Vietnamese govt rolls out interest-free loans for companies to pay salaries

HO CHI MIN CITY, July 24 (Bernama): The Vietnam Bank for Social Policies has begun accepting applications from businesses for interest-free loans to fund furlough and salary payments, Vietnam news agency (VNA) quoting its deputy director Bui Van Son has said.

The loans are part of the Government’s latest relief package worth 26 trillion VND (US$1.13 billion) for supporting workers and employers struggling to cope with the pandemic.

Around 7.5 trillion VND will be used for interest-free loans for businesses to pay salaries, it said.

Businesses can obtain a loan to pay workers who have contracts with compulsory social security but are furloughed for 15 consecutive days between May 1, 2021 and March 31 next year.

The report added that they must not have any bad debts to qualify for the loans, but do not need guarantees.

They are also permitted to borrow to pay workers to resume business.

This includes businesses instructed to close down temporarily as a Covid-19 preventive measure in that period, those in transportation, aviation, tourism, and hospitality, and others that send guest workers abroad.

The loans are for up to 12 months.

VNA reported that Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Minister said Dao Ngoc Dung promised that procedures for the relief package would be simplified and abbreviated as much as possible.

While last year the 62 trillion VND relief package took up to 40 days for businesses to get loans for work stoppage payment, now it should only take seven to 10 days, he assured.

Dr Vo Tri Thanh, a member of the National Financial and Monetary Policy Advisory Council, said the 26 trillion VND package would help businesses that retain their staff or want them to return to work after the pandemic.

But Tran Minh Phi, Director of An Phi Construction and Design Co., Ltd., said many businesses are struggling to repay their bank loans due to the nearly two-year-long pandemic, and so many might not be able to meet the requirement of having no bad debts.

Dr Nguyen Tri Hieu, an economist and financial expert, agreed with Phi, saying the requirement should be scrapped to better support people working for businesses with bad debts.

There could be policies to force businesses to prioritise repayment of this loan before others, and businesses with debts overdue for 90-180 days could be given the loan, he added.

A continuing drawback facing the programme is that like last time some businesses are not fully aware of the new relief package.

According to the General Department of Statistics, in the first six months of the year 70,200 businesses had to temporarily or permanently close down in the country, a 22.1 percent increase year-on-year.

There were nearly 1.2 million people of working age unemployed during the second quarter, up 7.8 percent from the first quarter, according to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs. - Bernama

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