First and Foremost I think we really need to put matters into perspective and to try to avoid panic or fear, as Vietnam has done and continues to do a great job in terms of containing the spread of the Virus and at 57 confirmed cases ( MOH March 15th 2020) the number of cases is much lower than most of our regional neighbours and so far there have been no fatalities.
There have been more than 18,000 deaths in the USA alone so far this year from Influenza (CDC) far less than deaths from Covid-19.
The Government has been working hard and in addition to efforts on the medical front they are also evaluating on how to help support business. Directive no 11/CT-TTg is a move in this direction and covers abroad range of measures. This can be considered timely, in view of the strains being put on the Government departments with containment and prevention being the primary focus and certainly much needed to support businesses.
The measures outlined in the Directive 11 are fairly wide ranging but all positive and designed to support business generally. Some of the measures are not new and have been in process for some time such as removing obstacles and reviewing and cutting administrative procedures and hopefully more attention will be focused on these matters as a result of the Directive and in particular for industries that have been hit the hardest in the initial phase of Covid-19 like aviation, ground transportation and tourism and hospitality. Of course whatever measures that are taken will not alleviate the immediate challenges faced by various sectors for example tourism and hospitality as no measures are going to bring back the tourists until regionally or globally Covid-19 is seen to be under control and the fear factor has died down. Certainly helping speeding up the disbursement of investment capital will help support the economy generally as will any measures to assist the import and export of goods to keep production moving.
The main things that business needs generally and the economy is keeping people in jobs and generating income so the focus needs to be on reducing costs of doing business and encouraging people to spend. So reducing CIT, social and health insurance costs and VAT are critical in my opinion and acceleration of public investment (as called for under Directive11).
Access to working capital loans and rescheduling of existing loans for financially sound businesses is also imperative, as addressed as part of the credit support package but this needs to cover well managed and viable SME’s as well as big business.
The next step is to prepare marketing and promotion plans to be implemented as soon as we see that Covid-19 is under control and the number of new cases starts to fall globally. This will be important especially for tourism, transportation and trade so plans need to be ready to be implemented at the press of a button.
Kenneth M Atkinson
Founder, Senior Adviser – Grant Thornton Vietnam