Ho Chi Minh City: Efforts to Shorten Licensing Time for FDI Enterprises

2:40:52 PM | 3/12/2014

In order to create an effective dialogue between leaders of Ho Chi Minh City and representatives of foreign investors in the city, the Investment and Trade Promotion Centre (ITPC) organised "Dialogues between agencies issuing investment certificates and consulting firms in the field of foreign investment."
Mr Le Manh Ha, Vice Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City's People's Committee, said that the city is concentrating fiercely on reforming administrative procedures and improving the investment environment, particularly issuing investment licences. Accordingly, the city has reduced by 30 percent the time for issuing investment license and certificate for FDI enterprises. Also, the process of issuing investment certificate is getting increasingly transparent. Submitting registration documents and receiving investment certificates and seals are done at the Department of Planning and Investment. Particularly, the problem of harassment and negative issues in the process of issuing investment certificates has been limited, building trust among the foreign investor community.
Since the beginning of 2014, the total number of foreign investment projects in the city is 347, with total registered investment capital reaching US$3.08 billion, in which newly approved projects accounting for US$2.73 billion and increased capital US$352.25 million. Regarding document processing, from the beginning of the year to August 31st 2014, the Department of Planning and Investment of the city has received 440 records of new certificate, in which 284 records have been addressed and 148 are being addressed. The average application processing time is 47 days (the longest being 172 days and the shortest 9 days).
To simplify procedures and reduce inquiry phases, the Department of Planning and Investment of the city has promoted the application of information technology and automation of providing information about application process via email provided by investors. With this approach, investors can simply refer to the website of the Department of Planning and Investment to find out information. In addition, an investment software management system has also been built and installed at the city's People's Committee to serve the monitoring, inspection and exchange of information on records to promptly resolve problems needing agreement. Particularly since the beginning of November 2014, the Department of Planning and Investment of the City has implemented an online investment registration service for enterprises wanting to establish, change the contents of the operation of representative offices and branches, or change representative under enterprise law. In addition, the Department has also improved the quality of application instruction and processing through internal report forms of focal point agencies receiving applications towards simplicity and created a smoother process to shorten record processing time.
According to Mr Fred Burke, Director of Baker & McKenzie, the Department of Planning and Investment of Ho Chi Minh City updating the progress of issuing certification for investment firms on the website is really an effective solution which helps businesses update themselves accurately without losing time. However, he also noted that currently, the information updating on the website of the Department is still done manually, thus the speed of information update is still slow.
According to Lawyer Motohisa Nakagawa from Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu Law Firm, the investment law of Vietnam still has many unclear and overlapping points, which poses difficulties for FDI investors when considering investing in Vietnam. Lawyer Motohisa Nakagawa said that with the function of giving legal advice to businesses in Japan, over the past time Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu Law Firm has recorded many complaints from Japanese firms about the investment environment in Vietnam, mainly revolving around the issue of tax and customs.
At the dialogue, representatives of FDI enterprises appreciated the efficiency and efforts to improve the investment environment by Ho Chi Minh City authorities. The most convincing evidence is that the procedures and time for issuing investment licence has been shortened. However, generally speaking, the investment registration procedures are still troublesome, time-consuming and costly for investors. The time to receive an investment certificate remains long; typically it takes six months for investors in real estate to receive a certificate of investment. Enterprises proposed that Ho Chi Minh City further enhance administrative reform and improve procedures for granting investment licenses.
Representing Ho Chi Minh City authorities, Deputy Chairman Le Manh Ha noted the practical suggestions of FDI enterprises participating in the dialogue; simultaneously directed the Department of Planning and Investment to focus on reviewing the remaining weaknesses to promptly address as well as to promote completion of investment certification registration system via internet to reduce the waiting time for businesses.
My Chau