Businesses Keen on Sustainable Development amid Covid-19 Pressures
Despite facing numerous obstacles caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, a majority of businesses are keenly participating in the Program on Benchmarking and Announcing Sustainable Businesses in Vietnam (CSI) in 2021. Mr. Nguyen Quang Vinh, General Secretary of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and Executive Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD - VCCI), grants an exclusive interview to our reporters on this issue. Huong Giang reports.
The socioeconomic performance report for the first six months and the plan for the second half of 2021, recently submitted by the Government to the National Assembly, described that business resilience has been weakened by the pandemic. What do you think about this remark and the outlook for the last months of the year?
In the first half of this year, corporate bankruptcies rose nearly 25%. The biggest retreat was seen in wholesaling, retailing, construction, processing, and manufacturing industries.
At the end of April, the pandemic occurred in some northern key economic hubs such as Bac Giang and Bac Ninh but the overall economic performance was quite positive, shown by the GDP growth of as high as 5.64% in the second quarter. However, currently, the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak is raging in Ho Chi Minh City, other southern provinces, and Hanoi, resulting in a darker economic picture.
From now until the end of the year, Vietnam's economic outlook will depend heavily on pandemic development, public investment disbursement, financial support of the Government, and policy easing for the sake of the business community.
It should be noted that the impact of this fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic on business health is also very different from the previous ones when the supply and demand chain was disrupted, our businesses were able to maintain manufacturing but could not find output markets. However, for the time being, when countries have plans to open up their economy and more orders are arriving for our businesses, they cannot produce.
What should our businesses do to deal with their undersupply?
As I have just said, we, first of all, need to control the pandemic well by seriously adopting anti-pandemic measures and speeding up mass vaccinations, with priority given to key economic regions. To realize the dual goal, the Government will need to design more innovative solutions based on the specific economic sector, and especially need to take the post-pandemic economic recovery roadmap into account.
Besides the immediate priority of both ensuring safe business operation and pandemic control, businesses are recommended to make full use of this time to review their governance and restructure for optimal operation. This is a solid stepping stone for them to recover faster, stay ahead of competitors and seize new business opportunities when the pandemic is over.
The Corporate Sustainability Index (CSI) is an effective support tool for businesses to achieve effective, transparent governance and advance sustainable development. CSI, developed by VCCI in collaboration with leading industry experts for three years and introduced to the business community in 2016, is always updated and adapted every year to new changes in domestic legislation and international standards.
They can correlate 119 CSI indicators grouped into governance, society, environment to assess their resilience. Currently, we also use CSI as a measure of sustainable development of those joining in the Program on Benchmarking and Announcing Sustainable Businesses.
Reportedly, the program entered its 6th year of implementation amid unpredictable pandemic development. What do you think about candidacy and criteria this year?
Up to now, we have received more than 250 applications from businesses. This is a very good sign as the pandemic is currently troubling their business operations and shows that their awareness and concern of sustainable development have also increased a lot.
VCCI has coordinated with the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor to implement it since 2016 to encourage enterprises to do responsible business and to praise good-doers.
Candidate companies can find out information at http://vbcsd.vn/csi/. The deadline for CSI 2021 applications is August 15, 2021. The Awarding Ceremony is expected to be held on December 10, 2021.
The spirit of “leaving no one behind” has been clearly conveyed in the CSI 2021. Specifically, in 2021, we decentralized CSI indicators into three levels for companies of different sizes. M stands for micro and small businesses. C is for medium and large companies. A (advanced) indicates that companies, in addition to complying with the law, have also built a strong business ecosystem that drives sustainable business for the sake of partners and other stakeholders.
Thus, 98% of Vietnamese enterprises that are small and medium in size can apply for the CSI Index, or in other words, all businesses can conduct sustainable business.
Besides, this year includes two sub-prizes namely "Gender equality in the workplace" and "Children's rights in business".
In early July, we organized online training courses on transparent and effective corporate governance and CSI application, answered questions concerning CSI declaration from businesses. Businesses can review the training course at the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpbQQnTPBCM.
By: Vietnam Business Forum
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