As published in Viet Nam News on 25 March 2021

HÀ NỘI — Most cooperatives have been harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic while only a small proportion of them have benefited from supportive policies, heard a forum held by the Việt Nam Cooperative Alliance (VCA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the financial support of the Government of Japan yesterday.  

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 Việt Nam 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 per cent of cooperatives have suffered reduced revenue, of which, 42.5 per cent 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 per cent of the total cooperatives surveyed said they did not know about the policy of the zero per cent lending interest rate to cooperatives to pay salaries for employees who aren't working.

Thirty-eight per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. For the remaining policies, according to the survey, the percentage of cooperatives benefiting ranges from 3 to 6 per cent.

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 Nguyễn Ngọc Bảo 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. — VNS

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