Minh Cham looks at the freedom to conduct a business as an advancement of human rights.
Human rights were first spelled out in the declaration of independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 and then developed in the Constitutions adopted in 1959, 1980, 1992, 2001, and 2013.
Freedom to do business
The freedom to do business was acknowledged in the 1992 Constitution, marking a big leap forward in Vietnam’s human rights although there were still restrictions in certain business areas.
The 2013 Constitution defined the freedom to conduct a business as one of the fundamental human rights.
Dr. Nguyen Van Cuong, Director of the Institute of Legal Science of the Ministry of Justice, explained, “Human rights, including the right to do business, are respected and protected by the State. It’s the State’s responsibility. Of course, citizens enjoy business freedom.”
Freedom to conduct a business was specified in the 2014 Law on Enterprises and the 2016 revised Law on Investment. Many restrictions on business have been abolished, licensing procedures simplified, and companies’ self-determination expanded.
For the first time, a list of forbidden or conditional businesses was included in a legal document. This was a breakthrough in policy towards transparency and correcting previous errors in setting business conditions.
The 2015 Civil Code provides better protection for citizens’ freedom of ownership and contract. The 2015 Criminal Code, which was revised this year, annuls the illegal business crime.
Promoting the freedom to do business
The right to conduct a business is still restricted by business conditions stipulated in sub-laws and sub-licenses. Amid international integration and economic development, Vietnam continues to promote the freedom to do business.
At a recent government meeting, the Ministry of Planning and Investment proposed to annul nearly 2,000 business conditions to improve the business environment, reduce business costs, boost productivity, and enhance competitiveness.
Phan Duc Hieu, Deputy Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, said independent agencies and ministries need to trim unnecessary business conditions.
He said, “Ministries and sectors are responsible for a review, which should be collated with a review by an independent actor and approved by a board of experts, or a working team like an arbitrator agency. The review results should be submitted directly to the government or the National Assembly.”
The Vietnamese government has worked hard to create an environment, where everybody enjoys the freedom to do business, boost economic growth, and promote human rights.