Businesses unable to access Govt support package, experts call for simpler application procedures

Friday, Sep 25, 2020 07:57

Only 10 per cent of enterprises have been able to benefit from the Government’s financial support packages, according to a survey done by the HCM City Union of Business Associations in August. — VNS Photo

Procedures for accessing the Government’s credit package for enterprises and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic must be made simpler and more rational, experts have said.

The Government announced a VND250 trillion (US$10.7 billion) package, but the many attached conditions mean not many have been able to benefit from them, according to experts.

A survey by the HCM City Union of Business Associations in August on the status of businesses in the city found 84 per cent facing difficulty or great difficulty in restoring production and business activities post the pandemic, 9 per cent had started to overcome them and only 5 per cent had returned to normal.

Most suffered from lack of funds, falling demand and supply chain disruption.

Only 10 per cent of enterprises have been able to benefit from the support package while the rest have not been able to access them due to various reasons, it found.

Nguyen Anh Quan, the general director of G7 Taxi Management Joint Stock Company, said his company has more than 1,000 drivers who have completed the procedures for financial support, but no one has received any money yet.

The support is targeted at employees renewal of whose contracts has been postponed and those who had to stop working for more than a month consecutively between April 1 and June 30, but G7 drivers only had to stop for 22 before returning to work on alternate days, he said.

“So these workers are not eligible for support.”

Dr Vo Tri Thanh, director of the Institute for Brand and Competitiveness Strategy, said while the Government has been proactive and vigorous in both fighting the pandemic and promulgating support policies for businesses and the economy as a whole, execution of the latter has been slow.

“Enterprises find it hard to benefit from the support policies since they have to complete many procedures and meet a number of unreasonable requirements.”

For instance, to get bank loans, businesses must have cut their payroll by 50 per cent after the outbreak began, whereas many businesses made great efforts to retain workers to be ready to resume production post-pandemic.

"The Government promptly announced policies to support enterprises, but that determination has not percolated down to all levels and localities.

“The execution of these policies is not synchronised between the central and local levels due to rigid mindsets and some officials’ fear of taking responsibility by approving enterprises’ applications for support.

“Therefore, to improve the effectiveness of policies and programmes to support businesses, it is necessary to clear the bottlenecks … at the grassroots level."

SMEs and start-ups are having the most difficulty accessing credit from support packages because banks are assessing creditworthiness based on normal standards and still demanding collateral for loans.

Most of these businesses do not have real estate to offer as collateral because they mostly rent offices.

Requiring businesses to pledge property to borrow at this time is unfair, experts said.

Banks lack trust in SMEs, though not without reason since some have failed to engender trust, they said.

Nguyen Hoang Dung, an economist and former R&D director of the HCM City Institute of Economy and Management, said: "It is necessary to analyse the reasons why the recent support packages are difficult to disburse. If the conditions are too difficult, they can be relaxed. If banks or officials in charge of approving applications cause difficulties for businesses, that should be addressed immediately.

“If the problems … cannot be resolved, rolling out more support packages will not help businesses or the economy.”

The Viet Nam Textile and Apparel Association said to help textile enterprises overcome difficulties, the Government needs to exempt them from paying social insurance and trade union fees from May to year end since they are a huge expense. — VNS

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