Frequent inspections tire Vietnamese business owners

Despite a government order dictating that authorities only inspect businesses once a year, enterprises in Vietnam are facing repeated inspections that do more harm than good to their business.

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A traffic inspector examines fire extinguishers installed on a long-haul bus in Hanoi.
A paper manufacturing company based in Ho Chi Minh City said it has been the subject of approximately 30 inspections by authorities since 2015.

In 2015, it was inspected 13 times by various administrative bodies, including three environmental units and four firefighting departments.

Last year, it was checked by eight firefighting delegations of varying levels, two environmental units, a food hygiene agency, a nuclear radiation safety body, and the municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

The firm was subjected to inspection four times in January-April this year.

The government said in December 2016 that companies could only be inspected one time a year.

The company’s owner, who asked to remain anonymous, said that there had been times when his company had been forced to ‘welcome’ two delegations of inspectors on the same day, both inspecting compliance on environmental protection measures.

“My company has had to establish a new division dedicated to the reception of inspectors,” the owner said. “Isn’t there communication between the authorities so that they won’t have to inspect things that have already been inspected?”

Moreover, he said, the authorities seemed to be ‘determined’ to find fault with the company and would rarely conclude their inspections without some kind of ‘violation.’

“It takes up a lot of our time to receive one inspection after another; it’s almost unbearable,” the owner said, drawing a sigh.

According to Van Duc Muoi, the former CEO of local food producer Vissan, the mindset of inspectors is to 'dig up dirt' on businesses, instead of facilitating compliance.

“There needs to be comprehensive changes in our regulatory environment if we are to encourage the growth of business,” Muoi said.

N., director of a local auditing firm, said not only have tax authorities carried out too many inspections, but the duration of each one has also been unnecessarily long.

The maximum allowable duration of a tax inspection is “five actual working days," an ambiguous term that has been taken advantage of by tax authorities in order to lengthen their checks over weeks, N. said.

Rather than commencing their inspection on Monday and concluding it on Friday, the authorities inspect his company once a week, prolonging the course of their work to over a month.

“We have no choice but to grin and bear it, for it only takes up more time to pursue a legal angle,” N. explained. "Bringing the case to court might hurt our business in the future."


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