Sharing difficulties and responsibilities to overcome the pandemic

November 29, 2021 | 15:00
VIR's seminar titled "Sharing weal and woe in the pandemic" shed light on the best practices and experiences to share responsibilities and cope with the coronavirus with top tips from policymakers, business leaders, and top-notch experts.
Businesses give back in times of need in COVID
Le Trong Minh, VIR's editor-in-chief

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the business community and the general public around the world, particularly in Vietnam. Supply chains have been disrupted, affecting production and corporate operations. Many firms were forced to shut down or cease operations and millions of workers lost their jobs.

However, the whole political system has quickly come out with timely solutions to provide some much-needed support.

In difficult circumstances, we could see heroic acts of solidarity so that no one is left behind. Many firms are still struggling, but they remain ready to perform their corporate social responsibility by launching practical and effective initiatives.

These wonderful acts were not merely tokens of goodwill – they reflect business philosophy and their choice to pursue long-term values for themselves and society as a whole.

Sharing difficulties and responsibilities to overcome the pandemic
Bui Thu Thuy, deputy director of the Enterprise Development Department, Ministry of Planning and Investment

The government has taken drastic action to support businesses to overcome the unprecendented difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first 11 months, the government has issued hundreds of decrees and resolutions. Of these, the business community highly appreciates resolutions No.105/NQ-CP and No.128/NQ-CP which have resolved many challenges for the people and business.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) is leading and coordinating with other ministries to implement the Law on Support for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and decrees guiding the implementation to support businesses in digital transformation. For many businesses, digital transformation has been a lifeline during COVID-19.

In the coming time, the MPI will continue developing a COVID-19 relief programme to restore the economy and support business recovery. There will be a number of relief measures including fiscal policy, interest rate compensation, and budgetary allocation to facilitate businesses in digital transformation.

Businesses give back in times of need in COVID
Le Viet Nga, deputy director of the Domestic Market Department, Ministry of Industry and Trade

Besides, the ministry also organises special working groups to learn the difficulties of businesses and people. We keep contact and discuss on the Zalo and Viber apps to quickly resolve issues. The regulatory bodies have worked closely with businesses. The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has also issued several policies and documents to accompany businesses to maintain the supply chain of necessities and market stability.

The ministry also issues documents to share responsibilities with disadvantaged groups such as farmers to ensure a smooth supply of goods to consumers.

We are proposing the MoIT to promptly reward businesses such as AEON and VNPOST which have actively participated in the distribution of goods amidst the closure of traditional markets. In addition, the MoIT is also launching programmes to stimulate demand and reduce prices.

Businesses give back in times of need in COVID
Vu Dinh Anh, economist

Businesses have shared difficulties with each other in terms of both inputs and outputs to minimise damage. Businesses which have a strong capability have supported their partners to sail through the tough period. In addition, businesses also play an active role in assisting the government in the fight against COVID-19.

A representative of a Vietnamese firm pointed out that COVID-19 test kits in Vietnam are more expensive than in other countries. Since then, there have been a number of initiatives to maintain the stable price of COVID-19 test kits. I hope that businesses will make more valuable contributions to the economic recovery post-COVID-19.

Businesses give back in times of need in COVID
Eamon Ginley, general director, Siam City Cement Vietnam Co., Ltd. (INSEE Vietnam)

As a pioneer in Green Building Materials in Vietnam, INSEE Vietnam always strives to achieve the goal of sustainable development. Our business strategy focuses on finding balance among three key criteria, including economic growth, environmental efficiency, and corporate social responsibility. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made efforts to ensure smooth operation and sustainable development as well.

INSEE has managed to ensure uninterrupted employment, income, and benefits for employees during the past one and a half years since the onset of COVID-19. At the same time, the company also offers medical assistance, health consultation, home COVID-19 testing services, oxygen meter, oxygen concentrator, as well as 24/7 ambulance for infected employees. The company also made donations to support the community's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, INSEE has not slowed down on its sustainable development path with sustained efforts. INSEE is Vietnam's first cement company to complete the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) and receive the International EPD certificate. INSEE Vietnam was honoured to be re-certified for the third time by the Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC) and upgraded the level of "Green Label" for its products.

The group announced its ambition for Sustainable Development 2030 under the Global Cement and Concrete Assocition with the three pillars of climate and energy, circular economy, and biodiversity and water. INSEE Vietnam has launched many product lines to protect the sustainability of buildings, contributing to mitigating environmental impacts like drought and salinity in Vietnam in the long term.

Businesses give back in times of need in COVID
Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hue, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hue, strategic human resource manager at AEON Vietnam

Over 10 years of operation in Vietnam, AEON has placed top priority on the interests of customers, employees and the community. Even when business was hit hard by the pandemic, Japanese retailers said "No" to short-term profits and stuck with our mission as a retailer and corporate citizen.

AEON has made efforts to share the burdens of our customers at all time, including launching more than 400 trips of mobile food trucks providing 800 tonnes of essential goods at four localities. The Japanese retailer also promotes multi-channel sales and online grocery delivery for households during the fourth wave of the pandemic.

In addition, AEON has carried out many activities to support the community, contribute to the COVID-19 Vaccine Fund, support vaccination sites, donate support packages to the disadvantaged and vulnerable people. AEON has also made efforts to ensure employment and income for nearly 4,000 employees for the past one and a half years. The retailer also partners with ministries to promote the consumption of agricultural products during the pandemic.

Businesses give back in times of need in COVID
Nguyen Hai Minh, vice president of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam

Accompanying Vietnam during this difficult time, the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) has launched the programme Breathe Again Vietnam in August 2021. The campaign aims to call for donations from European investors and businesses in Vietnam and across the EU. This fund is used to purchase essential medical equipment to support hospitals and frontline healthcare workers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

To date, the campaign has raised more than €670,000 ($756,800) and donated medical equipment with a total value of €450,000 ($508,300) to hospitals all over Vietnam. EuroCham members have called for and donated more than €1.2 million ($1.36 million) in total to support Vietnam's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Along with the programme Breathe Again Vietnam, the European business community has joined hands to support localities to combat the pandemic. They also comply with Vietnam's anti-pandemic rules and ensure employment for workers. Although life is returning to normal, the fight against COVID-19 is not over yet. We need to be vigilant to avoid further outbreaks. The European business community is committed to accompanying Vietnam in this tough fight.

Businesses give back in times of need in COVID
Dung Nguyen, marketing director of Home Credit Vietnam

Home Credit is one of the pioneers in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards in Vietnam's consumer finance industry. Home Credit Vietnam has made sustained efforts since its inception in Vietnam. With nearly 6,000 employees serving more than 12 million customers since 2008, Home Credit Vietnam is currently one of the market leaders in the consumer finance industry.

I am proud that the company has been very quick to launch activities to support the community in an effective and timely manner. Home Credit Vietnam has launched the Home Love programme, contributed VND1 billion ($43,480) to the COVID-19 Vaccine Fund as well as supported more than 30,000 meals and necessities for 10 field hospitals, quarantine zones, shelters for orphaned children, lonely elderly people, and needy people. On the occasion of the Mid-Autumn Festival, the company has granted 300 gifts to children and families in quarantine areas, and frontline doctors in the fight against the pandemic.

Home Credit has just released its first report on ESG activities. This report introduces the six core values ​​of Home Credit's ESG orientation as well as the company's support activities to customers and the community in Vietnam.

Businesses give back in times of need in COVID
Thue Quist Thomasen, chairman, Nordic Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (NordCham) and CEO, YouGov Vietnam

Many businesses have gradually reopened thanks to the easing of restrictions. The government also introduced a number of measures to help businesses and individuals recover from the COVID-19 epidemic, such as reducing taxes or land rent. In addition, the government has also gradually opened the door to welcome international tourists to some provinces in Vietnam from November 5, 2021. This shows the potential to recover the tourism and travel industry. On the other hand, businesses also find ways to adapt to the "new normal".

NordCham supports Vietnam's new agenda at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). We are witnessing climate change happening globally and also in Vietnam, affecting people's lives and challenging economic development.

Nordic businesses are very interested in green growth. We are always ready to help Vietnam achieve its climate goals, reducing coal and fossil power plants. We have a fund of $2.5 million to support Vietnam to develop green and clean energy. We hope that Vietnam's policies on green energy remain stable and sustainable because these projects are long-term.

Businesses give back in times of need in COVID
Khuat Quang Hung, head of Public Affairs & Corporate Communications, Nestlé Vietnam

Above all, we believe in the future of Vietnam as a global and regional manufacturing hub. Thus, we continue to expand our sustainable investments in Vietnam. Vietnam is being considered as a manufacturing hub for electronic products and apparel and footwear products.

Then we ask ourselves the question of how to make Vietnam a manufacturing hub for packaged food and beverage products for the whole world because of the country's skilled workforce and great work ethics. Nestlé Vietnam is recognised as one of the most efficient and flexible operating systems in all markets where Nestlé Group is present.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years, Nestlé has recently announced an extra $132 million investment in its Nestlé Tri An factory in the southern province of Dong Nai to increase its processing capacity of high-quality coffee lines. Nestlé is committed to expanding its investment activities to help Vietnam become the centre of the world's food and beverage supply chain as well as bringing Vietnamese coffee beans further into the world market.

Businesses give back in times of need in COVID
Le Quoc Anh, deputy general đirector, Vietnam Post Corporation

The tradition of the postal industry is accompanying the government through different stages to serve the people, develop the country, and spread good values to the community.

In addition to the advantage of a supply chain, Vietnam Post offers multiple services such as postal, logistics, finance, insurance, and public administration. Vietnam Post takes advantage of the extensive network coverage across the country to ensure the smooth delivery of goods during the pandemic.

By VIR team

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