Finance ministry still pushing online game tax

By Quynh Trang   May 13, 2023 | 07:27 am PT
Finance ministry still pushing online game tax
Inside a game studio in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
The Ministry of Finance still wants a special consumption tax for online game production due to the products’ risk of addiction and negative health effects.

After consulting the public and other government bodies, the ministry found 90 votes supporting the tax proposal and on 10 votes rejecting the measure or proposing more consideration.

Two major supporters for the tax, the Ministry of Health and the National Institute of Mental Health at Bach Mai Hospital, have argued that online gaming can have a negative impact on the physical and mental state of gamers, especially youth.

The game addiction rate in Vietnam is 8.5% of players, it said, without giving further details on the scale of the figure.

It added that 12% of players suffer from depression, 13.5% have anxiety and 17% have stress disorders.

The percentage of players with low communication skills is nearly 22%, while 18% suffer from low social skills. Nearly 16% of players have trouble sleeping.

However, some organizations against the proposal include the Ministry of Information and Communications, game developer VNG, the Vietnam Recreational and Electronic Sport Association, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and the Vietnam Federation of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

They argue that the measure would be bad for the economy as five of the 10 biggest game developers in the region are Vietnamese, and the tax would discourage local producers and prompt them to move other countries.

No other country imposes a special consumption tax on online games.

Online game production also has the potential to be an environmentally-friendly no-emission industry, opponents of the tax have said.

The communications ministry said that it has all the tools needed to prevent the negative side of gaming.

The Government Inspectorate, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that more convincing research is needed on whether the tax should be imposed.

Online game production in Vietnam has seen increasing revenues over the years, from VND7.58 trillion ($323 million) in 2019 to an estimated VND12 trillion last year, according to the Ministry of Finance.

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