Vietnam Academy Of Social Sciences

Restructuring State-owned Enterprises in Vietnam at Present

25/05/2019

Ngo Van Vu1

 

Abstract: Vietnam has been actively accelerating the process of restructuring its State-owned enterprises (SOEs), focusing on State-owned economic groups and  orporations, with the aim to transform the economic growth model, integrating into the global economy in an active, profound and comprehensive manner. In the 2011-2015 period, the SOE restructuring was strongly and drastically implemented by ministries and branches and achieved positive results. At present, under the context and requirements of the new period, the process has been slowing down. Therefore, the Government,  localities  and  SOEs  need  to  focus  on  researching  and  assessing  promptly  the restructuring  process,  pointing  out  difficulties  and  challenges, to devise more concrete and powerful solutions to attain the targets and fulfil plans set for the 2016-2020 period.

Keywords: State-owned enterprise restructuring, economic groups, State-owned corporations.

Subject classification: Economics

 

1. Introduction

Restructuring SOEs, focusing on State- owned economic groups and corporations, has been clearly defined in the Communist Party of Vietnam’s (CPV) resolution and the Politburo’s conclusions, especially  in  Resolution  No.12-NQ/TW dated 6 June 2017 of the 5th Plenum of the Party’s Central Committee  (the 12th tenure) on continuing to restructure, renovate  and  improve  the  efficiency  of SOEs. In recent years, with the thorough permeation and strong implementation by ministries, sectors and localities, the policy of SOE restructuring has reached significant results. The  number  of  SOEs  has  been drastically reduced; the production and business activities continue to be maintained;  the  operational  efficiency of post-equitisation enterprises  has been improved,  leading  to  positive  impacts  on the  socio-economic  development  of  the country.  Despite  a  number  of  remarkable results, the SOE reform still fails to achieve its set goals and schedule, as while progressing at a slow pace and facing many barriers and new challenges.

In an endeavour to overcome the shortcomings and challenges of the SOE restructuring, Decision No.707/QD-TTg dated 25 May 2017 by the Prime Minister approved the Scheme “Restructuring SOEs, focusing on State-owned economic groups and corporations in the 2016-2020 period”. The  goals of the SOE reform include  1) arranging, equitising and divesting the state capital to make SOEs have a more rational structure  and  pay  attention  to  their  core industries and sectors;   2) the SOEs’ investments focusing on science, technology, industry and other strategic areas, (at the same time, improving SOEs’ operational and business efficiency;

increasing  their  competitiveness  and  the rate  of  return  on  equity);  3)  rigorously handling the shortcomings and weaknesses of SOEs and enterprises of State investment in  accordance  with  the  legal  provisions, ensuring the publicity and transparency in conformity with the market mechanisms; 4) completing the management model of SOEs and the State capital and assets invested in enterprises; separating  the  function of representing the State capital ownership in SOEs and enterprises of State investment with the function of State management of ministries, sectors and localities.

The SOE reform is currently a “hot topic” in Vietnam in the context of implementing the policy of comprehensively restructuring the  socialist-oriented  market  economy  to shift  the  model of growth. Consequently, there have been many articles and research papers  on this reform. This article contributes to the systematisation and analysis of the SOE restructuring to get a clearer view on its results during the 2011- 2015 period; assessing the SOE restructuring for the first half of the 2016-2010 period; and suggesting more specific and powerful solutions to fulfil the goals of SOE restructuring during the remaining years of the  second  period  as  set  in  the  project approved by the Prime Minister.

 

2.  Restructuring  of  SOEs  in  the  2011- 2015 period

In 2011, Vietnam initiated the implementation of the five-year socio-economic development plan in the period of 2011-2015 in pursuant to the resolution of the 11th  Party Congress on  economic  restructuring  in  association with the renovation of the growth model. The Government and  the Prime Minister have provided stewardship to relevant agencies of  researching and developing plans with priorities over the three main pillars of restructuring - that of public investment, of the system of credit institutions and of State-owned enterprises.

SOE restructuring has been dynamically promoted and achieved positive, outstanding results compared to the previous years. In July 2012, the Prime Minister approved the master plan on SOE restructuring for the period  of  2011-2015,  with  the  focus  on State-owned  economic  groups and corporations. The plan’s  implementation was expedited synchronously from completing institution, legal framework, mechanisms and policies to identifying restructuring contents of each enterprise and concretising implementation plans. During this period, many important tasks as stated in the plan [14, pp.52-56] have been implemented by central to local authorities as well as industries and enterprises. The main contents are as follows: Firstly, completing mechanisms and policies to promote SOE restructuringThe Government and ministries have synchronously and recommendations of enterprises and promoting their business and production. At the same time, the Government issued some issued, amended  and supplemented decisions on the SOEs’ State    capital mechanisms and policies on renovating the organisation, operation and management of fully State-owned enterprises. Many significant mechanisms and policies towards renovations in the management and supervision of SOEs have been promulgated, including the regulation of supervising and inspecting the implementation of assigned strategies,   plans, targets   and  tasks   of enterprises;  the  regulation  of  supervising and inspecting the SOEs’ compliance with the law and the owners’ regulations; and the model   charter   of   a  one-member  limited liability company (LLC) owned by the State. Such regulations have delineated more clearly rights, responsibilities and obligations of the Government,   Prime Minister, ministries, sectors, localities, and members’ councils of State-owned economic groups and corporations. At the same time, the function of  a  line  ministry  has  been  also  clearly indicated as the focal agency which exercises the rights, responsibilities and obligations of State  ownership  in  SOEs,  especially State- owned  economic  groups  and  corporations and  is  responsible  for  the  organisation, operation, supervision, examination  and inspection  of the  business targets’ fulfilment, investments for development, as well  as  State  capital  management, usage, preservation   and development, and the evaluation  of  managers’  performance  and SOEs’ operational efficiency.

In order to partly finalise mechanisms and policies on SOE management, restructuring and equitisation, the Prime Minister promulgated directives on accelerating SOE restructuring; handling difficulties, obstacles divestment, sale of shares and registration for trade and listing on the securities market. The legal documents are greatly expected by the market, since it shall contribute to promoting the  State  capital  divestment,  attaching  the equitisation with listing on the stock market, and creating a mechanism  for the transformation of   SOEs   into   joint   stock companies (JSC) in case they do not have favourable  conditions  for  the  initial  public offering (IPO) yet.

Five  more  decrees  were  approved  in 2014  by  the  Government  regarding  the organisation and operation of the Vietnam Rubber    Group, Vietnam  Military Telecommunications  Group, Vietnam Northern Food Corporation, Vietnam Southern   Food  Corporation, and  State Capital  Investment  Corporation (SCIC). Particularly,  the  Ministry  of  Information and Communications has not yet submitted the  statute  on  the organisation and operation   of   the   Vietnam   Posts   and Telecommunications  Group  to  the Government  for  its  approval.  The  Prime Minister  has  ratified  the  plan  on  the  re- organisation of State-owned economic groups and corporations in accordance with his       authority. Ministries, sectors and provinces have also  completed  the ratification  of  plans  on  restructuring  the State corporations under their management, except  for  the  one  from  the  Ministry  of Defence, with 14 corporations   not   yet having their restructuring plans [1, p.2].

The Ministry of Finance has issued three circulars on guidelines for the handling of financial  issues  and determination of enterprise values when a fully State-owned enterprise  is  shifted  to  a  joint  stock  one; regulations for an authorised representative of State capital  invested  in enterprises;  as well as the transfer of State-owned capital representative rights through the SCIC. The Ministry of Home Affairs is going to finalise the  draft regulations on people holding managerial  positions  at  fully  State-owned enterprises and at charter capital enterprises which are over 50% State-owned.

Secondly,  SOE  equitisation  and  State capital  divestment.  As  the  result  of  SOE equitisation, the number of SOEs decreased sharply from 5,655 enterprises in 2001 to just   over 1,300  enterprises with 100% State-owned capital as of the end of 2011 (excluding   the   number   of   State-owned agro-forestry  enterprises)  [7,  p.47].  The year 2012 saw a big step taken in SOE re- organisation in line  with the “SOE restructuring  scheme  for  the  2011-2015 period” as approved by the Prime Minister. According  to  statistics  reported  by  line ministries, sectors and provincial people’s committees, by the end of 2013, there were 796  enterprises  with  100%  State-owned capital. Among these, there were eight State economic  groups;  100  State  corporations (excluding Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Corporation); 25 one-member LLCs operating under the model of a parent company; 309 one-member LLCs operating independently in the fields of public services and products; and   543   one-member   LLCs   operating independently  in  the  fields  of  production and trading [3, p.1].

Based  on  the  review  of  the  three-year implementation of SOE restructuring from 2011 to 2013 and the tasks set for 2014 and 2015, the Prime Minister issued a directive on   strengthening   the   SOE   restructuring. According to  the  approved  plans  on  SOE restructuring, within the two years of 2014 and 2015, there must have 479 enterprises being completely reorganised (including 432 SOEs equitised; 22 SOEs sold, dissolved or bankrupted; and 25 SOEs merged). Of those 432 SOEs to be equitised, 390 enterprises had  established  steering  committees,  288 enterprises were valued 175 enterprises had made   out   the   decisions   on   their   value determination,   and   143   enterprises   were equitised. Among the  equitised  enterprises were one economic group (Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group) and 16 corporations  (11  of  them  were  under  the Ministry   of   Transport,   two   under   the Ministry of Industry and Trade, two under the   Ministry   of   Construction,   and   one belonged to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural  Development).  As  of  25  December 2014, 167 enterprises nationwide had been reorganised, with 143   equitised, one transformed into a multi-member LLC, three dissolved, three sold, and 14 merged [1, p.3].

According to the 2014 statistics of the State Securities Commission, 76 enterprises had their IPOs at the stock exchanges and 40 of 95 securities companies. 64 enterprises among  them  had  already  collected  cash from selling shares, 12 enterprises had their IPOs completed, but the proceeds collection has  not  due  yet.  In  general,  among  64 enterprises   that   received proceeds from their  IPOs,  49%  of  their  expected  shares were sold with a total earning of VND 5,115 billion, fulfilling 66% of the planned target (VND 7,740 billion).

The  Government  also  approved  nearly 70%  of  the  SOE  restructuring  projects  of State economic groups and corporations in accordance with the planned directions and objectives (69 of 109 plans). In particular, the  Prime  Minister  approved  20  of  21 projects from State-owned economic groups and corporations; decided to halt the pilot implementation  of  economic  group  model from two groups in the construction sector and   the Vietnam  Shipbuilding Industry Corporation. 39 and 10 more plans of State corporations were approved by the ministries and provincial authorities respectively.

On the basis of approved plans on SOE restructuring, the ministries, sectors, localities, State-owned economic groups and corporations were actively implementing their set plans,   striving   to   achieve   the objectives of reducing the number of SOEs from  1,254  to  692  by  2015,  and  heading forward to equitise all SOEs by 2020. The State   will   keep   only   about   200   SOEs operating   in   certain   fields   where   State monopolies  exist,  and the fields of public services, national defense and security.  At the  same  time,    creating SOEs with reasonable and  highly competitive structures,  focusing  on  key  industries  and domains, providing essential public utilities and  services  serving  the  society,  national defense  and  security,  acting  as  the  core component of the State economy to fulfil its leading role, as well as being the important resource for the State to orient and regulate the  economy,  and  for  the  macroeconomic stability [12, p.28].

In the context of difficulties in both the global and domestic economies with unexpected changes, especially in the last months of 2014 and early 2015, when oil prices began to tumble unusually, leaving significant  impacts on  the national economic  stability,  the  above-mentioned SOE restructuring results originated indeed from  strong  and  positive  efforts.  Many ministries such as the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural  Development,  and  the  Ministry  of Construction,  Ministry  of  Culture,  Sports and Tourism, cities and provinces such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Tinh Province, Thai  Binh Province, as well as groups and corporations such as Vietnam National  Chemical  Corporation,  Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group, Vietnam Airlines Corporation, Vietnam National Shipping Lines, have given appropriate guidance to the process, taking strong, determined and creative actions in compliance with the laws for achieving the set objectives. 

Regarding  the  State  capital  divestment of State-owned economic groups and corporations, as of 25 December  2014, about VND 6,076 billion (in book value) were  divested  from  233  enterprises  with VND 8,002 billion collected, equal to 1.3 times of the par value. The divested capital included VND 204 billion from securities; VND 297 billion from insurance; VND 185 billion from real estate; VND 1,489 billion from  finance  sector;  VND  1,308  billion from the banking sector; and VND 4,519 billion collected from the sale of shares at SOEs where the State does not need to hold capital  (accounting  for  56%  of  the  total divested capital) [1, p.5]. Even though the proceeds  from  divestment  were  relatively high (three times higher than in 2013), the progress  was  still  slow  and  the  rate  was lower than being required. The consequence was   partly   due   to   domestic   economic difficulties while the securities market had not   recovered   adequately   and   non-core investments of SOEs having low efficiency or even incurring losses, thus  still experiencing difficulties in attracting strategic investors.

Some agencies  or  provinces  with  high State   capital   divestment   were,   among others,  the  Vietnam  National  Coal  and Mineral   Industries   Holding   Corporation with VND 1,732 billion; Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group with VND 151 billion; Vietnam Rubber Group with VND 523 billion; the SCIC sold out all the State capital  at  27  joint  stock  companies  and collected  about  VND  2,017  billion;  the Ministry of Construction divested from 37 affiliate companies in 11 corporations and collected VND 1,321 billion; the Ministry of  Transport  divested  from  52  affiliate companies in 7 corporations with VND 595 billion  collected;  and  Ho  Chi  Minh  City collected nearly VND 318 billion from 27 joint stock companies. Nevertheless, there were  still some corporations and provinces that had not yet completed the State   capital   divestment  in  non-core investments  or  at  enterprises  where  the State ownership was unnecessary. 

Thirdly,   restructuring the State-owned economic groups and  corporations in accordance  with  the  approved  plans.  The State-owned  economic groups  and corporations      have re-identified their objectives and tasks, clarified the roles and positions of every individual economic group and  corporation in the economy; their business lines have been reviewed towards eliminating those activities that have little or no relevance in order to concentrate on the main ones. Accordingly, the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group shall focus on its five  key  areas,  with  oil  and  gas  research, exploration  and  exploitation  as  the  main businesses. The Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Holding Corporation shall focus  on  the  production  of  coal,  minerals, electricity, industrial explosive materials, and mechanical engineering in mining industry. The  Vietnam  National  Coffee  Corporation defines its main businesses as coffee planting, production, processing  and trading. The Vietnam National Shipping Lines shall focus on the three main businesses, including marine  transportation,  seaport  exploitation and marine services.

Based on the above re-identified objectives and   tasks, the State-owned   economic groups  and corporations  have reorganised their  production  and  business  as  well  as restructured their member companies in the direction of  specialisation,  division, cooperation,  acquisition  or merging of member  companies  of  the  same  fields, avoiding “dispersion” (i.e. spreading on an overly large scope, not sufficiently concentrated) and internal competition. The Vietnam  National Coal and Mineral Industries Holding Corporation has received six affiliate coal production companies and developed them into its branches, and equitised its three member companies. The Vietnam  Paper  Corporation  has  equitised four dependent companies, transformed its research institute into a science-technology enterprise, and transferred its college to the Ministry   of   Industry   and   Trade.   The Multimedia Corporation has completed the merging of three affiliated companies into the parent company. The Vietnam National Tobacco Corporation has transformed one affiliate company into its branch.

The State-owned economic groups and corporations have developed their financial plans for their core businesses and production. They also had to build appropriate plans in accordance with their situations in order to solve the remaining financial problems. They have, at the same time, actively sold or transferred the State capital, or sought for appropriate partners for  divestment in line with their characteristics, conditions  and  situations. Until 30 September 2013, over VND 4,164 billion out of VND 21,796.8 billion invested in non-major businesses of the State-owned economic  groups and  corporations  were divested.  The  Vietnam  National  Oil  and Gas Group has restructured the PetroVietnam Financial  Corporation  in  the  direction  of merging  it  with  the Western  commercial joint  stock  bank  and  is  in  the  process  of capital divestment as scheduled. Some other enterprises  such  as  the  Vietnam  Tobacco Corporation and the Vietnam National Vegetable, Fruit  and  Agricultural  Product Corporation  have  been  working  with  the Debt and Asset Trading Company (DATC) to solve the outstanding debts of enterprises.

However,  in  the  context  of  no  positive recovery   signs   in   both   the   world   and domestic economies so far, many difficulties in the re-organisation of enterprises regarding finance  and  capital  divestment  from  non- major  businesses  remained.  The  Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Holding Corporation has twice failed to organise share auctions.  The  Vietnam  National  Chemical Group has not  yet been able to divest the State capital from its non-core business fields due to lower share prices than mentioned in the approved plan.

With a view to revising, supplementing and improving the system of internal management  regulations, the State-owned economic groups and corporations have re- considered their development and implementation of regulations  and  rules available on supervision, examination, inspection and evaluation of performance; applying modern personnel  administration policies; rearranging the labour force and solving the problems of redundant labour during the restructuring process.

Along with the process of restructuring each State economic group and corporation, the  Government  and  the  Prime  Minister have   had   incessant   instructions   to   the acceleration  of  SOE  restructuring.  “Many enterprises are in the process of having their value   determined,   developing   plans   for equitisation   and   submitting   to   relevant authorities   for   approval,   such   as   the Vietnam  Textile   and   Garment   Group, Vietnam  Airlines  Corporation,  and  other corporations  under the Ministry of Construction and the Ministry of Agriculture and   Rural Development.  Positive and remarkable  results from the SOE equitisation could be seen in cases like the Ministry of Transport (with 25 enterprises) and Lam Dong   provincial People’s Committee (3 enterprises)” [12, p.29].

Fourthly,   renovating   and   re-arranging State-run   agro-forestry enterprises.   Along with the SOE restructuring, the re- organisation of agro-forestry enterprises has been dynamically implemented since 2003 in accordance with Resolution No.28/NQ- TW dated 16 June 2003 by the Politburo. The Government realised the resolution via Decree         No.170/2004/ND-CP  dated   22 September 2004, and Decree No.200/2004/ ND-CP  dated  3  December  2004  on  re- organisation, renovation and development of State-run   agro-forestry   enterprises.   As   a result, the number of State-run agro-forestry enterprises   was   significantly   reduced   via becoming one member LLCs or JSCs. As of 30 June 2013, there were   145 agricultural enterprises  nationwide,  including  two  one member LLCs and three JSCs; 91 State-run agricultural enterprises had been transformed into forest management boards functioning as income generating units that provide public services, and 14 enterprises dissolved during the restructuring process.

In 2013, the Government held a review meeting of the 10 years’ implementation of Resolution No.28/NQ-TW on the enterprises’ re-organisation and the pilot equitisation of gardens, planted forests and animal farms in connection with  the equitisation of processing  enterprises, the  pilot model  of post-equitisation agro-forestry enterprises in some provinces and agencies, as well as the management of land utilisation in the State- owned agro-forestry enterprises.

The  Politburo  agreed  with  the assessments on the situation and results of enterprise equitisation, re-organisation, and the directions and tasks for the next stage. It also agreed to promulgate  another resolution  in  replacement  of  Resolution No.28/NQ-TW to continue the equitisation of agro-forestry enterprises. On this basis, the  Government  continued  working  out more  effective  implementation  plans  on restructuring such enterprises.

 

3.  Results  of  SOE  restructuring  in  the first half of the 2016-2020 period

Entering  the  2016-2020  period,  Vietnam has accelerated the restructuring of large- scale   SOEs   with   a   wide   scope   of operations,  operating  in  many  business lines,  and  being  in  a  complex  financial situation. The tasks of SOE restructuring have become  heavier  and  heavier accordingly. The restructuring target set out by 2020 is to diminish the number of SOEs to nearly 200 enterprises (a 50% reduction in quantity compared to 2015); and on the other hand, financial problems and the issues of redundant labour of the SOE sector shall be settled.  In the first two years of the period, the SOE restructuring has accomplished the following noteworthy results:

Firstly,  in  an  endeavour  to  realise  the resolution  of  the  5th   Plenum  of  the  12th tenure Party Central  Committee on continuing  to restructure, renovate  and enhance the efficiency of SOEs’ operations, a  number  of  important  mechanisms  and policies   have   been   promulgated   by  the Government   and  the   Prime  Minister  to improve   the   legal   framework,   remove difficulties   and   obstacles,   accelerate   the process of equitisation of, divestment from and restructuring of SOEs. The Government assigned   the   Ministry   of   Planning   and Investment  to assume the prime responsibility, in coordination with the Ministry of Finance, to develop a plan to establish  a  new  specialised  agency  as  the representative of the State capital owner of the   enterprises.   In   February   2016,   the Government officially ratified the establishment  of the Committee for  Management    of State Capital2. The establishment of a separate and independent State  agency  which  is  responsible  for  the State ownership at enterprises will take the ownership  rights from ministries  and agencies. In order to implement the Law on Management and Utilisation of State Capital Invested in Production and Business Doing at   Enterprises,   the   Government   issued Decree No.32/2018/ND-CP dated 8 March 2018 amending and supplementing a number of articles of its Decree No.91/2015/ND-CP dated  13  October  2015  on  investing  State capital  in,  and  on  the  management  and utilisation  of  State  capital  and  assets  at enterprises.  Particularly,  the  regulations  on State capital transfer into JSCs and multiple- member LLCs  have recorded many adjustments   and   supplements   (such   as: principles  and  methods  of  transferring  the State  capital  or  SOEs’  capital  invested  in other   enterprises;  determination of initial prices when transferring the State capital or SOEs’ capital invested in other enterprises; the authority to make decision on the transfer of the State capital or SOEs’ capital invested in  joint  stock  companies,  multiple-member limited  liability  companies;  or  provisions stipulating    the responsibilities of  the representative  of  State  capital  in  collecting and paying dividends and profits to the State budget).  The  schemes  to  restructure  five State-owned  groups,  namely  the  Vietnam Electricity,   Vietnam   National   Coal   and Mineral   Industries   Holding   Corporation, Vietnam   Posts   and   Telecommunications Group,  Vietnam  National  Chemical  Group and  Vietnam  Military  Telecommunications Group;  and  two  corporations  including  the State  Capital  Investment  Corporation  and Northern   Food   Corporation   have      been approved by the Prime Minister. The list of enterprises under the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group   which   are  to   engage   in  the   re- organisation and restructuring in the period of 2017-2010 has also been ratified [2, p.2]. On 17  August  2017,  the  Government  issued Decision No.1232/QD-TTg on handing over the right of SOE ownership representation to the SCIC, which own 62 enterprises for the whole period of 2017-2020 (the number of enterprises being handed over is 4 in 2017, 55 and  3  in  2018  and  2019  respectively).  A report by the Ministry of Finance stated that 24 of 62 enterprises were transferred to the SCIC  in  2017  with  the  amount  of  State capital of VND 10,460 billion. In the first six months of 2018, three more enterprises were handed over to the SCIC [2, p.5]. It could be said that the timely promulgation of those new   legal   documents,   mechanisms   and policies   has   fundamentally   solved   the difficulties and obstacles of enterprises while accelerating the progress of equitisation and capital  divestment  in correlation with maximising  the  State  benefits  in  a  more stringent and transparent manner.

Secondly, the Government has drastically instructed with a list of SOEs to be equitised and  divested  from  following  the  planned roadmap. Statistics  shows  that  the accumulated  number  of  enterprises  with equitisation  plans  approved  by  competent authorities  by  July  2017  was  26.  Among them, 7 of 47 enterprises were on the list of SOEs to be completely equitised within the same year3. The processes for the remaining ones were conducted in compliance with the Decision approving the plan for the period of 2011-2016. The total actual value of the 26 enterprises, the equitisation plans of which were  approved,  was  VND  71,880  billion. Out of that, the actual value of State capital invested in the enterprises was VND 18,368 billion. According to the approved equitisation plans, the charter  capital of those 26 enterprises is VND 22,633 billion, of which the  State  shall  hold  VND  11,063  billion, strategic investors are sold to with the shares worth VND 6,528 billion, employees VND 156 billion, shares worth VND 16 billion are sold  to  the  trade  union,  and  the  value  of shares  publicly  auctioned  is  VND  4,869 billion [11, p.2]. As of the end of the first six months of 2018, the Government approved  of the equitisation of 19 enterprises (86.2% compared  to  the  same  period of  2017). Based  on  the  approved  plan,  the  charter capital  of  those  19  enterprises  is  VND 22,026.38 billion, of which the State holds VND   12,957.22 billion   (accounting for 58.83% of the total charter capital), shares worth   VND   112.34   billion aresold   to employees (accounting for 0.51% of the total charter capital), and VND 8,955.47 billion - to  external  investors  (40.66%  of  the  total charter capital). The total value of these 19 enterprises   is   VND  40,672.09   billion, including the State capital  of  VND 23,084.23 billion  [2,  p.3].  In  addition,  16 enterprises4  conducted their IPOs and sold their shares to strategic investors (the plans of eight enterprises approved in 2017 and the remaining  in 2018), collecting  VND 22,457.29 billion [2, p.3]. As regards capital divestment,  as  stated  by  the  Ministry  of Finance  (as  of  July  2017),  VND  3,693 billion  was  divested,  with  VND  15,770 billion     collected,    (that    also     included divestments  of  2016  which  were  reported not earlier than in the first seven months of 2017). The divestment in five sensitive areas brought   about   VND   103   billion.   The divestment in other sectors was VND 2,195 billion,  VND  3,428  billion  collected.  The SCIC sold its capital at 20 enterprises with the value of VND 1,394 billion, collecting VND  12,238  billion  (including  the  2016 divestment of Vinamilk5 [11, p.2]. As shown by the data of the Steering Committee for Enterprise Renovation and Development, by the end of June 2018, State capital had been divested from 42 enterprises with the book value of VND 1,813 billion, bringing about VND 5,598 billion (3.08 times higher than the book value)). Ten of those 42 enterprises are on the list of divestments under Decision No.1232/QD-TTg.  Consequently,  the  total revenue  from  the  equitisation  and  capital divestment in the first six months of 2018 reached  VND  28,055.29  billion,  of  which VND  22,457.29  billion  was  gained  from equitisation, VND 5,598 billion was collected from capital divestment. Accumulated from 2016  to  date,  the  total  revenue  of  the equitisation  and  divestment  reached  about VND 198 trillion (30 trillion in 2016, 140 trillion in 2017 and 28 trillion in 2018). As planned by the National    Assembly’s Resolution,   the   total   revenue   from   the equitisation and divestment paid to the State budget  during  the  2016-2020  period  shall amount to at least VND 250 trillion.  Up to now, the accumulated value from 2016 to June 2018 that has been transferred from the Enterprise  Restructuring  and  Development Fund to the State budget is VND 115 trillion, 46%  of  the  expected  target  of  the  whole period of 2016-20206 [2, p.4].

Thirdly, up to date, the Government has approved most of the comprehensive plans to   rearrange   and   renovate   agro-forestry enterprises which are under the ministries, branches,  provinces,  and State-owned groups   and   corporations   (including   249 enterprises as  planned, while those belonging to the city of Hanoi are the only ones  not  yet  approved).           160  out  of  249 enterprises have been rearranged, in which 78  enterprises  continue  to  have  the  State retaining  100%  of  the  charter  capital;  42 enterprises have completed their equitisation plans;  12  enterprises  have  been  converted into multiple-member LLCs; 23 enterprises have  their  plans  for  dissolution  approved; and five enterprises have been transformed into Forest Management Boards [2, p.4].

 

4. Current issues of SOE restructuring in Vietnam

So far, the policy of SOE restructuring has only been reflected in the CPV’s Resolutions and concretised in the Government’s sub-law documents. The equitisation and divestment in  Vietnam  also  lack  a  legal  basis  (while many countries in the world have enacted the Law on Privatisation to implement the SOE reform).  In  addition,  the  Government  has promulgated  several  legal  documents  with new  provisions on  equitisation and divestment in a tighter direction to ensure the maximum benefits of the State, but not yet provided sufficient specific guidelines. That leads   to   difficulties   and confusion for localities and  SOEs  during their implementation.  Issues  that  are  facing  the SOE restructuring include: 

Firstly, during the process of equitisation and State capital divestment, some guiding documents have not been issued timely by the   relevant   ministries   and   branches   to remove problems on time. Those are the new regulations in Decree No.126/2017/ND-CP, which took effect on 1 January 2018, but its guiding circular has only been issued by the Ministry of Finance, while other ministries and  authorities  including  the  Ministry  of Resources  and  Environment,  Ministry  of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the State Bank  of  Vietnam  and  the  Vietnam  Social Insurance  have  not  guided  in  detail  yet. Another example is Decree No.32/2018/ND- CP taking effect on 1 May 2018, with its guiding   document   still   unavailable.    In accordance  with  Decree  No.126/2017/ND- CP, some enterprises cannot sell their shares to   strategic   shareholders   as   set   in   the approved  plans  due  to  the  fact  that  the  4 months limitation after being IPO has been exceeded, i.e. they have missed the deadline, such as the Oil  Corporation, the

PetroVietnam Power Corporation, the Binh Son Refining   and PetroChemical, and Becamex   Binh   Duong   [2,   p.8].   Those enterprises must re-conduct some procedures in the equitisation process, which prolonged the   process.   Decree   No.32/2018/ND-CP requires determining the cultural, historical and traditional values of the enterprise, or the price of land use rights for leased land which is paid  nnually, etc.  Confusion and consistency   have   been   seen   among   the implementing  and  guiding  agencies  when developing  plans.  Enterprises  have  had  to review and conduct activities again at some stages  of  their  equitisation  process,  thus making the process longer than planned.

Secondly,   the   approval   of   the   land utilisation plans of equitised enterprises in cities and provinces has been implemented at a slow pace with a prolonged timeline. As stated  in  the  new  regulations,  equitised enterprises must review and have their land utilisation  plans  approved  before  having themselves valuated, while such approval in some cities and provinces (especially in big cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City) is facing  many  difficulties.  Some  localities have     not     been     determined    in     land acquisition and handling towards enterprises using  the  land  for  improper  purposes  or violating  the  land  laws.  Many  large-scale SOEs have a wide scope of operation and troublesome  financial  situations  that  have led  to  difficulties  in  the  determination  of their value or the auditing of the valuation by the State audit agencies.

Thirdly,  the  transfer  of  the  right  to represent the State ownership to the SCIC, the  registration  of  trading  on  the  stock exchange, and compliance  with the reporting regulation have not been strictly conducted  in  some  ministries,  agencies, provinces, and State-owned economic groups  and  corporations.  On  15  August 2017, the Ministry of Finance made public the  list  of  747  enterprises  that  had  not registered their shares for trading or listing on the securities market yet. As reported by the  State  Securities  Commission  on  30 March 2018, by the end of the first quarter of 2018, 139 companies had been listed and registered for trading on the Upcom7; while 72   companies   had   not   registered   their shares  for  trading  or  listing  yet;  and  23 divest  during the  year,  which means  that more  than  15  shall  each  month,  yet  to include  those  in  the  SCIC  which  shall divest  following  their  specific  plans,  has been  putting  significant  pressure  on  the SOE  restructuring  process.   One  of  the reasons   for  such  slow  equitisation  and divestment  processis  that  the  leaders  of enterprises, as well as agencies representing the State ownership in the economic groups and  corporations,  have  not paid sufficient attention   to   and   strictly   followed   the Government’s  directions.  Moreover,  they were not proactively implementing, companies having cancelled their counselling  and  making  proposals  to  the registration as a public company [2, p.7].

Fourthly, the pressure of implementing the  SOE  equitisation  and  divestment  as planned   and   approved   by   the   Prime Minister for the 2016-2020 period is very high. According to the plan, there should be 85 enterprises completely equitised in 2018 (including 21 enterprises under the 2017 list and 64 enterprises of the 2018 list).   To date, only 19 have been (three of them, the An  Giang  Urban  Environment  Company, Cable Television Company and Dong Thap Petroleum Trading Company are from the 2018 list). Also based on the 2018 plan, Ho Chi     Minh     City    should     equitise     39 enterprises, while the number for Hanoi is 11 (accounting for 61% and 17.1% of the 2018     plan     nationwide,     respectively).

However, none of those has been equitised so far yet.  The State divestment at enterprises took place at a very slow pace compared to the plan. In line with Decision No.1232/QD-TTg,  135  enterprises  should have been divested in 2017, but only 17 of them were. In 2018, 181 enterprises plan to divest, only 10 of them have implemented [2, p.7]. The number of 181 enterprises to Prime   Minister   to   settle   obstacles   and shortcomings,  but,  instead,  remained  with caution,  waiting  for  the  time  of  the  tasks being   transferred   to   the   Committee   for Management of State Capital.

 

5. Solutions to strengthen SOE restructuring by 2020

Results of the SOE restructuring in recent years  showed  great  efforts  made  by  all sectors from the central to local levels and enterprises.   However,   there   are   still   a number of SOEs that need to be reorganised, equitised and  divested under the Restructuring Plan of the 2016-2020 period. In order to effectively implement contents proposed in the Plan, it is necessary to focus on the following solutions:

Firstly, the Government needs to complete mechanisms  and policies   on   arranging, equitising  and  divesting  the  State  capital according to the Resolution of the 5th Plenum of  the  Party  Central  Committee  (the  12th tenure)   on   continuing   the   restructuring, renovation and    improvement    of    SOEs (Resolution  No.12-NQ/TW  dated  03  June 2017).   Accordingly,   the   ministries   and agencies, based on their assigned functions and tasks, must speed up the finalisation of legal  documents  to  be  submitted  to  the Government   and   Prime   Minister   for   an adequate and timely promulgation of mechanisms, policies and unfinished plans of restructuring SOEs  in  2017  as  well  as  for plans for 2018 and the following years. The Ministry  of  Finance  should  promulgate  a circular  on  the  implementation  of  Decree No.32/2018/ND-CP on  State capital investment     in    enterprises, use  and management  of  capital  and  assets in enterprises,   as   while   issuing   a   model regulation  on  share  auction  to  ensure  the unified    application    by    SOEs,    thereby speeding up the equitisation and divestment, but still  ensuring the strictness and transparency. The  Ministry of  Natural Resources and   Environment,   Ministry  of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Ministry of Planning and Investment, the State Bank of Vietnam, Vietnam Social Insurance, and the State Audit should urgently review and issue circulars  guiding  Decree  No.126/2017/ND- CP dated 16 November 2017 on conversion from  SOEs  and  one-member  LLCs  with 100% of charter capital by SOEs into joint stock companies. The issuance of a specific guiding circular for Decree No.126 will solve difficulties and  obstacles and create favourable conditions  for the  IPO implementation of enterprises that have been approved by the Prime Minister and competent authorities, especially in the case of   equitised   enterprises   having   strategic shareholders that may sell their shares timely within  four  months  as  stipulated  in  the Decree.  Any  delays  in  the  formulation  of mechanisms and policies, as well as issuance of guiding circular during the implementation process,  will  restrict  the  efforts  for  SOE restructuring, equitisation and divestment.

Secondly, based on the SOE Restructuring Plan for the period of 2016- 2020  approved  by  the  Government  and competent  authorities,  line  ministries  and provincial   people’s   committees   need  to accelerate the equitisation and divestment. The Ministry of Finance needs to take the lead  and  coordinate  with  the  Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Steering Committee for Enterprise Renovation and Development  to  supervise  and  expedite sectors,  provinces,  State-owned  economic groups and corporations on        weekly, monthly and quarterly bases, or even assign officials  to  participate  in  the  equitisation steering committee at enterprises. Moreover, it   is   necessary   for   these   ministries   to promptly handle problems and difficulties and  give  specific  instructions  during  the implementation  process.  The  Government also needs to clarify the responsibilities of the enterprises' leaders in preparing a restructuring plan, implementing  the equitisation and divestment progress in line with the schedule. 

If the ownership representative agencies strictly follow  the Prime Minister’s directions,  with  the  support  of  ministries and sectors, on the basis of proposals by enterprises, the equitisation and divestment progress shall be secured as planned. The statistics in the first quarter of 2018 showed that   some   large   enterprises   under   the Vietnam  Rubber  Group,  Southern  Food Corporation, National Oil and Gas Group have  successfully processed  their  IPO.  A few examples are Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical  Company,  Vietnam  Oil Corporation  and  PetroVietnam  Electricity Corporation  [6,  p.5].  The  Ministry  of Construction has accelerated the equitisation progress of the Vietnam Cement Industry Corporation  and  the  Housing  and  Urban Development   Corporation,   as   well   as divested   from   enterprises   of   the   2018 divestment  list.  The  Ministry  of  Industry and Trade has focused on the equitisation in Vietnam Paper Corporation; divested from large-scale   enterprises  such   as     Petrol Group,   Vietnam   Industrial   Construction Corporation, Hanoi  Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Joint Stock Corporation, Vietnam Engine and right of leased land which is paid annually, value  of  intellectual  property  rights  and other  intangible  assets).  In  addition,  the Ministry of Finance should promulgate in a timely  manner  a  new  circular  to  replace Circular No.118/2014/TT-BTC guiding the transfer of State ownership representation at enterprises  to  the  SCIC.  The  enterprises transferred  from  ministries  and  people’s committees of provinces and cities to the SCIC  must  conduct  the  transfer  even  in cases  where  the  enterprises  have  not  yet Agricultural Machinery Corporation, completed the equitisation settlement at the expected to finalise the plan in 2018 [2, p.10].

Thirdly,   the   line   ministries   need   to complete soon a decree on functions, tasks, authorities  and  organisational  structure  of the  Committee  for  Management  of  State Capital  to  make  it  come  into  operation without   any  delays.   The   selection   and appointment of leaders for this Committee must   follow   a   competitive,   public   and transparent procedure. The Committee will be empowered to become the sole agency to decide  and  be  accountable  for  the  whole SOE equitisation process. Concurrently, it must  play a  rational  coordination  role  of large-scale   IPOs   to   avoid   any   abrupt changes   in   supply   when   the   market’s absorptive capacity is limited.

Fourthly,  a  cooperation  mechanism  of debt  trading  at  enterprises  in  compliance with the State capital divestment schedule needs to be established by the Government. In  order  to  facilitate  the  sale  of  SCIC’s capital at  enterprises, contributing to hastening  the  SOE  restructuring progress, the  SCIC  should  propose  the  competent authorities to issue guiding documents on the  State  capital  invested  in  enterprises (such as determining the value of utilisation time of being transformed into joint stock companies (as specified in Decree No.147/ 2017/ND-CP).   SCIC   should   propose   the establishment  of  a  cooperation  mechanism on  debt  trading  with  other  debt  trading organisations  such  as  Vietnam  Debt  and Asset Trading Corporation (DATC). If such mechanism is realised, the debts in SCIC’s divestments would be  considered and negotiated for resale to DATC, which would support the SCIC’s progress of selling and divesting the  State capital promptly, recovering the State capital and completing the equitisation process at enterprises.

Fifthly,  enterprises  shall  handle  their financial  situations  and  have  themselves evaluated before the equitisation. Based on the  list  of  enterprises  to  be  equitised  as approved by competent  authorities, enterprises should actively handle financial issues in compliance with current regulations; as well as develop and submit the  land  utilisation  plan  for  approval  in accordance with the land laws and the law on reorganising and handling State-owned and   State-managed   housing   and   land. Enterprises are required to have inventory and classification of their assets and capital in   order   to   determine    their   value   as stipulated in Article 13 of Decree No.126/2017/ND-CP  dated  16  November 2017 and to prepare financial statements at the  time  of  being  transformed  into  joint stock companies. The consultation for their valuation  must  follow  the  asset  valuation method as prescribed in Section 2, Chapter III of Decree No.126/2017/ND-CP and its guidance in  detail.  Other appropriate methods of enterprises valuation could be added in compliance with the law on price and  price  appraisal,  ensuring  that  every equitised  enterprise  has  been  applied  on with  at  least  two  methods  of  valuation, which are submitted to the capital owner’s representative  agencies  for  consideration and final decision.  At the time of valuation, enterprises must prepare a paper listing and specifying  their  actual  quality,  conditions and the value of their existing assets8  that are  being  managed  and  used.  Moreover, they   must   check   the   funds   of   cash, reconciling   the   bank   deposit   balances, determining  the  assets  and  cash  that  are different from those listed in the accounting books, clearly analysing the causes of the differences   and   the   responsibilities   of related persons, and determining the rate of compensation to be paid in accordance with the law. The process of financial handling and valuation of equitised enterprises must be   strict,   apparent   and   transparent   in compliance   with   the   State   regulations. Related organisations and individuals, when processing  financial  issues  and  enterprise valuation, shall assume the administrative responsibilities by paying the compensation or being criminally prosecuted in accordance  with  the  law  if  they  fail  to comply with the prescribed regulations and have caused any damage or losses to the State assets [9, pp.12-13].

 

6. Conclusion

Vietnam has been making strong efforts to speed  up the process of economic restructuring in connection with the growth model transformation, looking forward to a market  economy  with  an  advanced  legal system,  ensuring  a  fair  environment  for enterprises  of  all  kinds.  In  addition,  the Government has been proactive to negotiate and participate in new-generation free trade agreements  (FTAs).  The  participation  in such   FTAs   is   expected   to   bring   the economy   in   general   and   the   business community in particular new opportunities for   integration   and   development.   As   a result, the acceleration and completion of the  goals  of  SOE  restructuring,  with  the focus on State-owned economic groups and corporations in the period of 2016-2020, are of   high   significance   for   asserting   the country’s  commitments  of  profound  and comprehensive integration into the regional and global economies.

 

Notes

1 This paper was published in Vietnamese in: Khoa học xã hội Việt Nam, số 10, 2018. Translated by Do Quynh Nga, edited by Etienne Mahler.

2  Resolution No.09/NQ-CP dated 3 February 2018 of the  Government  on  establishing  the  Committee  for Management   of  State   Capital   at   enterprises.   The Committee  is  the  representative  agency  for  State’s ownership   rights   in   the   State   Capital   Investment Corporation (SCIC) and 18 parent companies of groups and  corporations in  which the  State  holds 100% of charter  capital  or  long-term  controlling  stakes.  The estimated aggregate value of State capital in these 19 economic groups and corporations is estimated to be 50% of the total value of State capital invested in SOEs.

3 Including the Investment and Industrial Development Corporation (Becamex), Song Da Corporation JSC, Urban and Industrial Zone Development Investment Corporation (IDICO), VTV Broadcom One Member LLC, Soc Trang Water Supply and Sewerage One Member   LLC,   Soc   Trang   Urban   Works   One Member LLC, and Hung Yen Water Supply One Member LLC.

4   According  to  the  approved  equitisation  plan,  the charter  capital  of  these  16  enterprises  is  VND 136,205.37   billion.   The   State   holds   54.12%, employees hold 0.52%, and 45.36% will be sold to external shareholders. Among those are some large- scale           enterprises          such      as          PetroVietnam       Power

Corporation,  PetroVietnam  Oil  Corporation,  Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical One Member LLC, Vietnam Rubber Group, Southern Food Corporation, Power  Generation  Corporation  No.3,  and  Hanoi Trading Corporation.

5   In 2017, the  SCIC continued to sell part of its capital in Vinamilk. The total amount of capital to be sold during this time was 48.33 million shares, equalling a 3.3% stake in Vinamilk.

6  Including the transfer of VND 30,000 billion in 2016; VND 60,000 billion in 2017;  VND 25,000 billion   in   the   first   six   months   of   2018.   The remaining amount  that  must  be  transferred  to  the State budget is VND 135,000 billion, of which VND 40,000 billion must be paid for 2018; VND 50,000 billion for 2019 and VND 45,000 billion for 2020.

7   Upcom  (Unlisted  Public  Company  Market)  is  a market for unlisted public companies. It is organised at Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX). The current goods on  the  market  are  mainly  stocks  and  convertible bonds  of  unlisted  public  companies.  The  Upcom stipulates  that  all  member  companies  with  trading shares  must  disclose  information  both  periodically and ad-hoc as requested by the HNX. The companies must   also   disclose   information   on   the   trading activities of treasury shares, transactions of members of their Board of Directors, Board of Management, Supervisory Board and related persons.

8 Assets which have been calculated as inventory are classified into nine groups: (1) assets used in business and production activities; (2) assets in stock awaiting liquidation; (3) assets formed from the fund of bonuses and welfare of the enterprises; (4) leased, borrowed and consigned assets; (5) assets attached to land of State ownership that must be handled in compliance with the restructuring plan approved by competent authorities;

(6) assets of the income-generating public agencies; (7) assets awaiting decisions by competent authorities; (8) financial  investments,   investments   using   the   land utilisation rights; and (9) other assets (if any).

 

1 Vietnam Social Sciences Review, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences. Email: ngovu68@gmail.com

 

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Sources cited: Vietnam Social Sciences, No. 1 (189) - 2019

 

 



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