Practical reforms required for better agriculture: Gov’t

The Prime Minister, the Government and enterprises want ministries and agencies to carry out practical reforms, particularly those removing unnecessary administrative procedures, to create a better business climate in agriculture, a Government official said.

Minister-Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung, who is also head of the Prime Minister's working group, made the statement on April 1 at a meeting with ministries to address issues in agricultural production and trade.

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), under Circular 21 issued last year by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, only 47 fishing ports across Vietnam are qualified to certify the origin of aquatic products out of a total 83 fishing ports in the country.

As dozens of fishing ports are unable to grant certificates of origin, about 5,400 tons of aquatic products are stuck at the ports, unable to reach the market, according to VASEP.

Another circular issued last year by the Ministry � Circular 36 � requires aquatic products from transit ports to Vietnam to be certified by authorities of the countries where the transit ports are based. The importers must show a copy of the certificate to Vietnamese authorities, which, according to VASEP, is unnecessary and slows the movement of imported aquaculture goods.

At the meeting, enterprises also complained that they had to wait between six months and two years for their applications to register new veterinary medicines as the Animal Health Department still use paper-based procedures.

Responding to the issues, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said it would consider removing Circular 36 and, this month, would continue examinations and announce more fishing ports that can certify the origin of aquaculture products.

At the meeting, the health ministry was criticized for being too slow in amending a regulation in Government Decree 09/2016/ND-CP which requires the use of iodized salt in food processing.

According to enterprises, the use of iodized salt should be optional instead of compulsory.

The issue of iodized salt in food processing was discussed in 2016 but, until now, the health ministry has not solved the issue, Dung said, adding that the ministry was too slow.

Tax issues were also raised that the Ministry of Finance was asked to address. For example, fertilizer enterprises are not happy with regulations in which fertilizer is not subject to value added tax (VAT), thus the enterprises don't have input costs with VAT abatement.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment was asked to speed up its environmental impact assessment which now takes up to 45 days as the assessment must be approved by a council.

Enterprises also recommended the Ministry of Science and Technology issue instructions on labelling for special aquaculture goods which are specialties of a certain area or locality.

Ministries must concentrate on addressing policy problems, speeding up administrative reforms in order to remove barriers for business and help them reduce production costs, Dung said.

He also asked ministries to report to the National Assembly and Government about amendments and tell businesses about policy changes.

Since August 2016, the Prime Minister's working group has been responsible for supervising ministries, agencies and localities in implementing the Prime Minister's orders, especially reforms to create a better business climate.

Source: People's Army Newspaper