Being well-trained in economic management at Plekhanov University in the former Soviet Union and having practical experience in his working years in HCMC where private business sector developed most, former Prime Minister Phan Van Khai had a very differing view on the private economy compared to senior leaders at this time.
Phan Van Khai was not dogmatic and not afraid. He understood the role of the private economy and sincerely wished to develop this sector.
Therefore, as soon as he came to work in central level in the early 1990s, former Prime Minister tried his best to put new ideas into the Vietnam Communist Party's resolutions and government policies on private economic development.
As the deputy director of the socio-economic development sub-committee in the period from 1991 to 2000 and head of editorial team, Phan Van Khai was directly involved in producing a strategic draft in which he wrote that: "In the economic revival of the country, the core element is the entrepreneurs, from the household business to the owner and leader of the large business."
Unfortunately, this content was not accepted by the Vietnam Politburo at this time.
When becoming the Prime Minister and being assigned to preside over the preparation of documents submitted to the fourth Conference of the 8th Central Committee of the Communist Party on December 1997, Phan Van Khai continued to carry out economic renovation, especially on development of business community.
After the fourth Central Conference, Phan Van Khai held the first dialogues with Vietnam entrepreneurs, mainly private enterprises, through three meetings held in three places including Hanoi, HCMC and Danang.
Phan Van Khai announced the solidified establishment of relations between the Vietnam government and enterprises, which deeply satisfied with realistic requirements of development country at that time.
Former Prime Minister Phan Van Khai also concentrated on directing the study and modification of the Law on Private Enterprise and the Law on Companies which were issued from 1990 to 1991.
Through doing research on in-country practices and foreign experiences, the two laws were proposed to merge into the Enterprise Law creating an equal business environment for private enterprises.
The process of enacting the 1999 Enterprise Law was very active. The drafting team had studied the business laws of 16 countries, consulted with foreign experts and in particular, widely consulted with domestic businesses and experts through several workshops in Northern, Central and Southern areas of Vietnam.
This was the first time that businesses were involved in passing a law for themselves.
However, when the government presented this draft to the Vietnam National Assembly, it was not easy at first. Many delegates and leaders found it difficult to accept because they did not get out of the old way of thinking.
After a week discussion and persuasion, the National Assembly passed the law on May 29, 1999 with the approval of 84.5 per cent of the deputies.
The Enterprise Law was promulgated and came into effect on January 1, 2000, which marked an important milestone in the process of creating a legal environment for business based on the market economy and promoted the internal strength of Vietnam.
In addition, from 2001 to 2005, former Prime Minister Phan Van Khai also directed relevant agencies to review, amend and supplement many other important economic laws such as Land Law, Law on Banking and Credit Institutions, Commercial Law or Tax Law, etc.
The relatively consistent legal system of economic reform had greatly contributed to the implementation of the Enterprise Law and Vietnam economic recovery after the financial crisis from 1997 to 1999. It also facilitated Vietnam's negotiation and admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in September 2006.
At the end of 2005, the government submitted new Enterprise Law and Investment Law to the Vietnam National Assembly for approval. The two laws came into effect on July 1, 2006, bringing all enterprises of all economic sectors including state-owned and foreign direct investment companies into an unified legal framework and eliminating the discrimination that existed many years ago.