Vietnam’s ministry back on track with proposal to raise VAT

Vietnam’s ministry back on track with proposal to raise VAT

Its suggestion to raise the tax came out last year and faced strong opposition.
Vietnam’s Minisitry of Finance is once again looking to raise value added tax (VAT) to 11 percent from 2019 and then to 12 percent by 2020 from the current 10 percent.

In August last year, the ministry proposed raising the tax from 10 to 12 percent, starting from 2019.

This time, the reason for the tax increase is just the same: Vietnam’s public debt is rising while raising VAT is in accordance with international norms, the ministry said in a draft proposal.

The average tax rate in European Union countries was 19 percent in 2000 and 21.5 percent in 2014.

It was 18 percent in 2000, 19 percent in 2014 and 2016 in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, the ministry said.

But if the proposal is approved, Vietnam will have the second highest VAT rate in Southeast Asia, only after the Philippines, where goods and services are levied at 18 percent.

VAT rate in Southeast Asian countries

The ministry also pointed out several countries that have the same or lower annual incomes per capita compared to Vietnam but are imposing higher VAT, such as Pakistan with 17 percent, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh 15 percent and Nepal 13 percent.

Last year, the ministry asked to increase a number of different taxes and fees, including the VAT, and its proposed 2-percent VAT hike triggered a heated debate among economists, policymakers and businesses.

The ministry said the raised tax will make up for government revenue losses when Vietnam fulfils its commitment to cut import tariffs under free trade agreements, and help tackle rising public debt, insisting that Vietnam’s VAT is still low.

The World Bank previously forecast that Vietnam’s public debt would climb to 64.4 percent in 2017 and 64.7 percent in 2018.

The final official result showed the debt at VND3,100 trillion ($136.5 billion), a rise of VND300 trillion against last year, or 62.6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), down 1 percentage point against 2016 and lower than the target by 2.2 points.