Maintaining jobs and workers’ health in F&B sector

August 06, 2021 | 09:00
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Food and beverage enterprises are trying to ensure employment and workers’ safety during the current pandemic difficulties. Nguyen Van Viet, chairman of the Vietnam Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Association, told VIR‘s Nguyen Thu about the efforts being made by its members as well as suggestions on policy for sustainable development.

Alcohol and other beverages are among the segments most heavily affected by the ongoing pandemic. What are the solutions and practices of the Vietnam Beer-Alcohol-Beverage’s (VBA) members to minimise risk and protect workers while maintaining business operations?

Nguyen Van Viet, chairman of the Vietnam Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Association
Nguyen Van Viet, chairman of the Vietnam Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Association

The industry employs about 220,000 direct workers at factories and many indirect workers in related fields. At present, the industry’s production has met the domestic consumption demand, contributing to preventing illegal importation. It also exports to a number of international markets, reaffirming the brand name of Vietnamese products.

Every year, the whole industry contributes more than VND60 trillion ($2.6 billion) to the state budget and implements many activities showing responsibility to the community, contributing to ensuring social security.

Due to the pandemic, the sector incurred almost 15 per cent in revenue drop on-year last year. For 2021, the latest wave since late April has continued to burden enterprises. Thus, the beverage industry has implemented many solutions to adapt to the crisis, contribute to economic development, and ensure jobs and income for thousands of direct workers and millions of indirect workers in the industry.

Enterprises have proactively come up with many solutions to adapt to challenges such as measures on corporate governance, technology, launching new products, and saving costs. Especially in terms of selling methods, businesses have improved a lot, directly serving customers in new ways through supermarkets, on commercial floors, and utilising home delivery.

What are the long-term strategies that manufacturers in the alcohol sector will need to embrace to maintain resilience and boost production after the pandemic?

The short-term operational procedures focused on social distancing are important at the moment. Some enterprises implemented stay-at-work orders and set up temporary accommodation for their workers to avoid the spread of the virus and maintain production, such as SABECO.

However, for businesses to develop in a stable manner, workers must be vaccinated as soon as possible to prevent further COVID-19 infections among staff.

The government recently issued Decree No.52/2021/ND-CP, providing an extension of payment time limits for VAT, corporate income tax (CIT), personal income tax, and land rental in order to support businesses and individuals suffering from the pandemic. What is your viewpoint on these measures and what else should the government do in order to help the sector?

The beverage industry has been discriminated against and suffered many disadvantages compared to other manufacturing industries. In previous moves, support packages on tax payment extension and land rent for beverage businesses, including purified water manufacturers, were not able to be accessed, while 98 per cent of other enterprises operating in production and business nationwide were supported.

Thus, the VBA and our members thank the timely government support for beverage businesses according to Decree 52. The decree will be applied to enterprises operating in agro-forestry-fishery, food processing, textiles, crude oil and natural gas exploitation, water supply, and wastewater treatment.

Under the decree, a five-month grace period will be given to VAT of the assessment periods of March-June. This means the payment of VAT for the March assessment period, for example, will be extended to September.

In addition, payment of CIT in the first and second quarters will be extended by three months, according to the decree, and a six-month break has been offered to land rental payers since the end of May.

During the pandemic, the beverage industry is also facing a lot of other difficulties. Businesses are trying to maintain production in order to keep jobs and to achieve the goals of pandemic prevention and increasing economic development. Thus, we hope that the government has a tax policy in the direction of long-term stability as well as timely short-term support. Particularly, there should not be any adjustment for special consumption tax on alcoholic beverages at this time.

By Nguyen Thu

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