1. In your opinion, which are the important regulations taking effect in the year of 2016 that foreigners may care about and the reasons for those?

Answer:

Note: The below answer will only address regulations that have direct impact on foreigners in Vietnam. Other regulations which do not regulate foreigners specifically in their governing scope will then be excluded.

Foreigners should be aware of the following legal documents will be in effect from January 2016 as these new laws will significantly impact their rights and obligations:

  • Law on Social Insurance:
    • Foreign employees with work permit or practicing certificate or practicing license issued by Vietnam’s competent authorities are now subject to compulsory social insurance.
    • Accordingly, foreign employees are entitled to insurance on their sickness, maternity, labor accidents, occupational diseases, retirement and death. These entitlements are the same as what local employees currently enjoy.
    • From 01 January 2016, male employees (including foreign ones) are entitled to paternity leave if the wife is on maternity.

In particular, male employees are entitled to 5 working day leave if his wife is on normal maternity. In case of operation or giving birth to an under 32-week baby, a 7-working-day leave will apply. In case of giving birth to a twin, paternity leave is 10 working days, with additional 3 working day leave for each further baby. In case the wife gives birth to a twin or more babies by operation, 14-day paternity leave applies. Please note that this paternity leave only applies within 30 days from the birth date of the baby.

  • Male employees when adopting a child under 6 month old are also entitled to the same paternity treatment as in the case of female employees adopting such child.
    • Decree No. 122/2015/ND-CP: in relation with the social insurance participation, foreigners should also note the following minimum regional salary, which serves as the basis to calculate payment amount of social insurance, health insurance and unemployment insurance; o Region I: 3.500.000 VND/month (increasing by 400.000 VND/month) o Region II: 3.100.000 VND/month (increasing by 350.000 VND/month) o Region III: 2.700.000 VND/month (increasing by 300.000 VND/month) o Region IV: 2.400.000 VND/month (increasing by 250.000 VND/month)
  • Law on Civil Status:
    • Foreigners permanently reside in Vietnam must register their civil status with the People’s Committee at ward level instead of the provincial level as previously.
    • Children of foreigners born in Vietnam are allowed to register their birth with the People’s Committee at ward level where the mother or father lives.
    • Foreigners residing in Vietnam wishing to register their marriage in Vietnam can do so at the People’s Committee at ward level where the wife/ husband lives. Interview is no longer required so that the total time to register a marriage is reduced by half to 15 days (compared with 25 days previously) o Foreigners wishing to apply for a Confirmation on marital status can do so at the People’s Committee at ward level where they register their permanent or temporary residence. The Confirmation on marital status is issued within 3 working days from the receipt of a valid dossier and will be valid for 6 months from the issuance date.

2. Starting January 1st, special consumption tax on cigarette, beer, wine will be raised. How will this affect the economy of Vietnam in the long-term? Also, with this, how do we expect the change in Vietnamese’s consumption habit of these commodities?

Answer: For alcohols of 20oC and above, from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016, the tax rate is 55%. This rate will be 60% for the whole 2017 year and 65% from 01 January 2018 onwards. The schedule for increase in special consumption tax rate for beer is the same. Meanwhile, this rate for cigarettes is higher (70% from 01 January 2016 to end of 2018 and 75% from 01 January 2019 onwards).

In my opinion, the increase of such tax rate will on its face increase the State budget. It will somehow reduce the number of people smoking and drinking alcohol, thereby protect public health and prevent negative social issues related to social orders, traffic safety and crimes related to smoking and drinking alcohol.

However, given the fact that the increase is not very high (compared with the increase in minimum regional salary), the retail price of these goods will not be much affected, leading to stagnant change in purchasing power of the products. Adults may still continue to consume these goods. Moreover, the tax increase may create more chances for smuggling which is already very complicated and hard to control in Vietnam.

Thus, together with policies of increasing special consumption tax, the Government should adopt regulations on strict control of smuggling, educate young people’s awareness on serious effects resulting from consumption of alcohols and cigarettes.

3. Starting July 1st, individuals, organizations are not permitted to send commercial information to e-addresses (including email, mobile number, personal sites and other similar means) in the cases the recipient does not accept that. How is your view on this regulation?

Answer: The spread of spam emails and text messages with advertising nature has created strong disturbance for internet and network users. While previous regulations such as the Decree and Circular on preventing spam emails and messages or Circular on managing prepaid subscribers seem to have limited impact, this new regulation is another effort of the Government to fight against the more serious and much more complicated forms of advertisment. I really doubt about whether this new regulation could bring significant positive improvement to the current situation, but highly hope that with cooperation from network operators, strong sanctioning measures from the state authorities, the situation will improve gradually.