A dozen leaders of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Vietnam’s business hub Ho Chi Minh City are fielding 5,000 online signatures for a petition seeking government support for local SMEs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The petition has been prepared by Lam Minh Chanh, CEO of BizUni and co-founder of the Management and Startup Community, on behalf of eleven leaders of SMEs, who set out in the online document a number of solutions to help SMEs out of the pandemic’s heavy impacts.
These leaders are collecting 5,000 online signatures for their petition before a printed version of the appeal is delivered to the government for consideration.
By 11:30 pm on Sunday, the petition had received 565 online signatures from corporate supporters across the country.
Accounting for 97.8 percent of the country’s total number of enterprises, SMEs, especially in the southern region, have experienced hefty hardship due to the complicated and prolonged pandemic, the petition said.
Many enterprises have had to suspend operations while others are facing soaring financial difficulties, including high expenses for the 'three-on-the-spot' operating model (staff work, have meals, and rest at the same place arranged by their employers), workshop and warehouse rental, and social insurance cost, among others.
With a view to helping SMEs to survive the pandemic, the petitioners asked the government to give them support in the three main fields related to employment, tax-cost, and finance- banking.
Firstly, SMEs should be exempt from paying employee social insurance premiums for at least six months after the government announces the end of the pandemic.
Penalties should not be imposed on SMEs that have been unable to pay social insurance premiums during the pandemic.
A 100 percent exemption of social insurance premiums should be given to employers and employees that have had to stop working during the social distancing periods.
There should be an emergency support policy for employees who have so far fulfilled their payment obligations, the petition said.
Secondly, regarding tax and cost policies, the petitioners asked for an exemption of value-added tax (VAT) for 2021, a 50 percent VAT reduction in 2022 and 2023, a cut of 50 percent of the payable corporate income tax (CIT) for 2021, plus a 30 percent CIT reduction for three consecutive years from the announcement of the end of the epidemic.
At the same time, they request relevant authorities to cover all costs incurred by SMEs during the pandemic, including coronavirus testing charges, epidemic prevention costs, and 'three-on-the-spot' expenses.
Thirdly, in respect of financial and banking policies, SMEs wish to access bank loans at a preferential interest rate of four percent a year from August 1, 2021 until the end of 12 months after the government announces the end of the epidemic.
They have also proposed debt rescheduling for SMEs that have had to suspend operations and faced difficulties due to insolvency caused by the health crisis.
For other SMEs, they should be given debt rescheduling and a reduction of lending rates by two to three percentage points from August 1, 2021 until the end of six months after the government’s announcement of the end of the pandemic.
The petition also recommends the government consider a roadmap for SMEs to resume operations in the context that more and more workers have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
SME staff having received the first vaccine shot should be allowed to resume working on the basis of strict compliance with epidemic measures, and employees and representatives fully vaccinated should be permitted to travel to other provinces for work.
Over the first eight months of this year, the number of enterprises shutting down nationwide due to the COVID-19 impacts has reached 85,500, a 24.2 percent year-on-year increase, the General Statistics Office reported on Sunday.
Ho Chi Minh City has accounted for 24,000, or 28.1 percent, of the total, registering a 6.6 percent rise from a year earlier.
Since the pandemic hit Vietnam in early 2020, the country has documented 435,265 COVID-19 cases, including 10,749 deaths, the Ministry of Health reported.
By Sunday evening, the numbers of people getting the first and second doses had reached nearly 17 million and over 2.43 million, respectively.
Except Cao Bang, 62 out of the country’s 63 provinces and cities have been affected by the coronavirus spread, with Ho Chi Minh City topping the list with around 210,000 infections, followed by southern Binh Duong and Dong Nai with over 104,200 and 22,600 cases.