Only 313,000 enterprises remained active nationwide as of January 1, 2012, according to a survey conducted by the General Statistics Office.

However, contrasting figures in a report delivered at a meeting of the National Assembly, the Ministry of Planning and Investment said there were 624,000 registered businesses across the country as of end-2011.

Do Thuc, director general of the General Statistics Office, said the data on enterprises varied over time.

But he did not explain why there was such a huge gap between the number of registered businesses and the number of active firms one year ago.

In fact, these two figures were published by the same agency since the General Statistics Office is under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Thus, the disappearance of over half Vietnamese enterprises has yet to be satisfactorily explained.

Luu Quang Manh, director general of the Business Registration Management Agency of the planning ministry, said the number of operational firms should be 363,000 by January 1, 2012, instead of 313,000 as announced by the General Statistics Office.

That is because around 50,000 enterprises were listed as active even though they refused to join the survey of the statistics agency, he explained.

He added there were 475,000 enterprises nationwide at the end of 2012, versus 363,000 in late 2011, meaning there were an additional 110,000 firms last year.

Specifically, 70,000 businesses were newly-registered and 22,500 were in preparation for operation. The remaining 21,000 is an approximation error in the figures of the planning ministry, the General Statistics Office and the General Department of Taxation.

Although there were 313,000 active enterprises as per the survey of the General Statistics Office, the number of existing firms was higher, at 342,000, versus 125,000 in 2007. The business sector attracted 10.9 million laborers, up 65% against 2007.

According to the HCMC Statistics Office, there were 23,708 newly-registered businesses citywide in 2012, down 2.5% year-on-year. The number of inactive enterprises in the first 11 months was nearly 21,750, equal to 96.2% of the number of new businesses granted tax codes.

Meanwhile, Hanoi recorded 15,000 new businesses last year, with total registered capital of VND83 trillion, down 10% in number and 30% in capital over the preceding year. The municipal statistics office did not reveal the number of folding enterprises, but according to the Hanoi Department of Taxation, some 12,200 had halted their operations by the end of November.

By Tu Giang - The Saigon Times Daily - January 10, 2013