Vietnam’s amended laws on Investment and Enterprises should include regulations to assure rights and benefits of investors even when policies are changed, as they play a key role in luring foreign investments, experts said.
They added that in the context of international integration and fluctuations, some shortcomings have been revealed in the current Law on Investment and Law on Enterprises, which have taken effect since 2014, so government agencies must acknowledge these when making amendments to the laws.
The two draft laws, which will be submitted to the National Assembly's upcoming sitting, are in the center of attention of foreign and local investors as they are intended to improve institutions and policies for a transparent legal framework and international integration.
Nguyen Mai, chairman of the Vietnam Association of Foreign Invested Enterprises (VAFIE), said that the measures protecting the rights of investors (which are committed by the host country) play an important role in luring investment so they must be included in the revised laws.
According to Mai, Article 13 of the current Law on Investment stipulates that the investment incentives allotted to investors in their investment certificates would remain intact even if legal documents are changed.
However, Mai said, investors need further guarantees on property ownership, transferring their legal property and profit overseas, and their investment rights in case of legal modifications. He thus proposed adding a chapter on investment guarantees containing provisions related to the rights of investors so as to make sure demands of foreign investors are met.
Besides, Article 13 also regulates that investment incentives for certain projects would remain unaltered but other conditions are not guaranteed despite being included in the investment certificate.
Mai thus recommended adding some contents to Article 13. For instance, in case a newly-promulgated legal document contains provisions that are inconsistent with the regulations and conditions stated in the investment certificate, the investors may choose to continue complying with the contents of the certificate, or abide by the new legal provisions.
Nguyen Van Toan, VAFIE vice chairman, said that the guarantee of foreign investors' rights is a key to the investors as regulations had been changed frequently, making it harder for them to invest in Vietnamese assets.
Sharing the same view, Nguyen Ngoc My, chairman of Australian investment and construction Vabis Group, said that Vietnam’s regulations confuse investors as they are unstable and have a negative impact on business plans whenever they change.
The policy system was not transparent and consistent and it would become an issue if the government wanted to make the business environment more open, My said.
Besides, according to Toan, though many countries and territories have invested in Vietnam, the presence of high-tech enterprises is scarce as European and American investors are concerned by the lack of rigid policies on corporate transparency and intellectual protection.
According to Dau Anh Tuan, director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)’s Legal Department, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has recently asked VCCI to review the regulatory system.
Tuan said that the regulations often overlap and there are problems with ongoing projects in local areas, especially real estate, as investors had to meet different requirements and qualifications set by both local and central authorities.
The issue will cost investors and businesses time, money and efforts and interrupt business operation as they have to fulfill overlapping administrative works. .
The government, ministries and agencies need to revise all laws and regulations comprehensively. An independent organization must be set up to help the Government review the revised policies, he said.