade: reduce electricity prices and charges for users as regulated in Resolution 97/NQ-CP of the Government dated 28 August 2021;
- Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism: consider reduction of deposits for travel service business by 80% until the end of 2023 and shortening the processing time for the refund of such deposits from 60 to 30 days; and
- Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment: consider reduction of fees for the grant of mineral mining rights.
D. Facilitation in terms of labor and experts
MOLISA is asked to
- Ease conditions on the issuance and extension of work permits for foreign workers in Vietnam specified in Decree 152/2020/ND-CP (“Decree 152”), particularly:
- Conditions on qualifications and appropriate years of work experience, technical expertise (Article 3.3.a and Article 3.6.a of Decree 152); and
- Documents proving expertise and technical employment (Article 8.3.d, Article 9.4.b, Article 9.7 and Article 17.5 of Decree 152); and
- Allow foreign workers with unexpired work permits to work in other provinces within a period not exceeding 06 months without having to renew or apply for a ork permit (only need to report to labor authorities).
- Provide recommendations for enterprises to negotiate with employees to increase overtime hours suitable to the COVID-19 situation (not exceed 300 hours/year).
- Continue implementing vaccine diplomacy; and
- Review the process for and facilitate the entry of foreign experts, investors and their families to Vietnam.
b. The Ministry of Education and Training: cooperate with MOLISA to provide guidance and qualifications for foreign teachers teaching at short-term training centers, high schools and universities.