HCMC traders struggle to get new travel permits for staff

By Thi Ha   August 25, 2021 | 02:48 am PT
HCMC traders struggle to get new travel permits for staff
Checking travel permits at the checkpoint on Truong Dai Bridge, District 12, HCMC, on August 23, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van
Many importers and exporters in HCMC are worried their businesses might be impacted because authorities are not issuing new travel permits for their employees.

HCMC tightened social distancing requirements Monday, and requires enterprises to obtain new travel permits issued by the police or the Department of Industry and Trade.

A senior executive at a company that produces electronic components for Apple told VnExpress Tuesday that its workers stay at the plant or commute to work as allowed by the city, but could not go out to carry out import and export procedures because of a shortage of new travel permits.

"Since yesterday all checkpoints require new travel permits embedded with QR codes issued by the police?"

He said the company has applied for permits, but has yet to get them.

Authorities have said they would issue them only to import-export staff and to a maximum of 10 percent of a company’s employees.

But he said the company requires a larger number of employees to go out to carry out transactions and look after goods.

"We receive or send hundreds of consignments of goods a day. If only two employees are permitted to go out, it causes difficulties for us. We face the risk of having to compensate our partners to the tune of dozens of millions of USD (for failing to fulfill contracts in due course)."

To apply for certificates of origin for goods exported to non-ASEAN markets, the company has to complete final procedures offline, and so needs more travel permits, he said.

Steel companies also have difficulty with travel permits.

Nguyen Thanh Trung, vice chairman of the Vietnam Steel Association and chairman of steel firm Ton Dong A, said soon after the association’s members got travel permits from Department of Industry and Trade, the city introduced the need for new permits from the police.

They have applied for them, but not received a response yet.

He called on authorities to speed up issuance of the travel permits.

The Vietnam Cotton and Spinning Association has called on the city people’s committee to help them overcome the difficulties in getting them.

The association said the Department of Industry of Trade could issue the travel permits, but employers have to submit documents to prove their staff have to undertake import-export-related activities between August 23 and September 6.

But the time frame is inaccurate since shipments could take longer, it said.

Besides, it wants the HCMC Export Processing Zone and Industrial Park Authority to be given the authority to issue the permits.

Another industry trade group, HBA, has also called for the Authority and the Saigon Hi-tech Park to be given the authority to issue travel permits to import-export staff, people delivering food, foodstuffs and medical equipment and employees of foodstuff processors.

The Department of Industry and Trade wants district authorities to issue travel permits to employees of supporting industry firms, saying it could issue only to import-export enterprises.

Starting Monday, the city launched a new campaign lasting 15 days to tighten its coronavirus restrictions, requiring people to "stay where they are," isolating homes from homes, streets from streets and wards from wards.

The city has so far recorded nearly 185,000 local cases and 7,170 deaths.

With a population of 13 million including migrants, HCMC has undergone a series of social distancing orders, with the latest extended until Sept. 15. People are also banned from going out between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next day, except in certain cases like medical emergencies.

The government has said it wants the city, the nation’s biggest and economic hub, to bring the coronavirus situation under control by Sept. 15.

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