Vietnam Cooperatives struggle to access COVID-19 support

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) – Most cooperatives have been harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic while only a small proportion of them have benefited from support policies, heard a forum held by the Vietnam Cooperative Alliance (VCA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on March 24.

The forum discussed policy access and solutions to enhance cooperatives’ resilience and adaptation in the new normal context.

A survey conducted by the VCA and UNDP showed the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the operations of the cooperatives at an average level of 3.84/5, where 5 was the most serious impact.

Tourism sector cooperatives were the hardest hit with an almost absolute impact rating of 4.83/5.

The survey was conducted on 174 cooperatives in 24 provinces and cities and 34 cooperative alliances of provinces and cities. It assessed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cooperatives in Vietnam as well as the capacity of cooperatives to adapt during the pandemic.

The revenue and profit of cooperatives also decreased significantly during the
pandemic. Statistics showed 82.2 percent of cooperatives have suffered reduced
revenue, of which, 42.5 percent of cooperatives have seen their revenue cut by
more than half. Profits of the cooperatives also declined.

Only a few cooperatives in the monetary and agricultural sectors are still
profitable.

To cope with the pandemic, the Government has issued many mechanisms and
policies to support taxes, fees and loan interest rates. Along with that are
resolutions and circulars supporting labourers, reducing electricity prices and
cutting fees related to a number of travel permits.

However, the survey showed the sector’s ability to grasp and access policies is
still limited.

Forty-one percent of the total cooperatives surveyed said they did not know
about the policy of the zero percent lending interest rate to cooperatives to
pay salaries for employees who aren’t working.

Thirty-eight percent of cooperatives do not understand the policy of reducing
the retail electricity price for production and business activities.

The rate and number of cooperatives benefiting from the support policies is
also very limited, with only 14 percent of cooperatives benefitting from
the value-added tax payment deadline extension.

The percentage of cooperatives enjoying electricity price reductions and
corporate income tax reductions are only 12 percent and 10 percent
respectively. For the remaining policies, according to the survey, the
percentage of cooperatives benefiting ranges from 3 to 6 percent.

Based on the survey, VCA and UNDP agreed that in the short term, the Government
should amend regulations on the conditions for benefits and policies for
cooperatives flexibly, in line with reality and the conditions of cooperatives.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, VCA chairman Nguyen Ngoc Bao suggested
the Government pay attention to solutions and policies on financial support,
development of professional knowledge and skills for workers of cooperatives.

Communications should also be promoted so that cooperatives that really need
support don’t miss out.

The policy enforcement mechanism for cooperatives should also be simpler,
clear, accessible and easy to implement, he added./.

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