Businesses in Vietnam have proposed that casinos at major tourist destinations be allowed to serve Vietnamese citizens as a way to help such a service cope with difficulties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposal was submitted to the prime minister’s advisory council by the country’s casino business community on Thursday.
In the document, local casino businesses stated that the tourism industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic due to a sharp decrease in the number of foreign visitors.
To mitigate this problem, domestic tourism has been promoted.
However, local casinos have not benefited from these promotion plans because Vietnamese people are not allowed to enter these venues.
A circular of the Ministry of Finance previously allowed Vietnamese citizens to use services at local casinos on a trial basis, but no specific list of eligible casinos was issued.
Only two casinos in Phu Quoc, a tourist island off the southern province of Kien Giang, and Van Don, an island off the northern province of Quang Ninh, have been permitted to serve Vietnamese residents as part of the pilot program.
The trial began in January 2019 and would last for three years, before the finance ministry carries out a comprehensive review to make further decisions.
The casino business community asked the government to consider allowing this entertainment service at other major tourist destinations, such as central Quang Nam Province and southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province among others.
Allowing more casinos to serve Vietnamese people will enable the trial to achieve a more objective result, as well as support local businesses in coping with challenges caused by the pandemic.
In accordance with Vietnamese law, casinos are only permitted to serve foreigners or overseas Vietnamese with foreign passports.
In the pilot program, Vietnamese people who wish to enter and gamble in a casino must be at least 21 years of age, and have full capacity for civil acts in accordance with the provisions of Vietnamese law.
Vietnamese punters are also expected to prove a regular income of VND10 million (US$430) or more per month to play at a casino.
A pivotal time to capture tourism property potential
Vietnam should complete a sturdy legal framework in order to allow non-nationals to buy tourist property in the country, according to international experts.
|Tourism real estate wants to bounce back after experiencing 18 months of hardship. VIR Photo Le Toan|
Talking with VIR, Dr. Sopon Pornchokchai, president of the International Real Estate Association in Thailand and Thai Appraisal & Estate Agents Foundation, noted that foreigners remain extremely interested in owning apartments in the likes of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
“There appears to be an opportunity to initiate urban resorts for foreigners. Major chains of world-class hotels and resort properties can participate in plots of land planned and provided by the central government or local governments as well,” Pornchokchai said. “In Thailand, this issue is an open policy with minor restrictions. This is because when foreigners own tourism real estate, it brings about many other benefits in terms of tourist flow and cash. So this is not a disadvantage.”
Moreover, he suggested the government allow investors to lease properties, particularly in the case of apartments.
“For affluent senior citizens, a lease could be up to 30 years, which is an ample period of time for them. For others, it could be up to 50 years. In addition, Vietnam should have an annual property tax, capital gain tax, and estate tax at a similar rate that appears in western countries,” he said.
But creating a complete legal framework to cover all activities in tourism property is a pressing issue, which the Ministry of Construction (MoC) is looking into (see opposite). Thailand has many laws and policies that govern the operation of the tourist real estate market, but these legal regulations are deemed clear and specific, according to Pornchokchai. “Based on those, it is easy for the government to manage and investors are also comfortable in the implementation and deployment process,” he said.
Mark M. Kitabayshi, global coordinator for Asia-Pacific at the US National Association of Realtors, said that based on experience in the US, there is an apparent division of real estate development areas, including tourism real estate.
In terms of tax policy, the US attracts investment by exempting and reducing taxes. Currently, while only foreign resident financiers have to pay foreign investment tax, only US residents are subject to capital gains tax, so it evens out, Kitabayshi says. “Other taxes, like property tax, are set by each state but it is the same for nationals and foreigners. So this does not make it challenging for overseas investors to make a purchase,” he added.
Lessons from the US prove that for Vietnam to determine the place and type of investment, the nation must evaluate where tourists come from, for what purpose, and for how long. Other factors are the relationship with current real estate-related regulations such as zoning and related funding regulations.
In recent years, before the pandemic strangled the industry, the tourism real estate segment has developed actively with many high-end products such as condotels, shophouses, resorts, homestays, and farmstays in Vietnam. However, policies and laws on tourism real estate are still incomplete and inconsistent, causing confusion for state management of the market in localities and causing a bottleneck for business activities.
According to Nguyen Manh Khoi, deputy director of the Department of Housing Management and Real Estate Market under the Ministry of Construction, tourism property is currently overseen by many different regulations and laws. The current laws on land and real estate mention tourism property including condotels, resort villas, and farmstays as “commercial and services construction”. This means that tourism properties are built on tourism and service land plots, which is why they are not given long-term ownership.
“This misleading situation causes confusion for tourism property developers, buyers, and local authorities, leading to a dispute in their business,” Khoi explained.
Meanwhile Doan Van Binh, vice chairman of the Vietnam Real Estate Association, admitted that tourism property faces major problems.
“The laws on investment and tourism real estate business still have many significant gaps, such as complicated investment procedures that waste time and cost for developers,” Binh said. “There are no regulations or policies to attract foreign investment in tourism real estate. However, the current land law allows foreigners to buy houses – but not for tourist real estate.”
Moreover, Vietnam has no legal regulations to control ambiguity in profit commitment, capital mobilisation, and sharing profit in timeshare properties.
Tourism real estate was once dubbed a “golden egg” for Vietnam some years ago. According to the Vietnam Association of Realtors, more than 18,000 condotels were launched for sale in 2020. However, liquidation was very low and the pandemic has since continued to wipe out the resilience of the condotel market.
According to Nguyen Hoang, director for research and development at DKRA Vietnam, the condotel segment was creaking before the pandemic hit.
“From 2016 to 2018 this segment had enormous supply, with tens of thousands of apartments put into the market every year,” Hoang said. “However, after this, some project developers could not pay the rental yield as committed, upsetting owners and causing conflicts to break out.”
Predicting the development of condotels in the near future in Vietnam, Hoang said that with tourism activities still severely reduced, major obstacles will persist until socioeconomic activities are fully resumed.
Boosting e-commerce tax collection
HÀ NỘI — Tax revenue from cross-border e-commerce activities reached more than VNĐ1 trillion (US$43.5 million) in the first nine months of this year.
The General Department of Taxation said about 14 large corporations and technology companies in the world and eight cross-border e-commerce websites operating with income in Việt Nam fulfilled their tax obligations through Vietnamese organisations and individuals.
Tax revenue from Vietnamese organisations that have signed online advertising contracts with foreign organisations that have not established legal entities in Việt Nam such as Google, Youtube or Facebook was estimated at VNĐ4.1 trillion from 2018 to the end of September this year.
Of which, Facebook paid VNĐ1.56 trillion; Google VNĐ1.53 trillion; and Microsoft VNĐ533 billion.
Tax revenue from cross-border e-commerce activities reached about VNĐ1.14 trillion last year. That of the first nine months of this year reached about VNĐ1.01 trillion, equaling 88.95 per cent of last year.
The General Department of Taxation has issued many documents to guide foreign suppliers providing cross-border services. Of these, Netflix has declared and paid taxes in accordance with Vietnamese tax law.
The General Department of Taxation is continuing to issue documents to request these companies to fulfil their tax declarations and payment obligations in accordance with Vietnamese law.
Tax authorities will co-ordinate with relevant State management agencies, commercial banks and tax authorities of other countries to implement tax management measures for overseas suppliers.
In the past two years, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, forms of online commerce, advertising, and shopping experienced strong growth.
Experts in the financial and economic fields said that during the pandemic, while most economic sectors were negatively affected, the digital economy and e-commerce are some of the few industries to see growth, even impressive growth.
Experts say that the tax potential of enterprises operating across borders is quite large.
It is necessary to continue to strengthen the review of non-resident e-commerce transactions in Việt Nam, thereby building a tax management mechanism in accordance with international practices, combating the loss of tax revenue from cross-border transactions.
In particular, experts also recommended continuing to research, develop and issue sanctions to prevent taxpayers from evading tax obligations. It is also a must to ensure effective and tight management of tax sources arising in the field of e-commerce. —
Masan increases its 2021 cash dividend by 20% to VND1,200 per share
The additional VND200 per share would result in a combined VND250 per share to be paid in late December 2021 as VND950 per share has already been paid to shareholders on 16 July 2021, according to the company’s statement.
In combination with the increased cash dividend, Masan’s Board of Directors has approved to seek opinions of the General Meeting of Shareholders for the issuance of bonus shares at a 5:1 ratio to its existing shareholders as of the book-closing date.
Over the past two years, the company’s shareholders have remained patient as Masan implemented its turnaround plan for WinCommerce, laid the foundation for its “mini-mall” concept, and realigned the group business units to evolve into a pure consumer platform.
Masan management view the aforesaid corporate actions as ways to reward shareholders while adhering to its balance sheet’s medium-term target, which has significantly strengthened in 2021. The issuance of bonus shares is also expected to benefit shareholders with improved trading liquidity since management believes the continued roll-out of its mini-mall concept will drive significant shareholder value creation.
Management has outlined a preliminary 2022 plan to re-expand the number of mini-market locations (Winmart+) by 700-1,000 in 2022 to reach 3,300-3,600 in total by year end. Masan also have plans to convert at least 50% of its existing Winmart+ locations into mini-malls, which currently combines WinMart+ (grocery), Phuc Long Kiosk (coffee and tea), pharmacy, Techcombank (financial services), and Reddi (mobile telecommunication) to provide consumers an integrated loyalty offering.
In late December 2021, Masan and Masan Horizon expect to receive a cash dividend of VND1,406 billion from a subsidiary, Masan MEATLife, as part of the company’s overall treasury initiative to upstream excess to the group level.
The VND250 per share will represent VND295 billion in total cash and the bonus issuance will increase MSN share count by 236,106,938 to 1,416,641,630 shares.
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