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  • 12/16/16--01:25: Article 4
  • BUSINESS IN BRIEF 16/12


    Industry ministry eliminates, simplifies 123 procedures

    The Ministry of Industry and Trade has announced to eliminate 15 administrative procedures and simplify 108 others out of 443 in 19 fields under its management, marking an unprecedented reform drive.

    The ministry’s move is as part of the Government’s resolve to improve the country’s business and investment environment.

    In the field of international trade, foreign direct investment (FDI) enterprises will not have to apply for export-import permits while licensing procedures for other aspects involving FDI firms will be simplified. The ministry also extends the material trading rights to FDI firms.

    The distribution rights for FDI companies are only restricted in a couple of sectors on the list issued by the ministry. The license application dossier will be reduced.

    In the field of gas trading, the ministry allows firms to summit dossiers online and modifies the validity of LPG container certification from two years into five years.

    Regarding import-export activities, the ministry abolishes the requirement for the original copies of contracts on renting rice storage and producing facilities to meet export and trading requirements.

    The ministry was ranked 12th in 2014 and 18th in 2015 out of 19 ministries in the Public Administration Reform (PAR) Index.

    Drug prices still left unchecked

    Authorities in HCMC have not been able to manage drug wholesale and retail prices, according to the city’s Department of Health.

    In a draft plan for the city’s pharmaceutical sector development in 2017-2025, which has been passed to the city government, the department ascribed the situation to the lack of legal restrictions on intermediary trading and drug pricing by retailers.

    Data of the department shows the city has nearly 1,090 drug wholesalers, including State-owned, joint-stock and limited liability companies,

    which can meet 80% of the city’s demand for pharmaceutical products and make up 30% of the country’s total.

    The city now has around 5,830 drugstores, with 5,240 of them privately-held, 110 belonging to hospitals and the remainder owned by enterprises.

    According to the department, certain physicians are found to give drug prescriptions in favor of the drugstores which offer them high commissions.

    Drugs provided by wholesalers come from different sources, either from producers or authorized dealers, making it difficult for authorities to manage prices and quality.

    There are too many drug distribution companies and multiple intermediary levels, causing drug prices to surge and making it impossible for authorities to determine real prices.

    Vietnamese fruit export turnover forecast to be a major commodity


     Image result for XUAT KHAU HOA QUA

    The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development yesterday reported that Vietnamese fruit export reached US$186 million in November, bringing total export value of the commodity in 11 months to US$2.178 billion.

    Major markets for Vietnamese exports are China with 70.4 percent, South Korea with 3.6 percent, the US with 3.4 percent and Japan with 3.1 percent. Turnover of fruit export is expected to  exceed that of rice rice to become the nation’s major commodity for export - an impressive achievement for the fruit and vegetable sector.

    The Ministry asserted that fruit export has the fastest growth rate amongst agricultural produces and ranks the third in the nine agriculture-forestry-fishery produce list with high value.  Meantime, amongst 29 Vietnamese-grown tropical fruits for export, dragon fruit tops the list with export turnover of US$700 million, accounting for 50 percent of total export value. Longan and watermelon also have impressive growth rate for exports.

    In the last months of the year, fruit export sector receives a good new that mangosteen and litchi have been accepted to enter the US and Australia markets respectively. In the future, shipments of fruits like dragon fruit, rambutan, longan, litchi, and mangosteen have since increased on an annual basis into potential markets such as the US, Japan, South Korea, head of the Plant Protection Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Hoang Trung said.

    Currently, Vietnamese fruits have won over consumers in many countries. Next time, Vietnamese mango and star apple will be sold in the US market meanwhile lychee was allowed to enter Australia and next mango and dragon fruit will enter this market. Japanese consumers now can eat Vietnamese mango and dragon fruits.

    Director of Chanh Thu Exporter in the Mekong delta province of Ben Tre Ms. Nguyen Thi Hong Thu said that there have been positive signs for the Vietnamese fruit export market. Yet fruits must achieve GlobalGap or VietGap to be able to enter the US, or EU markets.

    In its planning for fruit export growth, the Ministry concentrates on 12 major fruits including dragon fruit, mango, rambutan, durian, star apple, grape fruit, longan, banana, pineapple, orange, custard-apple, and tangerine.

    Total orchards with the vision to 2020 will be 257,000 hectare, accounting for 52 percent total areas for planting fruits in the southern provinces; the Mekong delta will have 185,000 hectare orchards and the South East will have 72,000 hectare orchards. To achieve the target, experts said that the government should offer favorable condition for enterprises and proper policies to benefit farmers.

    For past time, many areas in the Mekong delta specializing in specific fruits include Hoa Loc mango grown in Tien Giang Province and Can Tho City, Chu mango in Dong Thap Province; pomelo Nam Roi in Vinh Long, Hau Giang, Soc Trang provinces; dark blue skin pomelo in Ben Tre; mandarin in Lai Vung District in Dong Thap Province; dragon fruit in Tien Giang, Long An; star apples grown in Lo Ren-Vinh Kim in Tien Giang Province. Additionally, quality and productivity were improved thanks to application of technology.

    However, Vietnamese fruit export faced difficulties including quarantine and food safety regulation.

    Le Van Banh, head of the Department of Processing and Trade for Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Products and Salt Production under the agriculture ministry, said that it needs to perform radiation treatment and growing fruits as per international standards such as GlobalGap.

    In addition, it should plan cultivation areas for each market and farm address according to regulation as well as form domestic consumption chains and meet export demand, said Banh.

    IPO on horizon for Benthanh Group

    Benthanh Group, a diversified investment corporation, has announced the date of its company valuation for equitization as June 30, 2016 according to the latest decision issued by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee on the company’s equitization plan.

    “If the equitization roadmap takes place on schedule, the group can complete its first public offering of shares within 2017,” a representative from Benthanh Group told VET. She did not give any further information about its plan.

    On the appraisal date, Benthanh Group’s equity reached nearly $110 million - including the charter capital of around $86 million, over the total assets of $148 million, equivalent to 73.4 per cent. In other words, the firm operates mainly based on its equity so the operation status is assessed to be relatively safe.

    With its balance in cash and cash equivalents of over $40 million, Benthanh Group can afford to directly finance projects’ implementation as well as increase the percentage of ownership in its member companies once in a favorable condition.

    Furthermore, Benthanh Group is also limiting loans to the minimum amount. Specifically, the loan balance at June 30 was more than $4 million and has been maintained quite stably at around $4.4 million or under from 2013 until the present. Therefore, the company’s interest costs at $146,000 for the first half of 2016 have not put it under pressure.

    The main source of stable income from dividends helped Benthanh Group’s profits from  2013 to 2015 to remain constant from about $6.6 million to $9 million per year.

    The company’s net income for the first half of 2016 was around $7.1 million, equivalent to the total profit of the previous year. It is noticeable that revenue of the first 6 months amounted to $10.5 million, up sharply compared to $1.6 million in the same period in 2015. Of which, sales revenue reached $6 million but only returned less than $44,000 in gross profit. These statistics were not explained in detail.

    At the end of June, Benthanh Group made long-term investments of about $57 million in its member enterprises under the form of joint ventures and association. The parent company is contributing capital, along with foreign partners, in six joint ventures to manage and operate some renowned 4 and 5-star hotels including Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon, Sofitel Plaza Saigon and Norfolk.

    Among associated companies, there are some notable names such as Saigon General Service Corporation (Savico), Ben Thanh Trading & Service JSC and Ben Thanh Tourist. Benthanh Group is the largest shareholder of those companies with the ownership ratio of over 40 per cent.

    The quality of the companies’ operations associated with Benthanh Group as equal or only listed companies is still not able to be accurately evaluated. However, the Group’s regular dividends received annually show the business situation of the member firms are relatively stable.

    Specific information on the Group’s IPO roadmap has not been published in detail, but the IPO of large corporations with relatively healthy financial situations and possessing good companies will definitely attract investors’ attention.

    Ben Thanh Corporation, a diversified investment corporation that focuses on tourism, trading service and real estate, was established in late 1997 according to the General Corporation 90 model, including nine member enterprises, 10 enterprises invested in by the parent company and 4 dependent accounting units.

    After nearly 20 years of development, the group is managing investment capital in 28 member companies operating in the four sectors consisting of tourism, trade, real estate and industrial production with the whole system’s revenue in 2015 achieving more than $630 million.

    Milton building a luxury Pullman resort

    Milton Vietnam JSC has announced its new project, a European ecotourism village and resort, at Truong Beach in Phu Quoc Island and kicked-off construction on the Pullman Phu Quoc Resort, as part of the project, on December 6.

    In an area spanning 82.2 hectares, the village will be located in the centre of Truong Beach, and will include hotels, trade centers and entertainment venues. The project will feature 4,000 three, four and five star rooms. Total investment in the project is VND10 trillion ($448.3 million).

    Pullman Phu Quoc Resort covers 6.65 hectares and features 332 five-star accommodations, with 291 rooms and 41 villas. The project's completion is estimated by August 2018 and will be operated and managed by the prestigious Accor Hotels.

    In September Milton and BIDV Mien Tay Insurance Company (BIC Western branch) signed an insurance contract amounting to VND1 trillion ($44.8 million) for the construction of the Pullman Phu Quoc Resort. Milton is the investor of the project and BIDV, (The Bank for Investment Development of Vietnam) Phu Quoc branch is the credit sponsor.

    Milton Vietnam JSC has its headquarters in Phu Quoc Island with a representative office in Ho Chi Minh City. Milton is a subsidiary of the Russian-based Milton Group, which was founded by Vietnamese living overseas. Established 20 years ago, Milton Group operates in various industries including footwear and textiles production, international trade, finance investment, real estate, hotels and resorts.

    According to the Phu Quoc Economic Zone management board, Phu Quoc attracted 250 registered projects as of September 2016, but only 30 projects have been launched with a total capital of VND30 trillion ($1.34 billion). Vingroup has taken the lead with VND9 trillion ($400 million) in investments. Sun Group came next with more than VND8.62 trillion ($383.4 million), followed by Milton with VND5 trillion ($222 million), BIM Group with VND1.26 trillion ($56.3 million) and CEO Group with VND1.25 trillion ($55.91 million).

    The island has been offering investors incentives on corporate tax and personal income tax. It has also exempted value-added tax for tourists at the Phu Quoc International Airport while providing them with a 30-day visa exemption.

    In a master development plan approved by the Prime Minister, the island will be designated a special economic zone, a centre for high-quality eco-tourism, a trade and luxury services area, and a high-tech area.

    VietJet IPO set to raise US$170 mln, value airline at US$1.2 bln

    Budget airline VietJet is set to raise about US$170 million in an initial public offering (IPO) that will value Vietnam's only private airline at US$1.2 billion, people close to the deal said on December 14, in the latest in a string of Vietnamese share sales.

    VietJet Aviation JSC, founded in 2007 by Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao - now Vietnam's first female billionaire - will add its name to a list of coming and completed sales that includes Vietnam Airlines, brewer Sabeco and dairy Vinamilk.

    VietJet will sell 44.7 million shares priced just below the middle of their 75,900 to 98,400 dong ($3.34 to $4.33) marketed range, four people said.

    The price for institutional buyers will be 84,400 dong each, the people said. One of them told Reuters that the price for retail investors would be 86,500 dong.

    An overallotment option would not be exercised, the people told IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication. One of the people told Reuters that the offer was oversubscribed.

    BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan and VietCapital are the IPO's joint global coordinators, IFR reported. VietJet shares will be listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange on Feb. 23, it said.

    The people declined to be identified as the information had not yet been formally announced.

    VietJet declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

    Expanding, VietJet has placed the country's biggest-ever aircraft order - for 20 Airbus Group SE A321 planes worth $2.4 billion and 100 Boeing Co 737 MAX 200 jets worth US$11.3 billion at list prices.

    The airline commanded around 40 percent of the domestic market, and is likely to surpass flag carrier Vietnam Airlines this year as the country's biggest domestic airline, market analyst CAPA Centre for Aviation said in January.

    For its part, the one-time government-owned Vietnam Airlines JSC on Monday said it has asked shareholders to register their ownership by late last month as it too prepares to list at the Hanoi Stock Exchange.

    The government next plans to sell its nearly 90 percent stake in Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp (Sabeco) by 2017, capitalizing on increasing interest in Vietnamese companies.

    On December 12, Singapore-listed beverage maker Fraser and Neave Ltd said it paid about US$500 million for around 5.4% of Vietnam Dairy Products JSC (Vinamilk).

    "VietJet's IPO and the other share sales will attract more foreign cash to Vietnam's stock market and help raise market capital, which may help the country upgrade to emerging-market status," said Saigon Securities' Deputy Director of Retail Research Nguyen The Minh. "Market liquidity will be improved as well." ($1 = 22,710 dong). 

    Russian firms showcase products

         

    Executives from more than 20 Russian companies introduced their products to supermarkets, distributors and leading import and export companies at a meeting in HCM City yesterday.

    The visitors’ companies specialise in food, mineral water, alcoholic beverages, children’s food, fruits, cooking oil, meat and meat-based products, confectionery and other consumer products.

    Robert Kurilo, chief representative of Russian Export Centre in Viet Nam, said Viet Nam and Russia have had very good relations in many fields for many years, but bilateral trade remains modest.

    The centre has stepped up promotion activities to acquaint Vietnamese companies and consumers with high-quality Russian products.

    Doan Thi My Linh of the Saigon Trading Group said SATRA needs to import foreign food products to diversify goods in its supermarket.

    Russian food products produced using green technologies and without using GM organisms would be popular with Vietnamese consumers, she said.

    But participants at the meeting agreed that Russian food and beverage products would face fierce competition against products from other countries that are already available in Viet Nam.

    According to the Russia-ASEAN Trading House, a trading mechanism between Russian exporters and potential business partners in Southeast Asia, the Viet Nam- Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) free trade agreement that took effect on October 5 will offer a great advantage for Russian products in Viet Nam since import duties on more than 59 per cent of items are gone.

    They include meat products, flour, alcohol, mechanical equipment and others.

    According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Russia is the largest and most promising market of the five EAEU member countries – the others being Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan -- accounting for 80 per cent of the bloc’s total trade.

    Viet Nam is Russia’s largest trading partner in Southeast Asia, but the numbers remain modest compared to the potential, accounting for around 1 per cent of their respective trade.

    The FTA is expected to boost bilateral trade from nearly US$4 billion last year to $10 billion by 2020, it said. 

    Firms must invest in tech: experts     

    Many Vietnamese small-and-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) have not applied technology to their business and 45 per cent of the country’s firms have low or medium technology, while only two per cent of Vietnamese companies have high level technology.

    “The limit in applying technology in local businesses has made the country’s competitiveness lower,” said Pham Tat Thang, senior advisor of the Viet Nam Institute for Trade under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

    Thang told a conference on developing Viet Nam’s trade in 2016-20 held in Ha Noi yesterday that amidst fierce competition, several SMEs had not paid attention to technology application and renewal. Meanwhile, domestic firms have faced challenges from foreign companies in the past few years.

    “There will be more dissolved and bankrupt companies soon if local businesses do not change. With deeper integration into the world economy, SMEs should change their thoughts about doing businesses,” he added.

    He said enterprises should establish co-operation with partners, local businesses and Vietnamese overseas and pay attention to human resources to improve their ability in international trading.

    He also said that whether the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was signed or not, the TPP would still be a model for Vietnamese businesses to improve their competitiveness.

    Phan To Uyen from the National Economics University said the small scale, weak management and technology and low competitiveness have been common among Vietnamese businesses.

    Uyen provided figures from the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry showing that only two per cent of the country’s firms were large while two per cent was medium and 96 per cent were SMEs.

    “With limited resources and a shortage of management experience, vision and competitiveness strategies, Vietnamese companies have seen difficulties in joining global supply chains,” she said.

    She suggested the Government create a favourable business environment to support businesses in lending, application of science and technology and participating in global supply chains.

    Viet Nam has seen a remarkable increase in its exports while expanding markets and co-operation with many countries such as the US, Japan and EU.

    Tran Thanh Hai, deputy head of the ministry’s Import-Export Department said in 2006-15, average export turnover was 17.5 per cent a year. The export turnover increased four times from US$39.8 billion in 2006 to $162 billion in 2015.

    The export structure has changed by increasing the portion of processing products to account for 78 per cent of total export turnover while reducing that of fuel and minerals.

    However, he said, the country’s exports have seen shortcomings as key products have been outsourced. Its agricultural products – one of Viet Nam’s strengths in exports have mostly been exported in raw materials with low added value.

    Nghe An lures nearly VND31 trillion in investment

    The central province of Nghe An has attracted 120 projects with total investment of nearly VND31 trillion (US$1.36 billion) so far this year, according to the provincial People’s Committee.

    Since 2013, the locality has lured 372 investment projects worth over VND161 trillion (US$7.3 billion), including many large projects such as Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park and TH True Milk factory.

    However, the committee assessed that the province is facing difficulties in attracting foreign investment as the potential of many promising sectors has yet been fully tapped, including high technology industry, animal breeding, forestry, agro-forestry and fishery product processing, and tourism.

    Meanwhile, asynchronous administrative reform and slow implementation of the one-stop-shop model in some agencies are affecting the local investment environment and hindering investors’ access.

    In 2017, the province will improve its investment environment to attract more domestic and foreign investors in 2017, the provincial People’s Committee said.

    It will prioritise luring investment to a number of areas with high technological content and added value while paying more attention to the quality of investment projects. 

    Nghe An is drastically inspecting projects with slow progress. Since early this year, 85 such projects have been inspected, 13 of them were revoked and 10 others are likely to be cancelled.

    Phoenix Golf Resort hotbed of violations

    Numerous violations have been detected during the implementation of the land lease contract of Vietnam Hanoi Phoenix Golf Resort (Phoenix Golf Resort), which was invested by Charmvit Group from the Republic of Korea.

    The project’s construction was kicked off in 2005, with the total investment capital of $38 million. Starting operation in 2009 with 54 holes, it was listed in the Vietnam Book of Records as the biggest and most beautiful golf resort in 2012.

    However, behind the sparkling appearance, numerous violations have been detected during the implementation of the contract signed by the investor and the provincial leadership.  

    Notably, according to the conclusions of the Government Inspectorate of Vietnam, the investor built three-storey hotels on an area of 6,000 square metres without securing the adequate license. The area to build the hotel was not included in the project’s detailed plans previous submitted for approval. These hotels are still operating and the Hoa Binh People’s Committee has yet to charge for additional land lease fees causing a loss for the state budget.

    In addition, the investor and the provincial leaders arbitrarily discussed the land lease fees.

    Notably, in May 2004, the two parties signed an agreement for developing the project. Accordingly, the investor is allowed to rent the land for 50 years to operate the project, completely exempt of land lease fees for at least 11 years. The land lease fee was $0.01 per square metre per year and the investor would pay of the amount in a sum once and for all. 

    In January 2009, Bui Quang Khanh, director of the Hoa Binh Department of Natural Resources and Environment, and representatives of the investor signed a land lease contract over a 318,889-hectare area with the duration of 49.5 years, effective from February 2005 to August 2054. However, due to the province’s previous commitments on land lease fee exemption, the investor would only have to pay for 38.5 years.

    According to the Government Inspectorate of Vietnam’s report, an arbitrary agreement in land lease fees between the two parties is not compliant with regulations. Besides, paying the fees in a one-time sum did not match the clauses of the investment certificate, as it stipulated that the fees would be collected every year and would be adjusted every five years by no more than 15 per cent each time.

    The contract was signed in January 2009, however, until 2010 the investor paid the land lease fees without recalculation, which is also not compliant with the regulation. 

    The province was also found in violation when it allowed the investor to develop a project falling outside the parameters of the province’s land use planning approved by the prime minister as well as the national sports development strategy until 2020.

    Vietnam Food Association proposes rice export volume cut

    The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) suggested exporting 2-3 million tonnes of rice per year through 2020 instead of 7-8 million tonnes at present.

    At a workshop in Ho Chi Minh City on December 13, the VFA said nearly 70 percent of Vietnamese rice is sold in Asia each year with China the biggest importer, followed by the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.

    However, Vietnam’s rice exports to these markets are sluggish.

    VFA Chairman Huynh The Nang said in previous years, the three ASEAN nations imported around 2-3 million tonnes of rice from Vietnam. 

    However, currently, rice export volume to the markets has reduced due to their governments’ policies of balancing domestic food and reducing dependence on rice imports.

    Meanwhile, China has put forth new quarantine regulations, and signed a protocol with Vietnam setting stricter sterilisation inspections on Vietnamese rice and rice bran imports.

    Nang said it is necessary to improve quality and ensure food safety by building safe material areas which trace the origin of products.

    He advised making use of potential rice production regions, including Dong Thap Muoi (the Plain of Reeds) and Tu Giac Long Xuyen (Long Xuyen Quadrangle) and the rice-shrimp rotational crops region between the Tien and Hau rivers in the Mekong Delta.

    Luong Hoang Thai, head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Multilateral Trade Policy Department, said 90 percent of Vietnamese rice exports come from the Mekong Delta.

    Over 1 million tonne of rice was lost due to drought and saltwater intrusion in the 2015-2016 winter-spring crops, he said, adding that rice production in the delta will face more difficulties from climate change and rising sea levels.

    This requires the country to build large-scale paddy fields and stable material areas to create high-quality and competitive products, the panel suggested.

    Can Tho strives to become Mekong Delta’s startup hub

    The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, an economic hub of the Mekong Delta, is expected to become a startup valley in the Mekong Delta region by 2020.

    The goal was made at a workshop on “Vietnam Startup Index 2015/2016” held on December 13 by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce andIndustry (VCCI) Can Tho branch and the municipal of Department of Planning and Investment in the city. 

    The workshop focused on measures for startup development in Can Tho based on the startup situation in Vietnam in 2015 - 2016.

    Can Tho had 67,000 enterprises and business households as well as 221 cooperatives in 2016, contributing 4 trillion VND to the local budget and providing over 125,000 jobs, said Nguyen Thanh Dung, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, adding that the city’s economy steadily grew at 5.88 percent per year, ranking 14th among 63 cities and provinces in competitiveness.

    However, a lack of a comprehensive legal framework and stable government investment has posed challenges to local startups. They also lack confidence, experience and creativity.

    To tackle these problems, the city is advised to create a creative environment while promoting training programmes for startups and businessmen, said Truong Quoc Trang, Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Planning and Investment.

    He added that a training course themed “Your startups” will be held by the department and the VCCI Can Tho chapter in 2017.

    The course is expected to provide basic skills and knowledge on startups for youths.

    Meanwhile, the municipal Department of Science and Technology will coordinate with the city’s VCCI to create and expand a working space network and suggest business directions for startups, said Tran Hoai Phuong, the department’s Deputy Director.

    Startup competitions will be held to encourage enterprises to exchange their experience, he added.

    A support foundation will be founded by the VCCI with a targeted budget of 10 billion VND in 2017 – 2020 to support infrastructure construction and training programmes, according to Vo Hung Dung, Director of VCCI Can Tho chapter.

    The foundation will call for government financial support and investment of big businesses to professionalise startups.

    Russian food businesses seek market entry in Vietnam


     russian food businesses seek market entry in vietnam hinh 0

    Representatives of more than 20 Russian food and drink businesses joined an exchange with leading Vietnam distributors and importers on December 14 in Ho Chi Minh City.

    Robert Kurilo of the Russian Export Centre in Hanoi said the Centre hopes that diverse trade promotion activities in Vietnam will help Russian products gain market entry and get fast grocery store shelf space.

    Russian businesses have introduced a variety of food and drink products to local business partners including instant cereals, confectionary, fruit juices and processed meat products.

    Klimova Elena, general director of the Znamensky Company, said Russian products are of high quality because they are made on hi-tech production lines. Besides, local customers are interested in discovering new flavours, which bodes well for Russian food to find a niche in the market.

    Doan Thi My Linh from SATRA noted the company currently needs to import foreign food to diversify their goods at its supermarkets. She hopes that high quality Russian products will be chosen by local customers.

    At the exchange, businesses from two countries identified some difficulties in transporting products to Vietnam, noting in particular the vast geographic distance results in high freight charges.

    Russian autos gain free access to ASEAN via Vietnam

    Vietnam-Russia commercial trade remains relatively insignificant, said Hoang Quang Phong, vice chair of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry at a recent business forum in Hanoi.

    Official statistics for 2015, said Mr Phong, showed that the combined exports and imports of Vietnam to and from Russia was roughly US$4 billion, which is only a small fraction of the trade figure of other trade partners.

    For comparison purposes, the country’s commercial trade with its five largest trading partners for 2015 was – China (US$66 billion), ASEAN (US$42.1 billion), the US ($41.5 billion), the EU ($41.2 billion) and the Republic of Korea ($36.7 billion).

    With total foreign direct investment estimated at just US$2 billion, Russia ranks No. 17 among other economies currently doing business in Vietnam, noted Mr Phong.

    While on the reverses side, he added, that Vietnamese companies have foreign investment of approximately US$3 billion in Russia, substantially all of which is in the oil and gas segment.

    However, despite the relatively weak economic ties, the two countries have strong cultural and political links dating back to the Soviet Union era, Mr Phong observed.

    Notably, a study by the Pew Research Centre, a think tank based in Washington DC, the US, conducted in 2015 showed that 75% of Vietnamese people viewed Russia positively. Of all the people surveyed in some 40 countries, only 30% saw Russia favourably.

    Russia became Vietnam’s first strategic partner in 2001 even before its major Asian neighbours like Japan (2006), India (2007) and China (2008). Alongside China, Russia is currently one of the two countries with which Vietnam has established a comprehensive strategic partnership.

    In May 2015, following six years and eight rounds of negotiations, Vietnam signed a free trade agreement with the Russia-led Eurasian Union (EAEU), comprised of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.

    That Agreement and the new free trade region it created came into force this past October 2016, noted Mr Phong, adding that it holds great promise for eliminating both tariff (previously at 5.63%) and non-tariff barriers to trade of Vietnam with the EAEU. 

    Pursuant to the Agreement, the EAEU eliminates import duties on 88% of goods imported from Vietnam either immediately when the Agreement came into force or with a phase-out transit period of five to 10 years.

    Thus, Vietnamese producers have already gotten significant preferential access to many consumer goods markets of the EAEU including clothes, shoes, fish, rice, fruits, vegetables and consumer electronics.

    In return, the average level of Vietnam duties imposed on EAEU goods will drop from 10 to 1%.

    Vietnam has agreed to eliminate its import duties on 91% of its goods' nomenclature, which means that zero duties will apply to EAEU beef, dairy products, tinned fish, flour, cereals as well as to rolled steel, pipes, asbestos, ships, petroleum products and many other categories of goods.

    The duty on petrol will be reduced from 19 to 0% with a transition period; on cables, from 20 to 0% over a period of 10 years; for large goods vehicles, from 17 to 0%.

    Vietnam has also agreed to partially liberalize access to its market for EAEU tobacco products, while the EAEU automobile industry companies will be given exclusive access to the Vietnamese market.

    Vietnam has signed an investment agreement for the industrial assembly of cars and trucks with companies from Russia and Belarus. Assembled vehicles will be considered as manufactured in Vietnam and will thus have free access to the markets of ASEAN member states.

    We hope that the growth in trade resulting from the newly created free trade EAEU region will increase to US$10 billion by 2020 as agreed upon by the two governments, noted Mr Phong.

    However, the challenges such as high shipping costs due to the geographical distances, along with differences in business culture and languages may prove to be too formidable obstacles for Vietnamese companies.

    HCMC begins forcing business offices out of condo buildings

    The HCMC Department of Planning and Investment has urged those businesses having offices in condo buildings in the city to move out within 15 days.

    They will have to stop operation inside condo buildings and register for new office addresses. If they fail to do so, the department will coordinate with the Construction Department and district authorities to deal with them in accordance with law.

    According to Government Decree 99/2015, which guides the implementation of the Housing Law, business offices are disallowed inside condo buildings. Those having business registration licenses and using apartments as transaction offices are required to move to other places within six months starting from December 10 last year, which means the June 10 deadline is over.

    But many businesses are still operating in many condo buildings around the city. Data of the Department of Planning and Investment shows the city now has around 2,000 enterprises whose head offices are based in such residential buildings.

    More than 30 condo units at 42 Nguyen Hue Boulevard in District 1 are used for doing business. Seven to eight households still live at this place while the rest have moved to other places and leased their homes to others, said Tran Quoc Thang, member of the condo’s management board.

    “We cannot manage those doing business in these condo units. It is the right of the owners to lease their properties to anybody as wished. It is the responsibility of authorities to order those businesses to move out or stop operation,” he said.

    A representative of a business at this condo said it is a difficult for enterprises to relocate their offices within 15 days. “It will take a lot of time looking for a new location with a reasonable rental. When relocating elsewhere, enterprises will have to inform banks, tax authorities, partners and customers of their new addresses.”

    Cu Thanh Duc, deputy head of the business registration office at the Department of Planning and Investment, said many enterprises are using condo units as their offices as the business registration rules do not require them to declare where they are headquartered.

    Lawyer Tran Duc Phuong, member of the HCMC Bar Association, said Decree 99 bans enterprises from using condos as business locations but the decree does not clearly define “business location.”

    “The Enterprise Law describes a business location as a place where enterprises carry out specific business activities. In line with the law, Decree 99 only prohibits enterprises from using condo units as transaction locations, but not head, branch, or representative offices,” said Phuong.

    However, authorities can still order enterprises operating in condo buildings to move out based on the regulation that specifies condos must be used for the right purpose, which is living.

    The lawyer suggested authorities provide specific sanctions against those violating the rule, instead of simply banning.

    Each province to sue 10-50 businesses in premium debts this month

    Each province in Vietnam will file lawsuits against 10-50 businesses for not paying social, health and unemployment insurances more than six months and big debtor names will be publicized on the media by December 31.

    The announcement was made by Mr. Nguyen Tri Dai, head of Premium Collection Division under the Vietnam Social Insurance Agency, at a conference in Hanoi on December 13.

    According to Mr. Dai, the agency has implemented many measures to collect premium arrears including coordination with provincial and municipal labor unions to sue the debtors. They are now preparing documents to start proceedings by the end of the month.

    The agency has set target to reduce the ratio of businesses’ social and health insurance debts to 2.9 percent this year.

    Last month, the arrears were down 1.25 percent against the previous month but still accounted for 5.6 percent of the total premium, he said. Social, health and unemployment insurance arrears hit VND13,135 billion (US$578 million) in the country.

    Deputy director of the Vietnam Social Insurance Agency Tran Dinh Lieu said that the agency would work with provinces and cities natiowide to unexpectedly inspect businesses over their insurance payment in December.

    Each province will inspect 15 businesses in premium arrears for more than three months and issue fines.

    The agency will transfer documents to police agencies for investigation to those deliberate not to pay the fines.

    Rice industry should reduce output, increase quality: deputy minister

    Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh said that four million ton rice export a year with high prices would be better than low price export of 6-7 million tons, at a workshop in HCMC on December 13.

    He said that rice production thought need be changed by improving quality instead of running after quantity. Farmers just cultivate two instead of 3-4 crops a year.

    Formerly, chairman of the Vietnam Food Association Huynh The Nang said that the world market has been on the trend of high quality rice and competitive prices as the number of supply countries has been increasing.

    Meantime, import countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia and China have trended towards developing domestic production and cutting import output.

    Vietnam’s rice export value has reduced for five years in a row since 2012 although volume saw year on year increase in 2012 and 2015. Therefore, output should reduce to 3-4 million tons a year by 2020 and 2-3 million tons after 2020.

    Slow disbursement of capital raised from G-bond sales

    The State Treasury has met the Government bond sale target for this year but the disbursement of capital raised from the debt sales has been slow, affecting the country’s economic growth.

    As of December 7, VND280.8 trillion (US$12.4 billion) worth of G-bonds had been sold, meeting 100% of this year’s target, while just 46.6% of the capital raised had been disbursed at the end of November.

    Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has recently written to ministries and local authorities urging them to speed up the disbursement of public investment capital. By end-November, the State capital disbursement ratio had reached 70.2%, with G-bond capital disbursements meeting 46.6% of the full-year estimate.

    G-bond sales have the most successful year this year on the primary market with volume jumping 45% compared to 2015.

    Data of the Hanoi Stock Exchange show that in 24 G-bond auctions held in November, more than VND9 trillion was raised, down 59.6% against the previous month. The winning coupons of five-year bonds were 5.2% to 5.5%, 10-year bonds 6% to 10%, 15-year bonds 7.2%, 20-year bonds 7.71% and 30-year bonds 7.98% a year.

    The figures suggested disbursements of G-bond capital are slow. The stagnation of public investment activity has also hit the nation’s economic development as the Government is facing a hefty challenge for obtaining GDP growth of 6.3-6.5% this year.

    State budget collections had totaled VND911.2 trillion by the end of November, representing 89.8% of this year’s estimate and rising 6.3% from the same period last year, while budget spending had hit nearly VND1,100 trillion, meeting 84.7% of this year’s goal and up 6.2% year-on-year, said the General Statistics Office.

    Spending on development investment was VND173.4 trillion, up 14.1% year-on-year, and basic construction capital disbursement was VND171.5 trillion, or 68% of this year’s estimate.

    Budget deficit was put at VND167 trillion in end-November.

    Can Tho City imports 2,000 cows from Australia

    The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho has imported 2,000 Australian cows which will be slaughtered for meat.

    Local firm Dong Ha last Saturday inaugurated a store to sell fresh and frozen Australian beef at 143 Tran Van Kheo Street, Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho City.

    At the store opening ceremony, Le Thi Kim Thu, director of the company, said the Mekong Delta for the first modern slaughterhouse and distribution outlet.

    Thu said the company’s beef meets Australia’s Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) standards and Vietnam’s food safety and hygiene standards.

    Dong Ha plans to open more outlets in other parts of the city this month. Beef products are expected to be available on supermarkets, markets, restaurants and hotels in HCMC and the Mekong Delta provinces in early February next year.  

    Fresh Australian beef at the store costs VND200,000 to VND320,000 a kilo. The store offers a discount of 10-20% for wholesalers in the first ten days of its inauguration.

    Much room left for PPP projects

    HCMC in the past two years has attracted hundreds of urban infrastructure projects in the form of public-private partnership (PPP) and still has enormous room for more of such projects in the coming time.

    Le Quynh Dai, vice chairman of District 8, told the Daily on the sidelines of the HCMC People’s Council’s session here last week that at least three investors had shown interest in the relocation and renovation of households along Doi Canal in the form of PPP in the district. They are Saigon Housing and Infrastructure Investment JSC, Vingroup and the Ministry of Defense’s Lung Lo Company.

    Saigon Housing and Infrastructure Investment JSC has officially applied to get involved in this project, while the other two are gathering information in District 8. It is reported that this project may cost nearly VND10 trillion, or US$440 million.

    Investors are also interested in developing many projects in other fields such as wastewater treatment, environment, transport infrastructure, seaport, healthcare, education, culture and sports under PPP.

    There are now 92 PPP projects in the city with total capital of nearly VND327 trillion, said Phan Thi Thang, director of the HCMC Department of Finance. Also, 95 other projects worth a total of VND121.43 trillion are calling for PPP investment, Thang told the council’s meeting.

    Among the 92 PPP projects under development are 65 projects in the form of BT (build-transfer), 16 in BOT (build-operate-transfer) or BTO (build-transfer-operate), seven BLT (build-lease-transfer) or BTL (build-transfer-lease) projects, and four BOO (build-own-operate) undertakings.

    In 2009, the legal corridor of Vietnam only allowed for three PPP forms: BOT, BTO and BT. Last year, the Government issued Decree 15/2015/ND-CP raising the number to seven with the additional ones being BLT, BTL, BOO and O&M agreement (operation and maintenance agreement).

    The additional formats are aimed at helping investors at home and abroad access and carry out a greater diversity of PPP projects, meeting the actual needs and international practices.

    Although the number of PPP projects is quite impressive with the boost given by Government Decree 15, a couple of obstacles should be removed.

    In a report to the Ministry of Planning and Investment in mid-2016, the HCMC government said some difficulties with the implementation of PPP projects were related to preferential tax and land rent policies, and the selection of no-bid contractors for PPP projects with direct impact on the lives and the security of citizens that need to be done quickly.

    The municipal government said periodic payments to developers of PPP projects should have inflation factored in. Since investors are unable to control inflation risks, such risks should not be passed onto them.

    Investors believe there should be a more specific and clearer legal framework to ensure the interests of investors and the State.

    Saigon-Khanh Hoi port here to stay

    The HCMC departments of tourism and transport have agreed to maintain Saigon-Khanh Hoi port to develop waterway tourism.

    Saigon-Khanh Hoi port, which is adjacent to the Ho Chi Minh Museum, has long been one of the city’s popular destinations. Therefore, the port should be upgraded into a central wharf to develop inland waterways and river travel links with Cambodia.

    After nearly two years of relocating from Bach Dang wharf to Saigon-Khanh Hoi, owners of cruise ships and restaurant boats have expressed concern over the lack of berths, saying they might pull out of business in end-2016.

    When Bach Dang wharf was closed early last year to make room for a project to develop a tourism wharf, some tour boats moved to Tan Cang port and some cruise ships relocated to Saigon-Khanh Hoi. The remaining ships ceased operations or dropped anchor near the Saigon Pearl residential complex.

    Ship owners have repeatedly asked city authorities for assistance but in vain.

    The Department of Tourism has proposed the Department of Transport and the HCMC Port Authority boost work on an international cruise port project in Mui Den Do Park, District 7. Pending this cruise port project, Saigon Port Joint Stock Company is building a passenger lounge at Tan Thuan 2 Port to serve big cruise ships.

    VSI aims to cut social insurance debt

    Vietnam Social Insurance (VSI) looks to reduce social insurance debt to 2.9% of its estimate this year, heard a conference on VSI operations in Hanoi on December 13.

    By end-November, unpaid social insurance premiums had surpassed VND13.13 trillion (US$589 million), accounting for 5.6% of the full-year collection plan. Though the sum is smaller than a month earlier, it is still huge, said VSI.  

    Nguyen Tri Dai, head of the collection department at VSI, said that of VND13.13 trillion, social insurance debt made up VND10.13 trillion, unemployment insurance debt VND572 billion and medical insurance debt roughly VND2.43 trillion.

    Notably, provinces owed over VND2 trillion in social insurance premiums that should be paid on behalf of privileged people and the remainder is owed by enterprises.

    VSI has taken a number of measures to cut social insurance debt owed by businesses to slash the social insurance debt ratio to 2.9% of the plan.

    Social insurance agencies in provinces have coordinated with law enforcement agencies to inspect enterprises with social insurance arrears.

    Inspection teams worked with businesses that have owed social insurance premiums for over three months. VSI expects to impose administrative fines on at least 15 corporate debtors in each province or city that have not made social insurance payments for over three months.

    According to a VSI report, as of November 30, provincial social insurance agencies had conducted more than 200 inspections based on the lists of social insurance debtors announced by VSI.  

    VSI made lists of enterprises that have deliberately delayed social insurance payments. By end-November, over 200 documents had been sent to provincial labor federations, so that the latter will take legal actions against such debtors.  

    Dai of VSI said there are more than 1,000 bankrupt companies at present. VSI records social insurance payments until the last payment by firms that went bankrupt or were dissolved. Regarding the period between the last payment and the date of bankruptcy or dissolution, VSI will petition the Government to issue a decree settling social insurance debt to protect the interests of laborers.

    VEF/VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/Dantri/VET/VIR


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  • 12/16/16--01:47: Article 3
  • Advertising agencies to earn high profits from ads on vehicles


    Unlike the billboard ad sector, which has been quiet since the Ad Law took effect in 2013, the number of advertisements on transport vehicles has been increasing.

    vietnamnet bridge, english news, Vietnam news, news Vietnam, vietnamnet news, Vietnam net news, Vietnam latest news, Vietnam breaking news, vn news, ad industry, VAA, online ad 

    In April 2016, HCM City for the first time put 10 buses with ads on the sides into operation after 10 years of delay. The licensing was implemented after an open auction which brought VND14.6 billion to the city’s budget.

    In 2015, the city authorities spent VND927 billion to subsidize bus routes. According to the local transport department, if ads can be placed on 2,344 buses in the city, the total sum of money may be up to VND170 billion, which will help ease the city’s budget deficit.

    Koa Sha Media Vietnam, a subsidiary of Japan-based Koa Sha Group, has become the exclusive agent to implement the pilot transit advertisement project on 10 bus routes and 171 vehicles.

    Vietnam has 6,000 ad firms which use advertisements widely in mass media. However, the open auctioning for transit advertisement has not helped them.

    The representative of a firm with 20 years of experience in OOH (out of home) advertisement said transit ads will provide one more ad channel to businesses, but the efficiency will depend on businesses’ capability.

    Unlike the billboard ad sector, which has been quiet since the Ad Law took effect in 2013, the number of advertisements on transport vehicles has been increasing.

    Koa Sha Media Vietnam is a reasonable choice, because no other Vietnamese OOH ad agent can compete with it in terms of the length of operation. Koa Sha was established in 1938, which has business in Thailand and Vietnam.

    Vo Van Hoan, chief secretariat of the committee, said the transport department initially planned to expand the project scale by the second quarter of 2017. However, as the project runs very effectively, this will be done early next year.

    Ads have appeared not only on buses in HCM City, but also on taxis. There is no official report about the profit from the ads on taxis, but  Mai Linh, Vina Taxi and Vinasun, and many other taxi firms have applied this model.

    Observers believe that transit add will be the choice for many more businesses in the future, because the costs are cheaper than ads on TV, print newspapers and billboards. It costs about tens of million of dong to advertise on one bus for one year.


    Thanh Mai, VNN


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  • 12/16/16--05:04: Article 2
  • Using public-private partnerships to revamp agriculture


    At the core of any sustainable development and poverty reduction strategy for agriculture is the ability to attract large dollar amounts of investment capital flows, said experts at a recent forum in Hanoi.


    using public-private partnerships to revamp agriculture  hinh 0

    The availability of private sector foreign direct investment (FDI) in agriculture is constrained by many inherent risks and other factors that make it – for all intents and purposes – not a viable source of traditional FDI funding.

    Smallholder agriculture is under-funded

    Smallholder farmers operating in the segment primarily produce cash crops with as much as 40% of their short-term financing needs met by their value chain partners and another 12% by commercial lenders.

    Notably, virtually all their long-term financing needs remain unmet.

    The gap in long-term financing is not a consequence of farmers not being able to operate profitably as there is substantial research and support for the proposition that with the extra financial funds, the country’s farmers would be able to generate positive earnings.

    Rather, the gap is linked to the inherent high risks that transnational companies, private banks and other financial institutions perceive in agricultural lending— that they will lose their initial investment or not earn a reasonable rate of return on the investment.

    Using public finance to addressing the financing gap

    In line with current experience, private sector finance is and most likely will remain insufficient to meet the growing demand for finance from the country’s farmers. This means that if one wants to tackle the problem of underfunding for the agriculture segment, one needs to change the status quo.

    While this will require action on several fronts, one major opportunity to drastically speed up the growth of agricultural finance lies with more efficient use of public finance and transforming it into an effective means of leveraging private sector funding.

    The idea that public funding, rather than being used to finance an entire project can more efficiently be used to unlock private sector finance – thus achieving leverage – is certainly not new.

    In infrastructure, the concept of public–private partnerships (PPPs) has been developed actively from the 1990s onward and it makes particularly good sense with respect to providing investment for agriculture.

    Simply put, traditional private sector FDI funding was always intended to be a vehicle to attract investment by transnational companies in the manufacturing segment. It was never intended to be nor has it become a source of investment for agriculture.

    To talk about raising FDI from the private sector for agriculture in the traditional sense absent a PPP— is pure folly, noted speakers at the conference.

    PPPs can effectively be used to attract FDI because they allow for shifting of risk to the public sector while at the same time providing for a guaranteed reasonable rate of return for the private sector investor.

    At the conference, Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said that unless agriculture can effectively harness the use of the PPP any opportunity for the segment to raise FDI of an amount required to effectuate its revamp to raise its global competitiveness will be lost.

    Minister Cuong noted the benefits of PPPs include cost efficiencies, improved yields, better quality, reduced post-harvest losses and enhanced infrastructural development, among others.

    He added that Vietnam agriculture largely consists of smallholders as more than 90% of the farmers are small-scale operators and only about 2-3% of them sustainably operate large scale mechanized farming.

    To transform the 90% of smallholders into large scale modernized farms utilizing high level production technology requires substantial investment that can only be raised through the PPP model.

    To this end, he underscored the Government is in the process of perfecting the PPP arrangement with the end goal of significantly revamping the agriculture segment and delivering its sustainability.

    VOV


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  • 12/16/16--05:41: Article 1
  • Social News 16/12


    HCM City kicks off overtime kindergarten services at IPs, EPZs


     
    A Kindergarten in HCM City’s Binh Tan District.


    The HCM City Department of Education and Training plans to offer overtime services at kindergarten schools in industrial parks and export processing zones.

    Two kindergartens at Linh Trung 1 and 2 export processing zones in Thủ Đức District and the April 30 Kindergarten in Vĩnh Lộc Industrial Zone in Bình Tân District will begin extending hours to 5:30pm every day and to Saturday this school year.

    The city’s State budget will pay 50 per cent of overtime charges and the remaining 50 per cent will be from parents’ payments and support from companies.

    Teachers have voluntarily registered to work overtime, with payment of VNĐ33,000 (US$1.5) per hour Monday to Friday and VNĐ44,000 ($2) per hour for Saturday.

    In August, the city’s People’s Committee approved a plan to offer extended hours for kindergarten children whose parents are workers at industrial parks and export processing zones.

    The 2016-2020 plan aims to reduce the burden of parents who have to send their children to privately owned kindergartens when they work overtime hours.

    The plan will be piloted in Thủ Đức and Bình Tân districts and will be scaled up to kindergartens at Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone in District 7 and Tây Bắc Industrial Park in Củ Chi District next year.

    It is expected to be applied at all industrial parks and export processing zones in the city beginning in the 2018-2019 school year.

    HCM City: new Zika infection in pregnant woman found

    A pregnant woman residing in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 11 has been diagnosed with Zika virus, raising the total number of Zika infections among expectant mothers in the city to 18.

    According to Tran Phi Long, Vice Chairman of the District 11 People’s Committee, the woman, who is on her 22nd week of pregnancy, is now in stable health condition and being monitored closely.

    Local authorities have sprayed chemicals to kill mosquitoes in District 11’s ward 16 where she is residing.

    As of December 14, Ho Chi Minh City reported 128 Zika-infected cases, with the highest number of 23 cases in Binh Thanh district. 

    Seventeen cases have been found in District 2, while Districts 12, 9, Thu Duc and Tan Phu have reported 11 cases each. District 8 is currently the only locality in the city that has no Zika infection.

    Family-prioritised culture matters to anti-domestic violence law

    Using family values-prioritised culture to tackle domestic violence has reduced the compatibility of the Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control with Vietnam’s legal system and international standards.

    The information was revealed through a survey on the enforcement of the anti-domestic violence law conducted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) and the UN Population Fund. The survey findings were shared at a workshop in Hanoi on December 14, part of a project on the national response to domestic violence.

    MCST Deputy Minister Vuong Duy Bien said the survey is part of preparations to revise the anti-domestic violence law. It was carried out from 2015 and questioned victims and abusers.

    The law, which took effect in July 2008, is basically compatible with many international and regional standards on human rights, as well as other laws in Vietnam’s legal system. It has met demand of domestic violence victims by specifying protection mechanisms, assistance, and the handling of abusers.

    However, there exists overlaps in state management of gender equality, child and elderly protection, and domestic violence prevention between the MCST and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

    The protection of and assistance to victims, especially children, people with disabilities, the elderly and women, remains limited, the survey showed.

    Experts recommended Vietnam fine-tune regulations in the law to ensure its compatibility with international standards and the 2013 Constitution. 

    The most important thing is that the law should stipulate that gender equality and non-discrimination are the foundation for dealing with violence against women and girls. It is also in line with the 2013 Constitution which stresses the rule of law in protecting human rights in Vietnam.

    Additionally, amendments to the law should take into account issues such as minimising the use of conciliation as a way to deal with domestic violence, using the principle of gender equality to devise domestic violence prevention efforts, making only one agency responsible for handling domestic and gender-based violence and gender equality, participants said.

    Ministry pledges rice aid to Quang Ngai

    The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Labour (MOLISA) has pledged to provide 300 tonnes of rice in aid to the central province of Quang Ngai which was hard hit by flooding during November 30-December 8.

    At a working session with the provincial People’s Committee on December 14, MOLISA Minister Dao Ngoc Dung requested the local administration quickly count and report flood damages so that the ministry can decide on suitable support.

    According to initial reports, the recent floods killed 10 people in the province, leaving four missing and inundated 1,800 houses. More than 700 hectares of rice fields and over 3,500 hectares of crop were damaged. National Highway 24 and 24C as well as many provincial roads were also affected.

    Local officials also asked for more funding to build houses and the second phase of the sanatorium for people who rendered service to the country.

    Since November 29, heavy rains hit the central region, causing widespread floods that claiming 10 lives in Quang Ngai province, six in Binh Dinh and three in Quang Nam.

    Hundreds of houses were collapsed, thousands of hectares of rice and crops were submerged, roads and other facilities were damaged in the hardest-hit provinces of Thue Thien – Hue, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh.

    Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue has instructed the National Steering Committee and the National Search and Rescue Committee to sum up damages in central localities hit by the recent floods and submit proposals on support to the localities.

    Can Tho advised to apply national community-based tourism strategy

    A UNESCO representative recommended the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho apply the national strategy for community-based tourism development during a working session with the municipal People’s Committee on December 14.

    Vice Chairwoman of the committee Vo Thi Hong Anh said as a driving force for the Mekong Delta, Can Tho has witnessed rapid urbanisation over the last decade, which has affected its cultural identity and natural landscapes – major tourist attractions in this city.

    Can Tho has worked to establish itself as an ecological – cultural – tourism city. It wants to combine urbanisation with eco-tourism to ensure sustainable tourism, she said, adding that it also preserves architectural and artistic relics and intangible cultural heritage.

    However, Can Tho faces many difficulties in tourism due to modest funds, manpower quality and experience. It is looking to balance economic development and environmental protection with an aim to become the first eco-city in the Mekong Delta, Anh noted.

    Pham Thi Thanh Huong from UNESCO Vietnam’s cultural research division said a UNESCO survey shows that most visitors to the country do not look for modern tourism services, but want to explore Vietnam’s unique cultural identities and local customs.

    Can Tho is on the right path by focusing on eco-tourism and helping tourists experience local culture. But lax coordination among local authorities, residents and travel agencies has limited tourism activities’ effectiveness, she said.

    She advised the city to apply the national strategy for community-based tourism development, which is designed by UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. 

    The model focuses on training and assisting local residents and businesses to improve service quality. Families strong at making handicrafts, farming special plant varieties and animal breeds, or cooking traditional dishes will also be supported with communication and financial management skills and knowledge about optimising tourism products, she added.

    UNESCO Vietnam will work with the Can Tho administration to orient the city’s development towards green industry, clean agriculture and eco-tourism, Huong said, hoping that Can Tho will soon become the first eco-city in the Mekong Delta.

    Vietnam flight’s passengers panicked over multiple failed landing attempts

    Passengers on a Vietnam Airlines flight bound for the south-central Vietnamese province of Khanh Hoa were frightened as the aircraft repeatedly had failed landing attempts due to foul weather on December 14.

    The Vietnam Airlines flight VN1344 eventually had to return to Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport as the pilot was unable to land at the Khanh Hoa’s Cam Ranh International Airport amid foggy weather.

    The aircraft had been flying above the Cam Ranh airfield for about 15 to 20 minutes before the pilot failed in multiple landing attempts, according to Q.T., one of the passengers aboard the flight.

    After about half an hour, the captain informed his passengers that the aircraft would return to Tan Son Nhat as the weather condition was not favorable.

    While passengers were requested to stay inside the plane upon its landing at Tan Son Nhat, waiting until it could return to Cam Ranh as planned, many decided to abandon their journey due to fear and exhaustion.

    The flight was originally scheduled to leave Ho Chi Minh City at 5:30 am and arrive at 6:35 am.

    However, due to the failed landing attempts plus the temporary return trip to Ho Chi Minh City, the flight could only reach Cam Ranh at 10:40 am.

    Saigon-Vung Tau hydrofoil firms seek service extension as deadline nears

    Two operators of the hydrofoil route connecting Ho Chi Minh City and the coastal city of Vung Tau are seeking permission to maintain service for another four years, a fortnight before they are forced to cease operations.

    Vina Express and Quang Hung Trans Co. are the only two operational companies on the Ho Chi Minh City-Vung Tau route, each having two hydrofoils in their fleet.

    The hydrofoil service departs from the Nha Rong Wharf in District 4, Ho Chi Minh City, and arrives at the hydrofoil station in Vung Tau, a popular beach city in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province.

    However, both operators have been asked to cease service by the end of this year, as their hydrofoils surpass the service life threshold of 20 years as stipulated by the government.

    The companies have recently lodged a competition to local authorities, seeking permission to continue service until the end of 2020.

    Quang Hung Trans Co. said it will be a waste of resources if the company has to cease its hydrofoil service by the December 31 deadline.

    In January 2014, a hydrofoil carrying 85 passengers, including 37 foreigners, caught fire on the Saigon River, prompting the Ho Chi Minh City administration to suspend all hydrofoil operations. The companies were only allowed to resume service in December that year, with the fleet cut from 14 boats to four and the number of operators declined from three to two.

    Quang Hung Trans Co. said it had invested heavily on upgrading the hydrofoils to resume service in 2014, and the investment will be wasted if the service has to cease by this year’s end.

    Vietnam seeks more international support to clear landmines


     vietnam seeks more international support to clear landmines  hinh 0

    The threat from landmines and other explosive remnants of war remains an omnipresent threat to Vietnamese civilians, said representatives of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (Molisa) on December 14 at a conference in Hanoi.

    The conference was with representatives of the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) at which the two sides discussed enhancing and expanding their efforts to protect civilians from landmines and unexploded ordnance.

    In addition to landmines, they said it has been estimated that there are still around 800 tons of unexploded bombs from the past US war and these explosives represent a continuing threat to farmers ploughing their fields, children walking to school, and entrepreneurs trying to build their communities.

    They noted there have been more than 100,000 casualties caused by landmines, bombs and other explosive remnants since the end of the war and both sides were in complete agreement that much more need be done to remove the dangerous munitions.

    Though financial support from international donors has been decreasing over the past few years, representatives affirmed the GICHD stands ready to assist in raising funds and in implementing the National Action Plan to deal with the problem.

    Participants at the conference also shared information and experiences in supporting bomb and landmine victims reintegrate into society. They proposed priorities and social policies for the victims to improve their livelihoods in the coming time.

    Workshop affirms Vietnam's sovereignty over Spratly, Paracel

    Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Truong Sa (Spartly) and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagos has been exercised since the Nguyen dynasty 200 years ago.

    The statement was made by Associate Professor Do Bang, chairman of Thua Thien-Hue Association of Historical Science at a recent workshop on the history of Vietnam’s sea and island sovereignty.

    Bang said many maps issued in different periods between 960 and 1911 did not show islands in the East Sea, but Chinese maps from the Ming to the Qing dynasty and a map produced in 1905 and reprinted in 1910 show the southernmost point of Chinese territory as Hai Nan island.

    Participants also gave presentations confirming Vietnam’s exercise of its sea and island sovereignty in different historical periods.

    Hue to turn riverside street into ‘boulevard of museum’

    The administration of Hue, the capital of the central Vietnamese province of Thua Thien-Hue, has plans to turn the riverside Le Loi Street into a boulevard packed with museums to showcase the city’s culture and history.

    The street, which runs along the city’s iconic Huong River, will house as many as six museums upon the completion of the plan, according to Phan Tien Dung, director of the province’s Department of Culture and Sports.

    Apart from the Ho Chi Minh Museum and Le Ba Dang Art Center, which are two completed cultural locations on Le Loi Street, the province is also looking to upgrade the existing Hue Cultural Museum, Dung said.

    The current office of Hue Festival Center will be turned into Diem Phung Thi Sculpture Museum, while the office of the city’s Tourism Promotion Center will be replaced by an embroidery museum, according to the director.

    Le Ba Dang is a Vietnamese-born painter who was listed as one of the most valuable academics of the 20th century by the International Biography Centre at Cambridge University. Diem Phung Thi is a published Vietnamese sculptress who was a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts and listed in the Larousse Dictionary of Twentieth Century History.

    In a more distant future, the headquarters of the provincial administration, which is currently located on the street, will be moved to the new administration hub in An Van Duong urban area to make way for Hue Museum of Fine Arts, Dung said.

    Though the plan came as good news for culture and tourism enthusiasts in the province, many say it is far from complete.

    “Just imagine how quiet and boring the street would be at night when the museums are all closed,” said Nguyen Xuan Hoa, former director of the provincial Department of Culture and Information.

    “I suggest we energize the street by incorporating cultural, artistic activities as well as tourism services." 

    Hoa proposed the replacement of all administrative buildings on the street with theaters, luxury hotels, and other cultural services to improve the area’s appeal.

    Chairman of the provincial administration Nguyen Van Cao also unveiled a plan to build a Museum of History and Revolution on a 7,500 square meter land on Dien Bien Phu Street donated by the local military division.

    Vietnam flick on ‘mafia mom’ wins prize at SE Asian film financing market

    Vietnamese film project Mamafia has been honored with one of the top awards at the second Southeast Asian Film Financing (SAFF) Project Market in Singapore recently.

    Vietnamese filmmaker Trinh Le Minh Hang received the Imaginex Studios Audio Post Production Award for her project Mamafia, while Malaysian project Terbalik was crowned with the Aurora Producing Award at the three-day event which concluded on December 9.

    The two projects had been shortlisted from more than 100 submissions representing Southeast Asian nations by a panel of international film industry experts.

    The filmmakers of Mamafia will enjoy a full audio post-production package worth $50,000 (US$35,000) from Malaysia-based Imaginex Studios and Basecamp Films to develop the idea into a feature film.

    Mamafia is a comedy-drama that tells the story of a powerful mafia boss who is very controlling and protective of her only son. She later in the film finds out that his secret girlfriend is in fact a gangster, and also the daughter of her archrival.

    “Winning the award was a pleasant surprise as we joined the SAFF Project Market mainly to test the international market's appetite for Vietnamese films,” said Trinh Le Minh Hang, general manager at Skyline Media and producer of Mamafia.

    “The project market has been a good experience, as it has opened the doors for potential co-production and investment. Also, with inputs and tips from the various international experts, we look forward to improving on and adding more detail to the film’s script, so that it can travel further around the world,” Hang said.

    SAFF Project Market is a partnership between ScreenSingapore, Southeast Asian Audio-Visual Association (SAAVA), and Ties That Bind (TTB), and is supported by the Asia-Europe Foundation.

    Closer watch needed to avoid wrongdoings by associations

    The inspection of associations needs to be increased to ensure their operations are in conformity with charter principles and the law, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Trần Anh Tuấn said.

    He was speaking at a conference yesterday to review the activities of associations, social and charity funds in 2016 and to contribute opinions to a new draft law on associations.

    Tuấn referred to the recent “fish sauce scandal” involving the Việt Nam Standards and Consumers Association (Vinatas), which sparked public outcry in October.

    Without permission from the concerned ministries, Vinatas published results of its survey according to which arsenic content in fish sauce was far beyond the permitted level. However, the result was later proven to be misleading as it failed to distinguish between non-toxic organic arsenic compounds and toxic inorganic ones.

    According to Tuấn, the Vinatas case proved that many associations were not being monitored once they were granted establishment permission by the authorities.

    "There remains a reality that after granting permission, we don’t know how to move forward. This is a shortcoming,” the deputy minister told the conference. 

    He attributed this to the poor connection between State management bodies, particularly the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) as the direct management agency, with associations and funds, which had to be strengthened to increase the efficiency of State management.

    To tackle wrongdoings, the draft bill on associations, which will be submitted to the National Assembly in the future, will include regulations on temporary suspension, dissolution and revoking stamps of those violating the law or their charter. 

    According to MoHA statistics, up till June 2016, there were 68,125 associations across the country, of which, 498 associations operated nationwide and the rest operated locally, with more than 11,800 employees currently on state payroll.

    The financing mechanism of associations was also a matter of concern at the conference.

    Hà Thị Dung, head of the Department for Non-governmental Organisations, said under the new draft bill, the number of associations getting funds from the State Budget to pay salaries to their staff would be reduced.

    Pointing out that the State does not subsidise for associations as a whole, Deputy Minister Tuấn said the State would only finance those being established by the State following the demands of the Party and State. 

    For locally operated associations which were receiving state funding to pay operational expenses and staff salaries, the current financing mechanism will be maintained until 2020, following which a new road map will be put into force. Other associations must cover their own expenses and only be paid from the State Budget for tasks assigned by the State. 

    Nguyễn Ngọc Hiến, former deputy minister of home affairs and chairman of the Administrative Science Association, suggested the State increase orders for associations to voice critical opinions regarding social affairs, laws and administrative reform projects to avoid "wasting scientists’ intellect".

    According to him, the current relation between the State and associations hinders the development of associations, while authorities at various levels and the society as a whole still do not understand correctly the role, function and effect of associations.

    Meanwhile, Dr Lê Minh Tâm, former rector of Hà Nội University of Law and vice chairman of Việt Nam Lawyer Association, said it was important to raise awareness about associations to encourage them to develop into a strong and energetic system

    Two-child families could benefit from population target

    Vietnam is among the world's top countries in terms of population ageing and the country is seeking ways to encourage couples to have more children, an official said.

    Deputy head of the General Office for Population and Family Planning Dr Le Canh Nhac told a press conference in HCM City on Wednesday that they were considering financial benefits for couples who have two children.

    Although Vietnam has seen a stable birth rate over the past ten years with 2.1 children born per woman, there is a large difference some areas. The southern region reported a general birth rate of 1.7 children, while the numbers are between 2.5 to 3.1 in the northern mountainous, the Central Highlands and the central regions, which are much higher than the ideal birth rate of 2.1, Nhac said.

    The population official expressed concerns over the situation as areas with high economic development have lower birth rates, while poorer areas have higher. There are also concerns about the high speed the population is ageing.

    "We’re facing lots of challenges in socio-economic development resulting from a rapidly ageing population," he added. "Countries in Europe had hundreds of years to see their population turning from golden to ageing periods, China and Japan had 26 years, but Vietnam only has 18 years. The number of people aged 60 and over in Vietnam has reached 10% since 2011."

    In addition to improving health services and social insurance benefits to improve the quality of population, Nhac said there will have measures to maintain a stable birth rate.

    "We'll change the slogan 'One or two children per couple is enough.' by a new slogan: 'At least two children per couple'," Nhac said. "We'll also consider giving financial benefits to couples with two children."

    Zika virus infection cases escalate with average 10 cases per week in HCMC


      
     The Department of Preventive Medicine in Ho Chi Minh City said that Zika virus infection cases escalate with average 10 cases per week in the city. As of December 14, the city has recorded 127 cases in 22 districts. 
    Of 24 districts, nobody in districts 8 and 11 has been positive for Zika virus. Binh Thanh District is leading with 23 cases totally, next are districts 2 with 17 cases; districts 12, Thu Duc, and Tan Phu having 11 cases. Of 127 infection cases, 16 are pregnant and 72 people have been under monitor over 28 days.

    These days, tropical depression is hitting the city, causing rain and high tide, health workers warned people to tidy their house, not to keep water in containers where mosquito will lay eggs into. However, the health sector has not limited travelling.

    The Preventive Health Center in HCMC continued warning people especially pregnant women actively avoid being bitten by mosquito. People should raise their awareness of the mosquito-borne diseases by eliminating the insect.

    HCMC to open 113 florist points of sale for Tet

    Authorities in HCMC will be arranging 113 florist points of sale citywide to meet strong demand for fresh flowers ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, or Tet.

    The city will organize three large flower markets with one at September 23 Park, one at Gia Dinh Park and one at Le Van Tam Park, which will be open from the 23rd to 30th of the 12th lunar month (January 20-27).

    In addition, the city will have traditional flower markets in districts 7 and 8, and Binh Dien wholesale market.

    Like the previous Tet holidays, the Spring Flower Festival will be held at Tao Dan Park in District 1 and Quoc Te Square in District 3 from the 25th of the 12th lunar month (January 23) to the sixth of the first lunar month (February 2).

    The city government has asked the organizers of flower festivals at venues like Phu My Hung, Binh Dien, Le Thi Rieng, Hoang Van Thu, and Le Van Tam to provide free wifi for visitors.

    Food testing urged ahead of Tết

    Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nguyễn Xuân Cường, has urged relevant agencies to step up food safety inspections as consumption increases ahead of the Tết (Lunar New Year) Festival.

    In a directive issued over the weekend, he asked People’s Committees of provinces and cities across the country to conduct surprise visits to facilities engaged in producing or trading in food products, which are expected to be in high demand during Tết.

    Relevant agencies are authorised to publish lists of unsafe products to prevent consumers from buying or using them, he said.

    Individuals and organisations which specialise in production and trade of agro-forestry and fishery goods were advised to follow regulations on food safety.

    "The agricultural and rural developments at localities should send staff to help educate consumers how to recognise certified food and products with clear origins," Cường said.

    Public information campaigns to promote safe food and inform the public of places where they can buy it should be encouraged, he said.

    Regarding the prevention of disease of cattle and poultry, the minister also ordered localities to strengthen the management of cattle and poultry quarantine and slaughter to prevent the spread of diseases and ensure food safety and hygiene.

    He emphasised the need to stop illegal transportation of livestock cross the border to better control  animal disease, avoiding the outbreaks of epidemic before, during and after the Lunar New Year.

    Cường also assigned inspectors from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to coordinate with the Environmental Police Department to inspect, gather information and detect acts of producing, trading and using banned substances in animal husbandry, and uncertified fertisers and pesticides. Any breaches of safety standards should be rigidly handled, he said.

    "The efficiency of websites, as well as hotlines for inspectors, and providing timely information to news agencies and the press, should be promoted so that consumers know how to choose safe food," he said.

    In another development, Hoàng Thanh Vân, head of Department of Livestock Production under the MARD, said there was no shortage of meat and livestock products for the Tết.

    Food safety inspections in the first 11 months of the year showed that the percentage of fresh meat containing Salbutamol, a substance for making drugs for asthma treatment which is used by pig raisers, was 1.27 per cent, half of last year’s figure.

    Vân attributed the positive results to good coordination among law enforcement agencies and the supervision by consumers. 

    Slaughter house fined heavily over pollution

    The central city of Da Nang has fined a slaughter centre owned by the Procimex Joint Stock Company VNĐ154 million (US$6.8 million) for discharging toxic fumes into the environment.

    This is the centre’s third violation of environmental regulations since 2014 and the city has warned that the company’s business license would be revoked unless it upgrades its waste and fume treatment system within six months.

    The city’s environmental inspection agency has in the past asked the centre to build a standard waste water and fume treatment system.

    Last year, the city also fined the centre VNĐ270 million ($12,000) for discharging poorly treated waste water into the environment.

    In 2014, the company’s slaughter house was penalised VNĐ300 million ($14,200) for the same violation. According to the city’s environmental police, the company’s slaughter house was found discharging 80 cubic metres of waste a day that were not up to the standard for sewage treatment.

    The city said the centre in Hòa Khánh Nam ward in Liên Chiểu district has also not filed any environmental assessment report for years.  

    Quality salt production zone planned

    The central province of Quảng Ngãi has approved planning for a high quality salt zone on an area of 114ha in Sa Huỳnh town in Đức Phổ district.

    The provinciasl secretariat said the plan aims to develop Sa Huỳnh town as a major centre of salt production by 2020 and build a brand name of clean salt.

    As scheduled, the town plans to produce 11,000 tonnes per year, of which 55 per cent will be high quality salt, and will increase the quantity to 14,000 tonnes by 2030.

    The province said the new high yield salt production zone would help local salt makers improve their annual income from VNĐ8.7 million (US$385) to VNĐ22.4 million ($991) in 2020, and VNĐ29.3 million (nearly $1,300) in 2025.

    Sa Huỳnh town, 70km south of Quảng Ngãi city, has 116ha of salt with 2,800 salt farmers, producing 9,000 tonnes of salt a year.

    However, in the first crop of 2016, over 4,000 tonnes of salt were not sold due to the low market price of VNĐ600 (0.03$) per kilogram.

    The province also plans to invest VNĐ95 billion ($4.2 million) to develop infrastructure and mechanisation for the salt zone, between 2016 and 2025.

    PM approves overhaul of communal health system

    The Prime Minister has approved a plan to develop a new local-level medical network by 2025 to improve the capability and service quality of health care for Vietnamese.

    The proposal is aimed at ensuring that all communal medical centres are qualified to provide medical examination and treatment of patients with health insurance, and able to provide at least 90 per cent of total communal health services. All communal medical centres will also have to meet the national criteria for communal healthcare.

    In order to achieve the objectives, the proposal calls for restructuring the existing network, improving the effectiveness of medical centres and providing professional training for medical personnel.

    A unified model for medical centres in districts and cities will be developed. Based on this model, the centres should be able to perform all the functions of preventive medicine, medical examination, medical treatment and rehabilitation. 

    Photo exhibit shines light on VN migration


     

    A photo voice exhibition entitled Where Can I Call Home at Tràng Tiền Exhibition House has been organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the General Statistics Office (GSO).

    Through 13 sets of photos taken by photographer Nguyễn Minh Đức, the exhibition tells inspiring stories about the lives of migrants and their families across Việt Nam.

    “With the support of UNFPA, I have visited nine provinces and cities throughout Việt Nam to shoot these photos,” said Đức. “What stirred my emotions and touched my heart were the smiles and optimism of the women and men I met, talked with and took pictures of – who are known as migrants.”

    The country has experienced significant internal migration during different historical periods, including recent decades. According to GSO statistics, about 12.4 million of the country’s 91 million people, about fourteen per cent of the population, have internally migrated over the past five years.

    "Migrants are a key driving force behind Việt Nam’s socio-economic development, and their contributions need to be fully recognised. We also know that as a result of economic development over the past decades, Việt Nam has experienced a substantial reduction in poverty,” said Astrid Bant, UNFPA representative in Việt Nam.

    “Migration is clearly one of the cornerstones of Việt Nam’s success in poverty reduction, which has been occurring since the early 1990s. Migrants are helping fuel Việt Nam’s rapid economic growth of nearly seven per cent per year," she continued.

    Addressing the event, GSO Director General Nguyễn Bích Lâm said that the exhibition’s photos helped viewers better understand the lives of migrants who have decided to migrate for better jobs, better education for their children and better lives.

    “However, many migrants are vulnerable and face many challenges and difficulties in their lives,” he added.

    The voices of the migrants in this photo project will be brought to the national workshop on Friday, an event that will share key findings from the 2015 Internal Migration Survey.

    "Let me share my hope that this photo voice exhibition will enhance our understanding of this issue, and make a real contribution to improving the lives of migrants in Việt Nam. I suppose that virtually every day we interact with and benefit from the works of migrants here in Hà Nội, whether we know it or not. They deserve our recognition and support," concluded Bant at the event.

    Where Can I Call Home exhibition will remain open until Sunday at Tràng Tiền Exhibition House, 45 Tràng Tiền Street. 

    Nguyễn dynasty treasures on show in Huế

    More than 60 precious artifacts of the Nguyễn dynasty (1802-1945) handed over to the interim government after the abdication of King Bảo Đại in August 1945 are on display at the Huế Royal Antiques Museum.

    The artifacts, made of gold, silver, gemstones and tortoise shells, are part of a collection of 2,500 items preserved by the Việt Nam National History Museum.  

    The most valuable and important items include royal seals made of pure gold, jade seals, swords, the king’s headwear and mandarin badges.

    The exhibition also displays objects used in royal worship and rituals, like candle holders, fruit trays, and aloe wood burner.

    Other items used in royal office, including brushes, inkstone, paperweights and pen holders also are on display.

    Visitors to the exhibition can also get glimpses of daily life in the court through other items like diner and tea sets, and betel nut sets.

    Phan Thanh Hải, director of the Huế Monuments Conservation Centre, said the exhibition is being held under a co-operation programme between the centre and the National Museum of History.

    The programme, which began last year, has organised two other exhibitions – Antique Jewelry of Việt Nam and The Royal Seals and Books of  the Nguyễn Dynasty.

    “However, this ongoing exhibition displays the biggest number of items, including some seals that were rarely seen even by royal mandarins. These seals are the ones that were handed down from emperor to emperor, representing the supreme power and orthodoxy of the dynasty,” Hải said.

    After King Bảo Đại abdicated on August 25, 1945, the Nguyễn dynasty handed over to the then temporary Government of Việt Nam some 2,500 items which were brought to Hà Nội for preservation as the nation waged its resistance war against the return of the French colonialists.

    In 2007, the State Bank of Việt Nam handed over all the items, including 85 golden and jade seals, to the Việt Nam National Museum of History.

    The exhibition will be open to public until January 5, 2017, at 3 Lê Trực Street.

    Alongside the exhibition, the Huế Monuments Conservation Centre has also released a photo-book Bảo Vật Hoàng Cung (Royal Treasure), and The Museum of Huế Royal Antiques – Volume 8: Wooden Objects.

    Runners to compete Đà Nẵng Distance race

    Nearly 1,000 athletes from 100 teams will compete in the annual Đà Nẵng Newspaper Distance Race at the city’s East Sea Park on Sunday, the race organisers said yesterday.

    The race, which marks the 20th edition, will see professional athletes racing in the men’s 7km and women’s 5km events, while amateur runners will run in the men’s 7km and women’s 4km along Phạm Văn Đồng and Võ Nguyên Giáp streets from 7am on December 18.

    Runners will also compete in divisions for soldiers, police, students, and juniors during the race.

    The organising committee will also donate scholarships for underprivileged students at the race.

    Đà Nẵng has been seen as a popular venue for runners, with events including the annual Đà Nẵng International Marathon Race and the VNG Ironman 70.3 Việt Nam. 

    Is nothing sacred?

    Some people say “The most dangerous place is the safest”.

    But what happened to a man, named N., who lives inside Nam Thiên Nhất Trụ, or Một Cột (One Pillar), Pagoda in HCM City’s Thủ Đức District, has proved that nowhere is safe.

    Thinking no one would disrespect the Buddhist statues inside the pagoda, N. hid his personal gold inside some Phật Dược Sư (The Medicine Buddha) statues.

    It wasn’t until last week that N. noticed one of the statues had a hole in its back. Of course, the gold inside was gone.

    Checking on the other two statues gave him heart attacks as all the gold was gone, with holes in each statue.

    In total, N. lost seven taels of gold worth more than VNĐ200 million (US$8,900).

    The broken statues might be fixed soon but no Medicine Buddha can help heal N.’s pain. Maybe only the police can!

    Air-con for trees

    Hà Nội is experiencing an abnormally hot winter. Sunshine still blankets the city at noon with temperatures up to 27 degree Celsius. Many put this down to climate change.

    Hanoians have complained about the heat, and so would peach blossom trees being grown for Tết (lunar New Year), if they could talk.

    There are still nearly two months until Tết but Lê Hàm, a peach blossom grower in Hà Nội’s Nhật Tân area, has been worried about how to stop the flowers blooming early due to the hot weather. Hàm is famous for growing the valuable Thất Thốn peach, which have more petals than others.

    To cope with the hot weather, Hàm tried to imitate winter by putting the trees indoors and using two air-conditioners to keep them cold. He said he has to track the temperature round the clock to make sure the trees get the right conditions.

    During Tết, Hàm plans to rent his trees for VNĐ10-40 million (US$450-1,800) each, or even up to VNĐ100 million (about $4,500) for special trees.

    Customers should pray that electricity prices don’t increase in the weeks ahead of Tết. Or else, they might have to rent the trees with higher prices.

    Best tennis players get swimming prizes

    All six gold medalists at the National Best Tennis Players Tournament on Saturday, including Việt Nam’s top tennis player Lý Hoàng Nam, received the wrong medals. Instead of a golden medallion engraved with something related to tennis, they were handed medals for swimming.

    Luckily, the silver and bronze medalists received the correct prizes.

    The organisers explained that the incident occurred because the medals were not checked carefully prior to the ceremony, resulting in the mistaken awards.

    One of the gold medalists said he wasn’t too upset by the incident.

    “But the problem is, I cannot swim,” he said.

    Imagine one day Việt Nam may have a tennis tournament for swimmers and a swimming tournament for tennis players. That would make the twisted medals work.

    VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/TT/TN/Dantri/VNE


    0 0
  • 12/16/16--05:55: Article 0
  • New project promotes access to genetic resources

     

    Researchers create environment to raise useful microorganisms. - VNA/VNS Photo


    LÀO CAI - A project aiming to promote biodiversity in Việt Nam was launched yesterday by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) in the northern province of Lào Cai.

    The project aims to assist access to genetic resources in Việt Nam, as well as to the implementation of pilot projects on medicinal plant genetics and traditional herbal healthcare by people of the Dao ethnic minority in the province.

    It will be implemented over four years at a cost of $12.5 million, 16 per cent of which is supported in cash by the UN Development Program. The rest is supported by the Government’s matching funds and technical assistance from other international organisations.

    The project was developed as a capacity building step for the actualisation of the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit-sharing, which was ratified at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Japan in 2010 and went into effect in 2014.

    Speaking at the launch ceremony, Dr Nguyễn Văn Tài, director general of the Việt Nam Environmental Administration, said the sharing of benefits of Việt Nam’s genetic resources with other countries has not been developed due to a lack of legal framework to manage such relationships.  

    “This is our opportunity to sustainably manage the use of genetic resources in the country and focus on the shared benefits of using them,” he said.

    Despite having a high biodiversity with more than 95 types of ecosystems, hundreds of animal species and genetic resources in Việt Nam are facing threats from population growth and human overexploitation, according to MoNRE.

    Akiko Fujii, deputy country director of UNDP Việt Nam, expressed appreciation of Việt Nam’s pioneering step in actualising the Nagoya Protocol. “The project will build an important foundation for the long-term implementation of the protocol,” she said. VNS


    0 0
  • 12/17/16--05:28: Article 3
  • Social News 17/12


    Khanh Hoa to build fisheries centre

    The Khanh Hoa provincial People committee has approved the construction of a major fisheries centre for the coastal south central region.

    Covering 65 ha at Da Bac fishing port in Cam Ranh City, the 1.2 trillion VND (52.9 billion USD) centre is set to be biggest and most modern in the central region once operational.

    About 276 billion VND (12.1 billion USD), which was mobilised from State budget and Japanese loans, will be used to upgrade Da Bac fishing port as a component of the project.

    Meanwhile, the French Development Agency (AFD) has agreed with Khanh Hoa’s proposal on a loan of 423 billion VND (18.6 billion USD) to build a dynamic fishing port as part of the province’s proposal.

    The centre is expected to house 120,000 tonnes of seafood via seaports when it becomes operational in 2018.

    It will also accommodate vessels with capacity up to 2000CV and provide storm shelter for over 2,000 fishing boats.

    Quang Binh solar power project makes adjustments


     

    The Prime Minister has approved adjustments to the solar power project in the central province of Quang Binh, which is funded by official development assistance from the Republic of Korea.

    The project’s main focus is to provide solar power to hamlets in communes which the national grid has not reached.

    The project will be carried out in eight border communes – Ngan Thuy, Kim Thuy, Truong Xuan, Truong Son, Thuong Trach, Tan Trach, Son Trach and Trong Hoa - and will be completed on July 1, 2018.

    The goal of the project is to install solar panels for households and administrative buildings in more than 40 hamlets, supplying electricity to about 1,200 households.

    Forum on sustainable development held in Vinh Phuc

    Hundreds of international experts and businessmen gathered at a forum in the northern province of Vinh Phuc on December 12 to seek ways to promote sustainable development.

    The event was organised by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

    Participants joined discussed measures to promote economic development while protecting the environment and realising sustainable development goals.

    Deputy Minister Vo Tuan Nhan underlined the achievements Vietnam has made in international integration, particularly in creating jobs for Vietnamese labourers, promoting poverty reduction and hunger eradication.

    Vietnam is an attractive destination for foreign investors, which presents opportunities for domestic enterprises to expand their operations and join the value chains of multinational groups, Nhan added.

    Nhan also pointed to the environmental effects of international integration, and attributed the issues to a lack of attention to sustainable development strategies among enterprises.

    Deputy Director General of the Ministry’s Vietnam Environment Administration Hoang Van Thuc said Vietnam wishes to encourage green lifestyles and production. Therefore, enterprises have to invest in environmentally-friendly production technologies.

    Pham Van Loi, Director of the Ministry’s Environmental Science Institute called on businesses to better observe the Law on Environmental Protection 2014 on disclosing information about environmental issues.

    Relevant management bodies and communities also need to strengthen their supervision of the matter.

    Representatives from businesses suggested the State develop more regulations on environmental protection and supervision.

    HCMC strives to improve rural living condition

    Ho Chi Minh City officially implemented a project to improve living condition for residents in outlying districts including Cu Chi, Hoc Mon, Binh Chanh, Nha Be and Can Gio.

    The project will be carried out in the period 2016-2020, aiming to reinforce available achievements in five above-mentioned districts and greatly improve standards of the government’s rural development plan to higher sustainable level.

    City leaders confirmed that localities strived to perfect standards as per the government’s plan in five past years yet the highest target is to improve material and spiritual lives of inhabitants in countryside regions narrowing the living condition gap between urban and countryside.

    In the first phase of the plan from 2010 to 2015, the gap was narrowed considerably.

    Before 2010, income of people in outlying district is equal to 55 percent of their counterparts in urban, yet in 2012, the income rose by 76 percent and in 2014 it soared by 79 percent.

    After five year implementation of the government’s rural development plan, income of outlying districts increased by 1.8 time averagely compared to time before (around VND40 million per capita per year, higher than the country’s standard)

    The achievement resulted from the city’s right policies and determination of people in the country thanks to the government’s infrastructure investment to offer favorable condition for production. The target for the period 2016-2020 is to build proper socioeconomic structure and production methods connecting agriculture growth with industry, services; countryside development with urban and environment protection.

    The plan for the next period will focus on raising income to over VND63 million (US$ 2,816) per person per year; fighting poverty access to medical insurance and training; eliminating environment pollution, planning residential quarters with scenery.

    For the period 2016-2020, the city will invest in over VND40,600 billion to raise standard quality in rural regions. Of the amount, 40.3 percent comes from state budget or equal to VND16,300 billion and the remain comes from social contributions. It is estimated that each commune will spend VND726 billion in improving quality to bring new face to rural areas.

    National assembly deputies said at a meeting with administrators of Nha Be District that it needs to re-structure production with vision of building production system or chains through cooperating farmers and cooperatives or cooperating between farmers and enterprises to apply high techniques in agriculture production; accordingly, it will raise product value and competition and then build brand names later.

    The city should have more proper policies for each period to give incentive to farmers and attract investors to pour capital in rural areas.

    Individual producers made most of stimulus packages in last time but the next time, the plan will concentrate on expanding cooperatives and other models. Locality administrators have learnt lessons from building rural development plan during five year to better the second period.

    Additionally, implementation of the plan must base on specific features of each district, commune and village from which each locality can have major products aiming to raise inhabitants’ income sustainably. 

    For instance, District Cu Chi is suitable for planting ornamental tress and followers, fishes as well as ecological tourism and river tourism. Moreover, the district should develop handicraft to create specific tourism products. The district should pay attention to traffic connection for investment attraction and environment protection.

    HCMC pilots to offer overtime care service for workers’ kids in two districts

    The Department of Education and Training in Ho Chi Minh City has sent its guideline on the plan to offer overtime care service for workers’ children in industrial and export processing zones from 2016 to 2020 approved by the city People’s Committee on August 17, 2016.

    As per the department’s guideline, the city will set up eight extra-classes in districts Binh Tan (with two classes) and Thu Duc (with six classes) for this academic year.

    In District Binh Tan, preschool 30/4 in Vinh Loc Industrial Park will take care of around 60 children of workers during daytime.

    In District Thu Duc, a preschool in Export Processing Zone Linh Trung No.1 and a preschool in Export Processing Zone  Linh Trung No.2 will receive approximately 180 kids overtime.

    The three schools plan to welcome children until 5.30 PM from Monday to Saturday. It is scheduled that two more districts will keep children overtime in the new school year 2017-2018. A preschool in Export Processing Zone Tan Thuan in district 7 and a preschool in Tay Bac Industrial Park in Cu Chi District will keep workers’ children late.

    As per the road map, in the academic year, 2018-2019, all preschools in industrial and export processing zones in 24 districts will keep toddlers.

    The city will use state budget to subsidise half of expenditure for overtime care service and half will come from contribution of enterprises and parents. Overtime payment for teachers will be VND33,000 an hour from Monday to Friday and VND44,000 an hour for working on Saturday.

    The number of students in a overtime class in will be 35 as per the regulation.

    Preschools will keep children aged between three and five. 

    Nga, Tú triumph in table tennis tourney

    Hanoians Nguyễn Thị Nga and Nguyễn Anh Tú won the titles of the National Best Table Tennis Players Tournament, which wrapped up on Sunday in Hải Phòng.

    Nga overthrew defending champion Mai Hoàng Mỹ Trang of HCM City in the women’s singles category with a 3-1 win on the last day. It was Trang’s only loss in the tournament, but dropped her to the second position. Nga topped the podium as she won all 11 matches. Phan Hoàng Tường Giang of Public Security won the bronze.

    On the men’s side, Tú played outstandingly, defeating senior, experienced players such as Đinh Quang Linh, Trần Tuấn Quỳnh and Đoàn Bá Tuấn Anh, to defend his men’s singles gold medal. Linh of Military was second, while Nguyễn Đức Tuân of Vicem Hải Dương was third.

    Nation to celebrate 70th Resistance Day

    A documentary on General Võ Nguyên Giáp, a film week, exhibitions and other events will be held in various locations across the country to mark the 70th National Resistance Day (December 19, 1946).

    An exhibition of 300 photographs, documents and several objects opened yesterday at the Việt Nam Military History Museum.

    Titled The Grandiose Song of Winter 1946, the exhibition will help people, the youth in particular, learn more about national resistance and the role it has played in the nation’s history. It is also expected to inculcate patriotism among the youth.

    This exhibition is jointly organised by the Việt Nam Military History Museum, the Police Museum in Hà Nội and the Military Logistics Museum in HCM City.

    A film week will be held in many localities nationwide, starting on December 19. The films, screened for free, will help the public to have an opportunity to watch a series of film highlight the efforts and sacrifices of Vietnamese soldiers to win national independence.

    The documentary, Giọt Nước Giữa Đại Dương (A Drop of Water in the Ocean), featuring the life of General Võ Nguyên Giáp, will be screened at the opening ceremony of the film festival.

    Also on December 19, several arts performances including concerts of patriotic songs will be held at the Lý Thái Tổ Flower Garden on Đinh Tiên Hoàng Street  and the park  in front of the Mỹ Đình National Stadium in Hà Nội.

    An essay contest on the significance of the 70th National Resistane Day is being held for junior high school and high school students.

    National Resistance Day marks the call by President Hồ Chí Minh in 1946, urging the entire people of Việt Nam to resist the French colonial rule after the success of the 1945 August Revolution and establishment of the Democratic Republic of Việt Nam.

    "The more concessions we make, the more the French colonialists encroach upon our rights, for they are determined to re-conquer our country," the President said. 

    People’s Police Academy inaugurates e-library

    The People’s Police Academy inaugurated its e-library – a joint project with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), during a ceremony in Hanoi on December 12. 

    Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister of Public Security Bui Van Nam thanked the Republic of Korea (RoK) government and KOICA for assisting Vietnamese police in many fields, especially in the project, which started on January 12, 2015. 

    He expressed his wish that the Ministry of Public Security and the People’s Police Academy would continue receiving support from the RoK government and KOICA in the future. 

    Minister and Consul General Park Sang-shik said over the past three years, the Korean government has worked to improve information use by the Ministry of Public Security and the People’s Police Academy in particular. 

    The RoK government always treasures ties with Vietnam and will offer continued support to the country’s economic development, Park affirmed. 

    The project costs 2.3 million USD in non-refundable aid from the RoK government and 3 billion VND (130,000 USD) from Vietnam.

    Guidelines needed for smart cities: PM

    Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked concerned ministries to develop a set of standards for the development of smart cities and implementation guidelines.

    Smart city is a new concept in Vietnam and needs careful research so that it is compatible with the national and global focus on sustainable development, the PM said recently.

    A smart city refers to the incorporation of technologies and solutions in managing cities, including for housing development.

    PM Phuc has asked the ministries of information and communications and construction to work together and develop a set of standards to ensure that implementation is practical and investment is efficient, depending on the financial capacity of the region.

    Currently, urban areas in Vietnam are classified into ix categories: types 1 to 5 and special urban areas. Special, type 1 and type 2 are areas recognized by the Prime Minister, types 3 and 4 by the construction ministry, while type 5 has the nod of the provincial People’s Committee. There are two special urban areas in the country, Hanoi and HCM City; 17 are type 1, 25 are type 2, 42 are type 3 and 90 are type 4.

    Almost 36 percent of the population lives in urban areas, and this figure is expected to rise to 40 percent by 2020, according to statistics from the construction ministry’s urban development department. Economic growth in urban areas is doubling the country’s average growth rate.

    Experts said the need to develop smart cities has arisen because of rapid urbanization, which has put a lot of pressure on traffic and transport, air quality and health care.

    In recent year, several areas in the country have initiated plans to become smart cities, including Hanoi and HCM City.

    Measures urged to minimise agricultural pollution


     

    Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong has asked agencies under the ministry to roll out urgent measures to minimise and end environmental pollution and degradation due to agricultural activities.

    The minister instructed more communications activities to raise public awareness of environmental protection laws and their own responsibilities, as well as more training courses for environment officials.

    At the same time, it is necessary to focus more on environmental preservation during the consideration, verification and implementation of projects, along with more careful environmental risk reports for major projects.

    The minister requested agencies to tighten the supervision over water quality in irrigation works to ensure unpolluted water for production, and issue more guidelines to farmers in using organic fertilizers and the recycling of agricultural auxiliary products into fertilizer.

    The ministry will expand sustainable production models which are adaptive to climate change and reduce green house gas emission.

    Minister Cuong also requested for stricter inspection of the trading and quality of pesticide, fertilizers and animal feed. 

    The discharge of waste and wastewater in aquaculture will be subject to closer monitor to ensure they do not pollute the water environment. 

    According to the ministry, the agricultural sector is employing 70 percent of the country’s population, but its growth is accompanied by increasing pollution in farms and rural areas due to the abuse of fertilizer and pesticide and a lack of legal framework for waste treatment.

    The ministry attributed the problem to poor awareness of people in environmental protection, inadequate investment in the work as well as low effectiveness in law enforcement in the field.

    Some environment criteria in the new-style rural area building programme have yet to suit specific conditions of each region, while environmental inspection has received little attention.

    Company warns of fake websites selling train tickets

    Sài Gòn Railway Transport Joint Stocks Company, a subsidiary of Việt Nam Railway Corporation, has warned passengers about fake websites offering train tickets, particularly those for trips on the occasion of the Tết (Lunar New Year) celebration.

    Lê Quốc Trung, vice director of the company, said the fake websites usually offered tickets that were four or five times more expensive than the authentic fares.

    People who buy e-tickets via fake websites would be barred from boarding trains, he said.

    Trung highly recommended people use authentic websites to purchase train tickets, including vr.com.vn, saigonrailway.com.vn, vantaiduongsathanoi.vn or dsvn.vn.

    The Hà Nội Railway Transport Joint Stock Company (HARACO), another subsidiary of Việt Nam Railway Corporation, has decided to add 21 train trips on the Hà Nội-Vinh, Hà Nội-Hải Phòng and Hà Nội-Đà Nẵng routes.

    It will operate more trains on the Hà Nội-HCM City, Hà Nội-Vinh, Hà Nội-Lào Cai and Hà Nội-Yên Bái, as well as Hà Nội-Hải Phòng and Yên Viên-Hạ Long routes, to accommodate more people just before and after Tết.

    VNR said it would run these additional routes from January 17 to February 12, 2017. This year, state employees and workers will get Tết holidays from January 26 to February 1. They will get two more days off – January 31 and February 1 – as compensation for the previous weekends.

    Centre fined for wastewater violation

    A branch of the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (VINATEX) in Hưng Yên Province was fined for violating regulations on environmental protection.

    The centre for wastewater treatment for the Phố Nối textile industrial park, located in the province’s Yên Mỹ District, was asked to pay a fine of VNĐ550 million (US$24,300) for discharging wastewater that exceeded the national technical regulation on industrial wastewater.

    The exceeded technical specifications include biochemical oxygen demand (1.9 times) and wastewater colour (1.32 times), according to the wastewater analysis conducted by the centre for environmental monitoring portal under the province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

    Apart from imposing fines, the province’s People’s Committee requested the centre to address the issue and conduct proper treatment before discharging wastewater into the environment.

    In December 2014, the centre was fined for discharging untreated wastewater, which was foul-smelling and black in colour, as discovered by the Việt Nam Environment Administration during an unexpected examination visit, along with other wrongdoings.

    The centre began operations in 2005. Locals said it continuously discharged untreated wastewater into the Trần Thành Ngọ canal over the years, causing serious environmental pollution.

    Int'l culinary festival opens in city

    A culinary festival featuring Vietnamese and international dishes was opened at Le Van Tam Park in district 1, Ho Chi Minh City last night. 

    International culinary festival takes place at Le Van Tam Park in the city.

    The international cuisine festival runs until December 18.

    Within the three- day festival, the Vietnamese and international dishes, traditional culinary village, coffee booths and others will be displayed at 100 pavilions from 20 countries and territories worldwide.

    The Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Department and the City’s Tourism Association co- organized in the event with its target of advertizing Vietnamese tourism, culture and cuisine to international friends. 

    The city’s tourism department reported that the city has received five million tourists this year. Of these, the number of domestic arrivals increased 10 percent compared to the same period of last year.

    PM asks young people to lead in start-up activities

    The Government and the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union should work together to create the most favorable environment for young people to take the lead in renovation and start-up activities and in tackling pressing social issues, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said.

    He chaired a working session between the Government and the Central Committee of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union in Hanoi on December 15 to review the implementation of the coordinating regulation between the two sides and discuss their future tasks.  

    He hailed young people’s contributions to the country’s socio-economic development, giving special emphasis on their part in maintaining social order and stability at a time when the Formosa-caused environmental pollution incident occurred.

    He noted the outcomes of the implementation of the coordinating regulation between the Government and the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, especially in the generation of jobs for young people.

    However, he pointed out that the youth union was slow in carrying a number of projects assigned by the Government, such as the one on supporting worker young people, and the other on developing young people-managed islands.

    In the coming time, the Central Committee of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union needs to pay heed to educating and encouraging young people to take a more active role in promoting socio-economic development and safeguarding security, defence, and social order.

    “Young people should lead in making renovations and launching start-ups to address employment issue,” he said.

    The Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee was assigned to work with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to map out a project on young people’s involvement in protecting the environment and responding to climate change.-

    Prime Minister urges Tet traffic preparation

    Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked ministries, provincial and city people’s committees and relevant offices to strengthen traffic safety works during New Year, Tết (Lunar New Year) and the Spring Festival.

    The PM urged the Transport Ministry to set up detailed plans and measures for organising transport vehicle systems, selling tickets through the internet to serve the best travelling of people.

    The transport ministry is responsible for checking publicized ticket prices and penalising illegal ticket price increases and passenger transfers.

    The ministry will regulate traffic lanes comfortably and suitably on key and high-vehicle traffic routes, strengthen safety measures at black spots (places with high rates of road accidents) and manage the domestic waterway.

    The ministry must ensure security and safety at airports, railway stations, ship and bus stations at tourism sites and festival grounds.  

    The Ministry of Public Security was asked to strengthen patrolling and penalties for traffic and order violations during the new year holidays.

    Policemen will focus on fining violations related to speeding, drunk driving, vehicles driving over capacity, riding motorbikes without wearing helmets and racing motorbikes illegally.

    The police force is also asked to take strict measures for preventing illegal transport of flammable and explosive substances and materials.

    The ministry will co-ordinate closely with transport inspectors to arrange police force on shifts at key routes and black places on traffic jams.

    In addition, the ministry’s hotline has been publicised on mass media in order to field traffic punishment complaints from local people.

    The Ministry of Information and Communications has been asked to re-enforce dissemination of traffic safety information during holidays.

    In particular, the people’s committees of Hanoi and HCM City are responsible for setting up plans to organise festivals, regulate traffic lanes and arrange workforce on shifts at main gates.-

    Vietnamese ministry, Swiss institute boost links in security management

    Representatives from the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security and the Malik research institute in Switzerland met on December 15, focusing on cooperation between the two sides in security management and technology application in fighting security challenges in many fields. 

    Visiting Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Public Security Nguyen Van Thanh and Professor Fredmund Malik, Head of the Malik research institute  discussed great challenges facing the Vietnamese ministry in the context of international integration.

    They discussed non-traditional security challenges like water and energy security, food security, climate change, high-tech crime, and challenges related to the ongoing fourth scientific and technological revolution, which requires the Vietnamese ministry to reform and apply new technologies and smart solutions in management and training, towards meeting requirements to ensure  security and orders. 

    The two sides also discussed orientations to enhance partnership in applying the “systems-cybernetic” solution in works relating to the fight against crimes, especially high-tech and environmental crimes, transnational crime and new crimes. 

    As scheduled, the solution will be piloted in the People Police Academy of Vietnam with the aim of improving the training quality. 

    The application of the solution in strategic forecast and professional research was also debated during the working session.

    In Vietnam, the Hai Phong city People’s Committee has coordinated with the Malik research institute to build a project to develop Hai Phong into a sustainable development city through the systems thinking-based management model. 

    The Malik research institute, founded by Professor Fredmund Malik in 1984, is one of the world’s leading organisation for holistic general management, leadership and governance solutions. 

    Professor Fredmund Malik is an acclaimed international management expert and scientific thinker. He  applies systems theory and cybernetics to analyse and design management systems. 

    He was Professor of corporate management and governance at the University of St.Gallen, Switzerland, and at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria.

    HCM City looks for Japan’s support in environment protection

    Ho Chi Minh City hopes to receive support from Japan, including the country’s Ministry of the Environment, in climate change adaptation projects, said Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Le Thanh Liem. 

    In a reception for visiting Japanese Deputy Minister of the Environment Shigemoto Kajihara on December 15, Liem said the city expects to be supported in technology transfer, capital assistance and human resources training in the environment field. 

    Regarding investment projects funded by the Japanese Government, he suggested expanding cooperation between the two sides in projects to treat waste water and save energy, saying that the city is calling for investment in these domains. 

    The municipal authorities are very interested  in measures to protect the environment and improve the quality of life of locals, Liem stressed, hoping that the Japanese side will continue  assisting and cooperating with the city to well perform the work.  

    For his part, Shigemoto Kajihara said he hopes HCM City and Japan will work more closely on environmental protection. 

    Japan is willing to share its experience as well as technology  in treating wastes and tackling environmental pollution, he affirmed. 

    He also underlined  the need to expand more cooperation models  between HCM City and Japanese partners, which are similar to those between the city and Osaka prefecture, in the coming time.

    Campaign helps raise public awareness of gender equality

    A series of activities were organised nationwide during an action month for gender equality and fight against gender-based violence, contributing to raising public awareness of gender equality, an official has said.

    Speaking at conference to review the implementation of the month in Hanoi on December 15, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Hong Lan said the campaign helped spread a strong message calling for gender equality and the termination of violence against women and girls. 

    Lan called for more enduring efforts, especially commitments on budget for the work

    She stressed the Ministry will continue joining hands with domestic and international organisations to fine-tune policies and laws, and perform programmes and projects on gender equality and fight against gender-based violence, towards building a civilised, progress, equal and safe society.

    Shoko Ishikawa, Chief Representative of the UN agency on gender equality and empowerment of women (UN Women) in Vietnam highlighted the significance of the activity, expressing her hope that the United Nations in Vietnam will continue the partnership with the Vietnamese Government, civil social organisations and development partners in the work, thus bringing justice to victims of violence. 

    At the conference, representatives from several ministries, sectors, localities, non-governmental and international organisations shared experience in implementing the campaign. 

    On the occasion, a number of organisations and individuals were presented with insignias for their good performance and contributions to activities during the month.

    Girl children are not only the victims of domestic violence but also human trafficking, sexual abuse and violence from outside the family. A national survey on domestic violence against women and children reported that there was an average of 1,000 cases of girl child sexual abuse every year.

    Themed “Joining hands to remove violence against women and girl children”, the month-long campaign, starting from November 15, aims to encourage the involvement of agencies, organisations and people in efforts to ensure gender equality and prevent violence against women and girl children.

    Children-oriented disaster risk mitigation strategy to be built


     

    A strategy and programme on children-oriented disaster risk mitigation for 2017-2021 with a vision until 2030 will be built, as heard a national conference held in the central province of Ninh Thuan on December 15. 

    The strategy will develop mechanisms to better coordinate units concerned in mitigating impacts on children and enhance the capacity of children, families and community. 

    More than 160 officials and experts from Vietnam, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and international partners attended the event, the first of its kind co-organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the UNICEF Vietnam. 

    Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hoang Van Thang said disasters have left 171 dead and 30 missing since early 2016, causing a loss of more than 37 trillion VND (1.6 billion USD). 

    In the central region alone, 27 were killed, including 10 children from November 28 – December 12. 

    The UNICEF pledged to work closely with Vietnam and domestic partners to outline effective plans for disaster adaptation, prevent child schooling disruption and protect children in case of crises and pressures.

    Participants suggested orientations to children-oriented disaster mitigation activities within the framework of the Law on Disaster Risk Management and the government’s global and regional commitments on emergency relief and disaster management. 

    They summed up lessons drawn from emergency relief programmes, shared experience and mapped out orientations to future cooperation in the field. 

    Since August 2016, the UNICEF and the Vietnamese Government have provided emergency aid for children and women hit by drought and saline intrusion in 10 provinces of the Central Highlands, the coastal south central region and the Mekong Delta sourcing from 2.5 million USD funded by the Japanese government. 

    Nearly 140,000 Vietnamese people have benefited from the effort.

    Over 1,000 job seekers attend RoK - Vietnam placement fair

    Over 1,000 people attended a career fair co-organised by the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) and the Korean Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City on December 15.

    Forty-five businesses including such leading RoK enterprises and groups as CJ Group Vietnam, Lotte Cinema, E-Mart Vietnam, Taekwang Vina, Keb Hana Bank took part in the event.

    They offered a wide range of vacancies, including positions in the fields of foreign languages, economics, marketing, finance, banking, telecommunication electronics, designing, chemicals, and garment-textile.

    Kim Jae Hyun, HR & Admin Director at Lotte Vietnam, said his company wants to recruit a lot of employees, including HR staff, salespersons and sales team leaders.

    Most of the candidates are inexperienced and need further training, therefore, those with dedication and commitments will be selected, Kim added.

    Director General of KOTRA HCM City Park Sang Hyup said the number of RoK investors in Vietnam is expected to rise, therefore their demand for recruitment will increase accordingly, for both unskilled workers and senior managers.

    He suggested Vietnamese labourers be equipped with foreign languages, communication skills, and technical knowledge in order to work for RoK firms.

    Currently, around one million Vietnamese labourers are working in nearly 4,500 RoK firms in Vietnam.

    Binh Dinh distributes rice to natural disaster victims

    The central province of Binh Dinh will distribute rice aid to families affected by natural disasters this year, with an average 15kg of rice for each person. 

    Vice Chairman of Binh Dinh provincial People’s Committee said the province will deliver 1,108 tonnes of rice provided by the government to 11 districts and towns hit by floods and droughts. 

    The provincial People’s Committee assigned the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs to coordinate with the relevant agencies to receive and distribute rice to households under regulations.

    Four consecutive floods over the past months killed 17 people, injured five others and caused an estimated loss of 800 billion VND (36 million USD) in Binh Dinh.

    The province has asked the government for 300 billion VND (14 million USD) in aid to restore transport infrastructure and irrigation works, helping local people resume production.

    VAVA conference reviews association’s 2016 performance

    The Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin (VAVA) Central Committee convened a conference in Hanoi on December 15 to review its performance in 2016 and set tasks for 2017.

    Addressing the event, VAVA President Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh said that in 2016, the association marked the 55th anniversary of Agent Orange/dioxin (AO) disaster in Vietnam and improved its operations.

    It implemented support policies for victims, while raising nearly 270 billion VND, building 529 houses for victims, granting 786 scholarships, supporting employment and presenting gifts to thousands of victims, noted Rinh.

    He underscored that in 2017, the association will focus on reforming the organisation and operation at all levels.

    The association will advise and coordinate with relevant agencies to implement the Party Central Committee Secretariat’s Decree 43-CT/TW on strengthening Party leadership in overcoming consequences of chemicals sprayed by the US army during the war in Vietnam.

    It will also work to increase resources for supporting AO victims, said Rinh.

    During the conference, the VAVA selected an additional four members to its Central Committee, while presenting 29 certificates of merit to individuals and collectives with outstanding performance in supporting AO victims in 2016.

    HCM City doctors give eye surgery to Lao patients

    A delegation of doctors from HCM City in collaboration with doctors of an eye hospital in Laos performed free eye surgery using Phaco technique on cataract patients in Vientiane from December 14-16. 

    The surgery is part of the cooperation programme signed between the HCM City Eye Hospital and the Lao Central Eye Hospital in 2003.

    Under the programme, 200 cataract patients will receive surgery each year. However, Vietnamese doctors decided to provide surgery for additional 100 patients at the request of the Lao Ministry of National Defence, bringing the total beneficiary patients to 300 this year.

    The patients also receive free medications, lodging and travel cost and other consultation services.

    Besides, the HCM City Eye Hospital doctors also trained their Lao colleagues on the Phaco technique. 

    In 2016, the hospital has helped trained six Lao eye surgeons. It plans to transfer the operation technique to nine more in 2017.

    Vietnam coast guards grow own veggies on high-tech farm

    Coast guard officers in the southern Vietnamese city of Vung Tau are now able to harvest their first batch of fresh produce from their high-tech vegetable farm following several months of hard work.

    Officers from the 3Rd Regional Coast Guard, stationed in the southern beach city, have been growing the clean veggies at the high-tech garden which they built by themselves.

    Covering an area of 1,000 square meters, the farm is different from those at other armed force units in Vietnam thanks to its automatic watering system, which helps preserve water resources.

    The vegetables are covered with multi-layered nets imported from Israel, which protect them from heavy downpours and many types of pests.

    The greenhouse is equipped with a special system that can reduce temperature by four to five degrees Celsius compared to the outdoor atmosphere and a set of gutters, which are designed to store rainwater for use.

    In order to prevent bees and other bugs from piercing through their cucurbits, the officers hung several plastic bottles with small holes on their surface and sugar inside to lure the insects away from the veggies.

    The coast guards invested over VND500 million (US$22,224) in the purchase of materials and equipment and spent over 300 days setting up the farm.

    According to Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Van Ha, logistics manager of the 3rd Regional Command, building the farm was a challenge as the soil was muddy while the weather was also unpredictable.

    However, commanders of the coast guards agreed on establishing the high-tech vegetable farm to provide necessary food for daily consumption.

    Harvested produce from the garden is also used to supply those onboard the vessels of the coast guard unit, allowing officers to be more proactive during their missions at sea.

    VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/TT/TN/Dantri/VNE


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  • 12/17/16--05:50: Article 2
  • BUSINESS IN BRIEF 17/12


    VinaCapital changes Hoi An South resort brand

    Vietnam-based asset management firm VinaCapital along with its Hong Kong and Macau joint venture partners, have re-branded its long-stalled $4 billion integrated leisure project Hoi An South into HOIANA Integrated Resort in the central Quang Nam province. 

    “We have already set the timeline to launch the first phase of the project by Quarter 1 of 2019,” a representative from VinaCapital told VET.

    HOIANA Integrated Casino Resort held the groundbreaking ceremony in late April this year on an area of 985 hectares that spans the Duy Xuyen and Thang Binh districts in central Quang Nam province.

    The Vietnam-focused asset management company VinaCapital, Hong Kong-based Gold Yield Enterprises Limited and Macau’s Sun City are the investors of the project. The complex has seven phases and is expected to be fully completed by 2035.

    Construction of the first phase will be implemented on an area of 163 hectares with a capital of $500 million and is expected to be finished by the first quarter of 2019. It will include an 18-hole golf course, which was recently approved by the Prime Minister as part of the government’s golf course development plan.

    Once operational, HOIANA will be the second largest casino in Vietnam, after the Ho Tram Strip resort and casino complex in the southern province of Ba Ria Vung Tau. It is poised to become “one of Asia’s most renowned resort destinationsa and a new benchmark for high-end tourism in Vietnam,” according to Mr. Don Lam, CEO of VinaCapital.

    Last year VinaLand Limited, VinaCapital’s London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market-listed fund, announced plans to become a strategic shareholder (instead of being the project’s largest shareholder) by divesting its stake to Gold Yield Enterprises, a unit of the Chow Tai Fook Group.

    The first phase of HOIANA will feature a resort and casino complex which will include a 445-room hotel, 200 apartment-suites for sale on a buy-to-let basis operated by Hong Kong’s New World Hotels, a ultra-luxury Rosewood spa resort incorporating 75 guest villas and 25 exclusive residences, and a golf course.

    The developers also plan further investment for the $4 billion township in the next construction phases, which are due to be completed over the course of 10 to 15 years.

    Licensed in 2010, the project was initially supposed to be developed by VinaCapital and Genting Malaysia Berhad. It would have been comprised of five-star hotels, villas, and an electronic gaming facility primarily targeting foreign tourists. In September 2012, however, Genting announced its withdrawal in the middle of site clearance, forcing VinaCapital to find another partner.

    Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited, a Hong Kong property and jewelry conglomerate, already has a presence in the country through its New World Development unit in Vietnam with two large hotels in Ho Chi Minh City - the New World and the Renaissance Riverside. The company is run by Hong Kong’s fourth richest person, Cheng Yu Tung.

    Founded in 2007 and based in the world’s busiest gambling hub of Macau, Sun City is a hotel and entertainment group that also deals in casinos. It provides gaming, travel, dining, media, and amusement services.

    The company, through its subsidiaries, operates property development, natural resource development, equine trade, film production, food and beverage, luxury products businesses, among others. In a bid to fortify its casino business, Hong Kong billionaire Cheng Yu Tung acquired 70 per cent of Sun City for $948 million.

    HSC gains 50 per cent in third quarter

    Ho Chi Minh Stock Company (HSC) announced that the date of closing shareholder list for dividends payout at a rate of five per cent is December 28.

    The dividends payout date is expected to be on January 12, 2017, according to HSC. There are three major shareholders, Dragon Capital Markets Limited, Ho Chi Minh City Finance and Investment State-owned Company (HFIC), and PXP Vietnam Emerging Equity Fund with capital of 30 per cent, 29 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.

    Dragon Capital will receive VND 19.6 trillion ($864,947), HFIC VND18.7 trillion ($825,230) and PXP Vietnam Emerging Equity Fund VND4.2 trillion ($185,345) in the first dividend payment. The total money that the three major shareholders will receive is over VND42 trillion ($1.85 million).

    According to the third quarter financial report of 2016, the revenue of HSC significantly gained 50 per cent, equivalent to VND 219 trillion ($9.66 million). Stockbroker revenue reached VND102.36 trillion ($4.52 million), up 37 per cent; loan interests reached VND92.85 trillion ($4.1 million), up 65 per cent.

    After-tax- profit of HSC was VND81.8 trillion, up 80 per cent compared to the same period in 2015. Its HCM shares are trading at around VND 25,000 ($1.1) per share at the moment.

    In the first 9 months of 2016, after-tax- profit of HSC reached over VND228.7 trillion ($10.1 million), up 59 per cent compared to the same period in 2015. HSC had completed 76 per cent of the 2016 plan.

    In the third quarter financial report of 2016, the total action fee of HSC was VND104.08 trillion ($4.6 million). This figure, in the same period of time in 2015, was VND74.93 trillion ($3.3 million).

    In the first 9 months of 2016, the total action fee of HSC was VND 237.42 trillion ($10.45 million), which is higher compared to the same period in 2015.

    HSC was listed on HOSE in May 2009 with the stock code of HCM. It is the best stock company in Vietnam. The main business sector of HSC includes  stockbrokerage and consulting, investment, market analysis and company management under a sustainable development program. HSC also supplies various financial services to customers.

    Tax incentives provide few benefits


     Tax incentives provide few benefits, High-tech agricultural production is the need: experts, Large scale fields developed in northern region, Vietsovpetro taps 5.04 million tonnes of crude oil this year

    Oxfam tax research reports the world's worst tax havens and how the laws adversely affect developing economies like Vietnam.

    Despite Vietnam's widespread use of tax incentives, "there is little evidence that incentives have contributed to increased investment or economic growth", the Oxfam tax report remarked.

    The largest incentives, particularly tax holidays, according to Oxfam, go to large investments in manufacturing and real estate. "These investments would likely have occurred regardless, leading to significant revenue losses without corresponding economic benefits," the report stated. "The complexity of Vietnam’s incentive regulations and the overall lack of information and data make it difficult for both researchers and investors to accurately analyze the costs and effectiveness of tax incentives."

    Citing specific examples of high-profile tax competition within South-East Asia are also covered in other studies, the Oxfam report took the case of South Korea's Samsung investment in Vietnam as an example. "In 2014, in competition for Samsung’s investment, Indonesia offered a corporate income tax exemption for 10 years, while Vietnam offered 15 years," it noted.

    A separate report from the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) also said that the real effectiveness of tax incentives given to foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) in Vietnam has not yet been made clear. Vietnam has offered FIEs in prioritized sectors a reduced corporate income tax (CIT), lowering the standard rate from 25 per cent to 10-20 per cent for up to 30 years, according to VCCI.

    In addition, these FIEs can have their land rental fees waived for up to 15 years. At least 62 per cent of FIEs reported receiving investment incentives. But "it is difficult to tell whether the incentives truly lead to more benefits or drawbacks for FIEs and domestic firms,” the VCCI report delivered at Vietnam Business Forum (VBF) on December 5 noted.

    The Oxfam report also reveals how tax havens are leading a global race to the bottom on corporate tax that is starving countries out of billions of dollars needed to tackle poverty and inequality. Significantly, foreign direct investment (FDI) to Vietnam from tax havens increased 47 per cent compared to last year.   

    Some tax havens listed on Oxfam’s report include Singapore, the British Virgin Islands, Jersey, Luxembourg, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. Oxfam warned that if Vietnam continues to accept FDI from tax havens, they would lose a lot of money.

    The full list of the world’s worst tax havens according to Oxfam, in order of significance is: Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Singapore, Ireland, Luxembourg, Curaçao, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Bahamas, Jersey, Barbados, Mauritius and the British Virgin Islands.

    Oxfam report cited World Bank research in 2015 that stated "tax competition in East Asia and the Pacific is an issue that needs to be addressed in regional forums, rather than being left to individual countries." Otherwise, a race to the bottom could develop, with competing tax breaks leading to the long-term loss of tax revenue with few offsetting benefits.

    Oxfam researchers compiled the world’s worst list by assessing the extent to which countries employ the most damaging tax policies, such as zero corporate tax rates, the provision of unfair and unproductive tax incentives, and a lack of cooperation with international processes against tax avoidance, including measures to increase financial transparency.

    Handicraft products exports to US rise in first 10 months

    Vietnam’s rattan, bamboo and sedge products export value to the United States reached US$212.1 million in the first 10 months of 2016, a year-on-year rise of 1%, according to data from the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

    Rattan, bamboo and sedge products of Vietnam have been shipped to 19 countries and territories, with the US the biggest importer with US$51.2 million, accounting for 27 percent of Vietnam’s exports of those items, followed by Japan and Germany.

    Overall, rattan, bamboo and sedge products exports to other countries increased in the first 10 months of the year. Exports of the products to China grew sharply, by 36.49 percent, along with other markets including Taiwan, Spain and Denmark

    High-tech agricultural production is the need: experts     

    A conference on building high-tech agriculture in Viet Nam, organised by the Digital Agriculture Association (DAA), will be held in HCM City on Sunday.

    At the conference, delegates will be hearing about successful experiences in high-tech applications in agriculture and build the value chain through the presentations of businesses, such as Seafood Co., Central Seafood Company, Hung Nhon JSC and Huy Long An-My Binh limited company.

    These companies are pioneers in the application of advanced technology with production and management by shifting from traditional farming methods to agricultural enterprises to obtain high efficiency in poultry breeding and fruit growing for export purposes.

    Central Seafood Company, in particular, has met the standard for high-tech business.

    At present, the company has six shrimps breeding farms equipped with US technology, capable of breeding10-12 billion shrimps per year. The company can sell 1,000 tonnes of shrimp annually.

    The event will also be an opportunity for the government, ministries and relevant agencies to hear opinions and proposals from businesses to implement timely support policies by working towards a new model of agriculture production.

    Based on the foundation of high-tech applications in manufacturing and integration of value chain, DAA has proposed high-tech complexes. The complexes will consist of large-scale agricultural production, where businesses will closely work together to achieve production targets with high-yield and high-quality products, which are competitive both in domestic and international markets.

    Nguyen Thi Lan Huong, vice president and general secretary of DAA Vietnam, said one of the most important tasks in the process of industrialisation and modernisation was to industrialise and modernise rural agriculture. Application of advanced technology should be promoted to meet standards of national and international activities in agricultural production. In addition, promoting people and businesses to create a high-tech agricultural production value chain was aimed at ensuring a healthy and prosperous life for the people and providing safe and clean food.

    World Bank’s Vietnam Development Report 2016, “Transforming Vietnamese Agriculture: Gaining More from Less,” launched in September, details the challenges and opportunities facing the sector.

    To remain competitive in the international market, the report said Viet Nam needed to improve supply, quality and food safety with added value. It outlines an agenda of short and longer-term strengthening of public and market institutions which will be needed to achieve the ambitious goals for Viet Nam’s agriculture and overall food system.

    Ousmane Dione, World Bank country director for Viet Nam, said, “’Business as usual’ is no longer an option for the sector. Growth has slowed down; it is vulnerable to climate hazards and leaves a large environment footprint. Change will help overcome these challenges, ensure the future of agricultural growth and better meet the expectations and aspirations of the people of Viet Nam.”

    The report offers various policy recommendations to address the challenges. The government can deploy an effective combination of improved regulations, better incentives and streamlined services to stimulate and push for greener agriculture and a more effective food safety and consumer protection system.

    It can help with policy instruments to better manage agriculture-related risks, as well as create and maintain a favourable enabling environment for agribusiness.

    In a more flexible, market-driven and knowledge-based agriculture system, reducing direct state involvement will make modernisation of the Vietnamese agro-food system smoother. 

    Large scale fields developed in northern region

    Northern provinces have built 895 large scale fields on more than 42,300ha for the Summer-Autumn crop, an increase of about 2,700ha year-on-year, according to the Department of Cultivation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

    Head of the Department Nguyen Hong Son said that after years of work, localities have gained experience to generate the best results.

    Along with rice, the model has also been applied for corn and vegetables.

    Businesses also participated in the production chain in localities such as Thanh Hoa, Thai Binh, Hanoi and Hai Duong, raising the efficiency of cultivation and rice production. The model has enhanced links between farmers and businesses and showed its sustainability.

    Many cities and provinces have set up Steering Committees and devised policies to support the model, including Thai Binh, Nam Dinh, Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Hanoi.

    Aside from applying advanced technology and research in agriculture, the provinces have also looked to mechanisation to lower production costs and increase productivity.

    Vietsovpetro taps 5.04 million tonnes of crude oil this year

    The Vietnam-Russia joint venture Vietsovpetro expects to tap 5.04 million tonnes of crude oil as targeted this year, heard the 47th meeting of Vietsovpetro’s Council recently held in the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau. 

    Vietsovpetro has achieved a majority of goals and set a new record of 2,547m/month/machine in commercial drill speed, just above the target, said General Director Tu Thanh Nghia. 

    For the whole year, the joint venture plans to drill 91,400m, complete the construction of 28 wells and repair 18 drilling wells. 

    It will also bring ashore more than 1.6 billion cu.m of gas, or 127 percent of the target. 

    Since it began operation in 1981, Vietsovpetro has tapped over 223 million tonnes of crude oil and supplied more than 30.8 billion cu.m of gas. 

    At the meeting, participants adopted production and trading plans for next year and tasks for 2017-2021.

    Gelex initiates plan to take over STG

    Vietnam Electrical Equipment Joint Stock Corporation (Gelex) has announced its plan to purchase 21.3 million shares of South Logistics Joint Stock Company (Sotrans).

    The shares are equal to 24.93 per cent of Sotrans’s charter capital.

    The purchase is due from December 15, 2016 to January 14, 2017.

    Previously, in its annual general meeting this August, Gelex declared it was expanding its manufacturing operations into the field of logistics business by acquiring stake in Sotran.

    Besides, Gelex is also expected to further invest VNĐ812 billion into logistics.

    To implement this investment plan, Gelex is scheduled to release 77.25 million shares at VNĐ18,000 per share to mobilise over VNĐ1.39 trillion and increase charter capital from VNĐ1.55 trillion to VNĐ2.322 trillion.

    Gelex was originally established in 1995 with initial charter capital of VNĐ177 billion. The company operates in the electrical engineering industry. Its main products are electrical equipment, electrical cables and power metres. 

    The Nam Hai joins Four Seasons

    The luxurious resort Nam Hai Hoi An will be part of the Four Seasons family starting on December 20, 2016. Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai will introduce guests to a unique contemporary experience combining the classic Nam Hai style with the flair of Four Seasons.

    All 60 hotel villas have been renovated and now feature outdoor showers, terraces, and more expansive indoor and outdoor living spaces.

    To celebrate this exciting new phase in The Nam Hai’s life, the resort plans to offer complimentary round trip airport transfers, two-rounds of cocktails and tapas at its brand new Beach Bar for villa bookings from January 7 to June 30, 2017.

    Guests will also get to experience one complimentary Fire Breath & Sound treatment at The Heart of the Earth Spa. 

    Shining a light on Vietnam’s cultural heartland, Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam, offers an illuminating connection to three extraordinary UNESCO sites from a private kilometer-long stretch of one of Forbes’ “best beaches in the world.” 

    Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam, rests on a tranquil 1-kilometer (half mile) stretch of Ha My Beach, just 11 kilometers (7 miles) north of the UNESCO city of Hoi An in Quang Nam province on Vietnam’s central coast. An ancient trading port, Hoi An had the largest harbor in Southeast Asia in the 1st century. It even opened its own stoneware kilns in the 15th century to support the growing popularity of the Japanese tea ritual.

    Both Christianity and Buddhism found their way to Vietnam’s shores via Hoi An in the 17th century, and today its eclectic collection of some 87 pagodas, temples and communal houses, and 82 ancient tube-shaped houses – many located on original streets – stand as a testament to its vibrant ancient personality.

    Since opening in December 2006 The Nam Hai has set the benchmark by which all other resorts in Vietnam are measured. The resort’s first major award came in 2008 when Travel + Leisure’s Design Awards panel dubbed it “World’s Best Resort.” It has also received praise from Condé Nast Traveler, CNN Travel, Luxury Travel, Cigar Aficionado and many other esteemed overseas media outlets.

    Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, opened its first hotel in 1961, is a tale of continual innovation, remarkable expansion and a single-minded dedication to the highest of standards. The Canadian-based company has, for nearly 50 years, transformed the hospitality industry by combining friendliness and efficiency with the finest traditions of international hotel keeping. In the process, Four Seasons has redefined luxury for the modern traveler.

    Khanh Hoa export fetches over one billion USD in fifth consecutive year

    Export value of the south central province of Khanh Hoa is expected to reach 1.21 billion USD in 2016, an eight-percent increase against last year.

    This is the fifth consecutive year Khanh Hoa’s export value has surpassed one billion USD.

    Khanh Hoa’s main export commodities include new vessels, processed seafood, coffee, salanganes, garment and textile, and sand.

    The province’s import value is estimated at 720 million USD, producing a surplus of nearly 500 million USD.

    According to the Khanh Hoa statistics office, from 2014-2016, import value was over 700 million USD with machinery, raw seafood, fibre, silk for industrial production being key import goods.

    In 2017, Khanh Hoa aims to fetch 1.32 billion USD from exports. The shipping industry plans to build eight vessels, four less than in 2015 when the ship-building industry’s export value hit 390 million USD.

    Vietnam cement export estimated at 15 million tonnes

    Vietnam’s cement and clinker export volume in 2016 is estimated at about 15 million tonnes, according to the Vietnam National Cement Association.

    The figure represents a seven percent decrease from 2015. By the end of November, the country exported 13.97 million tonnes, down six percent year-on-year.

    The country consumed 54.52 million tonnes of cement, up seven percent from 2015.

    At present, Vietnam has 78 rotary kiln cement production lines with a combined capacity of 86.16 million tonnes. 

    Ministry announces list of prestigious exporters

    The Ministry of Industry and Trade has officially announced a list of 310 Vietnamese prestigious exporters for 2015, aimed at supporting local firms in promoting exports and expanding markets.

    The ministry last week promulgated a decision to approve the list of local prestigious exporters for 2015. 

    The vote was held in co-ordination with the provincial departments of industry and trade, other ministries, sectors, associations and relevant agencies after publishing the list of exporters on the ministry’s website for selection.

    The list of exporters was chosen based on the proposals of relevant agencies, along with the ministry’s criteria of maximum export turnover, prestige with foreign partners and duties to the tax and customs sector.

    Notably, the ministry has given priority in choosing sectors in which the country has encouraged exports as well as those facing difficulties in finding export markets.

    The ministry’s Import-Export Department said the vote aimed to recognise exporters’ positive contributions to the country’s export growth while giving them support in seeking markets.

    It also aimed to encourage Vietnamese exporters to further improve their image towards international integration with the world economy.

    The chosen exporters will be permitted to advertise their products for free on the ministry’s website moit.gov.vn and its newspapers and magazines.

    They will be given priority in participating in national trade promotion programmes and receive free training courses on e-commerce. The ministry will also directly introduce the list to foreign partners.

    The exporters were chosen from 22 sectors, including seafood, rice, rubber and coffee, as well as garment and textile.

    Some of the names on the list are Intimex Group, Viet Phu Thinh Rubber Joint Stock Company, Tan Phong and Nha Be Corporation, as wel as Viet Tien Garment and Textile Company, and B.Braun Vietnam.

    Cambodia’s rice, dried tobacco to enjoy zero percent import tariff

    Rice and dried tobacco leaves imported from Cambodia will enjoy a import tariffs of zero percent from January 1 – December 31, 2017. 

    The decision was made in a circular recently issued by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. 

    It states that the imported goods must have certificates of origin licensed by the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce or concerned agencies and go through customs clearances at border gates listed in the circular’s Appendix 02.

    Merchants who import dried tobacco leaves must also have licenses. 

    The circular will be effective from January 18 – December 31, 2017.

    Vietjet launches two new international routes

    Vietjet launched two new international routes -- Hải Phòng-Seoul and HCM City-Kaohsiung -- on Monday.

    The new routes are expected to meet the increasing travel demand of travellers, aimed at boosting regional trade and integration, the airline said.

    Flights on the Hải Phòng-Seoul route will operate every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, with a flying time of some five hours per leg. The route’s flight frequency will be increased to daily operations from January 19, 2017 to February 13, 2017.

    “Conveniently located in northeast Việt Nam as the centre for economic and social growth for the region, Hải Phòng has great potential for tourism development with a series of local specialties and services for international tourists to experience,” Vietjet said, adding that it has so far operated 10,000 flights, carrying nearly two million passengers on the nine routes to and from Hải Phòng.

    Meanwhile, South Korea is a favourite tourist destination for travellers thanks to a developed entertainment industry, the culture and the shopping malls. With the new route, Vietjet has a total of three services connecting Việt Nam and South Korea, targeted at facilitating travel of individuals at an affordable cost.

    The second route, HCM City-Kaohsiung, will have five return flights per week on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The flight duration is three hours 30 minutes per leg.

    Vietnam weighs doubling overtime limit following calls from foreign firms

    The Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs has proposed an amendment to the Labor Code that would sharply increase the country's overtime limit.

    Under the proposal, an employee may work a maximum of 600 extra hours per year, doubling the overtime limit currently imposed on some specific areas, the government portal said in a statement on December 10.

    Vietnam’s Labor Code stipulates that an employee can work a maximum of 200 extra hours per year. In some specific areas like textiles and garments, leather, aquaculture processing, telecommunications, water and power supplies, overtime is capped at 300 hours per year.

    The move comes after Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked relevant ministries and agencies to consider adjusting the overtime limit following recommendations from foreign firms.

    Several Korean and Japanese firms have complained that the current limit in Vietnam is too low, and have suggested the government should double or triple the figure.

    These thresholds are holding back the development of IT companies as engineers need to work overtime if any technical problems arise, the Japan Business Association in Vietnam said at the annual Vietnam Business Forum last week.

    Han Dong Hee, chairman of the Korea Business Association, echoed the same opinion, adding that the rule has raised labor costs and delayed production schedules.

    The maximum number of overtime hours allowed in Vietnam is currently less than other Southeast Asian countries.

    While Vietnamese workers can’t work for more than 300 extra hours per year, it’s 1,800 hours in Thailand, 1,250 in Malaysia, 860 in Singapore and 540 in Laos.

    This restriction is taking its toll on both enterprises and their workers.

    A recent survey conducted by national television broadcaster VTV at the Thang Long Industrial Zone in Hanoi revealed that 97% of manual workers want to work overtime as the money from those extra hours accounts for a third of their monthly incomes.

    El Nino hits Vietnam's coffee output; exports run out of steam

    Aging crops, flooding and drought: not the ideal blend for the world’s second largest coffee exporter.

    Vietnam’s coffee exports are likely to be hit this year due to changes in the weather, with output forecast to fall by 20%.

    Vietnam’s Association of Coffee and Cacao (Vicofa) said that coffee output will hit 1.3 million tons for the 2016-2017 season (from the start of October 2015 till the end of September 2016) following the worst El Nino in the last 20 years.

    October is traditionally the start of the coffee harvest, but this year many plantations in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, one of the biggest producers in the country, are still in blossom due to the lack of water.

    According to incomplete statistics from Vicofa, 115,000 hectares (284,000 acres) of coffee, equivalent to nearly a fifth of Vietnam’s total plantations, have been damaged by water shortages.

    Rain and flooding that hit the Central Highlands in November also made it difficult to harvest and dry the beans.

    Apart from the weather, farmers have also been cutting down their coffee plants to make room for other industrial crops, and a large area of coffee is entering an "aging" period with reduced output.

    To increase the value of coffee exports, Vicofa has called on businesses to step into the processing industry rather than focusing on exporting raw materials.

    The association has set a target of increasing the proportion of processed coffee exports to 30% of the total by 2020 from the current rate of 10%.

    Data from Vicofa revealed that Vietnam’s coffee exports jumped by 34.8% on-year to 1.75 million tons during the 2015-2016 season.

    Export value also surged by 17.2% to reach US$3.16 billion.

    However, this growth has been attributed to a large inventory of around 300,000 tons carried over from the previous season.

    Can Tho, RoK association cooperate in rice production

     Representatives from the Can Tho city People’s Committee and the Korean Food and Rice Association met in the Mekong Delta locality on December 12 to discuss ways to expand cooperation in rice processing and export. 

    The meeting took place ahead of the inauguration of the association’s representative office in the Vietnam-Korea Incubator Park in the Tra Noc 2 Industrial Park on December 13.

    According to Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Truong Quang Hoai Nam, Can Tho has become a potential destination for enterprises from the Republic of Korea (RoK) and many firms decided to pour investment into the locality. 

    Notably, Tae Kwang Industrial Co., Ltd constructed a 171.48 million USD plant to produce semi-finished sport shoes in the Hung Phu 2B Industrial Park in Cai Rang district. 

    The RoK Government also invested in many big projects in Can Tho like the Vietnam-Korea Incubator Park in the Tra Noc 2 Industrial Park, and a water supply plant in Vinh Thanh district, Nam said.  

    For his part, Chairman of the Korean Food and Rice Association Kim Nam Doo said the establishment of the association’s representative office in Can Tho is a strategic decision as the city is a food and rice centre in the Mekong Delta region. 

    The office will serve as a bridge promoting partnership between Vietnamese food firms and member enterprises of the association in the time ahead, he affirmed. 

    Can Tho boasts 115,000 ha of agricultural land and 90,000 ha of which is for rice cultivation.  Can Tho produces 1.4 million tonnes of rice, with over 1 million tonnes being shipped abroad every year through 26 rice export enterprises.

    The city’s export turnover to the RoK is estimated to hit 30.3 million USD in 2016, while import value will be 4.2 million USD.

    PM adopts adjustments to ODA-funded economic restructuring project

    The Prime Minister has approved adjustments to an investment plan for the project “The Restructuring for a More Competitive Vietnam” using non-refundable official development assistance (ODA) from the Australian Government.

    Accordingly, the project will focus on studying impacts of economic restructuring on gender equality; examining policy on competitiveness and revising the Law on Competition; supervising the enforcement of the enteprise and investment laws, and the implementation of commitments to the European Union (EU) and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).  

    The implementation of the project will be extended to June 30, 2017. Additional capital for the project will value at 522,000 AUD (around 391,233 USD), including 500,000 AUD (360,000 USD) in non-refundable ODA sourced from the Australian Government, and 490 million VND (21,662 USD) in counterpart capital of the Vietnamese Government. 

    The Prime Minister asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment to coordinate with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to carry out the adjustments in accordance with the project’s targets and regulations on the management and use of ODA capital.

    No zero-interest loans for Tết     

    The capital city has followed HCM City in stopping zero-interest loans to enterprises participating in the price stabilisation programme for the Tet (Lunar New Year) season.

    Despite this, markets in both cities will have sufficient food items in stock, authorities say.

    Nguyen Duc Chung, Chairman of the Ha Noi People’s Committee, said his administration would facilitate enterprises’ access to bank loans for purchasing goods to stock for the festival season, the Giao thong (Transportation) newspaper reported.

    This is the most efficient way to ensure enough goods for Tet and will create good conditions for the enterprises to step up their production and business efficiency, Chung said.

    The report also quoted Le Ngoc Dao, deputy director of HCM City Department of Industry and Trade, as saying that the municipal administration had not been giving out the zero-interest loans since 2013.

    Instead, the city has encouraged commercial banks to give loans at preferential interest rates so that the enterprises can access funds for production, trading and stocking, ensuring stability in demand and supply, Dao said.

    This has seen the number of enterprises joining the price stabilisation programme increase every year, he added.

    Nguyen Ngoc An, deputy director of Vissan, a major food company in HCM City, said that over the past three or four years, his company had not obtained the zero-interest loans from the State budget.

    The company has joined the price stabilisation programme to get loans at preferential interest rates from commercial banks that are also part of it, he said.

    After joining the programme, Vissan has restructured its production process to compete in terms of price and quality of goods, An said.

    So far, ten commercial banks have joined HCM City’s Tet goods price stabilisation programme to provide loans worth VND12 trillion (US$530,750) this year, VND1.1 trillion higher than last year, said Nguyen Hoang Minh, deputy director of the State Bank’s branch in HCM City. The loans carry interest rates of between 4.15 per cent and 6.5 per cent per year.

    An said Vissan has prepared 3,200 tonnes of processed food and 3,000 tonnes of fresh food for the Tet season. He said demand for food for Tet 2017 will not increase strongly in the HCM City with many people leaving their homes or on tours.

    Lotte Mart has increased supply by 30-40 per cent for confectionery and beverages and 25 per cent for fashion products; while Coop Mart has said it will cooperate with suppliers to offer discounts of 10-50 per cent on thousands of products.

    Nguyen Xuan Duong, deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Livestock Department, said the domestic livestock industry would supply enough food to the local market for the Tet season because of increased output, the Vietnam News Agency reported.

    According to the General Statistics Office (GSO), output in November increased by 5.5-6 per cent for poultry meat, 6-6.3 per cent for eggs, 1.8 per cent for beef, 10 per cent for milk and 5 per cent for pork year-on-year.

    Pork prices fell to VND35,000-37,000 per kilo in southern Dong Nai Province, but was more stable in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces at between VND38,000-43,000 per kilo.

    Chicken prices have also been stable in the southern provinces because there has been no sudden spike in demand, a GSO report said. 

    Deputy PM calls for developing renewable energy

    Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has called for the development of renewable energy and the use of energy in a more economical and effective way in order to reduce dependence on foreign energy sources.

    The Deputy PM made the request at a conference held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade in Hanoi on December 16 to review the five-year implementation of the Law on Using Energy Economically and Effectively.

    He noted that although the results gained over the past five years were remarkable, they have not met the country’s potential for energy savings. According to the World Bank, Vietnam’s industries have a huge potential for energy savings, from 25% to 40%.

    He tasked the Ministry of Industry and Trade with reviewing and collecting opinions raised by the delegates at the conference to amend the Law as well as other documents on providing instructions on implementing the Law.

    He also asked to raise public awareness on the effective and economical use of energy, making it a daily habit for residents.

    According to the Industry and Trade Ministry’s report, from 2011-2015, the volume of energy savings was equivalent to 5.65% of the total energy consumption during the same period, while the national target for the period was between 5% and 8%.

    The promulgation of legal documents on effective energy use has helped remove obstacles in the work, supporting private businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises in carrying out their energy-saving activities while facilitating ODA projects on increasing energy savings and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    The ministry’s latest survey also showed that 85% of Vietnamese people are aware of ways to save energy thanks to social media, as well as the benefits of energy-saving products and services.

    Central city and Gifu Shinkin bank ink MoU on investment     

    The Da Nang Investment Support and Promotion Board, and Japan’s Gifu Shinkin Bank, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on co-operation, investment promotion for small and medium-sized enterprises from Japan in the central Vietnamese coastal city.

    Gifu Shinkin, the largest bank in Gifu, Japan, has more than 156,000 customers, of which seven are Japanese enterprises in Da Nang.

    Director of the city’s Investment Support and Promotion Board, Le Canh Duong, said this was the first MoU that the board has signed with a Japanese bank.

    He said Japan is the biggest investor in Da Nang, with 113 projects worth $397.5 million – 10.78 per cent of the accumulated foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in the city – creating 32,000 jobs.

    Duong said 84 per cent of Japanese investment is focussed on manufacturing, food processing, construction and information technology, while healthcare, real estate, tourism and education have emerged as new investment fields among Japanese investors in recent years.

    Bank Chairman Masatoshi Takahashi said many Japanese investors eye Da Nang investments and are eager to explore the investment environment there.

    Takahashi said a business delegation from Aichi will visit Viet Nam next March, and Da Nang will be a favored stop.

    Đà Nẵng has smoothed the way for Japanese investors by setting up a Japanese to support investors by explaining administrative procedures, investment licences, policies and other issues.

    The city has developed an Information Park on 344ha of land in Hoa Vang District and an IT park on 55.6ha nearby, where space has been reserved for IT investors from Japan.

    The city also plans to build an industrial park for small- and medium-sized businesses from Japan on 134ha.

    Da Nang will begin construction of the Japan-Viet Nam Culture Centre in Ngu Hanh Son District and launch a new direct flight from Da Nang to Osaka next year.

    The Route Inn Group from Japan has started construction of a coastal resort, the first of its kind in Viet Nam, with a total investment of $18 million, while the Japanese JP Holdings company plans to invest in a high-quality kindergarten education project in the city from next year, with estimated capital of $5 million.

    According to the latest reports, Da Nang has attracted 423 foreign investment projects worth $3.68 billion to date.

    Last year, the board also inked a MoU with KPMG, one of the largest audit, tax and advisory firms in the world, on co-operation, investment promotion and providing service for businesses and investors in Da Nang.

    The central city greatly improved its administrative reform and Provincial Competitive Index over the past few decades, but poor investment promotion abroad has prevented key investors from approaching the city and central region in recent years.

    Da Nang port unloads seven-millionth tonne of goods

    Da Nang port in central Da Nang city on December 15 handled the seven-millionth tonne of goods and the 300,000th container from cargo ship Willi which operates under the flag of Marshall Islands.

    The cargo from vessel Willi allowed Da Nang port to complete its yearly plan.

    It is expected to unload 7.25 million tonnes of goods by the yearend, including 320,000 containers, up 13 percent in terms of goods and 24 percent in terms of containers, from 2015.

    The port is planning the second phase of its Tien Sa Port with a total investment of 1 trillion VND (45 million USD) and is scheduled to complete it in early 2018. Upon completion, the port’s capacity will reach 10 million tonnes a year.

    Tra fish exports estimated to increase 6.6 percent in 2016

    The tra fish sector estimated to rake in 1.67 billion USD from exports this year, an year-on-year increase of 6.6 percent.

    The figure was announced at a recent conference in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang to review tra fish production and consumption and seek measures for the sector’s sustainable development.

    Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong called on tra fish producers to improve their business operation to raise their products’ quality, reduce price to promote export while focusing on exploring the 92-million-people domestic market.

    According to the Ministry, as of November 2016, the tra fish farming areas reached 4,522 hectares, producing 1,047 million tonnes of tra fish.

    The figures are estimated at 5,000 ha for a yearly harvest of 1.2 million tonnes by the end of this year, up nine percent over 2015.

    Vietnam has so far this year shipped tra fish products to 140 markets in the world, up four markets over 2015, earning over 1.46 billion USD. The main markets are the US, the EU, China, ASEAN, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Arab Saudi.

    In 2016, the Mekong Delta has 108 tra fish fry nursing facilities and 1,856 households breeding 16.5 billion fries on 1,500 hectares, up one percent over the 2015, mostly in Dong Thap, An Giang, Can Tho and Vinh Long provinces.

    According to Nhu Van Can, Director of the Ministry’s Aquaculture Department, the Mekong Delta has 4,785 tra fish farms, over half of which belong to enterprises. The rest are run by households and cooperatives.

    Domestic enterprises have started paying attention to developing production chains connecting stakeholders in the sector, including fry producers, food suppliers and processors, Can said, adding that however these chains are incomplete.

    Duong Ngoc Minh, Director General of Hung Vuong Group said the Mekong Delta needs over 30 billion young tra fish each year, however the quality of the young fish is poor, which affects the processing of tra fish for export.

    He suggested the Ministry invest in key young tra fish breeding localities, apply advanced technology in the process and develop connections between enterprises and farmers.

    Minister Cuong said tra fish processors and exporters need to work with farmers to develop brand names for Vietnamese tra fish to enhance their competitiveness.

    Farmers need to follow the strict requirements in the farming area in a sustainable manner, in close link with the production chain or cooperatives and in line with the standards such as VietGap, GlobalGap.

    The Ministry will instruct relevant bodies to provide supports for stakeholders and improve the role of the Aquaculture Association and the Tra Fish Association in expanding export markets.

    In 2017, the sector is expected to earn over 1.7 billion USD from exports, up 10 percent from this year.

    Transport firms prepare for passenger surge over Tet

    Transport authorities are bracing for their busiest season with the Lunar New Year travel rush just around the corner.

    Bus and coach operators at Giap Bat Station, which is around 6 kilometers south of downtown Hanoi, said around 1,230 extra journeys per day have been laid on to accommodate increased passenger numbers. 

    At My Dinh Station, about 10 kilometers west of the city center, an extra 1,600 journeys will be added to the daily schedule.

    The number of passengers traveling by coach is expected to be 40% higher than usual, the Hanoi Transport Company estimated.

    Growing demand for air and train travel is also forecast in the first half of February.

    Phung Thi Ly Ha, an executive at Hanoi Railway Transport, predicted an increase of 40%–50% in passenger numbers to between 800 and 1,000 on each journey.

    Vietnam Airlines, the country’s biggest carrier, said in the lead up to the traditional holiday the number of daily flights will be 13% higher than usual and a massive 46% more than during last year's festival, with an extra 900 flights to accommodate more than 185,000 passengers.

    The Lunar New Year is a rare opportunity for millions of migrant workers to return home and see their families.

    The World Bank estimated that some 7.5 million people moved to cities from rural areas between 2000 and 2010, making Vietnam among the top five countries in East Asia in terms of rapid urbanization.

    According to the UNFPA, around 13 million people, the equivalent of 14% of Vietnam’s population, have moved to the cities to work in export-manufacturing factories, construction and services.

    Aggressive aviation growth sparks concern

    While Vietnam does not appear to be hitting the breaks on its aircraft buying spree, the country’s aviation market is beginning to feel the effects of accelerated growth marred by overloaded airports, crowded airspace, and stressed flight attendants.

    The Southeast Asian country’s air passenger numbers are estimated to reach 52.2 million this year, a solid 29% jump from 2015, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV).

    Local airlines are rising to the occasion by leasing or buying new aircraft to meet the skyrocketing demand, a trend that is expected to continue well into 2017.

    Vietnamese carriers now have a collective fleet of 147 planes, 14 more than last year, with five additional airplanes scheduled for delivery in the next two weeks.

    Though the expansion is seen as positive by many in the aviation community, experts are warning of potential infrastructure failures, amongst other problems, at local airports due to rapid fleet expansion.

    Vietnamese airlines currently use five airports, Noi Bai, Cat Bi, Danang, Cam Ranh and Tan Son Nhat, as ‘bases’ for parking aircraft overnight.

    Under a development strategy for the aviation sector between 2016 and 2020, VND70 trillion (US$3.13 billion) is earmarked for infrastructure upgrades at these five airports.

    Following the upgrades, the facilities are expected to collectively provide 254 aprons for overnight parking, 24 of which will be allocated to foreign carriers.

    This means only 230 aprons will be available for local carriers with an expected combined fleet of 263 planes altogether by 2020.

    With airport infrastructure lagging behind the rapid growth of air passenger numbers, flight delays and cancelations are something common for air travelers in Vietnam.

    The flight attendants, it turns out, also suffer from intense pressure brought about by busier schedules which accompany new routes and additional flights launched by airlines to meet rising demands.

    An air hostess who works for a major airline told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that she and her coworkers each have 118 days off per year, but few are able to use them due to busy schedules.

    The carrier recently decided to convert unspent days off into cash allowances, she added on condition of anonymity.

    Even when flight attendants are allowed to rest between flights, the break is too short to ensure their health, according to the air hostess.

    “It is stipulated that attendants rest at least 11 hours between two flights, and most of the time we are only able to enjoy that minimum break time, which is not good for our long-term health” she said.

    Danang suspends 2 steel plants over pollution allegations

    Danang has asked two steel plants in the city accused of causing pollution to suspend production, after local residents gathered to protest the companies.

    Dana Y and Dana Uc plants must find solutions to the problem, Ho Ky Minh, vice chairman of Danang People’s Committee, said during a meeting on December 15.

    Local people had surrounded the steel plants in Hoa Khanh Industrial Park for a few days to demand a change.

    Ngo Chuoi, 60, a resident, said the two plants discharged untreated wastewater and polluted the air for almost 10 years. He blamed them for causing cancer and damaging crops.

    “We have suffered quite enough. We want the city to either relocate us or the steel plants,” said Chuoi.

    The city has promised to look into the case and asked the residents to end their protest.

    Dana Y and Dana Uc produced about 460,000 tons and 300,000 tons of steel products annually, according to their websites.

    VEF/VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/Dantri/VET/VIR


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  • 12/17/16--06:15: Article 1
  • Vietnam’s Binh Dinh ‘knocked out’ by five floods in 45 days


    Mother Nature has not been so nice to Binh Dinh in the last two months of this year, having wreaked havoc on the south-central Vietnamese province with a series of floods.


     

    A flooded filling station is seen in Binh Dinh, located in south-central Vietnam, on December 16, 2016.Tuoi Tre

    Binh Dinh has suffered four straight severe flooding events in the first half of December alone, plus another in early November.

    The latest flood hit Binh Dinh early this week and is on track to become the most severe flood in the province’s history, local authorities said Friday.

    “The water level has reached the record set in 2013 but it does not seem to stop rising,” provincial deputy chairman Tran Chau told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on the phone.

    “There are now no single villages, communes or districts within Binh Dinh that are not inundated by floodwater.”


     
    On Friday, local military force and authorities rushed to rescue people trapped in their own houses as the surrounding areas were all flooded, with water level as high as their house roofs.

    Traffic was disrupted in numerous streets, while local residents started to suffering from lack of clean water, food and other necessities.

    “We did try to stockpile necessities in case of flood, but who could save enough food when the flood went on for half a month?” a local resident lamented.

    In a two-week period ending Friday, flooding, caused by heavy rains, has killed 25 people and injured ten others in Binh Dinh, according to the province’s steering board for disaster prevention, search and rescue.

    The natural disaster also inundated more than 57,400 houses, leaving 348 others collapsed, and 398 unroofed.

    The floods washed away some 3,180 livestock and 195,500 poultry, while destroying some 13,500ha of rice and 3,500ha of other crops, total damage estimated at more than VND1.23 trillion (US$54 million).



    Getting food aid from local military unit


    On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung directly came to Binh Dinh to inspecting flood response there.

    The deputy premier first offered sympathies to flood victims and asked Binh Dinh’s authorities to mobilize all resources and have plans ready to timely deal with any situation, according to the Vietnam News Agency.

    He stressed that local officials should visit and give encouragement to flood victims and prepare to help local residents resume their daily routines after the flood is over.

    Flood hit central Vietnam-wide

    Flooding has also been also taking a toll on other provinces along Vietnam’s central coast.

    In Thua Thien-Hue Province, preliminary data show that torrential rains and flood have claimed three lives and inundated 8,181 houses in the low-lying districts, forcing schools province-wide to close on Friday, the Vietnam News Agency reported.

    Asides from downpours, the water release by hydro power reservoirs in full spate has also caused flooding in downstream areas.

    In Quang Ngai Province, widespread flooding was recorded in Nghia Hanh, Mo Duc, Duc Pho and Tu Nghia districts and Quang Ngai city on Friday, leaving thousands of houses under water.

    One people died and one other was injured in flood while about 24 ha of rice and 370 ha of other crops were damaged, according to theVietnam News Agency.


    Many roads were deluged or eroded, isolating some localities, according to the province’s steering board for disaster prevention, search and rescue.

    Heavy rains are forecast to continue in the central region in the next few days, according to the Vietnam News Agency.

    In wake of these consequences, the government on Friday requested ministries, agencies and administrations of central provinces to work harder to deal with the widespread flooding which has left heavy consequences in the central region..

    TUOI TRE NEWS


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  • 12/17/16--06:33: Article 0
  • Discover the hometown of Bac Lieu Dude

    VietNamNet Bridge - Bac Lieu is generally thought of as being in the Mekong Delta, although it is located slightly to the south of the Mekong's main outflows. The province shares a common border with Hau Giang, Soc Trang, Kien Giang, Ca Mau and with the sea on the east and southeast. 

    In the past, Bac Lieu was known as the land of debauchees, and the most popular anecdote was that of the “Bac Lieu dude”, who was very rich and open-handed at that time. This land attracted many rich landowners who moved there to build their own residences. 

    Today, tourists visiting Bac Lieu will be impressed by the luxurious and elegant Western-style buildings. The buildings include the villa of Bac Lieu Mandarin's son, which stands along the river, and other buildings situated in the Hang Me Park, such as the Administration House, the court, the Bo mansion (the building of the head mandarin), the Son quarter official building, and Dong Trach. Presently, these buildings are used for the provincial Library, the People’s Court of Investigation, and the office for the Bac Lieu Newspaper.

    Tourists also can visit the Bac Lieu Bird Reserve, Vinh Hung Ancient Tower, Xiem Can Pagoda and longan gardens or discover the mangrove forest.

    The Khmer organize the Dang Bong Ceremony to raise money for construction of a bridge, road, school, pagoda, or other public projects. They also hold the ceremony to commemorate their deceased friends and family members.

    Bac Lieu is 280km from Ho Chi Minh City, 67km from Ca Mau, 50km from Soc Trang, and 113km from Can Tho. The National Highway No. 1A crosses the province and links to Soc Trang and Ca Mau province.

    Here are the top destinations in Bac Lieu:

    Minh Pagoda

    Image result for chua minh bac lieu


    Traveling to Bac Lieu, tourists will have the chance to visit Minh Pagoda, featuring the Chinese palatial architecture style of the pre-Ming dynasty. The three-door temple gates are carefully carved from stones.
     
    Minh Pagoda is located at Ward 3, Bac Lieu town, Bac Lieu province. The pagoda was established by a group of people called Minh Huong led by Tran Thiet Thuan, the headman of Vinh Huong village. The construction started in 1890 and was completed in 1923.

    The pagoda features a Chinese palatial architecture style from the pre-Ming dynasty. The three-door temple gates are carefully carved from stones. 

    The two main pillars are carved with sophisticated patterns: dragons, clouds, and wine gourds following the posture of a dragon shrouded in mist. 

    At the facade of the pagoda, walls are banked with many scenes of palatial ancient daily life. You can see a precisely carved lacquered board hanging at the entrance gate; this board was donated by the Phuc Kien people in 1922. 

    There are many precious items such as copper incense and 16 types of weapons of the tutelary gods.

    The central chamber worships a huge statue, featuring a man wearing his court dress. The worship plaque is decorated with wonderful patterns, featuring two dragons attending to the Moon, and sophisticated patterns of apricot, orchid, daisy, ivory bamboo, pine trees. On the right hand side is the worship place for Mr. Bon (Bon Dau Cong Cong). On the left hand side is the worship place for talented people who spent their lives reclaiming the land.

    Minh pagoda has great traditional and cultural value, especially for local people. For tourists, this is a sacred place where they can feel undisturbed and relaxed.

    Western villa complex 


    The early 20th century Western-style buildings including 30 mansions and villas left standing along the two banks of the river in Bac Lieu have become part of the heritage and the pride of Bac Lieu people.

    Unlike many other provinces, such as Can Tho and An Giang, there are still many western-style buildings including the villa of Bac Lieu Mandarin’s son, which stands along the river, and other buildings in the Hang Me Park, such as the Administration House, the court, the Bo Mansion (the building of the head mandarin) the Son quarter official building, and Dong Trach. These buildings are used for the provincial Library, the People's’ Court of Investigation, and the office for the Bac Lieu Newspaper.

    The construction materials, including steel, marble, tile, and brick, were all imported from France. The 20th century Western –style buildings have spacious surroundings, symmetrical architecture, and tile-covered roofs. The roofs are octagonal, and the supporting rafters look somewhat like those in a pagoda. The old villas and mansions of Bac Lieu have their own style, unlike French villas in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City or Dalat.

    In general, they feature high ceilings; their exteriors are washed with yellow paint; and they have high vault-like roofs.

    Xiem Can - largest pagoda in Bac Lieu 


    Ảnh: Long Nguyễn


    At the distance of 7km from the town of Bac Lieu, Xiem Can Pagoda is located on the same road leading to the Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary. Visiting the pagoda, tourists will not only be impressed by its imposing, splendid beauty, but also by the great hospitality of the local people.
     
    This most beautiful pagoda is also considered the largest in the region. The pagoda was built in the 19th century with a very special architectural style.

    Tourists can see the similarities between the architecture of Xiem Can pagoda and those of Cambodia’s. That’s true! The pagoda is designed with Angkor architecture and has unique patterns on domes, walls, pillars and staircases. 


    Ảnh: Long Nguyễn
    Khmer people believe that there are challenges to Buddhists on the way to be rewarded for a devout life. That’s why there are embossments of female fairies and monsters on the pillars. 

    They can also see images of snakes carved on domes and staircases, which proves that the Great Buddha had used his mercifulness to convert dangerous animals like snakes. 

    Sanctuaries of Khmer people often face East as they believe that the journey of being rewarded for a devout life and to be a Great Buddha is from West to East.


    Khmer people highly appreciate togetherness. The pagoda is both a holy and friendly place. The pagoda functions as a community house where they can receive help and safety. Visitors in Vietnam can see the great aestheticism of the pagoda, expressed through the decorative patterns. On the roof of the pagoda, there is the image of Angkor Wat temple, from which the Khmer architecture originates.

    Visitors will not only be impressed by the splendid beauty of Xiem Can pagoda, but also by the great hospitality of locals, who are sincere, industrious and creative. The pagoda has been built through generations of locals, who have worked hard to complete this sacred place.

    For tourists, it is even much more exciting to visit the pagoda during festivals such as “Ok Om Bok”, “Chol Chnam Thmay”, “Don Ta”. These special cultural features of Khmer people have contributed to the diversity of Vietnam’s culture, making the country a land of rich traditions and culture which can never be dissolved.

    Quan De pagoda 




    Quan De Pagoda is regarded as the symbol of culture of the Hoa People. It is located on the bank of Bac Lieu River, Vinh Trach commune, Bac Lieu town. The pagoda, one of the interesting destinations in Bac Lieu Town, has Hoa architecture.

    The pagoda was built in 1835 by a Chau Quai salt merchant, who encouraged local people to raise fund for its construction. The pagoda worships Quan Van Truong, a Chinese military mandarin who lived in San Kuo period. Hoa people have chosen Quan Gong, symbolizing the trust which is top priority in doing business.

    Today, the pagoda still has several precious religious artifacts. This is a sacred place of local people and a destination for tourists.

    Vinh Hung ancient tower


    Ảnh: dulich24


    Vinh Hung Tower originated from the Angkor period of the Khmer people and is still preserved. Visiting the tower, tourists will see the only ancient architectural work still standing in the Mekong River Delta.

    The tower is located in Vinh Hung A commune, Vinh Loi district, Bac Lieu province. Following the National highway No.1A from Bac Lieu towards Ca Mau, after driving 5 kilometers, visitors will reach Sap bridge; then will turn towards the direction of Vinh Hung market toward Vinh Hung tower.

    The tower was discovered in 1911 and at that time, it was listed as one of the historical sites in southern Vietnam. The tower is also known as Luc Hien or Bhah Dhat tower.

    In the 20th century, archeologists noticed a stele carved with Sanskrit script, which clearly states the 814th month or the year 892 (BC) in a pagoda next to the tower.

    The 8.9 meter-high Vinh Hung tower is built on a hill with simple structure. In the tower, there is a Buddha handmade of copper; a lower body part of a Goddess; a statue of a Goddess made from green stone, a statue of a Goddess Brahma; and a Buddha’s head made from copper and many worship items.

    Monks in the tower pagoda chant twice a day at 4:00 am and 4:00 pm. Every year, local residents organize an anniversary on the 15th day of the first lunar month at the tower. A large number of Buddhists inside and outside Bac Lieu Province travel to the pagoda to pray for good things.

    If tourists want fortune and happiness, don’t forget to go to the pagoda and pray for them.

    Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary Nature Reserve


    Ảnh: mientay.cungbandulich


    Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary, located in Hiep Thanh Commune of Bac Lieu Town, is considered one of the most attractive eco-tourism spots in the Mekong River Delta. Thanks to its biological diversity, the sanctuary was recognized as a Nature Reserve in 1984. Tourists not only have a chance to see beautiful and precious birds, but also rich flora and fauna.
     
    The Sanctuary is the vestige of a forest which ran along the East Sea coast and existed over a century ago. The sanctuary is around five kilometers from the town center. It covers some 107 hectares and lies within the remaining 385 hectares of forest area. 

    The sanctuary is home to 46 bird species, 60 fish species, seven frog species, 10 species of mammals, eight reptile species, and 100 species of plants. On the ground are a massive number of eggs, and in the air, you can spot species with 2-meter wing-spans.


    For nearly a century, the Sanctuary is the place where generations of birds have been born, usually in the rainy season. 

    There are currently some 40,000 birds and 5,000 nests, according to preliminary statistics. Birds mostly gather here during the rainy season between May and October. 

    In August and September, flocks of birds gather at the sanctuary to build nests and breed. The forest comes alive with the singing of various kinds of birds and trees overflowing with hundreds of birds’ nests. 

    The Sanctuary is also an important home of several water birds, mainly teal, storks, herons, night herons and cormorants.

    According to documentation of Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary Nature Reserve, it was once a coastal rich and diversified salt forest floor with a natural salt-marsh ecosystem. As a part of the remaining forest floor along the East Sea, it is becoming increasingly far from the sea due to alluvial deposits. In 1962, it was looked after, protected and controlled by a household. Then, the local authority realized that it was a precious natural property, so they have step by step  made investments.


    The best time for tourists to visit Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary is in the early morning when most birds leave their nests to begin a day of feeding. Alternatively, at sunset the birds can also be seen more easily as they return to their nests to sleep, with flocks of bird flying one after another. This is the most spectacular sight at the sanctuary.

    Moreover, the rich flora and fauna of the enclosure gives a lush, natural area a feeling of wonder and enchantment. Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary is a favorite destination of both nature lovers and researchers and visitors will easily find several types of birds listed in Vietnam’s “Red Book” of endangered species of plants and animals. The area is also popular among photographers who come to the sanctuary for one-of-a-kind shots of breathtakingly beautiful birds.

    Although it has potential for further development, the Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary remains off the radar of most large tourist companies and thus tourists wishing to visit the area must organize travel themselves or seek out a local guide.

    House of the Bac Lieu Dude


    3-6994-1420530783.jpg


    Anyone who visits Bac Lieu would like to stop at the locally famous House of Bac Lieu Dude (now Bac Lieu Dude Hotel) either for an overnight stay or a quick look.

    The house of Bac Lieu Dude was built in 1919 and designed by a French architect. 

    The house is located at No.13 on Dien Bien Phu Street in Ward 3 and still attracts many curious visitors.

    For many years, the nickname "Bac Lieu Dude" has been applied to children of the rich landlords who had a well-off and loose lifestyle in Southern Vietnam under the French colonial time. 

    The most typical man for this title was Tran Trinh Huy (birth name Tran Trinh Quy), born in 1900 in Vinh Hung Hamlet, Vinh Loi District, Bac Lieu Province. He died in 1974 in Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City.

    During the time of French colonialism, the land belonging to the Southern region, due to its early reclamation, was re-allocated to local owners, resulting in the formation of a new class of great landlords. 


    Furniture inside the house
    Those rich families often sent their children to Saigon to study at French schools or overseas to France. However, most of those rich boys and girls were badly influenced by the beauty and hustle and bustle of big cities, and with money cast from their parents, they tried to show off their wealth by living a loose lifestyle. 

    Among them, Tran Trinh Huy topped the list of Bac Lieu braggarts because of his constant financial flaunting as well as his second to none playboy lifestyle.

    Huy’s father was landlord Tran Trinh Trach who had 74 farms with 110,000 ha of rice fields, nearly 100,000 ha of salt fields, dozens of houses in Bac Lieu and many luxurious villas in the big cities of Can Tho, Saigon, Vung Tau and Da Lat.

    The "House of Bac Lieu Dude" was built by the Trach family in 1919 and designed by a French architect. It was a 2-floor building with two bedrooms and two main halls on the ground floor and three bedrooms and two main halls on the second floor.


    A grand staircase was situated in the centre of the house. The bedroom in the northeast was reserved for Tran Trinh Trach, which was opposite a room reserved for his son, "Bac Lieu Dude" Tran Trinh Huy.

    For nearly a century, the house has been kept almost intact to its original design. In 2003 Bac Lieu Tourism Company invested in upgrading the house and made it a hotel and cultural-tourist site. 

    Ancient longan orchard 




    Located about 6km from Bac Lieu center, the longan garden of Bac Lieu is famous for big fruit, thick and fleshy pulp, small seeds, and sweetness and perfume. Cultivated near the sea for years, the garden area spreads from Nha Mat Ward to An Trach Dong Commune.

    The orchards were built over 100 years ago. To protect the gardens from the sabotage of the bats, farmers turn the lights on all night. This makes the gardens look like city scenes at night.

    The local authority of Bac Lieu is making great efforts to preserve the old longan garden. Bac Lieu City is working with tourism industry to establish a project, in which the garden will be an area of ecotourism and cultural tourism.

    Bac Lieu Beach and mangrove forests


    Ảnh: @thucuccc


    Bac Lieu's 54-kilometer (33.5 miles) coastline is home to numerous mangrove forests and vast beaches.

    Although the seawater is far from clean due to silt collected in the surrounding river estuaries, tourists can walk and play on large beaches during the low tide or swim in an “artificial sea” at Nha Mat Resort, some eight kilometers from the provincial capital.

    Bac Lieu has more than 5,500 hectares of forest land, a majority of which is mangrove forest.

    Tourists can row boats through the trees and fish in them.

    Not far from Nha Mat Resort is the Avalokitesvara Buddha Temple. Built in 1973, the temple has attracted thousands of tourists and pilgrims every year. Locals hold a ceremony every March to pray for good luck, especially for local fishermen.

    Noc Nang field 

    Located in Hamlet 4, Phong Thanh commune, Gia Rai District, Noc Nang field is recognized as a historical and cultural monument by the Ministry of Culture – Sport – Tourism.

    Noc Nang field was the place where the brave local farmers protected their farming land against the landlords and village bullies counting on the French colonists’ power.

    There is a sorrowful and majestic song composed over 70 years ago about the Noc Nang field. The conflict of local farmers is mentioned in many poems, songs and literary works with images of Bac Lieu’s farmers who are simply-hearted, honest and upright.

    Phuoc Duc Temple 




    Built in 1780 by Chinese and Vietnamese, Phuoc Duc Temple (Bang Pagoda) is the ancient temple of the Chinese community in Bac Lieu to worship the God of the soil of the land Ba Thac including Bac Lieu, Soc Trang and other places nearby.

    There are lots of patterns and sacred beasts imprinted in a sophisticated manner in the temple area with a Chinese architectural style. The timber and stone plates are engraved with Han script and are gilded. They are known as valuable works of the old temple. Annually, there is a ceremony Dan Sinh Than Phuoc Duc (celebration of the birthday of Mr Dan), the main ceremony of the temple, on March 29 of lunar calendar. There is also festival of January 15 lunar calendar, Buddhist holiday, and New Year festival.

    Phuoc Duc temple is an ancient architectural monument, related to the history of Bac Lieu, and has the traditional artistic and cultural construction of people of Chinese origin.

    Compiled by Pha Le, VNN

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  • 12/18/16--05:16: Article 5
  • Social News 18/12


    Court hears appeal on Agribank corruption


     
    Pham Thi Bich Luong


    The Hà Nội People’s High Court started hearing an appeal yesterday on a high-profile corruption and economic mismanagement case at the State-owned Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank) which resulted in the loss of over VNĐ2.425 trillion (US$106.6 million).

    The case involves 18 defendants, 13 of whom are former Agribank officials, while four others are former customs officers and one is a former company director.

    In a trial last December, Phạm Thị Bích Lương, 47, former director of the bank’s South Hà Nội Branch was identified by the Hà Nội People’s Court as the principal defendant.

    She was sentenced to 30 years in jail for violating lending regulations and abusing her position. She was also found as having joint responsibility in the misappropriation of VNĐ1.6 trillion from the bank and ordered to pay back this amount.

    Former Agribank General Director Phạm Thanh Tân received a 22-year sentence. Sixteen other defendants were handed between 30 months to 30 years imprisonment.

    Five foreigners, including a Chinese national, three Canadians and one Italian, were alleged to have misappropriated assets from Agribank’s South Hà Nội branch but they fled Việt Nam and the investigation against them was suspended.

    According to the ruling by the court, Canadian Ahmed El Fehdi and four other foreigners who hold important positions at the Enzo Viet Joint Stock Company, later renamed as Lifepro Việt Nam Joint Venture Company, connived with the Vietmade Joint Stock Company and the Lifepro Viet Nam Joint Stock Company to make up “ghost projects” to seek loans from the bank and appropriated more than VNĐ2.425 trillion from 2007 to 2011.

    As the director of South Hà Nội branch, Lương asked Agribank’s board of directors to raise her authority to approve loans, sign mortgage contracts and disburse loans that the branch had provided for these projects.

    Lương was identified as directing the compilation of a dossier seeking more authority to approve loans for the Lifepro Viet Nam Company based only on the information given by the firm without conducting background checks. She also intentionally ignored loan disbursement conditions set by Agribank’s board of directors for the supply of foreign currency loans in verification and disbursement processes of loans for the Lifepro Việt Nam Joint Venture Company.

    She also failed to ensure strict inspections of how the money was to be used, and thus failed to figure out that her branch was cheated by the Lifepro Việt Nam Joint Venture Company.

    After the first court appearance, Lương and a former official at Hà Tây Customs branch, appealed against the ruling. Sixteen others petitioned for relaxing their penalties; however one has withdrawn the petition.

    At the court yesterday, Lương appealed against the whole content of the initial ruling, saying that what she did was in accordance with her position and responsibility.

    Twenty lawyers defended the defendants in court yesterday, with Lương hiring three lawyers, the highest number.

    The trial is expected to last for a week.

    PM asked for urgent efforts to overcome flood consequences

    Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc have instructed ministries, sectors and central localities to mobilised all forces and resources to ensure safety and food for residents in flood-hit areas and minimising losses in human lives and property.

    “Food and supplies must be brought to residential areas submerged by flood water or isolated at any cost,” he said while chairing an online meeting on December 17 on measures to overcome consequence of devastating floods in central localities from Thua Thien-Hue to Khanh Hoa.

    The PM also urged localities to quickly evacuate residents from areas with high risks of flash flood and landslides.

    He ordered localities to ensure safe operation of hydropower and irrigation reservoirs, contributing to reduce flood in downstream areas. 

    The localities were requested to prepare forces and resources to restore houses and clean the environment to prevent epidemics after floods.

    In the long term, the PM directed the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to coordinate with ministries and localities to make overall assessment on flood vulnerability in the central and Central Highlands regions, which will serve as reference for thorough solutions to the disaster.

    Official statistics show that heavy rain and flood from December 12-16 left 15 deaths and missing, destroying more than 130 houses, inundating nearly 112,000 others. Over 10,000 hectares of rice fields and many infrastructure and transportation works were damaged.

    According to Ho Quoc Dung, Chairman of the People’s Committee of south central Binh Dinh province, the province is among the hardest hit localities with 31 deaths so far this year, along with 348 houses totally destroyed.

    He asked for the Government’s emergency aid in the form of food, medicines, school textbooks along with financial support to overcome flood aftermaths.

    The flood-hit localities have proposed that the Government provide urgent aid of 5,850 tonnes of rice, 8 tonnes of water purification tablets, 325 tonnes of rice, maize and vegetable seeds along with over 1.3 trillion VND to restore farming, transport and irrigation infrastructure.-

    Party official pays Christmas visit to Protestant community

    Head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Mass Mobilisation Truong Thi Mai extended her Christmas wishes to Catholic dignities and followers when visiting the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (North) (ECVN) and the head of the Church Pastor Nguyen Huu Mac on December 17.

    Mai hailed the priests and followers of the ECVN for observing the principle of living gospel and serving God while cooperating with people in the country to carry out policies of the Party and laws of the State.

    She also expressed her hope that Protestant pastors will continue guiding followers in practicing their religion in line with the law, and contributing to the national construction and defence.  

    Pastor Nguyen Huu Mac thanked the Party and State and the Vietnam Fatherland’s Front for supporting Protestants, affirming that the church will make more contribution to the nation’s development.

    Binh Phuoc fosters border cooperation with Cambodian localities

    Binh Phuoc provincial authorities and a visiting delegation from Cambodia’s provinces of Kratie, Mondulkiri and Tbong Khmum discussed border cooperation at a conference on December 17. 

    At the event, the military command of the southern province and their Cambodian counterparts signed an agreement on coordinating activities and building a peaceful border in the first half of 2017.

    Accordingly, the two sides will regularly exchange and update information about crimes, particularly armed robbery and violations of border regulations.

    They will also promote communication work to raise public awareness about border regulations and legal documents.

    At the same time, the two sides will work together to facilitate travel and business activities of border residents and enterprises.

    Addressing the event, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Huynh Anh Minh reaffirmed the traditional relationship between Vietnam and Cambodia.

    Binh Phuoc and the three Cambodian localities have developed fruitful socio-economic cooperation and ensured a peaceful border, Minh added.

    Project aims to end violence against women, girl child

    The Prime Minister has approved adjustments to a project supporting the prevention and combat of violations against women and girls in Vietnam, towards the successful implementation of the national strategy on gender equality in 2011-2020.

    The project has a total investment of 2.56 million USD, funded by non-refundable official direct assistance (ODA) from the Republic of Korea.

    Its specific objectives include developing a model of interference centre for prevention and elimination of gender-based violence, targeting victims of sexual violence. The centre, following the successful model in the Republic of Korea, will be located in the northern province of Quang Ninh.

    The project will also support capacity training for policy-makers, experts, service providers in aiding victims of gender-based violence, along with activities to raise public awareness about preventing violence, especially sexual violence to women and girl children in public and at workplaces.

    Photos commemorate national resistance

    An exhibition of 80 photos featuring Vietnamese soldiers and people who took part in the resistance war has opened in downtown HCM City on the occasion of the 70th National Resistance Day. 

    The National Resistance Day marks the issue of an appeal by President Ho Chi Minh in 1946, urging the entire people of Vietnam to resist the French’s attempt to restore colonial rule in Vietnam after the success of the 1945 August Revolution and establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

    The exhibition includes rare photos of the establishment of the Vietnam People’s Army and its role in the war to maintain national independence in the 1941-1975 period.

    All of the photos are printed on canvas and displayed outdoors. They can be seen until December 30, 2016.

    Another exhibition under the same theme showing images of Hanoi’s soldiers and citizens valiantly fighting against French colonialists for 60 days (December 19, 1946 – February 17, 1947) are on display at the Vietnam News Agency (VNA)’s headquarters in Hanoi.

    The monochrome photos were taken by VNA photo-journalists during the historical period. Through the images, visitors can understand more about the struggle and how the Capital Regiment and Hanoians protected the city.

    In December 1946, the French sped up their attempts to re-occupy Hanoi and other areas to the north of the 16th parallel. On the evening of December 19, 1946, Vietnamese troops opened their attack on French positions in Hanoi, initiating the resistance war.

    The next morning, Radio The Voice of Vietnam broadcasted President Ho Chi Minh appeal’s for national resistance.

    Global companies fight climate change

    Leaders of many companies in the world have repeated their consistent opinion on the need to reduce green house gas emission involving their factories.

    This positive move will add to the governments’ efforts to realize the Paris Agreement on Climate Change adopted last December. 

    An increasing number of companies have begun to realize that environmental protection is a core part of their business strategies. 

    In Asia, palm oil companies, whose products directly involve logging and burning trees, have joined emission reduction efforts. 

    In Japan, hospitals, big companies, and schools restrict the use of lifts and encourage people to walk. Producers give priority to developing products with longer life expectancy.  

    In the US, many companies pledged to reduce carbon emission by 50% and use only renewable energy. Johnson&Johnson declared to cut 80% of carbon emission by 2050. 

    Dell pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 50% in 2020 compared with 2012 and convert half of its used energy to renewable energy by 2020. Nike plans to use 100% of renewable energy by 2025.

    The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has approved a mandatory system for collecting data on ships’ fuel consumption. 

    Ships of 5,000 gross tonnage or more will have to record and report their consumption for every type of fuel. IMO Secretary General  Kitack Lim said the move will contribute remarkably to the fight against climate change.

    Independent airlines and the aviation transport sector in general have become more responsible for their environmental impacts. 

    Jetstar Group has implemented a program on minimizing greenhouse gas emission, calling on passengers to contribute a donation per flight and committing to support environmental sustainability.

    YouthSpark Live 2016 enables Vietnamese youth to capture opportunities

    Microsoft Corporation and Vietnet Information Technology Center has jointly organised YouthSpark Live Event 2016.

    YouthSpark Live is a Microsoft's global campaign to provide young people global-wide with necessary technology skills which will accelerate them forward, and get connected to programmes that will help them get there.

    With the aim to  inspire youth to get connected, integrated, and develop themselves with technology, YouthSpark Live provided participants with opportunity to network, and exchange views with outstanding Vietnamese and international experts in technology sector. 

    Over 100 students from upper secondary schools, vocational schools, and universities participated in the event.

    At YouthSpark Live 2016, participants have chances to experience activities that help improve their computational thinking, such as “Computer Science Unplugged activities”. 

    Participants got trained on using technology tools, such as Office Mix to support their study. 

    Beside, in the panel discussion on “Factors to encourage the youth to explore and use technology for study and career development”, ICT and STEM experts sent a strong message that technology is the foundation for much of today’s innovation, young people should explore and use it to develop themselves and contributing to improve national economy.  

    In addition, all students had great experience with the ICT and STEM activities such as 3D scanning and robot coding. 

    This activity not only facilitates networking but also enables the youth to merge themselves into a creative and scientific environment without any limitation. 

    The experiments helped them discover their personal abilities and improve their digital skills. 

    YouthSpark Live is a Microsoft initiative consisted of 30 different programmes to support the youth around world. 

    “Microsoft is co-operating with the Vietnamese government and NGOs to implement programmes to support training human resource for Vietnam's future development. 

    More specifically, Microsoft YouthSpark supports disadvantaged youth to access technology education to improve their skills, and thus have better career opportunities. 

    “YouthSpark Live would be a special experience for youths to begin discovering their potentials and passion in computer science and ICT,” said Nhi Le, Microsoft Vietnam Philanthropies lead. 

    On this occasion, Microsoft organised an awarding ceremony for Microsoft YouthSpark scholarships for female students in technology. 

    Eighty outstanding female students majoring in Computer Science from top eight universities in Vietnam won Microsoft scholarships for their great effort in pursuing their passion in technology.   

    Phan Thi Hong Hanh, a student of Polytechnic University, has shared her experience in encouraging her colleagues to pursue their aspiration and dream. By learning hard to become good at technology skills and knowledge, they will enhance women's role in the development of Computer Science and ICT in the future. 

    Find out more information about this programme, its free courses and materials at YouthSpark Hub and imagine.microsoft.com or youthvietnam.vn

    “One and a half hours” concert

    Legendary American singer Billy Joel once said “Music in itself is healing. It's an explosive expression of humanity. It's something we are all touched by.” The Cham (Touch) volunteer group in Hanoi proved it by organizing a recent fund-raising concert named “One and a half hours”.

    The sound of guitars and drums checking amplifier levels as people started filling into Hanoi Rock City’s concert hall signaled the imminent start of the “One and a half hour” concert. The title said it all. For one and a half hours, the audience was about to enjoy some original music created by young artists. 

    Alternative rok and indie rock were the main genres featured in the concert. The songs had titles like “Geek”, “White monster”, “The alley”, and “It seems”. Their lyrics reflected everyday things happening in the artists’ lives, which seemed to touch the audience’s heart. Excited clapping, waving and screaming blended into the catchy beats and thrilling melodies. 

    “One and a half hours” was not just a pure concert; it was a fund-raising event, organized by the Cham (Touch) group of students who want to help children, especially child patients. 

    Thien Trang, leader of the group, said “Child patients spend a lot of time in the hospital so they have less opportunity to study or have fun than other kids. So we decided to organize music and art classes in the hospitals, to let them communicate with each other between treatments. We believe art has a special pervasive power and can be absorbed much more easily than other kinds of knowledge. The “One and a half hours” concert is held to raise money for the classes.”

    Cham’s activities receive strong support from the community. Several sponsors have been lined up. Dang Hong Quan, head of Gau Uniform marketing team, said “Our company has been collaborating with Cham for a long time in many of their charity activities. We appreciate their good intentions and we want to contribute to making their wish come true, which is to make life better.”

    Indeed, Trang believes the “One and a half hours” concert can make life better in many ways. “We believe the concert will be an interesting way for young people to have fun. The bands performing at our concerts are mostly underground artists who desire an opportunity to promote their original music to the public. So we want to connect them with an audience in a fun musical atmosphere”, said Trang. 

    The concert featured 5 young bands and some solo artists from Hanoi, some of them quite well-known among today’s underground artists. They brought along their best original works and performed them with high spirit, not forgetting to ask for donations to help child patients.  

    Duong The Trung, a member of Green 8+1 band said “We have great passion for music and consider playing music a hobby and a time to enjoy ourselves. But when we got an invitation from the Cham group, we were delighted and felt this would be a good opportunity to promote ourselves. It’s also our contribution to society. We’re calling on people to donate money for the children. If we are invited to other meaningful events like this, we’ll be very willing to say yes.”

    The audience responded enthusiastically to Trung’ words, buying gloves and beanies sold at the concert to raise money over and above the ticket fees. Phan Hoang said “I really enjoyed the music tonight. The artists featured in the concert are young bands with unique music styles. Their songs are original and catchy. Enjoying music while doing charity work at the same time is the best of both worlds for me!”

    After the concert, the Cham volunteer group will use the proceeds for a trip to Cao Son commune, Hoa Binh province, to organize art classes for the children there.

    Vietnamese law to recognize transgender people in 2017

    The legislation, approved late last year, has been hailed as a step in the right direction to promote and protect transgender rights.

    The newly amended Civil Code, which will take effect in January, will for the first time allow people who have undergone gender reassignment to register under the new gender.

    Transgender people's personal rights will be protected by the law, which was passed by legislators in late 2015 in a breakthrough vote.

    Huynh Minh Thao, an activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, said: “Transgender people will no longer be rejected at school and at work. They will be able to live the life they want.”

    Transgender people around the world continue to be the target of attacks and discrimination.

    The Trans Murder Monitoring Project, a global initiative, recorded 1,731 murders of transgender people around the world between 2007 and 2014. According to Human Rights Watch, even in developed nations such as the US and Canada, systematic stigma and marginalization remain. Several countries keep enforcing laws that prohibit “posing” as the opposite sex.

    Vietnam has been viewed as one of the most progressive countries in Asia on LGBT rights.

    But the country itself has been sending mixed messages. For instance, it lifted a ban on same-sex marriage ceremonies in 2015, but the government has yet to offer gay couples real legal recognition.

    And under a 2008 government decree, sex reassignment is strictly limited to only those without complete sex organs and those with both male and female sex organs. Procedures are only allowed at a few designated hospitals. It remains to be seen if the new Civil Code will make it easier for transgender people to access health services.

    According to media reports last year, officials estimated that there were about 500,000 people nationwide whose assigned genders were incongruous with their gender identity.

    HCM City’s new road named Vo Chi Cong

    An east ring road in Ho Chi Minh City has been named Vo Chi Cong after a former President of the State Council, former Chairman of the National Defence Council and former Deputy Prime Minister.

    The road connects Phu My Bridge with the Hanoi Highway.

    At the ceremony, the leaders of Ho Chi Minh City reviewed Comrade Cong’s revolutionary activities and great contributions to the Vietnamese Party and State in the cause of the national construction and defence.

    Not only is the naming of the road a tribute by the Party, Government and people to the former leader, but it also educates younger generations about the national patriotic tradition and national pride.

    Vietnamese comedian sentenced to 18 months for child molesting in US

    The 38-year-old man, who has also been recorded as a sex offender, is expected to be deported later this month.

    Vietnamese actor and comedian Hong Quang Minh, who goes by the stage name Minh Beo, has been sentenced to 18 months in state prison for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy in California.

    Orange County prosecutors on December 16 said the 38-year-old man must also register as a sex offender for life, according to media reports.

    Minh was arrested on March 24 on charges of having oral sex with a 16-year-old boy and attempting to commit a lewd act upon a child under 14 years old.

    During a 15-minute trial in August, Minh pleaded guilty to the sexual crimes and was sentenced to 18 months in state prison.

    On December 16, the man failed to get a reduced sentence.

    California law states that when a person is sentenced to state prison for a crime, he will receive two days of credit for every one day served. As Minh has been detained since late March, he will complete his 18-month sentence at Theo Lacy jail by December 19.

    It is likely that he will be deported from the US within 72 hours after being released.

    On March 20, Minh reportedly spoke to a group of dancers at a talent show at a radio station in Huntington Beach, telling them he was holding auditions for a project in California.

    He was then accused of orally copulating a boy on March 23 when the victim came for an audition, according to prosecutors.

    The boy reported the incident to police. The next day, an undercover police officer acting as a 13-year-old boy managed to contact Minh, who was arrested for attempting to set up a meeting with a child under 14 years old with the intent of committing a sexual assault, according to prosecutors.

    Minh is a famous comedian in Vietnam. He went to the US on March 18 to perform in California.

    Vietnam launches online meal plan software for schools

    Vietnam’s health and education ministries recently launched an online platform allowing schools to design nutritiously balanced meal plans for students from a bank of 360 dishes.

    The platform, accessible at buaanhocduong.com.vn, comprises of 120 pre-designed meal plans featuring 360 unique dishes for use throughout the year.

    The meal plans are categorized by age groups and regions, with each category showcasing dishes with appropriate nutritious values for that specific age group, using popular ingredients of that region.

    The software also allows schools to compile their own meal plans based on the available dishes, calculate the nutritious values of their current meal plans, and estimate the costs for such meals.

    The platform is part of the ‘School Meal’ project, which aims at eradicating nutrition-related diseases and physical shortcomings among Vietnamese children by providing schools with balanced meal plans.

    Launched since 2012 by the Vietnam branch of Japanese food maker Ajinomoto, the Vietnamese ministries of health and education, ‘School Meal’ has helped more than 2.6 million students at nearly 3,700 schools countrywide get access to balanced diet.

    Ngu Duy Anh, head of the Student Affairs Bureau under the education ministry, said the project’s foremost mission is to raise awareness among schools in Vietnam on the importance of nutrition for children.

    According to statistics provided by Vietnam National Institute of Nutrition, the country is fighting a two-front war in improving nutritious health of its younger generation, as children in rural areas have been suffering from malnutrition while those in the cities are facing risks of obesity.

    Micronutrients deficiency is common among both groups of children, the institute noted.

    People with rare blood type join donor club

    Nearly 200 people in Vietnam with the rare Rh- blood type have registered for a local donor club to readily answer any emergency calls for life-saving blood transfusions.

    The Rare Blood Club was established in 2001 by the Blood Donation Center of Ho Chi Minh City for people with the extremely rare Rh- blood type in Vietnam to be at-the-ready in case their blood is needed for emergency medical use.

    Out of every 10,000 Vietnamese people, only four or five are born Rh-, about 0.04% and 0.05% of the population.

    From its initial 12 members, the club now has grown to 198 active members, most of whom are labor workers, barely able to feed themselves yet willing to give away their precious blood to save lives.

    Le Van Long, 45, a construction worker in Ho Chi Minh City has been a frequent blood donor for the past 20 years.

    Long found out about his rare blood type in 1996, and has donated blood, without fail, on a tri-annual basis.

    “That doesn’t include the many times when I was called in for emergency blood transfusions,” Long said, referring to cases when there was no blood readily available for a patient in need.

    Long, like many other members of the club, has become a “living blood bank,” as referred to by Dr. Pham Van Quan, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Blood Donation Center.

    “Whenever there was a call from the center, they are willing to put aside their personal errands to donate blood to much-needed patients,” Quan said.

    According to Quan, apart from Ho Chi Minh City, members of the club are scattered across many southern Vietnamese provinces such as Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh, and Ba Ria – Vung Tau.

    For some members such as Tran Thi Loan, of Binh Phuoc Province, joining the club was a way of paying it forward after her life was saved by blood from a donor.

    Four years ago, Loan experienced complications during labor. She and her child only made it through the operation alive because of a timely blood transfusion.

    “I have been a member of the club since,” Loan said. “Apart from regular blood donations, I join my fellow club members in raising public awareness and encouraging those with the rare blood type to become donors as well.”

    Quang Ninh welcomes 8.3 million visitors this year

    Quang Ninh province has received 8.3 million visitors, including 3.5 foreigners, so far this year, according to the provincial Department of Tourism.

    The provincial tourism industry has made significant progress, contributing to its socio-economic development, said a representative from the Tourism Department on December 16 at a conference.

    The province has improved tourism activities, especially building strategies and orientations and issuing policies to develop tourism space. It has also expanded markets by promoting tourism on media and key markets, diversifying tourism products and ensuring safety for tourists to Quang Ninh.

    Thanks to great efforts, it is estimated that tourism has generated US$565 million in revenue.

    Next year, Quang Ninh will strive to improve the quality of tourism staff and coordinate with other localities and businesses to develop tourism products in hopes of exceeding the 8.5 million visitor benchmark.

    Chợ Rẫy Hospital ties up with private firm for healthcare

    Chợ Rẫy Hospital and Vạn Khang SOS Company yesterday signed an agreement for developing a home-based healthcare service and emergency aid system outside hospitals.

    The hospital will provide its ambulances and medical staff for the services.

    To use the services, people have to download an app of VK-SOS from App Store, Google Play or www.vankhangsos.vn, and register their information or that of their relatives with the company.

    Doctors who live near the patient’s house will receive the information from the operator and call the patient to make an appointment.

    Assoc Prof Dr Nguyễn Trường Sơn, the hospital’s head, said the hospital is overloaded and providing home-based healthcare services would help ease the pressure, he said.

    The Government encourages this kind of service, he added.

    Dr Lê Trường Giang, chairman of the city’s Public Health Association, said the service would help seniors with chronic diseases and patients having difficulties travelling to be examined and treated.

    Gov’t urges more energy saving

    Saving energy and using energy in an efficient and economical manner should be the national goal in the coming years, Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng said yesterday, at a conference reviewing five years of implementing the Law on Economical and Efficient Use of Energy.   

    The Ministry of Industry and Trade reported that the national programme on economical and efficient use of energy in the period of 2011-15 saved 5.65 per cent of total consumed energy in the same period, equivalent to saving more than 11 million tonnes of oil.

    In particular, the energy consumption of industrial manufacturing sectors has declined steadily. The steel industry’s energy use fell 8.09 per cent, the cement industry’s 6.33 per cent and the textile industry’s 7.32 per cent.

    In households, about 700,000 solar energy water heaters have been installed, saving about 1.0 billion kwh per year, equivalent to over VNĐ 1.6 trillion ($70.3 million).

    However, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Hoàng Quốc Vượng pointed out a number of shortcomings in implementation of the law. For example, he said, enterprises and organisations still found it difficult to access low-interest loans and tax reductions and exemptions when implementing energy-saving projects.  

    Deputy PM Dũng said at the conference that many localities have enforced the law effectively, including Hà Nội, HCM City, Đà Nẵng, Hải Phòng and Cần Thơ. However, energy saving activities in some sectors, such as transport, construction and agriculture, were limited, he added.

    He said penalties for those violating the energy savings law were not a sufficient deterrent, with most being issued with warnings or information about energy saving regulations.

    Dũng attributed the problems to lack of co-operation among authorised agencies to strengthen management and supervision, as well as the low awareness of enterprises and households.

    In reply to the ministry’s report that 85 per cent of the people had been informed about energy savings, he said it would require time for people to internalise the change and act on it.

    Deputy PM Dũng said Việt Nam would have to import coal for power generation starting next year, and would likely import liquified natural gas from 2023 to ensure energy supply. Thus, the development of renewable energy and the efficient use of energy would play a key role in reducing dependence on imported energy.  

    He asked the ministry to collect and study opinions from authorised agencies and come up with solutions for implementing or amending the law, if necessary, before January 30, 2017.

    He also asked the ministry to work with other ministries in formulating a national programme on efficient and economical use of energy in the period of 2016-20, and submit it to the Government before January 31, 2017.

    Petrol station blaze burns dozens of bikes


     

    A petrol station was engulfed in flames in HCM City yesterday evening, destroying some dozens of motorbikes nearby.

    The station, located on Quang Trung Street in the Gò Vấp District’s Ward 8, suddenly burst into flames at about 5pm, after several loud explosions.

    Fire-fighters managed to completely put out the blaze after an hour and a half, but not before at least 35 motorbikes were damaged or destroyed by the fire which also spread to a couple of clothing stores nearby.

    The police are investigating the cause of the fire. 

    Uni students bring Santa to the poor

    Most people enjoy the festive season with families and friends, but for many others, especially those who are poor or ill, they may be struggling with homelessness or feelings of loneliness on Christmas or New Year’s Eve.

    To spread a little joy and fun this season, students from the Social Work Club at the  Foreign Trade University in HCM City are taking part in an annual charity campaign “Đông trao yêu thương” (Giving Love in Winter).

    The Social Work Club, whose slogan is “Spend Your Heart, Spend Your Love”, has two main activities: “The Loving Meal” and “The Dreaming Christmas Tree”.

    More than 30 students cook and distribute meals as part of the Loving Meal campaign. They delivered 600 meals to patients at the HCM City Oncology Hospital on December 1 and young patients at HCM City Pediatrics Hospital 1 a week later.

    “I’ve seen many poor and homeless people on the street, but I was reluctant to help them because of embarrassment. Then The Loving Meal gave me a chance to give meals to people in difficulty, which has been extremely meaningful for me,” said Hoàng My, a 19-year-old volunteer.

    As part of the Dreaming Christmas Tree activity, the students recently travelled to Nhơn Trạch District in Đồng Nai Province to ask poor children what they would like to have for Christmas.

    The students then returned to HCM City and placed presents under a Christmas tree at the university campus. After two weeks, 90 gifts had been carefully prepared for the kids.

    “They are young, so their wishes were innocent. They made us think about how to make up for their losses, so we came back and really wanted to organise this activity,” said Giang Nguyên, the leader of “Dreaming Christmas Tree”.

    Trịnh Thúy An, a seven-year-old girl, told the students that she wanted a crayon set and colouring notebook, while a girl named Phạm Thị Tuyết Minh said she wanted a desk for studying.

    Trung Kiên, 7, hoped for a superman figure, while a young boy named Nguyễn Hiệp Huy wanted new clothing.

    Though they are only material objects, the gifts have spiritual value as well. By helping make their dreams come true, the university students see themselves as compassionate stand-ins for Santa Claus.

    The students will deliver the gifts to the children in Nhơn Trạch District in Đồng Nai Province on December 14 and 16. 

    All of the student volunteers are passionate about raising funds and calling on sponsors for their charity campaign. Despite the hot weather of HCM City last month, they travelled to many universities, high schools and parks to sell corn milk and cakes to raise funds. 

    Fortunately, other students at Foreign Trade University and local universities, as well as Diệu Pháp Pagoda and other sponsors, gave the club many donations. 

    Even though they had difficulties during fundraising, including a lack of peers and the pressure to raise money, they were able to overcome them.

    “Without the Loving Meal or Dreaming Christmas Tree activities, my Christmas would not have been complete,” one student volunteer said.

    Anh needs two-month rest before back to football

    Vietnamese midfielder Nguyễn Tuấn Anh has had a knee surgery and needs at least two months to return to football.

    Anh suffered an injury two months ago, during his training his Japanese Yokohama FC. It cost him a spot on the national team competing at the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup, which saw Việt Nam’s defeat at the semi-finals.

    Anh--who will return to his former club Hoàng Anh Gia Lai for V.League 2017--had his operation in Singapore on December 15, and Hoàng Anh Gia Lai official Nguyễn Tấn Anh said he will remain in the country for one week before flying home.

    Tấn Anh said after two months--if he recovers well--he can play the first leg of the V.League, which will kick off on January 8.

    Analog switch-off in 8 provinces on Dec. 30 

    Analog signals will be switched off in eight provinces - Bac Ninh, Binh Duong, Ha Nam, Hai Duong, Hau Giang, Hung Yen, Vinh Long and Vinh Phuc - on December 30. — Photo nguoiduatin.vn

     Analog signals will be switched off in eight provinces - Bac Ninh, Binh Duong, Ha Nam, Hai Duong, Hau Giang, Hung Yen, Vinh Long and Vinh Phuc - on December 30.

    The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) sent an official announcement to the provincial People’s Committees asking them to ensure that residents are prepared for the change.

    To spread the information, the People’s Committees have asked television and broadcasting stations and departments of information and communications to increase information on the digitalisation in the last two weeks of December.

    Provinces are also asked to inform people about the supporting switchboard at 05111022.

    By August this year, five cities and provinces switched off analog signals, including Ha Noi, HCM City, Can Tho, Da Nang and Hai Phong.

    Le Van Tuan, deputy director of the Authority of Radio Frequency Management under the MIC, said that the eight provinces were ready for the analog signal switch-off.

    Speaking at the meeting, Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan asked departments to focus on STB support for poor and nearly-poor households in the eight provinces. He also asked the Authority of Radio Frequency Management to research plans on using bandwidths liberated after the television digitalisation. 

    Govt orders check into Da Phuoc waste facility

    Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh has ordered the Government Inspectorate to work with relevant ministries and agencies to look into investment, construction and waste treatment activities at the Da Phuoc integrated waste management facility in HCMC, according to the Government Office.

    The order comes after HCMC recently sent the central Government a report on its handling of a complaint by Doan Van Duc about Da Phuoc’s investment, construction and management activities.

    The Government Inspectorate will have to collaborate with the ministries of construction, planning-investment and natural resources-environment, State Audit and HCMC authorities to jointly conduct a review of Da Phuoc’s operations and propose remedial measures. The results will be sent to the Prime Minister before April 1 next year.

    In a working session early this month with Vietnam Waste Solutions (VWS), the operator of Da Phuoc facility in Binh Chanh District, city authorities agreed on a change to new waste treatment technology at Da Phuoc to restrict burying more waste and thus reduce odor from spreading.

    The landfill at Da Phuoc is now as high as 25 meters while the approved height is 40 meters. In the next five or seven years, Da Phuoc might not be able to take more waste.

    The city is speeding up work on a waste management project in neighboring Long An Province, and calling for investment in waste treatment projects using advanced technology to ease mounting waste treatment pressure.

    Vietnam Airlines offers free transport on aid supplies to flood hit people

    The National flagship Vietnam Airlines has transported free of charge 30 tons of supplies donated by the Vietnam National Search and Rescue Committee,to flood hit areas in the Central region on December 17.

    Accordingly, aid items for families in the central flood-hit areas have been carried in flights from Hanoi to Da Nang, Quy Nhon and Cam Ranh on the early morning of December 17; and then deliveried to provinces, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Khanh Hoa and Phu Yen.

    The relief agency will free freight, fuel surcharges and other fees related to the transport of goods by air.

    Photo exhibition honors Vietnamese military force

    A photo exhibition 70th anniversary of National Resistance Day (on December 19) opend at the Nguyen Hue walking street in Ho Chi Minh City on December 16. 

    The display features more than 80 pictures honoring and highlighting victories, achievements in building and protecting the city of the Vietnam People's Army in different periods.

    The event also aims to celebrate the 72th founding anniversary of the Vietnam Peoples’ Army (December 22), the 27th anniversary of All People's National Defense (December 22), and the 56th anniversary of National Liberation Front for South Vietnam (December 20).

    VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/TT/TN/Dantri/VNE


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  • 12/18/16--05:33: Article 4
  •  To Ngoc Van celebrated with exhibition


    A celebration of 110th birthday anniversary of To Ngoc Van (1906-1954), one of Viet Nam’s most influential painters in the first half of the 20th century, has just been organised by the Vietnam Fine Arts Association.


     To Ngoc Van celebrated with exhibition, entertainment events, entertainment news, entertainment activities, what’s on, Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet
    Two ladies and child (1944), oil and canvas, by To Ngoc Van. The painting can be seen in the permanent exhibition at Vietnam Fine Arts Museum.


    “Painter To Ngoc Van’s imprint is an outlook that no other painters have, which is integrating his personal feelings, thoughts and trends into his work instead of just representing contemporary matters of life”, says art critic Nguyen Hai Yen at the celebration.

    “His motto is: A painting is not only beautiful in real life but also in the manifestation of its creator’s inner feelings. Vân can be seen embarking on expressing the role of an artist, not an inscriber of facts, in his works,” she added.

    Graduating from the Indochina Fine Arts College, To Ngoc Van influenced many Vietnamese painters of later generations and has been greatly appreciated by the art circle abroad. He was a talented painter and became famous before the August Revolution in 1945, with his oil, lacquer and silk paintings.

    He was one of the pioneering painters to assimilate Western methods in a creative way, and combined them with his inheritance of national artistic traditions. He left us a number of works of high artistic value including Young Woman with Lilly in 1943, Boats on the Perfume River in 1935 or Woman by a Lotus in 1944.

    Following the National Resistance by President Ho Chi Minh, To Ngoc Van and other renowned Vietnamese artists left Hanoi for the liberated area and joined the artistic circle where he devoted all his talent and experience to make his contribution to the long war. Also during that period, he created many lacquer paintings and sketches portraying the landscapes and lives of northwestern Viet Nam as well as watercolour paintings depicting the land reform in 1953.

    Together with painter Nguyen Do Cung (1912-1977), To Ngoc Van was one of the artists that laid the foundation for Viet Nam’s Theory and Criticism of Arts, contributing to the many talented painters of the first generation of Viet Nam’s Arts.

    He was unfortunately killed on his way to Dien Bien Phu at the age of 48.

    He was one of eight top-notch Vietnamese painters to be awarded the Ho Chi Minh Prize for Literature and Art and the Independent Order, 1st class in 1996. 

    VNS


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  • 12/18/16--05:48: Article 3
  • BUSINESS IN BRIEF 18/12


    Experts call for change to accommodate rising FDI flows


     Experts call for change to accommodate rising FDI flows, Viglacera sets up construction material joint venture in Cuba, No accurate data on fuel consumption available, SMEs to have easier access to credit guarantees

    Investment experts are weighing the country’s foreign direct investment situation from the year to date, striving to deliver a more comprehensive picture.

    Experts at the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) assumed that several points need more profound analysis when it comes to Vietnam’s foreign direct investment panorama, featuring fresh constituent factors. 

    This lays down the groundwork for the country’s target to lure US$24 billion in total committed and US$15.5 billion in disbursed FDI next year. 

    Accordingly, newly registered projects were on an upward trend. For the year to the end of November, Vietnam granted investment certificates to 2,240 new FDI projects, a 20.8% jump on-year. 

    The projects proposing capital expansion numbered 1,075, up 55.3% on-year. 

    Besides, during these 11 months, FDI projects disbursed US$14.3 billion, up 8.3% on-year. 

    “The statistical figures indicate clear signs in the investment trends of both newly-licensed and supplemental capital projects. Specifically, disbursed FDI volumes show that FDI firms are having favourable circumstances,” a recent FIA report noted. 

    FIA experts also highlight further positivity in the year’s FDI picture as investments in capital contribution and stake purchase forms both increased. 

    Particularly, during January-November a total of 2,194 foreign investors and businesses contributed US$3.9 billion via these models and foreign investors’ capital contribution was at least 51%. 

    In general, if this kind of investment was included, foreign investors’ total committed FDI volumes for the year to the end of November hit US$22 billion, an 8.9% jump on-year. 

    “The investment-business circle is on a quest to uncover new investment opportunities in Vietnam. Recent positive changes in the regulatory system are shaping new investment channels for foreign investment flows. The signs show that the investors do not want to miss out on the opportunity,” the report commented. 

    From the statistical angle, the capital scope of licensed FDI projects this year, however, was smaller than last year. 

    Over the past 11 months, only one project surpassed the US$1-billion mark, the Republic of Korea tech giant LG’s US$1.5-billion OLED screen manufacturing project in the northern port city of Haiphong. 

    Meanwhile, last year was regarded a bumper year of mammoth FDI projects. If only projects exceeding US$1 billion were taken into account, the country celebrated the US$3-billion Samsung Display Vietnam project of Korean tech titan Samsung Group, the US$2.4-billion Duyen Hai 2 thermal power plant in the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh, and US$1.2-billion Empire City JV Company in Ho Chi Minh City. 

    Several other billion-dollar projects, such as the US$2.5-billion Nghi Son 2 build-operate-transfer power project and the US$2.5-billion Vung Ang 2 power project are reportedly in the phase of legal setup. 

    “The presence of sizable projects is important, but what has commanded the attention of investors and state management agencies’ responsibility was the issue of realizing investors’ expectations.” 

    “Concerted efforts from state management agencies are needed to help improve the investment and business climate and further reform administrative procedures.”

    “In the context of still vulnerable standing in the world, global FDI flows will bear certain impacts, requiring positive and ground-breaking changes,” FIA experts concluded.

    Viglacera sets up construction material joint venture in Cuba

    The Vietnam Glass and Ceramics for Construction Corporation (Viglacera) and the Cuba Industrial Construction Group (Geicon) have contributed over 39.8 million USD in chartered capital to set up a joint venture to produce construction materials in Cuba.

    Geicon is responsible for building plans to exploit and transport raw materials, ensuring both quality and quantity, to the two plants, as well as seeking to sell products at home – which are expected to make up 70 percent of the total output, and finding export markets.

    It will also complete all necessary documents to establish the Prodimat commercial company that owns property and land use rights of the two factories. 

    Meanwhile, Viglacera will designate or set up a new company to conclude the contract with Prodimat while upgrading two factories producing ceramic tiles and sanitary ware.

    The two sides will continue completing the feasibility study and submit to Vietnamese and Cuban authorised agencies for approval

    No accurate data on fuel consumption available

    The Ministry of Industry and Trade lacked accurate data on the country’s annual fuel consumption when it did the planning for storage systems of crude oil and fuels until 2025.

    According to a draft development plan for storage systems of crude oil and fuels from now to 2025 and with a vision towards 2035, which the ministry has passed around for comment, fuel consumption during the period of 2011-2015 was unpredictable as it depended mainly on how the Vietnamese economy performed.

    Provincial industry and trade authorities had no data on the volumes of fuels which companies transported from one province to another for distribution, and those of jet fuels supplied at airports. This means the data provided by provincial industry and trade departments could not be correct.

    Data of the ministry showed that fuel consumption last year soared to 15.4 million tons, up 18.4% compared to a year earlier.

    From 2014 till now, fuel consumption has seen strong growth after two previous years of decline. In 2010-2015 Vietnam’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 5.96% a year on average while average fuel consumption growth reached 4.2% a year.

    SMEs to have easier access to credit guarantees

    Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue has asked the Ministry of Finance to draft a new decree that ensures small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can easily get guarantees for the whole credit they need, the Government portal (chinhphu.vn) reports.

    At a meeting on credit guarantees for SMEs this Tuesday, Hue said SMEs should not be required to have collateral for bank loans while credit guarantees would be irrevocable and guarantee fees should be made affordable.

    The Prime Minister in 2011 issued Decision 03/2011/QD-TTg specifying a credit guarantee provision mechanism for SMEs to borrow from banks. In 2013, Decision 58/2013/QD-TTg was released to regulate establishment, organization and operation of credit guarantee funds for SMEs in centrally-run cities and provinces.

    These decisions have created a legal framework that makes it favorable for SMEs to access loans from credit institutions, said Deputy Minister of Finance Tran Van Hieu. However, he noted, Vietnam Development Bank (VDB) and credit guarantee funds had faced problems with credit guarantees.

    There are now 27 credit guarantee funds nationwide, many of them having limited capacity and poor finances (below the minimum of VND30 billion). They are insufficiently financed by local budgets and credit institutions since these funds are non-profit organizations while banks operate for profit.

    Nguyen Chi Trang, deputy general director of VDB, said his bank is tasked with providing SMEs with credit guarantees but it has got no resources while VDB is experiencing difficulties.

    The Finance Ministry said the credit guarantee funds had not operated effectively. The total charter capital of 27 credit guarantee funds is estimated at VND1.46 trillion, and the total outstanding credits they have guaranteed are VND361 billion and the debts they have had to pay on behalf of SMEs are VND137.95 billion.

    VDB has spent VND355.15 billion and US$454,437 writing off 78 debts owed by SMEs. Of the 78 debts, 73 have yet to be recovered.

    Meanwhile, VDB has been embroiled in a lot of disputes over its guarantee contracts with other banks, with court rulings forcing the guarantor to repay banks on behalf of SMEs.

    However, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue insisted credit guarantee funds play an important role given the fact that the tight State budget cannot assist SMEs.

    Credit guarantees allow SMEs, particularly micro businesses, to gain easy access to bank loans as they have no assets as collateral to borrow.

    Hue assigned the Ministry of Finance to direct VDB to ask the Prime Minister for permission to implement credit guarantee mechanisms and functions, especially the handling of the shortcomings in credit guarantees at VDB. The ministry, in coordination with other ministries, should draft a decree on credit guarantees for SMEs in parallel with the amendment of the law on SMEs that is currently passed around for comment.

    Draft rule requires Internet banking providers to respect copyrights

    Equipment and information technology infrastructure used for Internet banking services at banks must have copyrights and clear origins, according to a draft State Bank of Vietnam circular on Internet banking safety and security.

    The draft circular specifies that in case Internet banking service providers no longer receive support from equipment producers, they will have to upgrade or replace their systems as requested by producers, says a report on the Government portal (chinhphu.vn).

    Internet banking service systems must be deemed as vital and operated in line with the central bank’s regulations to guarantee safety and security for the information technology systems of the banking sector.

    Banks must protect customer details and encrypt all information about online transactions with customers. They will have to take measures to keep their customer database safe and secure, said the draft circular.

    Bank staff’s right to assess customer database must be limited or monitored, according to the draft.

    The draft circular sets four specific value caps for online transactions: below VND50 million, below VND200 million, below VND500 million, and VND500 million or above.

    For institutional clients, the limits are below VND500 million, less than VND1.5 billion and VND1.5 billion or above.

    SOEs under defense ministry forced to disclose information

    State-owned enterprises (SOEs) under the Ministry of National Defense will have to publicly announce their financial reports from December 23, according Circular 182 recently issued by the ministry.   

    The objectives are to make clear the financial conditions of these SOEs to ensure transparency and detect irregularities in financial management and accounting, if any.

    The disclosure helps officials representing State capital holdings in those businesses and laborers monitor and inspect the firms’ operations, prevent wastefulness and corruption, and improve the efficiency of State investments. 

    According to the circular, these SOEs must unveil their six-month and full-year earnings reports in line with the Accounting Law. Holding companies under the ministry must release their annual financial reports and consolidated financial statements.

    The circular said except for information about defense secrets, medical, social and unemployment insurance payments, wages, allowances and bonuses must be provided on the websites of these businesses.

    JSC opens big warehouse in Binh Duong

    New Land Viet Nam – Japan Joint-Stock Company (New Land VJ JSC) on Dec 14 has opened a two-hectare warehouse at the Binh An Textile and Garment Industrial Park in Di An Town of Binh Duong Province.

    Located beside National Highway No 1A, 1 kilometre from Binh Duong Port and 10km from HCM City’s Cat Lai Port, the warehouse can store 15,500 frozen, chilled, cool and dry pallets.

    Products stored include cheese, chocolate, delicatessen products, livestock and farm products, processed foods, beverages and medical products.

    Under development plans approved by the Government, the area on which the warehouse is located will become a logistics hub for the South in the near future.

    Huong said New Land VJ JSC had invested more than VND220 billion (over US$10 million) in this warehouse project.

    The company’s three shareholders are New Land Co. (Viet Nam) and Sojitz Corp. and Kokubu Group Corp. from Japan.

    $311m needed for iron ore mine

    Around VNĐ7 trillion (US$311 million) has to be mobilised to restart work on the iron ore project in central Hà Tĩnh Province, a Ministry of Industry and Trade official said.

    The project to exploit the Thạch Khê ore mine, which has the largest reserves in Southeast Asia, has been suspended since 2011 because of capital shortage.

    Trương Thanh Hoài, director of the ministry’s Department of Heavy Industry, was responding to the request by Việt Nam National Coal-Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin) for the capital to be mobilised from local steel consumers such as Hòa Phát and Hoa Sen, local newspapers reported.

    The total reserve of ore in the mine is estimated at 544 million tonnes and its value at $35 billion. The mine would become a sound supply source for the country in the next five years, producing an estimated 20 tonnes a year, according to the Việt Nam Steel Association.

    The project, which kicked off in 2009 and required a total investment of VNĐ10 trillion ($444 million), was managed by Thạch Khê Iron Joint Stock Company. However, two years later, the project was stopped after 13 million cubic metres of top soil were excavated. The reason given was the use of outdated technology.

    The company was also short of capital at the time as only its biggest shareholder, Vinacomin, had fulfilled its commitments. To date, site clearance and the relocation of 4,000 households whose land has to be acquired, which will cost VNĐ3.5 trillion ($157 million), has not been completed.

    In its request, Vinacomin said it has proposed the restructuring of shareholders in Thạch Khê and the use of new technology to extract ore. It has also asked the Government to allow the payment of mineral exploitation tax to be delayed until 2019 so that the company has funds for site clearance.

    Officials said the ministry was considering approving Vinacomin’s request. Vinacomin expects the project to restart at the end of the year.

    Vinatex-invested Pho Noi B fined for polluting the environment

    Pho Noi B Textile Industrial Zone (IZ), invested by a member of state-run Vietnam Textile and Garment Group, continues to ignore the government’s environmental protection regulations.

    The park was detected to discharge wastewater that exceeded national technical regulations.

    According to the Hung Yen People's Committee, the IZ failed to follow the government’s environmental protection regulations. It has been fined VND550 million ($24,300) for discharging wastewater that exceeded the national technical regulation on industrial wastewater.

    It was reported that wastewater discharged by Pho Noi B Textile IZ exceeded the permitted levels of biochemical oxygen and colour  by 1.9 times 1.32 times, respectively.

    This is not the first time for the IZ, as in December 2014, the Vietnam Environment Administration detected it discharging untreated wastewater, which was foul-smelling and black in colour.

    A Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) report released in October cited Pho Noi B Textile IZ as a bad example for carrying out environmental protection regulations. The report stated that the textile park discharged wastewater directly into the environment but it did not specify the exact time.

    Thus, the zone was put on the MoIT’s black list of 27 thermal power, mining, chemical, fertilizer, steel, and paper plants and projects posing a threat of environmental pollution nationwide.

    Located in the centre of the northern key economic area, at the intersection of Highway 39 and Highway 5A, connecting major economic centres in the north of Vietnam, Pho Noi B Textile IZ is holding geographical advantages and was built after a green model.

    Previously, a Vinatex representative confirmed that after the 2014 incident, its wastewater treatment system was improved. Currently, its system operates stably and meets the standards of regulation Code A, the primary requirements of the National Technical Regulation on Industrial Wastewater.

    However, Nguyen Thanh Tam, director of Pho Noi B Textile IZ, said that its system is currently at Code B and is only preparing to update to Code A.

    Officially put into operation in 2006, Pho Noi B Textile IZ is housing 20 tenants.

    VietinBank provides Japanese firm with banking services     

    Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (VietinBank) and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. (BTMU) inked an agreement with Yamanashi Chuo Bank, Ltd (YamanashiBank) and Joyo Bank, Ltd (JoyoBank).

    Under the agreement signed on December 15, VietinBank will directly support business operation of Japanese companies, who are customers of YamanashiBank and JoyoBank in Viet Nam.

    Vietinbank will assist the Japanese banks and provide customers with services including information on market, economy, politics and investment in Viet Nam; consulting with authorized agencies on their requirements and financial demands, such as standby letter of credit and letter of guarantee if needed; consulting on mergers and acquisitions and introducing partners; supplying banking transaction services such as cash management, e-banking and trade support; foreign exchange, fund products and other capital markets.

    The relationship between Viet Nam and Japan is developing as Japan continues to be a key investor in Viet Nam with annually increasing registered capital flow to Viet Nam. Therefore, Japanese FDI customers are seen as having the maximum potential for Viet Nam, especially the group of small and medium enterprises.

    BTMU, a member of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) in Japan, officially became a strategic investor holding 19.73 per cent of VietinBank’s stake. Since then, it has carried out several activities to help VietinBank gain access to Japanese FDI businesses.

    To create favourable conditions and boost development, VietinBank’s management board has also approved plans to establish a relationship with other Japanese banks.

    Experts warn people about synthetic diamonds     

    Since it is very difficult to differentiate between natural and synthetic diamonds, people should take precautions when buying them, according to the Saigon Jewelry Association.

    Nguyen Van Dung, its chairman, said in 2011 HCM City saw the appearance of “artificial diamonds” but a majority of them were cubic zirconia.

    Now more synthetic diamonds have made an appearance, and they have similar characteristics as natural diamonds that normal equipment cannot make the distinction.

    Synthetic diamonds are also called cultured or cultivated diamonds, and are produced in the laboratory at a comparatively low cost by using methods like HPHT (high pressure high temperature) and CVD (chemical vapour deposition).

    Đoan Thi Anh Vu, a lecturer at the HCM City University of Natural Science and a member of the SJA, said synthetic diamonds have the same properties as natural diamonds: They are also made from carbon and have the same refractive index, density, hardness, dispersion, and crystalline structure as those diamonds mined from the earth.

    But their cost is 30 per cent of that of the mined variety, she said.

    Le Huu Hanh, SJA’s deputy chairman and deputy general director of Phu Nhuan Jewelry JSC, said amid the scarcity of natural diamonds, production of artificial and synthetic diamonds has ushered in a revolution but also caused a certain disorder in the diamond and jewellery markets.

    While it is not difficult to identify artificial products like cubic zirconia and moissanite using normal equipment like a magnifying glass or microscope, modern technologies are needed to identify HPHT and CVD diamonds, he said.

    Dang Ngoc Thao, director of PNJ Accreditation One-Member Company Limited (PNJLab), said in recent years artificial and synthetic diamonds have been produced in small sizes (of less than 3 mm) and embedded in jewellery, making it difficult to test them unlike larger ones.

    In 2015-16, during the process of testing diamonds for many customers, PNJLab discovered that many had fake certificates, he said.

    Dung said diamond traders need to invest in technologies for testing diamonds to protect their brands and interests and those of customers.

    When selling, traders should clearly tell customers which diamonds are natural and which ones are synthetic or artificial, he said.

    He advised customers to consult industry experts when they want to buy diamonds, and to buy only from prestigious companies or brands and demand authenticity certificates.

    They were speaking at a seminar on synthetic diamonds organised by SJA with sponsorship from PNJ, which attracted more than 100 experts, business executives from the industry, officials and representatives of consumer associations. 

    Consistent regional plans vital: experts     

    Experts at a conference held by the National Institute for Finance on Wednesday in Ha Noi said that inconsistencies and overlaps in development planning, as well as lack of co-operation among localities, were hindering regional economic development.

    Economic regions contributed significantly to the country’s growth, but inconsistent planning was causing scattered investments and undermining their competitiveness, according to participants.

    The lack of co-operation in attracting investments between provinces and cities within an economic region is alarming, experts said at the conference, adding that every province and city wants to have an airport, seaport and electricity plants, for example, without considering the efficiency of such plans.

    Many seaports, for example, only run at 30-40 per cent of their capacity, an expert said.

    He added that overlaps in planning create competition among different regions and erode overall benefits at the national level as well as the regional one.

    "It is critical to develop master planning to promote regional economic development and enhance co-ordination between central and local levels with a focus on developing traffic infrastructure," Nguyen Viet Loi, Director of the National Institute for Finance said.

    In addition, incentives should be given for each region to develop its competitive advantages, Loi said.

    According to Dang Van Thanh, president of the Viet Nam Association of Accountants and Auditors, a steering committee in charge of promoting regional development should be founded to supervise the planning and ensure consistency.

    Expert Thai Ba Can recommended that policies to raise capital for regional development be developed comprehensively with detailed classification of investment projects for better management and resource allocation.

    Viet Nam has four key economic regions in the north, centre, south and the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, covering 27.5 per cent of the country’s area and 51 per cent of population.

    The contribution of these key economic regions to the gross domestic product rose from 51 per cent in 2003 to annually average 70 per cent in the 2010-15 period. 

    Vietnam Airlines looks to launch Hanoi-Prague direct route

    Vietnam Airlines, the national flag carrier of Vietnam, opened a general sales agent in Prague, the Czech Republic, on December 14, a step to prepare for opening a direct route from Hanoi to Prague in the near future.

    At the opening ceremony, Vietnamese Ambassador to the Czech Republic Truong Manh Son said he hopes the inauguration of this agent will promote tourism cooperation between the two countries.

    Nguyen Quoc Phuong, Director of Vietnam Airlines’ office in Europe, said his firm served more than 20 million passengers in 2016. In 2015, it put into use Boeing 787-9 and Airbus A350-900 airplanes, which are new-generation aircraft, for the routes of Hanoi-Paris, Hanoi-London, and Hanoi-Frankfurt. The carrier has also provided four-star services to serve passengers at its best.

    Phuong said the opening of the agent in the Czech Republic realises Vietnam Airlines’ efforts to survey the market and carry out promotion activities in service of the launching of a direct route between Hanoi and Prague when everything is ready.

    Pavel Dubovy, who is the agent’s representative, told the Vietnam News Agency that a lot of Czech tourists are interested in Vietnam. Additionally, Vietnam Airlines carries passengers not only from Europe to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City but also to other localities, as well as Laos and Cambodia. The inauguration of the sales agent in the Czech Republic is worth to be done.

    Vietnamese steelmaker Hoa Sen ready to plunge US$700mln into deep-water port

    The deep-water port is a part of a US$15-billion steel complex planned for the central province of Ninh Thuan.

    Vietnam’s second-largest steelmaker Hoa Sen Group is ready to invest almost US$700 million in an international deep-water port on the country's central coast.

    Steel works are usually located near deep-water ports to gain easy access to imports of iron ore and exports of the steely stuff.

    The privately-owned steelmaker has revealed detailed plans for the deep-water port, which will be looked over by the local government of Ninh Thuan Province.

    The 429-hectare (1060-acre) port will have the capacity to accommodate both tankers of up to 300,000 dead-weight tons (DWT) and cargo ships of 30,000–50,000 DWT, said Hoa Sen Group.

    The port is expected to handle a total 53 million tons of crude oil and ore and up to 3.2 billion tons of cargo.

    The deep-water port is a part of a multi-billion dollar steel complex that Hoa Sen Group and Ninh Thuan's provincial government have agreed to build.

    Under the agreement, the complex in Ca Na Industrial Park will have a steel plant, a thermal power plant, cement production facilities and a deep-water port.

    Hoa Sen Group plans to take advantage of the deep-water port to import raw materials and export finished steel products.

    Vietnam plans to put as many as 10 steel projects into operation in 2017 and increase annual output by 10-12% to meet rising domestic demands.

    Vietbuild Home 2016 on going in HCM City

    The Vietbuild Home 2016 International Exhibition, an interior and exterior furnishing products fair, is taking place in Ho Chi Minh City from December 15.

    The five-day event features 1,500 pavilions run by 450 businesses, including those from the Republic of Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, the US, and Switzerland.

    It showcases a wide range of real estate products, domestic utensils and interior and exterior decoration, lighting technology, smart houses, solar energy, and construction equipment.

    Addressing the opening ceremony, Deputy Minister of Construction Bui Pham Khanh said the annual event offers a platform for trade promotion among enterprises, localities and nations. 

    It also offers visitors a good opportunity to shop for New Year holidays.

    Boosting labor productivity for greater competitiveness

    Labor productivity is a key factor in the competitiveness of every business and every economy. Vietnam’s labor productivity has been increasing, growing 6.5% in 2015.

    Vietnam’s labor productivity has grown an average of 3.8% per year over the past decade, growing 6.5% in 2015. Investment in technology and skills training in key industries like garments and textiles, footwear, energy, and IT have helped Vietnam narrow the labor productivity gap with other regional countries. 

    Secretary General of the Vietnam Leather Footwear and Bag Association Phan Thi Thanh Xuan said “Two of the most important solutions are to improve the quality of human resources and to apply advanced technologies and management models. This will double our sector’s growth”.

    Over the past five years, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has been carrying out  a project to help businesses boost industrial productivity and product quality. 

    Director of the Vietnam Productivity Institute, Nguyen Anh Tuan said, “Labor productivity is a matter of selecting an appropriate economic structure, improving the business climate, updating technology and management and improve labor quality. We have to gear up to catch up with the productivity growth of other regional countries, which is 9% in China and 7.8% in Myanmar, for instance.”

    Made-in-Thailand outlet fair opens in Hanoi

    The 2016 Made in Thailand Outlet opens in Hanoi on December 15 with a variety of products on offer. 

    Addressing the opening ceremony, Monapchai Vongphakdi, Thai Ambassador to Vietnam, spoke highly of the traditional friendship between the two countries. The year 2016 marked the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam – Thailand diplomatic relations.

    The fair houses 164 pavilions offering food, beverages, household utensils, garment-textile, electrical devices, health care products and interior decorations of 130 Thai companies.

    Nguyen Phuc Nam, Deputy Director of the Department of Asia - Pacific Market under the Ministry of Industry and Trade said the organisation of Thailand trade fairs, particularly the Made-in-Thailand Outlets, shows active support of relevant agencies for the two nations’ trade promotion as well as Vietnam’s potential in ASEAN.

    According to the Ministry, ending October, the nations’ trade value posted at 9.9 billion USD, up 5.7 percent from the same period last year.

    The figure is expected to reach 11.9 billion USD this year. Thailand remains Vietnam’s biggest trade partner in ASEAN.

    It has been held for nine years in Hanoi and received warm response from Vietnamese customers.

    The fair, organised by the Vietnam National Trade Fair and Advertising Company (Vinexad) and the Trade Office under the Thai Embassy in Vietnam at the Cultural Friendship Palace, will run until December 18.

    Retailer Intimex officially sells Japanese Aomori apples

    The supermarket chain, Intimex, plans to start selling Japanese Aomori apples on December 18, said an Intimex representative.

    The apples are the two most favourite breeds, including red Fuji and yellow Kinsei.

    This is the first imported products of Intimex in its strategy of importing clean products with high quality and clear origins.

    Dinh Tien Thanh, general director of Intimex Vietnam JSC, said the company spent almost two years working with the authorities of Aomori prefecture and exporters, supervising the process of planting the apples to harvesting and packaging to bring the truly Aomori apples to Vietnamese customers.

    The apples are also scheduled to be sold at Big C and Unimart stores.

    Aomori prefecture is a famous apple growing region in Japan, providing 50 percent of the total volume of Japanese apples.

    Transport infrastructure attracts Korean businesses

    Transport infrastructure is an attractive investment field in Vietnam while the acceleration of equitising State-owned enterprises in the country will create brilliant opportunities for businesses from the Republic of Korea (RoK).

    Vice President of the Korea Financial Investment Association (KOFIA) Chang Soo Han made the evaluation at a workshop held in Seoul on December 15.

    He said the Vietnam-RoK free trade agreement, which came into effect at the end of 2015, has contributed to expanding the bilateral economic cooperation.

    Despite global economic crisis, Vietnam has maintained its average annual economic growth of 5-6 percent, he said, adding that the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and the engagement in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) have made Vietnam become a big potential investment destination.

    Additionally, the Vietnamese Government is enacting a number of measures to attract foreign financial investment such as removing the foreign ownership limits in the stock market and expanding the equitisation of State-run businesses, which have helped improve the local investment environment, he noted.

    According to Vietnamese Ambassador to the RoK Pham Huu Chi, after 30 years of rennovation, Vietnam has developed into a middle-income country.

    In the 2011-2015 period, Vietnam recorded an annual average gross domestic product (GDP) growth of about 6 percent with the following years higher than previous ones, he said.

    The RoK is one of the biggest overseas investors in Vietnam with 5,656 projects worth 51.5 billion USD, he added.

    He added that the Vietnamese Government is exerting every effort to improve the market economy institution, legal framework, and administrative procedures as well as increase quality of human resources and infrastructure under the public-private partnership (PPP) model.

    Using public-private partnerships to revamp agriculture

    At the core of any sustainable development and poverty reduction strategy for agriculture is the ability to attract large dollar amounts of investment capital flows, said experts at a recent forum in Hanoi.

    The availability of private sector foreign direct investment (FDI) in agriculture is constrained by many inherent risks and other factors that make it – for all intents and purposes – not a viable source of traditional FDI funding.

    Smallholder farmers operating in the segment primarily produce cash crops with as much as 40% of their short-term financing needs met by their value chain partners and another 12% by commercial lenders.

    Notably, virtually all their long-term financing needs remain unmet.

    The gap in long-term financing is not a consequence of farmers not being able to operate profitably as there is substantial research and support for the proposition that with the extra financial funds, the country’s farmers would be able to generate positive earnings.

    Rather, the gap is linked to the inherent high risks that transnational companies, private banks and other financial institutions perceive in agricultural lending— that they will lose their initial investment or not earn a reasonable rate of return on the investment.

    In line with current experience, private sector finance is and most likely will remain insufficient to meet the growing demand for finance from the country’s farmers. This means that if one wants to tackle the problem of underfunding for the agriculture segment, one needs to change the status quo.

    While this will require action on several fronts, one major opportunity to drastically speed up the growth of agricultural finance lies with more efficient use of public finance and transforming it into an effective means of leveraging private sector funding.

    The idea that public funding, rather than being used to finance an entire project can more efficiently be used to unlock private sector finance – thus achieving leverage – is certainly not new.

    In infrastructure, the concept of public–private partnerships (PPPs) has been developed actively from the 1990s onward and it makes particularly good sense with respect to providing investment for agriculture.

    Simply put, traditional private sector FDI funding was always intended to be a vehicle to attract investment by transnational companies in the manufacturing segment. It was never intended to be nor has it become a source of investment for agriculture.

    To talk about raising FDI from the private sector for agriculture in the traditional sense absent a PPP— is pure folly, noted speakers at the conference.

    PPPs can effectively be used to attract FDI because they allow for shifting of risk to the public sector while at the same time providing for a guaranteed reasonable rate of return for the private sector investor.

    At the conference, Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said that unless agriculture can effectively harness the use of the PPP any opportunity for the segment to raise FDI of an amount required to effectuate its revamp to raise its global competitiveness will be lost.

    Minister Cuong noted the benefits of PPPs include cost efficiencies, improved yields, better quality, reduced post-harvest losses and enhanced infrastructural development, among others.

    He added that Vietnam agriculture largely consists of smallholders as more than 90% of the farmers are small-scale operators and only about 2-3% of them sustainably operate large scale mechanized farming.

    To transform the 90% of smallholders into large scale modernized farms utilizing high level production technology requires substantial investment that can only be raised through the PPP model.

    To this end, he underscored the Government is in the process of perfecting the PPP arrangement with the end goal of significantly revamping the agriculture segment and delivering its sustainability.

    Miniso opens three new outlets in HCM City

    Well-known for its minimalist designs, good quality and accessible prices, Miniso, the popular Japanese fashion lifestyle concept brand has launched three more outlets in Vietnam.

    This December, the fast-expanding brand has opened the three additional outlets in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City at prominent malls. The new stores mark a key significant milestone for the brand’s growth in the Asia Pacific region.

    Dedicated to offering great quality at low-prices, the new shopping haven concept stores will offer a wide variety of Japanese-designed products – namely, creative home necessities, health and beauty products, fashion accessories, fashion bags, seasonal products and electronics, said Miniso.

    Miniso also unveiled plans to soon launch two more outlets in Hanoi.

    Headquartered in Tokyo, the Miniso brand was founded in 2013 by chief designer Miyake Jyunya and young Chinese entrepreneur, Mr Ye Guo Fu. The brand celebrates Japanese fast fashion and quality lifestyle living at a global scale.

    Miniso is now an internationally recognized brand with more than 1000 point-of-sales worldwide, with a presence in the key cities of Tokyo, Shanghai, Bangkok, Singapore, Dubai and soon, the US.

    FPT crosses milestone of 10,000 employees     

    FPT Software crossed the milestone of employing 10,000 people globally, the company announced at a meeting in Ha Noi on Tuesday.

    With this milestone, FPT Software edges closer to the list of top companies that have a large number of employees in the Asian region.

    By 2020, the company’s target is 30,000 staffers and US$1 billion in revenue, FPT chairman Hoang Nam Tien said.

    “With 17 years of experience working with large corporations across the world, I know that to have their attention, a company has to be big enough and must show them the difference in project implementation. With 10,000 personnel, FPT Software has an easier opportunity to reach customers that are large corporations, especially those on the Forbes 500 list,” said Tien.

    To meet the growing demand, in the 2017-20 period, FPT Software will recruit 20,000 personnel for testing, programming, bridge engineering and project management.

    Last month, the firm opened an office in South Korea, so it now has a total of 23 offices in 14 countries. Talking to VietnamPlus, Tien said the office has around 260 employees. Previously, he had said that the company has earned US$200 million in turnover and expects it to touch $230 million by the end of this year. 

    Techcombank prepares for UPCoM listing     

    Around 887.8 million shares of Techcombank were deposited at the Vietnam Securities Depository (VSD) on Tuesday, the first step to trading shares on the Unlisted Public Company (UpCom) market.

    The shares of Techcombank, or the Vietnam Technological and Commercial Joint Stock Bank, have been deposited under the code TCB.

    The value of the registered shares is VND8.878 trillion (US$394.6 million), which is VND8.878 trillion of its charter capital, under the certification for trading registration issued by the VSD on Monday.

    Techcombank said the deposit was made to comply with a finance ministry circular, which requires all unlisted public companies to register for trading on UpCom no later than December 31, 2016.

    The registration is necessary to increase the liquidity of Techcombank shares and will improve its standing because of transparency in disclosing information.

    The bank posted a post-tax profit of VND2.29 trillion for the first nine months of 2016, a year-on-year increase of 89.5 per cent. Its total assets are worth VND222.7 trillion, up 16 per cent compared to last year’s figures. 

    KBC to approve plan to purchase treasury shares     

    Kinh Bac City Development Holding Corporation (KBC) on Tuesday announced its plan to buy back treasury shares worth VND200 billion (US$8.8 million).

    The share buyback plan aims at reducing the proportion of outstanding shares and increasing the value of ownership for current shareholders.

    According to company chairman Dang Thanh Tam, KBC can spend maximum VND475 billion to implement the share buyback plan.

    Funding for the share buyback will be extracted from the firm’s share premium and undistributed post-tax profit based on the latest audited financial report.

    The company is trading on the HCM Stock Exchange with code KBC. Its shares ended up 0.7 per cent at VND13,550 per share on Wednesday.

    KBC posted after-tax profit of VND208 billion in the third quarter of 2016, an increase of 94 per cent from last year’s figure. After the first nine months of this year, the company’s post-tax profit rose 75 per cent year-on-year to VND628 billion, equal to 74 per cent of this year’s targeted result.

    Masan Group to issue $300m in international bonds     

    The management board of Masan Group has approved a plan to issue non-convertible international bonds worth up to US$300 million, the company announced in a filing to the State Securities Commission on December 13.

    The USD-denominated bonds have a face value of $1,000 each and would be listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange, the statement said without giving a specific timeframe.

    The 5-year and 10-year bonds will be issued in accordance with Regulation S and/or 144A of the US Securities Act.

    Prospective investors include foreign institutions, investment funds and non-public banks. Credit Suisse (Singapore) Ltd and Deutsche Bank AG’s Singapore branch are advising Masan Group on the deal.

    Masan Group is the HCM Stock Exchange’s eighth biggest listed firm with market capitalisation of nearly VND47 trillion ($2.1 billion) as of December 14.

    Masan shares closed yesterday up 1.8 per cent after a two-day drop, valued at VND62,100 a share. The shares have lost nearly 20 per cent in value this year.

    Early last week, the company secured board approval to pay a 50-per-cent share bonus to increase its equity and a 30-per-cent cash dividend, payments which are expected to completed in the first quarter of next year.

    This is the first time Masan Group has decided to pay a dividend since its share debut in November 2009. Ending September, the firm had retained earnings of over VND8.5 trillion

    In a related development, Masan announced it would issue 12 million shares in a private placement to MRC Ltd, an investment fund managed by the US Fortress Investment Group and Mount Kellett, for VND95,000 per share.

    The proceeds from the issuance will be used to finance Masan Horizon to purchase shares of Masan Resource (MSR).

    In a statement to the Ha Noi Stock Exchange on December 12, Masan Horizon registered to buy nearly 180.2 million shares of Masan Resource from December 13-26. If the transaction is completed successfully, Masan Horizon will raise its holding here from the current 72.74 per cent to 97.79 per cent.

    In a tender in November, Masan Horizon offered to buy MSR shares at VND15,500 a share, slightly higher than its price of VND14,500 on the Unlisted Public Company Market on December 14.

    SCIC to divest from FPT Telecom soon     

    The State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) is likely to divest from FPT Telecom early next year, a Ministry of Finance official said.

    Dang Quyet Tien, deputy director of the ministry’s corporate finance department, told dantri.com.vn recently that the move is part of the SCIC’s efforts to withdraw capital from several major enterprises in early 2017.

    The SCIC will sell its entire 50.16 per cent stake in the telecommunications firm, which registered charter capital of more than VND1.37 trillion (US$61.99 million) with the Viet Nam Securities Depository.

    The depository certified FPT Telecom as listing about 1.37 million shares, coded FOX with a face value of VNĐ10,000 each, on the Unlisted Public Company Market earlier this month.

    FPT Telecom’s third-quarter financial report said the company earned VND4.92 trillion in net revenue from sale of goods and services in the first nine months of this year, up 20 per cent over the same period last year.

    The firm earned VND848.46 billion in pre-tax profit in the nine months, a year-on-year increase of 5 per cent.

    According to Thoi bao Kinh te Viet Nam (Vietnam Economic Times), FPT Telecom has paid dividends in cash at a rate of 40 per cent every year – a “golden” level in the local market.

    FPT Telecom also contributed about 40 per cent to the annual profit of its parent firm – technology giant FPT, which holds a 45.64 per cent stake in the subsidiary.

    Earlier this year, the Government urged the SCIC to withdraw capital from 10 major businesses, including FPT Telecom, Bao Minh Insurance Corporation, Viet Nam Infrastructure Investment & Development JSC, Ha Giang Mineral Mechanics JSC, and Viet Nam Dairy Products JSC (Vinamilk).

    The remaining five are Viet Nam National Reinsurance Corporation, Tien Phong Plastic JSC, Binh Minh Plastic JSC, Sa Giang Import Export Corporation and FPT.

    The SCIC auctioned a 9 per cent stake of Vinamilk on the HCM City Stock Exchange on Monday. It sold a stake of 5.4 per cent to foreign investors, gaining more than VND11.28 trillion.

    VEF/VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/Dantri/VET/VIR


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  • 12/18/16--06:24: Article 2
  •  How China invaded Vietnam’s Paracels 70 years ago


    China’s so-called 70th anniversary of recovering Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes held on Thursday last week was merely a façade concealing its forceful takeover of the Paracels 70 years ago.


     
    A military camp of the Republic of Vietnam on Hoang Sa (Pattle) Island, which belongs to the Paracel Islands, is seen in this file photo taken in 1959.


    The issue was discussed at a conference in the central Vietnamese city of Hue on Monday, where experts assembled to reassert Hanoi’s immutable sovereignty over the Vietnamese archipelagoes.

    International recognition

    In 1938, the Japanese invaded the three islands of Phu Lam (Woody), Linh Con (Lincoln), and Huu Nhat (Robert) in the Paracels and renamed the archipelago Hirata Gunto, igniting the ‘Paracels crisis’ between Japan and France, Vietnam’s colonizer at the time.

    In August 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allied nations and all of its overseas territories, including the Vietnamese islands, were re-demarcated at a summit in San Francisco, the U.S., in 1951.

    The summit ran from September 4 to 8 and was attended by leaders from 52 countries, including the State of Vietnam represented by Emperor Bao Dai. China did not attend the summit.

    In front of international leaders, then-Prime Minister of the State of Vietnam Tran Van Huu confirmed Vietnam’s “long-standing sovereignty” over the two archipelagoes, facing no objection from any parties present at the summit.

    “The fact that 92 percent of the United Nations member states at the time voiced no objection to Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracels and the Spratlys is legally binding,” Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Nam Tien from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities stressed at Monday’s conference.

    The outcome of the summit also invalidated Beijing’s claim only 20 days earlier that it had “inalienable sovereignty” over East Vietnam Sea islands, Tien said.

    The stealthy Chinese invasion of 1956

    In 1946, taking advantage of the Japanese troop disarmament, the Republic of China’s army, under Chiang Kai-shek, invaded a group of islands just east of the Paracels.

    Ten years later, troops from the People’s Republic of China secretly invaded the islands while French colonizers were busy withdrawing from Indochina and parties in Vietnam were occupied with the Geneva Accords.

    According to Professor Nguyen Dinh Dung from Phu Xuan University in Hue, China has since worked tirelessly to provoke and invade islands to the west of the Paracels.

    Its attempts were met with stern opposition from the governments of the Republic of Vietnam, which in 1974 lost a historic battle for Paracel Islands and had the archipelago forcefully abducted by the Chinese.

    “Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracels and the Spratlys, as well as its other islands, is in accordance with international law, and is a genuine, peaceful, and continuous possession of the state,” reads the resolution from Monday’s conference.

    TUOI TRE NEWS


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  • 12/18/16--06:37: Article 1
  • Private sector’s role in national economic development

    Vietnam now has 500,000 private enterprises which employ more than 15 million people and contributes 40% of the national GDP. Vietnam has adopted many policies to develop the private economic sector.


    private sector’s role in national economic development hinh 0 
    The Annual Vietnam Business Forum 2016 (VBF), Hanoi, December 5, 2016. (Photo: VGP/Quang Hieu)


    The 12th National Party Congress, which has insisted on building a socialist-oriented market economy, considers the private sector a key driver of the national economy where stakeholders in different sectors are equal under law.

    Associate Professor Doan Minh Huan, Deputy Editor-in-chief of the Communist Review, said “Ensuring equality between economic sectors provides the private economic sector with more opportunities to access land and credit, even the resources of the public sector. The policies on public-private cooperation have ensured that the private sector will cooperate with the state sector to exploit the available resources.”

    Most private companies are small and lack the connectivity and capacity to respond to risks. Tran Kim Chung, Deputy Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, underscored the need to ensure healthy competition and equality between businesses so that private enterprises can grow.

    According to Chung, “the most essential thing is to improve the market mechanism. We should enhance transparency, renovate the state management, stabilize the macro-economy, and eliminate problems that reduce investment effectiveness.”

    To support the contribution of the private sector to the national economy, Vietnam has implemented corporate solutions in which businesses identify their competitive advantages and disadvantages, focus investment on their core business, and improve the management capacity.

    Pham Thi Thu Hang, Secretary General of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said “The Chamber is identifying obstacles faced by enterprises for a report to the government. In addition to a government resolution on supporting and developing businesses until 2020, we are devising an action plan to help private companies and SMEs.”

    Addressing the recent Vietnam Business Forum, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc reiterated the government’s commitment to perfecting market institutions policies, and laws, continuing administrative reform, enhancing national competitiveness, and facilitating conditions for the domestic private and FDI sectors.

    He said “FDI businesses should trust in Vietnam’s reforms and accelerate the transfer of advanced technology, human resource training, and the sharing of corporate governance experience. FDI enterprises should also honor their responsibility to society and join hands with Vietnam in protecting natural resources and the environment.”

    In the socio-economic development strategy until 2020, Vietnam has pledged to create the most favorable conditions for Vietnamese enterprises, especially private businesses, to promote competitiveness and economic self-reliance.

    VOV5


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  • 12/18/16--07:15: Article 0
  • Hanoi seeks ways to improve and extend pedestrian street experiment


     The pedestrian street around Hoan Kiem Lake

    The pedestrian street experiment around Hoan Kiem Lake was started in September and is scheduled to run until the Lunar New Year in January.

    During the international conference about smart solutions to improve the pedestrianised area on December 16, Duong Duc Tuan, chairman of Hoan Kiem District, said they wanted to extend the experiment to June next year.

    Nguyen Quang, director of United Nations Human Settlements Programme said in many countries, pedestrian spaces positively affected and boosted cultural, social, economic and environmental values for the community. For example, from a small, shabby town, Hoi An has become a national heritage site and is aiming to become an eco-city thanks to a commitment of the city's authorities with the people and good solutions.

    He went on to say Colombia successfully turned a slum in Medellin City into a tourist area and Bogota City is a great destination for pedestrians and cyclists. Smart infrastructures can also be found in Seoul, South Korea or old stations remodelled into cultural centres in Jerusalem, Israel.

    South Korean Professor Kim Donyun from Sungkyun Kwan University, Commissioner of the Presidential Committee on Green Growth said a city's competitiveness would improve if it took into account pedestrians. Projects to increase services for pedestrians and emphasise the historical and cultural values of Seoul have led to a five-fold increase in the number of annual visitors, he said.

    However, he also said the air pollution in Hanoi was too severe and it would be difficult to limit the number of private vehicles and clear the pavements. But if everything is done right, Hanoi could have extraordinary growth like Singapore, he said.

    Representatives of Israel Ambassador in Vietnam said Jerusalem also had small alleyways and streets like Hanoi and it took them 15 years to turn the centre into a pedestrian area. Buildings were upgraded and people were encouraged to participate in street events. The number of visitors doubled in three years.

    According to attendees at the conference, one of the most important factors is beautiful scenery and Hanoi's pedestrian street doesn't meet the requirement. Architect Doan Ky Thanh said the old Zone 9 or current Hanoi Creative City were great playgrounds for young people created by artists. He suggested replacing regular pavement stones with luminescence slabs, spelling out the word Hello, or putting up eye-catching figurines to make the streets look more lively.

    Japanese architect Shinichi Mochizuki proposed a campaign to turn Hoan Kiem into a car-free district. Living standards and local traditional crafts should be priorities. Mochizuki said overdependence on tourism was one of the causes for Japan's economic downturn in the 80s.

    He advised local authorities to learn traffic planning from European Mobility Week and car-free day in many Asian countries.

    According to Hanoi authorities, the number of visitors to the city increased by 40% since the pedestrian street was opened. This shows huge potential of pedestrian areas to the tourism sector.

     Tienphong


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  • 12/19/16--00:04: Article 3
  • How will the real estate market perform in 2017?


    While some experts believe the real estate market will be active in 2017, others think the market will cool down and encounter difficulties.

     vietnamnet bridge, english news, Vietnam news, news Vietnam, vietnamnet news, Vietnam net news, Vietnam latest news, Vietnam breaking news, vn news, Binh Dinh, real estate market, MOC
    Tran Kim Chung, deputy head of the Central Institute of Economic Management (CIEM), said he can see three factors which can serve as an impetus for real estate market development in 2017.

    First, stable economic development. Economists predicted that the national economy will perform better than in 2015 and 2016 with a higher growth rate and better exports.

    Second, the indexes related to the real estate market are good. Bad debts have been settled and banks have increased lending to real estate projects, while idle capital in the public is flowing to the real estate market.

    Third, the State has applied many policies to organize a transparent market.

    “The transparent state management will help businesses and investors feel secure,” Chung said.

    Tran Ngoc Quang, secretary general of the Vietnam Real Estate Association (VnREA), also thinks the high economic development, the deeper global integration will bring benefits to all the business fields in the national economy, including the real estate sector. The development would lead to higher demand for infrastructure, houses, urban areas and industrial zones.

    While some experts believe the real estate market will be active in 2017, others think the market will cool down and encounter difficulties.

    Ndh.vn cited a report from JLL, a real estate service provider, as showing that international investors see great opportunities in the Pacific Rim real estate market and that capital flow to the market is on the rise.

    The merger & acquisition (M&A) market is very busy in 2016 and the tendency is expected to continue in 2017. The most noteworthy transaction this year includes the ones in which CapitalLand Vietnam Holdings spent $52 million to take over the project located in the 0.5 hectare ‘golden land’ area in Cau Kho ward of district 1 in HCM City. VinaCapital spent $13.8 million to take over the International Center Building in Hanoi.

    In July 2016, The Manor Central Park in Hanoi was transferred by Vietnam’s Bitexco Group to Mitsubishi. The value of the deal remains a secret.

    Meanwhile, Dinh The Hien, a respected economist, in a report on Vietnam economy prospects in 2017, said that the real estate market would cool down in 2017.

    He said though the real estate market would still be a popular investment channel, its scale would narrow because of decreased speculation and bank loans.

    Hien analyzed the figures from official reports to show that the real estate market in 2014-2016 grew more rapidly than the national economy, with a very high number of projects marketed, which went beyond the consumption capacity. This will create an oversupply. 

    Kim Chi, VNN


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  • 12/19/16--00:10: Article 2
  • Social News 19/12


    300 people escape deafness, dumbness thanks to cochlear implant

    One of great achievements in ear-nose-throat health care which the Ear-Nose-Throat Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City performed is a cochlear implant (CI)- a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf.

    Ear-Nose-Throat Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday announced it has implanted cochlear for 300 people in the period 2000-2016 in its celebration of 30th establishment anniversary and scientific conference 2016.

    Patients who had been implanted the devices are able to re-gain their hearing

    The group of adults and children who who have lost their hearing later in life can speak well after one or two year implantation while the group of congenitally deaf people who are undertaken surgery for cochlear implant and learn language can converse after two or three years and integrate with the society well.

    Experts said that cochlear implantation has great meaning in treating inborn dumb kids who can not speak because of deafness. Accordingly, children are undertaken for cochlear implant before preschool age will help them integrate into the community well and study with normal children.

    Shop owners abandon identical signboards


     300 people escape deafness, dumbness thanks to cochlear implant, Shop owners abandon identical signboards, Project supports migrant workers, Gov't approves HCM City bridges, Outdoor music show to usher in festive season in HCM City

    Many shops on Hanoi’s Le Trong Tan Street have abandoned local authority dictated signage to improve businesses.

    Le Trong Tan Street, was planned some 30 years ago and took 13 years to build. It was eagerly anticipated as supposedly portraying the future of urban living in the capital. But in May, many shop owners spoke out against a decision by the local authorities to force all the shops to have the same red or blue shop signs.

    The identical signs make it difficult for customers to recognise any specific brand.

    A representative of Hanoi People's Committee on May 12 said businesses that already had their own brands and logos only needed to follow the rules on the size of the sign boards.

    The owner of the Anh Duc Hair Salon on Le Trong Tan Street said, "We already registered our brand and logos so we can use our own signboard. It's easier for business and for customers."

    Another shop owner said they were forced to replace the sign because of low quality. The old signboard was at risk of being completely ruined after one rainstorm. They had no choice but to shell out VND4m (USD176) to redesign the sign and install lighting so it could be seen at night.

    Most owners supported the idea to of uniform measurements for the signage, but wanted the local authorities to allow them to choose the colours and fonts to create their own brands. Another solution suggested business could install vertical signboards.

    Project supports migrant workers

    Seventeen self-help groups of migrant workers were formed as the result of a project aimed at supporting rural-urban migrant workers in Hà Nội.

    According to Nguyễn Thu Giang, vice president of the Institute for Community Health Development LIGHT, migrant workers do not often get exposed to social welfare services despite the fact that they accounted for nearly 10 per cent of the capital city’s total population.

    Most of them are unofficial labourers who do seasonal jobs and are not under the management of any organisations, which makes them unqualified to receive benefits and enjoy labour policies, she said.

    The self-help groups were formed with an aim to raise awareness of migrant workers on their rights to receive social welfare services and voice their opinions on economic and political issues.

    They consist of migrant hawkers and scrap metal collectors currently residing in the two wards of Chương Dương and Phúc Tân in Hoàn Kiếm District.

    Informative meetings were organised periodically to help the workers get in touch with social aid, such as healthcare services, social insurance registration, employment consultancy and legal and psychological aids.

    The project was implemented from July 2014 to December 2016 by an action network for migrant workers. 

    Gov't approves HCM City bridges

    The Government has approved HCM City’s plans to build two bridges over the Soài Rạp River.

    The Cát Lái Bridge will link the city’s District 2 with Nhơn Trạch District in Đồng Nai Province.

    The Bình Khánh Bridge will link Nhà Bè and Cần Giờ districts.

    The Government also green lighted construction of a new road parallel to the existing National Highway No 50 in the city. 

    Part of the city’s traffic development master plan, they will all be finished before 2020.

    The Government has instructed related agencies to complete the formalities for the projects and submit additional plans if there are any before December 31 this year.

    The city wants to build the 4.5km Cát Lái Bridge – including its approach roads – to facilitate transport of goods from industrial parks on National Highway No 51 and in the Nhơn Trạch urban area to ports in districts 2 and 7.

    The Bình Khánh Bridge will replace the Bình Khánh ferry, currently the only way to reach Cần Giờ from the city and badly overloaded.

    The 8.6km road along National Highway No 50 from Nhà Bè District to the border of Long An Province would ease the load on the highway. 

    Outdoor music show to usher in festive season in HCM City

    A Christmas music and dance show featuring some of Việt Nam’s superstars will take place in HCM City on Saturday.  

    The open-air show Lời Tình Mùa Đông (Love in Winter) will feature pop stars Đàm Vĩnh Hưng and Ngọc Sơn and dance groups Hoàng Thông, among others.  

    Young stars like Dương Triệu Vũ and Thu Hằng will perform alongside veterans Lệ Quyên and Vũ Hà and the pop band MTV.   

    The concert will showcase Vietnamese and foreign love songs by famous composers, such as Franz X. Gruber, Sufjian Stevens, Nguyễn Vũ and Trịnh Nam Sơn.

    Over 1,000 people are expected to attend. It will begin at 8pm on December 17 at the 126 Stage in District 1.

    Luật, Hoàn move to HCM City FC

    Defenders Trương Đình Luật and Âu Văn Hoàn will officially become members of V.League newcomer HCM City FC this week.

    Both players ended their contracts with former champions Becamex Bình Dương last month.

    Hoàn, 27, used to be a player of the national and U23 teams in 2011-12, while Luật, 33, just announced his retirement from the national team last week after Việt Nam lost to Indonesia in the semifinals of the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup.

    An official of the club Trần Đình Huấn did not reveal details of the contracts but said the new deals would be strong support for his team, which would face challenges in the national premier league in their return next year.

    He said there were 12 new players in the club. Together with the senior player and coach French Alain Fiard, HCM City FC would have a quality line-up that was comparable with other rivals in the V.League.

    Fiard is formerly a coach of Ligue 1’s Auxerre FC.

    In warm-up matches recently, HCM City FC beat Cần Thơ 2-0, tied Long An 2-2 and drew 3-3 against the national U21 squad. 

    Dengue, Zika virus infections escalates in HCMC

    Dengue fever and diseases caused by Zika virus are escalating in these days in Ho Chi Minh City with 19,021 cases of dengue and 130 Zika infections.

    The news was released at a meeting between the department of Preventive Health Center and 24 districts citywide on December 15. Head of the Center’s Infectious Disease Ward Dr. Le Hong Nga said that 33 wards in the city have both dengue cases and infection cases by Zika virus.

    Harsh penalties to be issued on businesses using unoriginal food

    Deputy chairwoman of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Nguyen Thi Thu said at a meeting with an inspection team from the National Assembly on December 15 that city administrators will issue harsh penalties on businesses which can not provide certificates of origin of food.

    Ms. Thu said that currently, food additives are sold in the same store with industrial chemicals due to loose regulation. Accordingly she proposed the government amending the two kinds should be sold separately.

    Speaking at the meeting, Chairman of the NA's Committee for Science, Technology and Environment Phan Xuan Dung highly praised HCMC to make concerted efforts in managing food safety adding that HCMC is one of cities to perform well management of food safety and has applied technological advances in controlling food safety including using telephone software to trace back the origin of pork.

    Chairman Dung noticed HCMC leaders to pay attention to the use of chemicals in husbandry complaining that the city has not issued severe penalties on violators. He proposed a closer cooperation between HCMC and other provinces to build a food safety chain.

    As per the municipal People’s Committee from 2011 to November, 2016, the Department of Plan Protection has taken 4,186 vegetable samples from farms to test the pesticide residues and discovered five of them ( or accounting for 0,38 percent ) having the pesticide content exceeding the limit. Yet inspectors detected 38 of 3,007 samples taken from three wholesale markets in districts Hoc Mon, Binh Dien, Thu Duc to have high pesticide content than regulated.

    The Department of Animal Health asked pig farm to pledge not to use banned substance during breeding. Inspectors reported that in 2011, the rate of farmers using banned chemicals in husbandry was 7.89 percent of total samples, in 2015 it reduced to 5.77 percent and in 2016 no case was discovered. 

    Inspectors called on slaughter houses to check the origin of poultry. From 2011 to November, 2016, the Department has checked 1,015 batches of pig detecting 99 batches to have residues of chemical.

    Along with strengthen inspection, HCMC piloted inspection food safety in districts and wards and at first it has gained positive achievement. The City's People’s Committee has approved the project to develop growing safe veggies as per VietGAP in outlying districts since 2011.

    So far, the city has grown safe veggies in 741.3 hectare with 2,100 participated households. Particularly, HCMC is the first city in the country to have a chain of food safety and has over 400 stores to sell safe agricultural produces.

    Deputy Head of the Department of Industry and Trade Nguyen Ngoc Hoa said that from December 16, customers can use software in their smart phones to trace back the origin of pork in 346 spots including supermarkets, convenience stores...

    Pork and poultry now safe in HCMC

    Pork and poultry meat in HCMC now meet hygiene and quality standards as no banned substances such as Beta-agonist and diarylmethane dye Auramine O have been found in meat samples.

    A seminar on goods supply and demand in the lead up to the Lunar New Year holiday, or Tet, was organized in HCMC by Thanh Nien newspaper early this week to give updates on food hygiene and safety.

    The HCMC Animal Health Department said their inspectors had repeatedly taken pork samples for testing. Their most recent test results from October 3 to November 17 showed that 96 samples from 32 pig shipments were negative for Beta-agonist substances that stimulate pig weight gain and help produce more lean meat. The samples came from pigs farmed in HCMC’s neighboring provinces including Dong Nai, Ben Tre, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Binh Thuan, Tien Giang, Long An, Binh Duong, and Binh Phuoc.

    This is positive as the department said on July 15 that many samples tested positive for banned substances.

    For poultry, inspectors found no Auramine O, a diarylmethane dye soluble in water which causes cancer, when they combed through 37 slaughterhouses and trading facilities.

    Phan Xuan Thao, head of the HCMC Animal Health Department, said the legs of those pigs raised with lean-meat stimulant Beta-agonist are often weak, so farmers give them a tranquilliser  in the transport and slaughtering processes. However, many pig shipments have been found to contain no such substances.

    Nguyen Ngoc Hoa, deputy director of the HCMC Department of Industry and Trade, said consumers could trace the origin of pork at 315 outlets around the city using a mobile phone app starting from December 16. He said the department would carry out plans to check the origin of other products in the future.

    Water supplier told to cope with climate change

    Saigon Water Corporation (Sawaco) should apply advanced technology to water treatment given the impact of climate change and saltwater intrusion,  said Vo Thi Dung, deputy secretary of the HCMC Party Committee.

    Speaking at a ceremony held on December 14 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Thu Duc water plant, Dung said climate change and salination have made water pollution worse in the Dong Nai River where this facility takes crude water, so Sawaco should improve water treatment at Thu Duc and other water plants in HCMC to guarantee the quality of running water.

    To increase the capacity of water supply in the city, Sawaco will need to call for the private sector to get involved in water treatment and supply projects, and cooperate with partners from developed economies to develop human resources for the sector, Dung added.

    Thu Duc water plant was put into operation in December 1966 with its initial capacity of 450,000 cubic meters a day. Its currency capacity has soared to 750,000 cubic meters, meeting nearly 40% of clean water demand of city residents.

    Vietnamese woman saved after hour-long surgery in home’s attic

    A woman in northern Vietnam in critical condition due to a tubal pregnancy has been saved after an hour-long surgery in her home’s attic.

    The operation was performed by doctors from the provincial 115 Emergency Center and Thai Binh Maternity Hospital, who responded to a call at 5:00 that day requesting emergency treatment for a woman with a severe stomachache in Thai Binh City, Thai Binh Province.

    First responders diagnosed the 46-year-old woman’s symptoms as a result of tubal pregnancy, a pregnancy complication in which the embryo attaches outside the uterus.

    Medics deemed the woman’s condition too critical for transport and quickly requested backup from Thai Binh Maternity Hospital for an on-site surgery.

    Since the patient lived in a nine-square-meter attic on the third floor of a cramped boarding house with little furniture, the surgical team employed a mobile stretcher as the operation table and a suspended desk lamp as the surgical lighthead.

    Medical students living in the same boarding house were also asked to help the operation by running small errands.

    After nearly an hour of intense work, doctors were able to save the patient from her life-threatening condition and she was subsequently transported to Thai Binh Maternity Hospital for post-surgery recovery.

    According to surgeons Nguyen Duy Quang and Vu Manh Cuong, three liters of clotted blood were removed from the patient’s abdomen during the operation and 1.5 liters of blood were transfused into her body.

    Medical students in the woman’s boarding house were praised for realizing the patient’s high risk of circulatory collapse and not allowing her to be transported to the hospital by taxi after calling the emergency response team.

    Exhibition reflects thriving sculpture scene

    Mixed media sculptures of various materials and dimensions are on display by emerging artists based in Hanoi and HCM City.

    Entitled "Hanoi–Saigon", the exhibition brings together 28 sculptors and 56 of their works, the biggest such display since the project was launched in 2010.

    The sculpture series Hanoi–Saigon (or Saigon-Hanoi, based on the exhibition venue) takes place every two years, alternating between the two cities.

    Besides introducing the newest or never-displayed artworks, the exhibition enables sculptors to share opportunities and career directions, promote their creations and discover new faces on the country’s growing sculpture scene.

    The initiative was meant to build up and develop a new community spirit in sculpture as well as to bring the medium closer to the public.

    Therefore, in addition to the exhibitions in the two cities, the group also displays works in spaces more accessible to young people, especially those studying or working in the field of culture and arts.

    The sculptors at this year’s exhibition span several generations: some were born in the 1940s, like Ca Le Thang and in the 1950s like Dao Chau Hai, while others were born in the 1970s, like Khong Do Tuyen and Le Lang Luong, and even at the end of 1980s, like Thai Nhat Minh.

    This, together with the difference characteristics of the artists and their works provides the public with richness and diversity in creative trends and attitudes, remarked Vu Huy Thong of the Vietnam University of Fine Arts Research Institute

    It is the first time the exhibition welcomes a young Vietnamese artist studying and living in the US, Le Hoai Nam, 30. He had his first ever solo exhibition in Hanoi in 2011.

    The diversity in dimension and materials, such as wood, welded iron, stainless steel, bronze and mixed media will help the public see the qualifications, professional courage and aesthetic experiences of each sculptor and of contemporary Vietnamese sculpture. 

    “The artists presented in this exhibition are representatives of Vietnamese sculpture in recent years,” said Thong.

    On the sidelines of the exhibition, a talk on "Sculpture with Space and Architecture" was held on December 15, moderated by art researcher Thong.

    Dao Thi Hai, a third-year student at Hanoi Architectural University, finds the exhibition and the talk useful for her studies.

    “Through the exhibition, I have a chance to contemplate many artworks created with different materials and styles,” she said. “Many of them are in a medium and small size suitable for interior decoration.”

    Hai said the work Dem(The Night) by Nguyen Duy Manh is the most impressive.

    “Though I don’t think I really understand the artist’s philosophy, I still like this artwork. I feel the loneliness of a person who tries to solve his/her own problem but actually spreads a net surrounding him/herself.”

    The exhibition will run until December 22 at Hanoi Architecture University, Nguyen Trai street, Hanoi.

    Conference reviews reform-era defence achievements, lessons

    Military and defence achievements obtained during 30 years of renovation have significantly contributed to heightening Vietnam’s position and role on the international stage, heard a Defence Ministry’s conference in Hanoi on December 16.

    The renovation policy adopted at the sixth Party Congress in December 1986 aimed to reform the country comprehensively, including the military and defence areas.

    Senior Lieutenant General Luong Cuong, Chairman of the General Department of Politics of the Vietnam People’s Army, underscored that the Party leadership over the military is an immutable principle, which ensures that the army stays firm in proper political-military orientations to accomplish successfully all assignments of the Party and State.

    The Party’s leadership over the military is absolute, comprehensive and direct in all fields, reflecting the close relations between the Party and the army, Cuong, who is also Secretary of the Party Central Committee, said.

    Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Le Chiem, Deputy Defence Minister, said that over the past 30 years implementing the nation-building and defence tasks, defence areas in provinces and cities have been strengthened. The people-based defence has been developed with close association with the socio-economic development to support the national construction and defence.

    The people’s armed forces, especially the Vietnam People’s Army, have become more elite and modern with strong performance, contributing to firmly safeguarding independence, sovereignty, national unity and territorial integrity, and maintaining a peaceful and stable environment for the country to thrive, he noted.

    Participants at the conference also clarified lessons withdrawn during the 30-year renovation that are applicable to the building of military and defence reinforcement.

    According to Associate Prof. Dr. Dinh Quang Hai from the Institute of History Study, said that the integration of economic development and defence is an effective policy to develop the country and reinforce the military in peace time.

    He stressed the need to strengthen the national unity bloc and the relationship between the Party and people and bolster the people’s trust in the Party and State.

    With his practical experience in the building and operation of the Military Zone 2 in the reform period, Major General Pham Duc Duyen, Vice Political Commissar of the Military Zone 2 held that it is crucial to focus on strengthening the leadership and direction over the building of strong defence areas in each zone while fostering the coordination among forces, sectors and localities during the implementation of military and defence tasks.

    He also underscored the importance of building pure and strong Party organisations at all levels to enhance political firmness in military zones.-

    Seminar seeks ways to support Vietnamese guest workers

    A seminar took place in Hanoi on December 16 focusing on issues relating to safety for Vietnamese guest workers and the role of local trade unions in supporting and protecting the workers.  

    The event, co-organised the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) and the Asia Fund, discussed measures to help those people who sought to work abroad be aware of safe working environment and to support re-employment efforts on their return. 

    Chief Representative of the Asia Fund in Vietnam Michael DiGreogorio said the Vietnamese Government’s policy on labour export will play an increasingly important role for the country’s development, especially when the country joined bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements. 

    However, he noted that Vietnamese guest workers are encountering risks of labour exploitation and even human trafficking due to their limited knowledge on suitable jobs they could work when returning home. 

    The situation requires the Government and relevant agencies to take specific policies and solutions in order to ensure rights and legitimate interests of the contracted workers, participants stressed. 

    In recent years, the VGCL’s chapters and relevant agencies have exerted efforts to support contracted guest workers, significantly contributing to addressing employment issue and helping many local labourers escape from poverty. 

    Up to 80,000 to 90,000 Vietnamese workers have been sent to work abroad every year since 2007. The workers were estimated to send over 2 billion USD to their families each year.

    The situation shows that Vietnamese labourers abroad are making remarkable contributions to the country’s socio-economic development. 

    The VGCL is also implementing a study project funded by the Asia Fund, with the aim of protecting the rights of Vietnamese guest workers.

    HCM City targets power saving up to 2.5 percent by 2020

    Ho Chi Minh City has set a target of saving 2 - 2.5 percent of energy consumption per year between now and 2020, with a view to protecting the environment.

    The target is meant to achieve an annual average reduction of 220,000 – 250,000 tonnes of CO2.

    To that end, the city will use high-performance equipment and energy-efficient, advanced technologies, while gradually replacing low-performance equipment and removing outdated technology-used devices. 

    The city aims that intensive energy-consuming industries will save at least 10 percent of their energy consumption and around 10 percent of local businesses will apply an energy-management system meeting the ISO 50001 by 2020.

    Efforts will be made to raise the awareness of energy-saving at all levels, and among sectors, communities.

    A project worth one billion VND (49,000 USD) is being carried out to install high-performance lighting equipment at all public locations from now up to 2020. 

    All construction material producers will be required to comply with the municipal Department of Science and Technology’s environmental standards for green construction materials. Currently, there are 179 construction material producers in the city, including 158 firms and 21 family facilities.

    According to Le Van Khoa, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, the city will launch relevant action plans and programmes to enhance supervision of the environmentally - unfriendly investment projects.

    Communication work will be strengthened to raise public awareness about energy-saving, gradually expand the use of high-performance equipment, replacement of low-performance equipment and promote energy conservation in industrial production, Khoa said.

    The city is working with the Japan International Cooperation Agency to set up a well - equipped centre for training the staff involved in energy management.

    The facility is expected to supply a skilled human resource for the key energy-consuming businesses to help them save energy.

    This year, the city is expected to consume between 21,400 and 21,600 million kWh, a rise of 7-8 percent over 2015, according to EVN HCM City.

    Dak Lak aims to bring down poor household rate

    The Central Highlands province of Dak Lak aims to cut the poor household rate by 2.5 – 3 percent per year by 2020, said Pham Ngoc Nghi, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee.

    It targets to reduce the rate by from 4 – 4.5 percent per year in the ethnic minority groups while improve livelihood and living conditions and raising the income of the poor households by 1.9 times over 2015’s level.

    Policies on poverty reduction have been comprehensively implemented, facilitating access to preferential credit packages and social policies for over 250,000 poor and near-poor households and others.

    The locality has encouraged the involvement of local social organisations, such as the Women’s Union, the Farmers Association, and the Youth Union, in vocational training, job placement, and technical assistance.

    Other supports have been provided for the targeted groups, such as health insurance, education fee, vocational training, and legal consultation.

    The province is mobilising different resources to help build houses for 10,420 poor households.

    It has integrated other local poverty reduction policies into the national target program on sustainable reduction of poverty in extremely disadvantaged communes with a view to increasing local people’s engagement in the effort.

    From 2011 – 2015, the number of poor households in the province fell from 81,053 to 25,322, a drop of 2.96 percent on annual average, representing 98.67 percent of its plan.

    The number of poverty-ridden ethnic minority households fell from over 46,000 to over 16,000, an annual average decrease of 5.39 percent. The number of near-poor households reduced by over 8,000, or 8.59 percent to 3.73 percent, according to Nghi.

    Dissemination result of 2015 national internal migration survey


     dissemination result of 2015 national internal migration survey hinh 0

    The national workshop on the results of the 2015 national internal migration survey was held in Hanoi on 16, December.

    Vietnam has been undergone a significant transition over the last three decades. Over the last five years, 13.6 percent of the population of Vietnam are migrants. Migrants aged 15 – 59 account for 17.3 percent of which, 19.7 percent are urban migrants, 13.4 are rural. 

    Approximately 19.7 percent of the urban population are migrants whereas this proportion for rural population is only 13.4 percent. The Southeast region has the highest proportion on the result at 29.3 percent.

    These key findings were disseminated at the national workshop on the results of the 2015 national internal migration survey, held in Hanoi by the General Statistics Office (GSO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Vietnam.

    According to the final result, female migrants make up 17.7 percent of the female population aged 15 – 59. This figure for male migrants is 16.8 percent. The percentage of females among all migrants aged 15 – 59 is 52.4 percent, which confirms the findings on “feminization of migrant” noted in the 2004 survey.

    The data also shows that a higher percentage of migrants compared to non-migrants have professional or technical qualification (31.7 percent versus 24.5 percent). Especially, the percentage of migrants who have education at college/university level or higher is 23.1 percent while this figure for non-migrants stands at 17.4 percent.

    These differences are partly due to the impact of the younger age structure of the migrant population compared to the non-migrant population. In fact, many young persons migrate in order to access higher educational institutions which are overwhelmingly located in urban areas.

    dissemination result of 2015 national internal migration survey hinh 1 More than 30 percent of migrants sent earnings back to their families within 12 months prior to the survey, with female migrants slightly more likely to remit than were male migrants (30.8 percent versus 29.2 percent). 

    Although female migrants are more likely than male to send remittances, the total amount of remittance sent by male migrants is higher than that of female. The Southeast, the Red River Delta and Ho Chi Minh City have the highest levels of migrants sending remittances.

    According to the survey data, of all difficulties faced by migrants, housing is most often mentioned. Of those reporting difficulties, 42.6 percent of migrants report that they have housing problems. Migrants are more likely to seek support from family members, relatives and friends, rather than the local authorities, organizations and unions in destination areas.

    Mr. Nguyen Bich Lam, GSO General Director said: “This survey aimed to collect data information about internal migrant at national level and socio-economics regions, and in the two largest cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City for developing socio-economic development policies, as well as policies and programmes for migrants and providing information to other in-depth survey about migration in Vietnam”.

    Review of Community-based HIV Testing and Counseling after one year implementation

    HIV experts and policy leaders gathered at a technical workshop to disseminate key achievements of HIV lay and self-testing in Hanoi on December 16.

    These HIV testing services were piloted by the Vietnam Administration for AIDS Control (VAAC), the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Healthy Markets project, and has been implemented by PATH, and WHO in six provinces namely Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Dien Bien, Nghe An, ThanhHoa and Thai Nguyen since August 2015.

    This workshop also aimed at disseminating WHO guidelines on HIV self-testing and partner notification and discussing next steps for HIV lay and self-testing in Viet Nam.

    Since October 2015, the Healthy Markets project has collaborated with Provincial AIDS Committees to train 235 lay providers—people without a formal medical education—to offer quality HIV testing using a single rapid diagnostic test kit.

    The government of Viet Nam has committed to the global 90-90-90 targets towards ending the HIV epidemic. Although Vietnam has seen a lot of people newly diagnosed of an HIV infection over recent years, there is a concerningly low annual uptake of HIV testing among key populations.

    Global experience has demonstrated that community-based HIV testing models are successful in increasing testing uptake. 2015 consolidated WHO guidelines on HIV testing services included a new and strong recommendation to permit trained lay providers to provide HIV testing services, noting the safety and effectiveness of this approach.

    It is recognized that testing services offered by people in the community who are trusted by their peers can improve the uptake of HIV testing among at risk populations.

    Flooding occurs in lowland areas in Huế

    Almost all lowland areas in Thừa Thiên-Huế Province were flooded yesterday due to non-stop heavy rainfall since early this week and the obligatory release of water by the local reservoirs.

    The heavily-flooded areas are in Phong Điền, Hương Trà and Quảng Điền districts, where locals are being forced to travel by boats on the flooded roads. A total of 1,420 houses are inundated with water.

    Trần Thị Huê, a resident of Quảng Điền’s Quảng Phú Commune, said this is the first time in the last 10 years that floodwater engulfed her home. Residents are, however, safe thanks to preparations that were underway since Tuesday.

    According to Phan Thanh Hùng of the province’s Centre for Flood and Storm Prevention and Rescuing, flooding has also occurred in Huế City and Phú Lộc District, with the water at an average height of 0.2m to 0.5m on the roads.

    Authorities of the communes and wards with flooded roads have erected signboards to inform commuters of the strong currents.

    All schools have been ordered to shut down yesterday. White collar employees in public agencies were also dismissed earlier from work this afternoon.

    Meanwhile, a 40-year-old man in Hương Trà District reportedly drowned when he was driving his buffalo home. The rescue centre has alerted people to the risk of landslides in prone areas and to the danger of travelling by boat during strong currents.

    Water level in the province’s large rivers – Hương, Bồ and Ô Lâu – continues to rise, with reservoirs releasing water at an average volume of 1,000cu.m. per second.

    Initiative makes books accessible in VN’s rural areas

    More than 400,000 readers in rural areas can access books and a system of over 9,000 civil libraries has been built in 26 provinces in Việt Nam since 2007.

    This is thanks to the “Books for rural areas of Việt Nam” programme, heard a ceremony held in Hà Nội this morning.

    Organised by the Việt Nam National Commission for UNESCO and Ministry of Education and Training, the event honours individuals and organisations that brought the programme “Book for Rural Areas of Việt Nam” to localities across the country.

    The programme, implemented by the Center for Knowledge Assistance and Community Development (CKACD), was awarded the 2016 UNESCO Literacy Prize in September, along with four other winners from Thailand, India, Senegal and South Africa.

    CKACD founder Nguyễn Quang Thạch initiate the library revolution after witnessing a great shortage of books and an undeveloped library system in rural and mountainous areas in Việt Nam.

    Based on the specific needs of different groups of learners, Thạch designed five main models: clan libraries, parish libraries, classrooms libraries, military officer libraries and community libraries.

    The programme aims to offer equal education opportunities to all, particularly those in rural areas. It has engaged more than 100,000 people to finance the programme through crowd-funding.

    At the ceremony, Deputy Minister of Education and Training Phạm Mạnh Hùng said the programme was in line with Việt Nam’s policies in promoting a reading culture, a long-lasting learning society and eliminating illiteracy.

    Phạm Sanh Châu, secretary general of the Việt Nam National Commission for UNESCO, said the programme highlighted the effective co-operation between State and non-State organisations and the strength of the community.

    CKACD founder Thạch said for a long time, children in Việt Nam’s rural areas had very few chances to access books. They usually only had access to textbooks and their parents had little awareness on the importance of reading books since they themselves had never read books.

    “To encourage farmers/workers to create libraries for their children, I usually tell them that books can help them get better jobs and increase income,” Thạch said.

    “Books which impart knowledge can help people predict and respond to changes around them,” he said.

    He said with the UNESCO International Literacy prize, this programme, which brought books to rural areas, could be expanded across the country, and further, could be a good model to be applied in other countries. 

    Japanese experts train Hà Nội doctors on endoscopic ultrasounds

    Japanese health experts are training around 100 doctors from Hà Nội and the neighbouring provinces to perform endoscopic ultrasounds (EUS) at the Hightech and Digestive Centre in Hà Nội.

    “The training course will mark a new start for international training programmes in the city in the coming years,” Trần Thị Nhị Hà, deputy director of the city’s health department, said.

    “It will contribute towards strengthening our professionals’ technological skills and improve investigations and the quality of treatment.”

    Hà said the programme would help reduce the crowd in hospitals in Hà Nội and the neighbouring areas, while meeting people’s increasing demands for high-quality services and minimising the number of patients going abroad for cancer treatment.

    The two-day programme will train participants to use EUS and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) techniques for examination of the digestive system and detection of illnesses, especially of early-stage rectal cancer.

    The Saint Paul Hospital and Asian EUS Group have organised the session, which is the first training course being held at the centre, which opened last month. It will continue to organise training workshops for the city’s doctors.

    HCM City begins programme to provide information about pork origin in labels

    The HCM City Department of Industry and Trade yesterday inaugurated a system that enables consumers to check the origin of pork they buy at nearly 350 modern outlets.

    Managed by the departments of Industry and Trade, and Agriculture and Rural Development, the sub-department of Animal Health and the city’s High Technology Association, it allows consumers to find out the origin of pork from electronic labels stuck on the packaging.  

    The labels contain all information about the meat, including the animal breeding process, slaughterhouse and markets where it is sold.

    The sellers taking part in the programme include Co.opmart and Co.opXtra, Co.opFood, SatraFood, Big C, Lotte Mart, Auchan, Aeon-Citimart and Queenland.

    Đào Hà Trung, chairman of the HCM City High Technology Association, said to get the information about the pork, consumers should download the QR Code decoding application from www.te-food.com to their devices, open the app on their phones and focus the device’s camera on the barcode area on the label to read the results.

    Alternatively, they can use a device installed near the pork counter to read the information.

    Nguyễn Ngọc Hòa, the department’s deputy director, said based on the results of the first phase the programme would be expanded to traditional channels later.

    Phạm Thành Kiên, the department’s director and head of the project, said it is one of several important measures to reduce the amount of unsafe meat.

    The municipal government expects the programme to be successful and to expand it to cover other essential products in future, he said.

    If consumers seek to consume more products with clear origin, they would help gradually push unsafe food out of the market, he said.

    Thanh Hóa win FLC Cup for second time

    FLC Thanh Hóa won their second FLC Cup football tournament title after beating Hà Nội T&T in the penalty shoot-out on December 15 in Thanh Hóa Province.

    The two sides finished official time with a 2-2 result. Pape Omar Faye netted twice for Thanh Hóa, while Duy Mạnh and Thành Chung scored for the other team.

    The final match, therefore, had to be decided on penalties.

    From the host team, only Lê Quốc Phương missed his chance. From Hà Nội T&T, however, Quang Hải and Văn Biển were both not successful with their kicks.

    The victory was the first unofficial title for former Champion League winning coach Ljupko Petrovic with his new club.

    He said some players, especially the strikers, did not put up a good performance in the final, although he was satisfied with the defenders. Thanh Hóa displayed better form and the team deserved the victory. 

    Service launched to handle administrative paperwork by post

    Vietnam Post, which runs post offices in Vietnam, has launched a service to help people submit and receive their administrative papers through the postal system, following a decision by the prime minister.

    Once received, the documents will be transferred by post office staff to the relevant authorities and the results will be sent back to the addresses requested by those who use the service.

    People can use the service to pay traffic tickets and receive documents for violations of road rules, send driving licence applications and receive licences, dispatch university application documents and receive pension and benefit payments.

    Deputy PM Vu Duc Dam said at the launching ceremony on December 16 that the move was significant in providing public services in a transparent and convenient manner thanks to Vietnam Post’s wide network of post offices throughout the country.

    He added that the ministries, agencies and local authorities have made great efforts in administrative reform from reviewing, standardising and publicising more than 124,000 procedures to building a single-window mechanism and public service centres.

    But people still have to meet public servants in person to deal with many procedures.

    He urged public agencies to make public administrative services possible by post and asked Vietnam Post and other telecommunications companies to work closely to build a public service portal for the whole administrative system.

    ROK film festival to entertain Thai Nguyen audiences

    Audiences in the northern province of Thai Nguyen will be introduced to famous movies from the Republic of Korea (ROK) during a film festival to be held by the Korean Cultural Centre at Beta Cineplex Cinema in the city of Thai Nguyen on December 17-18.

    There are currently over twenty ROK enterprises operating in Thai Nguyen; however, programmes promoting the ROK’s culture in the province remain modest.

    Therefore, the two-day festival, which is scheduled to open at 6:30pm on December 17, is expected to advertise the ROK’s culture to Thai Nguyen audiences through the language of cinematography.

    The films to be screened include “Hope,” the winner of the “Best Film” prize at the 34th Blue Dragon Film Awards; “Miss Granny,” the first cinematographic work in the world to feature eight versions of different languages; and “A Werewolf Boy,” the all-time highest-grossing ROK film.

    All three selected movies feature the topic of family sentiment and have achieved deep appreciation from experts as well as resounding success regarding both domestic and foreign box office figures.

    With the touching and humane stories transmitted through the films, it is hoped that Vietnamese audiences will have more sympathy for and get to understand more about the culture and lives of ROK people.

    Director of the Korean Cultural Centre in Vietnam Lee Dae Joong said he hoped that the festival would be a fresh breeze and contribute to enriching the cultural life of locals in Thai Nguyen.

    The centre would strive to present Vietnamese audiences with many more ROK movies of high artistic value in the year to come as part of activities to mark 25 years of Vietnam-ROK diplomatic ties, Lee added.

    New report launched to provide better understanding of gender relations in Vietnam

    A report entitled “Practices and Data on Women and Men during 2010-2015,” aimed at providing a better understanding of gender relations in Vietnam, was launched by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and UN Women in Hanoi on December 16.

    The document presents statistical gender data from surveys conducted between 2010 and 2015 under six themes: population, families, education, health, labour and employment and leadership and management.

    The report also offers information and data to help provide a better understanding of the current situation of gender relations in Vietnam and about gender inequality in society, from which supporting analysis and projections on the impact of laws, policies and programmes on women and men, ensuring they have equal access to, participation in and benefits from the fruits of the country’s development.

    This is a product developed during the implementation of a UN Women–funded project on improving capacity on gender equality for MOLISA’s staff between 2012 and 2016. The results of the five-year implementation of the abovementioned project were also reviewed at the event.

    Speaking at the ceremony, Pham Ngoc Tien, Director of MOLISA’s Gender Equality Department, affirmed that the UN Women–funded project implemented from November 2012 to December 2016 has made encouraging achievements, helping to improve the capacity of MOLISA’s staff to implement, evaluate and supervise the implementation of the National Strategy and Programme on Gender Equality.

    He added that the project also contributed to facilitating the National Strategy on Gender Equality for 2011-2020 and the National Programme on Gender Equality for the 2011-2015 period.

    Shoko Ishikawa, UN Women Representative in Vietnam, praises efforts in gender mainstreaming and capacity-building on gender equality in the country. (Credit: NDO)

    Praising efforts in gender mainstreaming and capacity-building on gender equality and gender mainstreaming, Shoko Ishikawa, UN Women Representative in Vietnam said that amidst challenges and difficulties, the project has launched and built practices on what the government could do to enhance national capacities at the local and national levels on gender equality and the empowerment of women, as well as strengthening coordination mechanisms among stakeholders for gender equality activities.

    She stressed that capacity-building on gender equality and gender mainstreaming should not only be MOLISA’s duty, but that of all Government agencies, suggesting that the Government should continue to invest in gender equality and closely work with concerned parties, including civil society and the private sector, to ensure that women, girls, men and boys can fully enjoy their rights.

    On the occasion of the release of the report, the ministry also awarded the “For the Cause of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs” medal to UN Women. The two sides pledged to continue to support each other in promoting gender equality in Vietnam to ensure a fair society and substantive equality for women and men.

    Chinese FM sympathises with Vietnamese flood victims

    China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has sent a message of sympathy to Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh on heavy losses caused by floods in central localities.

    In his message dated December 16, the Chinese official expressed his deep sympathy to the people living in flood-hit areas and said he believed they will shortly resume their routine production and daily activities under the leadership of the Vietnamese Government.

    On an online meeting on December 17, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc have instructed ministries, sectors and central localities to mobilised all forces and resources to ensure safety and food for residents in flood-hit areas and minimising losses in human lives and property.

    Official statistics show that heavy rain and flood in the central region from December 12-16 left 15 deaths and missing, destroying more than 130 houses, inundating nearly 112,000 others. Over 10,000 hectares of rice fields and many infrastructure and transportation works were damaged.

    JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay resort put into service

    The five-star JW Marriot Phu Quoc Emerald Bay resort was officially opened on December 17 in Phu Quoc island district in the southern coastal province of Kien Giang.

    The resort, with architecture inspired from the Lamarck University, on Khem beach in An Thoi town, the southern side of the island, has 244 rooms, suites, apartments, and villas.

    Dang Minh Truong, Vice President and General Director of the Sun Group, said this is the first project going into operation among projects invested by the company in the southern part of the island district.

    Other projects include Premier Village Phu Quoc Resort, Premier Residences Phu Quoc Emerald Bay, a cable-car system and a theme park on Hon Thom island.

    Truong hoped that the JW Marriot Phu Quoc Emerald Bay resort will support the development of tourism in Phu Quoc in particular and Kien Giang in general, turning the island district into an appealing destination in the region and the world in the near future.

    Binh Duong puts 8 new bus routes into use

    Deputy Director of Binh Duong Department of Transport Nguyen Chi Hieu yesterday said the province has just put into service more 8 new bus routes meeting the traveling demand of local residents.

    Accordingly, five new bus routes will operate from Becamex to the center city of Binh Duong including 39, 51, 52, 53, 68 and three city buses will include routes of 8, 10 and 11.

    Binh Duong province has invested to buy 15 new buses running on compressed natural gas –CNG, free Wifi with a cost of VND 5,000 to 10,000 per ticket.

    New bus routes are part of the provincial public transport development strategy which carried out from end 2014.

    To date, Binh Duong has around 30 bus routes, of these, 5 trans-provincial bus routes and one international provincial buses to Phnom Penh (Cambodia) serving 20 percent of the traveling demand for local residents.

    Southern central provinces to continue experiencing torrential rain & floods

    Director of the National Center for Hydro-Meteorology Forecasting (NCHMF) Hoang Duc Cuong said heavy rains will continue occuring in the central provinces from Quang Nam to Ninh Thuan and the rainfall level will be from 100 to 150 mm while floods have been happening in the central provinces since December 16.

    Worse, from December 23 to 24, low pressure will appear in the East of the Philippines and then heading toward the East Sea, causing flooding in the southern central provinces.

    It is estimated that the rainfall level will reach at 200 to 300mm and the region from Quang Tri to Khanh Hoa will be suffered by new floods. However, floods are forecast not to last, added Cuong.

    The NCHMF also said for over last month, 9 central provinces were suffered by torrential rain and floods due to tropical low pressure and cold front mostly.

    Mr. Tran Quang Hoai, the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster said, since October to December, torrential rain and floods have killed 111 people, 121 injured and over 300 houses collasped; nearly 43,000 ha of rice were inundated with water. The damages estimated to reach over VND 8,5trillion in 9 central provinces.

    Mr. Hoai said that total damages by heavy rain and floods nationwide since the beginning of this year to date have reached VND 37,650 billion equal to US$ 1.7billion.

    Over 2,000 athletes join marathon

    This morning, a marathon and military decathlon for students and armed forces in HCMC to celebrate the 72th People’s Army’s anniversary (December 22, 1944-December 22, 2016) organized on Hoang Sa-Truong Sa streets in Phu Nhuan District, HCMC.

    Over 2,000 athletes from HCMC High Command , Firefighting Polices, officers in 24 districts ad 22 schools citywide took part in the event.

    This is annual sport activity creating condition for athletes to train their physical strength, exchange and aiming aslo to promote the city’s civilized, urban lifestyle, building and protecting environment.

    VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/TT/TN/Dantri/VNE


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  • 12/19/16--00:47: Article 1
  • BUSINESS IN BRIEF 19/12


    Largest ceramics producer to list on HNX


    Largest ceramics producer to list on HNX, Vietsovpetro to exceed annual gas target, High-tech agricultural production is the need: experts, Quality salt production zone planned, Dong Nai: FDI disbursement meets annual target 
         

    The Ha Noi Stock Exchange (HNX) has approved the listing of Viglacera Corporation, Viet Nam’s largest producer of construction ceramics and tiles, with code VGC.

    HNX said in a statement on Monday that 65 million shares of Viglacera will be traded on the northern bourse on December 22.

    HNX also said Viglacera’s 307 million shares, which are now trading on the Unlisted Public Company Market (UPCoM), will be delisted on December 16 as the company moves to the HNX.

    Viglacera will start trading on the northern bourse with an opening price of VND15,600 per share (US$0.69), the average price of the last 10 trading sessions on UPCoM between November 25 and December 8.

    That would make the total starting value of Viglacera’s shares at VND1 trillion on the HNX.

    The company, with chartered capital of VND3.07 trillion, is headquartered in Ha Noi’s Nam Tu Liem District. The company was equitised in July 2014.

    The company is engaged in the production of construction material, real estate and construction work.

    Viglacera earned revenue of VND1.87 trillion and post-tax profit of VND196 billion in the third quarter of this year.

    After nine months, the company earned VND5.7 trillion in revenue and VND455 billion in post-tax profit. 

    Vietsovpetro to exceed annual gas target     

    Russia and Viet Nam’s oil and gas exploration joint venture, Vietsovpetro, will ship ashore around 1.6 billion cu.m of gas this year, 27 per cent more than its annual target.

    Of this, 654 million cu.m of gas will come from Lot 09-1, in the northwest of Bach Ho (White Tiger) oil field, a major oil field in East Sea’s Cuu Long basin, east of Mekong Delta.

    Speaking at the Vietsovpetro’s 47th meeting council held recently in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, CEO Tu Thanh Nghia said the company would complete its yearly target of extracting 5.04 million tonnes of oil.

    This will bring the company’s total supply to more than 223 million tonnes of oil and 30.8 billion cu.m of gas, Nghia said.

    Vietsovpetro is expected to earn more than US$1.7 billion in revenue this year, making a profit of $247 million. More than $683 million will go into the state budget. It has cut $138 million in costs, exceeding 20 per cent of the annual target set by the council.

    High-tech agricultural production is the need: experts     

    A conference on building high-tech agriculture in Viet Nam, organised by the Digital Agriculture Association (DAA), will be held in HCM City on Sunday.

    At the conference, delegates will be hearing about successful experiences in high-tech applications in agriculture and build the value chain through the presentations of businesses, such as Seafood Co., Central Seafood Company, Hung Nhon JSC and Huy Long An-My Binh limited company.

    These companies are pioneers in the application of advanced technology with production and management by shifting from traditional farming methods to agricultural enterprises to obtain high efficiency in poultry breeding and fruit growing for export purposes.

    Central Seafood Company, in particular, has met the standard for high-tech business.

    At present, the company has six shrimps breeding farms equipped with US technology, capable of breeding10-12 billion shrimps per year. The company can sell 1,000 tonnes of shrimp annually.

    The event will also be an opportunity for the government, ministries and relevant agencies to hear opinions and proposals from businesses to implement timely support policies by working towards a new model of agriculture production.

    Based on the foundation of high-tech applications in manufacturing and integration of value chain, DAA has proposed high-tech complexes. The complexes will consist of large-scale agricultural production, where businesses will closely work together to achieve production targets with high-yield and high-quality products, which are competitive both in domestic and international markets.

    Nguyen Thi Lan Huong, vice president and general secretary of DAA Vietnam, said one of the most important tasks in the process of industrialisation and modernisation was to industrialise and modernise rural agriculture. Application of advanced technology should be promoted to meet standards of national and international activities in agricultural production. In addition, promoting people and businesses to create a high-tech agricultural production value chain was aimed at ensuring a healthy and prosperous life for the people and providing safe and clean food.

    World Bank’s Vietnam Development Report 2016, “Transforming Vietnamese Agriculture: Gaining More from Less,” launched in September, details the challenges and opportunities facing the sector.

    To remain competitive in the international market, the report said Viet Nam needed to improve supply, quality and food safety with added value. It outlines an agenda of short and longer-term strengthening of public and market institutions which will be needed to achieve the ambitious goals for Viet Nam’s agriculture and overall food system.

    Ousmane Dione, World Bank country director for Viet Nam, said, “’Business as usual’ is no longer an option for the sector. Growth has slowed down; it is vulnerable to climate hazards and leaves a large environment footprint. Change will help overcome these challenges, ensure the future of agricultural growth and better meet the expectations and aspirations of the people of Viet Nam.”

    The report offers various policy recommendations to address the challenges. The government can deploy an effective combination of improved regulations, better incentives and streamlined services to stimulate and push for greener agriculture and a more effective food safety and consumer protection system.

    It can help with policy instruments to better manage agriculture-related risks, as well as create and maintain a favourable enabling environment for agribusiness.

    In a more flexible, market-driven and knowledge-based agriculture system, reducing direct state involvement will make modernisation of the Vietnamese agro-food system smoother. 

    HCM City expects further investment from China’s Dalian city

    Vice Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Council Pham Duc Hai has expressed his wish that more firms from the Chinese city of Dalian would invest in the southern metropolis in the near future. 

    In a reception on December 14 for Director of the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress of Dalian city Li Jingrui, Hai said the municipal People’s Council and the People’s Congress of Dalian city have similar roles and functions so that the two people-elected agencies should work closely together to push forward bilateral ties, especially in the fields of economy, trade and investment. 

    He took this occasion to hail Chinese enterprises for their positive contributions to Ho Chi Minh City’s development. 

    Li, for his part, said the People’s Congress of Dalian expects to cooperate with the HCM City People’s Council to reinforce ties between the two cities. 

    The guest affirmed that Dalian businesses want to choose Ho Chi Minh City as an investment destination in the future.

    Quality salt production zone planned

    The central province of Quang Ngai has approved planning for a high quality salt zone on an area of 114ha in Sa Huynh town in Duc Pho district.

    The provincial authorities said the plan aims to develop Sa Huynh town as a major centre of salt production by 2020 and build a brand name of clean salt.

    As scheduled, the town plans to produce 11,000 tonnes per year, of which 55 percent will be high quality salt, and will increase the quantity to 14,000 tonnes by 2030.

    The province said the new high yield salt production zone would help local salt makers improve their annual income from 8.7 million VND (385 USD) to 22.4 million VND (991 USD) in 2020, and 29.3 million VND (nearly 1,300 USD) in 2025.

    Sa Huynh town, 70km south of Quang Ngai city, has 116ha of salt with 2,800 salt farmers, producing 9,000 tonnes of salt a year.

    However, in the first crop of 2016, over 4,000 tonnes of salt were not sold due to the low market price of 600 VND (0.03 USD) per kilogram.

    The province also plans to invest 95 billion VND (4.2 million USD) to develop infrastructure and mechanisation for the salt zone, between 2016 and 2025.

    Vietnam, Thailand seek to beef up trade-investment ties

    A conference to promote trade and investment ties between Vietnam and Thailand took place in Bangkok on December 14, as part of activities marking 40 years of diplomatic relations.

    The event drew the attendance of officials and businessmen from both countries. The Red River Delta province of Hung Yen and the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho took this occasion to introduce their business climate and attract investment.

    Participants discussed the Vietnam-Thailand strategic partnership, policies and projects available for foreign investors in Vietnam, as well as Thai import-export supporting policies.

    Having highlighted cultural similarities and close geographical locations between the two countries, the participants noted that the flow of Thai investment in Vietnam is much larger than the amount of Vietnamese investment in Thailand.

    By the end of July 2016, Thailand has been the 10th biggest foreign investor in Vietnam with 466 valid projects worth almost 9.5 billion USD. Thai projects have been present in 41 out of 63 Vietnamese provinces and cities, mostly in the sectors of processing, manufacturing, retails, construction and services.

    Meanwhile, Vietnam has 10 projects in Thailand valued at 25.8 million USD, ranking 22nd out of 55 countries and territories investing in the country.

    The participants stressed the need for more diplomatic-economic activities, trade and investment promotion events and market surveys that will encourage the formation of partnerships.

    They pointed to some potential sectors for cooperation, including garment-textiles, cosmetics, foodstuff and machinery.

    Vietnam-Thailand trade value increased to 11.5 billion USD in 2015 from 5.8 billion USD in 2009.

    The figure hit almost 10 billion USD by the end of October 2016 and is expected to reach 20 billion USD by 2020.

    Dong Nai: FDI disbursement meets annual target

    Disbursement of foreign direct investment (FDI) this year in the southern province of Dong Nai has reached 1 billion USD, meeting the target set for the whole year.

    However, according to the provincial Department of Planning and Investment, the figure represents only 80 percent of the previous year’s amount, which exceeded 1.2 billion USD.

    Deputy Director of the department Phan Minh Thanh said the province has lured nearly 1.9 billion USD in 2016 and disbursed over half of the total registered capital.

    The majority of disbursed FDI capital comes from projects invested by Japan, Taiwan (China), the Republic of Korea and focuses on the manufacturing, processing and electronic industries, Thanh added. 

    This year’s FDI disbursement was lower than 2015 because many new projects have their registered capital ranging between 50 – 100 million USD. They are developing infrastructure, recruiting workers and allocating capital, therefore, their disbursement hasn’t been completed.

    Besides, Asian investors from the RoK and Japan often disburse after the traditional Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays, according to Thanh.

    Over the past years, Dong Nai has reviewed its FDI projects to ensure effective implementation.

    In the coming years, more FDI enterprises will come into operation and recruit more labourers, particularly technicians, Thanh said.

    Dong Nai has lured a large number of FDI projects partly thanks to its position in the southern key economic region and convenient transport network.

    PM promises favourable conditions to DP World Group

    Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc received Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman and CEO of the DP World Group from the United Arab Emirates in Hanoi on December 14, during which he affirmed that foreign investors are important part of the Vietnamese economy.

    He noted that over the past years, Vietnam has gained a number of achievements in attracting foreign investment, with 21,000 projects from 115 countries and territories worth over 300 billion USD by the end of 2015.

    In 2016, amidst global economic difficulties, Vietnam has managed to lure 18 billion USD in FDI, he said, adding that the result shows the attractiveness of the Vietnamese market.

    PM Phuc affirmed that the Vietnamese Government commits to creating optimal conditions for foreign investors, including DP World, while developing a healthy, competitive and equal environment for all businesses.

    The PM affirmed that Vietnamese agencies have been working hard to remove difficulties that DP World is facing, pledging that Vietnam welcomes and supports the group’s plan to cooperate with Vietnamese enterprises in exploiting seaports as well as building industrial parks in Vietnam.

    For his part, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem expressed belief in Vietnam’s economic development prospects. He highly values the potentials of seaport and logistics sectors of Vietnam.

    He held that Vietnam has great advantage in terms of workforce, which is an important factor for the development of industrial parks. He also voiced hope that the Vietnamese Government continue tackling obstacles facing the group, while creating favourable conditions for its projects.

    Quang Ninh chooses local investors for Van Don-Mong Cai Expressway project

    Deputy PM Trinh Dinh Dung has allowed Quang Ninh Province to decide on the investment and construction of the Van Don-Mong Cai Expressway. 

    The 96-km four-lane highway project that connects Van Don District and Mong Cai City in the north-eastern province is estimated to cost approximately USD800 million. The Export-Import Bank of China has offered a soft loan of USD300 million to finance the project.

    Earlier, the Ministry of Transport proposed that the government accept the loan from the Chinese bank but the proposal faced strong opposition from local economic experts and the public. Many people have expressed concerns while pointing out the bad quality and stagnant progress of many Chinese-invested projects in Vietnam including the Cat Linh-Ha Dong flyover project, the Da River Pipeline project in Hanoi, or the Thai Nguyen Iron and Steel Plant-Phase 2 project in Thai Nguyen Province.

    Quang Ninh Province People's Committee then sent a letter to the prime minister proposing to seek domestic loans for the expressway project and not accept China's bank loan.

    In an interview with the VietNamNet Newspaper in early August about their decision, the people’s committee chairman, Nguyen Duc Long, said that the project would play an important role in forming the Van Don Special Economic Zone and so should be carried out carefully and completed on time.

    "We've received submissions from several domestic investors who’ve proposed public-private investment partnerships," Long told the VietNamNet. "We’re considering a 70:30 spilt in terms of capital with 70% being sourced from investors and 30% from the provincial budget. I think this is a feasible plan for the four-lane expressway."

    At their meeting on November 21, Quang Ninh decided to choose group of investors including Cai Mep, Thai Son, Vinaconex E&C, BRJSC12, Khanh An and Cienco1 as investors in the project.

    VCCI proposes to further reduce insurance procedures for FDI firms

    The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) proposed Vietnam Social Insurance Agency to continue streamlining and reducing administrative procedures and intensifying electronic transactions for businesses including foreign direct investment (FDI) firms on December 16.

    The proposal was made at a conference hosted by the two bodies in Hanoi to supply FDI enterprises with information about the implementation of compulsory insurance policies.

    On behalf of businesses including FDI firms, VCCI said that the revised Social Insurance Law taking effect early this year has much improved the process of submitting and paying insurance premiums and more pleased businesses as well as workers than before. 

    A chamber survey covering FDI sector shows that 70.8 percent of respondents affirmed that they have no longer met with difficulties in doing social insurance formalities. 

    However, a number of enterprises have still unsatisfied with papers related to social, heath and unemployment insurances. Therefore, VCCI suggested the agency to simplify the insurance procedures at the maximum level to save time and cost for businesses and workers. 

    According to the Social Insurance Agency, 15,670 FDI firms attended the three compulsory insurances at the end of September this year, accounting for 7.6 percent of total attendees. 

    The number of workers having obligatory insurances at FDI firms is over 3.63 million, a year on year increase of 4.4 percent, which is expected to hike 7.3 percent for the entire year. 

    Compulsory insurance premium collected from the FDI sector is estimated to hit VND69,027 billion (US$3.03 billion) by the end of this year, up 20.4 percent over 2015. Arrears reach VND2,098 billion now, accounting for 3.9 percent of the total amount in need of collection.

    Duc Long Gia Lai invests VND 2,1 trillion in Chu Se district

    The central highlands province of Gia Lai People's Committee and Duc Long Gia Lai Group JSC (DLG) signed memorandum to invest in a VND 2,1 trillion expansion of the Eastern center of Chu Se district at the Investment Promotion Conference 2016 held in Gia Lai this morning.

    The DLG said the project has total investment capital of VND 2,210billion and covers an area of 75.1 ha in Chu Se district in the central highlands province of Gia Lai.

    The project has 3 main items including administrative area, park, residental area. It is estimated to start construction in 2017 and expected to be completed in 2020.

    Mr. Bui Phap from Duc Long affirmed the group will focus its efforts to ensure to put the center into operation on schedule.

    Phu My Hung introduces Midtown project

    The Phu My Hung Development Corporation, one of Vietnam’s leading real estate companies, has recently introduced its Midtown complex project, which it is developing in a joint venture with three Japanese investors - Daiwa House Industry Company, Nomura Real Estate Development Group, and Sumitomo Forestry Company - in the south of Ho Chi Minh City.

    This is the first condominium project where Phu My Hung has worked with renowned real estate corporations from Japan, in the Phu Hung Thai JSC joint venture.

    “This is the most expensive project built by Phu My Hung for three years,” a representative from Phu My Hung Corporation told VET. She did not, however, give specific investment figures for the project. “The complex will be completed within 2019,” she said.

    The project is aimed at the luxury customer segment. Most construction materials are imported from Europe and all design and construction units come from leading companies in the region.

    Phu My Hung Midtown is located on the two main boulevards of Nguyen Luong Bang and Tan Phu in the Phu My Hung urban area. The strategic location links the busy international and commercial area with the high-end Nam Vien residential area.

    With an administrative area, schools and multi-function buildings (an office, hotel and service complex), Phu My Hung Midtown also boasts a large green space.

    The complex has four buildings connected together on a total area of 56,331 sq m. Residents have access to conveniences such as a swimming pool, a barbecue area, a garden and yoga space on the rooftop terrace, a library and rooms for community activities. 

    The investors have set aside a strip of land next to the northern river bank for Sakura Park, which is being built in line with the idea of cherry blossom parks in Japan. There will also be a play area for children and a multi-purpose sports field.

    “We aim to make the Midtown complex a public space similar to that in The Crescent and be a new landmark in Ho Chi Minh City,” the company representative said.

    Founded in 1955, Daiwa House Industry Company is Japan’s largest homebuilder, specializing in prefabricated houses. It also is engaged in the construction of factories, shopping centers, and healthcare facilities, and the management and operation of resort hotels, golf courses, and fitness clubs.

    The Nomura Real Estate Group is one of the largest real estate investment management companies in Japan, with over $8.4 billion in assets under management.

    The Sumitomo Forestry Company is a comprehensive housing and wooden products corporation engaged in various housing-related businesses, such as wooden custom-housing and building materials manufacturing, distribution and sale via a global network.

    Draft rule requires Internet banking providers to respect copyrights

    Equipment and information technology infrastructure used for Internet banking services at banks must have copyrights and clear origins, according to a draft State Bank of Vietnam circular on Internet banking safety and security.

    The draft circular specifies that in case Internet banking service providers no longer receive support from equipment producers, they will have to upgrade or replace their systems as requested by producers, says a report on the Government portal (chinhphu.vn).

    Internet banking service systems must be deemed as vital and operated in line with the central bank’s regulations to guarantee safety and security for the information technology systems of the banking sector.

    Banks must protect customer details and encrypt all information about online transactions with customers. They will have to take measures to keep their customer database safe and secure, said the draft circular.

    Bank staff’s right to assess customer database must be limited or monitored, according to the draft.

    The draft circular sets four specific value caps for online transactions: below VND50 million, below VND200 million, below VND500 million, and VND500 million or above.

    For institutional clients, the limits are below VND500 million, less than VND1.5 billion and VND1.5 billion or above.

    New finance firm launched, focuses on average-income people

    Military Bank (MB) has launched MB Finance Co Ltd (Mcredit) to offer small loans for average-income people.

    Headquartered in Hanoi, Mcredit has initial chartered capital of VND500 billion (US$21.9 million), which is expected to rise to VND800 billion next year.

    The company looks to become a leading finance firm with a total workforce of 10,000 people by 2021.

    MB chairman Le Huu Duc said that in the 2016-2020 period, the bank wanted to become a leading financial corporation in Vietnam.

    With Japan’s Shinsei Bank holding a 49% stake following a deal signed last month, Mcredit is poised to achieve strong growth in the future as Shinsei has modern technology and more than 50 years’ experience in consumer finance.

    New finance firm launched, focuses on average-income people

    Military Bank (MB) has launched MB Finance Co Ltd (Mcredit) to offer small loans for average-income people.

    Headquartered in Hanoi, Mcredit has initial chartered capital of VND500 billion (US$21.9 million), which is expected to rise to VND800 billion next year.

    The company looks to become a leading finance firm with a total workforce of 10,000 people by 2021.

    MB chairman Le Huu Duc said that in the 2016-2020 period, the bank wanted to become a leading financial corporation in Vietnam.

    With Japan’s Shinsei Bank holding a 49% stake following a deal signed last month, Mcredit is poised to achieve strong growth in the future as Shinsei has modern technology and more than 50 years’ experience in consumer finance.

    Ice-to-fish ratio rule to be removed

    The Government will remove a regulation on ice and moisture content in tra (pangasius) fish fillets from a decree governing production, processing and export of tra fillets, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

    Deputy Minister Vu Van Tam said the regulation which sets the ice-to-fish ratio of tra fillets for export at 10% and the moisture ratio at 83% of net weight would be removed from Decree 36/2014/ND-CP which is being revised.

    Instead, the amended decree would include a set of national technical standards for frozen tra fillets, Tam told a seminar held Wednesday in An Giang Province to review the tra fish sector’s performance this year.

    “As assigned by the agriculture ministry, the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (Nafiqad) has built those technical standards and submit them to the Ministry of Science and Technology for assessment and within this month, the agriculture ministry will issue them,” he said.

    In the new technical standards, the agriculture ministry will set the maximum ice and moisture ratios at 20% and 86% respectively.

    Vo Hung Dung, vice chairman and general secretary of the Vietnam Pangasius Association (VN Pangasius), confirmed the removal of the current ice-to-fish ratio from Decree 36 when reached by the Daily on the sidelines of the seminar.

    The regulation on ice and moisture content in tra fish fillets has been criticized by the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) and enterprises as it has spelled trouble for the sector.

    With the rule delayed several times, the Government has asked the agriculture ministry to amend the decree and develop a set of national technical standards on frozen tra fish fillets.

    The revised decree and new technical standards are expected to be approved within this month, said deputy minister Tam.

     Govt gets tough on fraud in shrimp processing sector

    The Government has approved a plan in which stricter measures will be taken to ward off the illegal practice of injecting jelly into raw shrimp and the trading of jelly-injected shrimp, the Government said on its news site (chinhphu.vn).

    According to the plan, all shrimp farming and processing facilities in the nation's major shrimp farming areas like Ca Mau, Soc Trang, Bac Lieu and Kien Giang provinces will have to sign commitments to neither injecting jelly into shrimp nor buying jelly-injected raw shrimp by the end of next year.

    By 2018, Vietnam will basically have no facilities involved in the illegal practice, says the plan.

    Local authorities will have to raise awareness of the harm of putting jelly in raw shrimp, help distinguish jelly-injected and normal shrimp, handle infringement cases, and impose sanctions on violators.

    Authorities of Ca Mau, Bac Lieu, Soc Trang and Kien Giang will have to set up hotline phone numbers to receive information about violations, help shrimp farming and processing facilities to commitments and publicize a list of signatories.

    The ministries of public security, agriculture-rural development, and industry-trade will have to coordinate with the media to name those facilities illegally inject jelly into shrimp and publicize the sanctions levied.

    The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) will be responsible for organizing a program against jelly-injected shrimp.

    The agriculture ministry will conduct regular inspections to ensure strict compliance, and work with the industry-trade ministry to check if shrimp processors and traders respect the regulation in the transport and distribution processes.

    Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Security will inspect and investigate facilities accused of injecting jelly into shrimp.

    VVF to be merged into SHB early next year

    The merger of Vinaconex-Viettel Finance JSC (VVF) into Saigon-Hanoi Bank (SHB) is expected to be complete early next year following the State Bank of Vietnam’s (SBV) approval. 

    The SBV on Wednesday issued a decision allowing the merger and revoking VVF’s establishment and operation licenses. The licenses will automatically expire when SHB registers the merged entity with the central bank.

    SHB will take over all the assets and liabilities of VVF. Within 45 working days from the date of the decision taking effect (January 12, 2017), SHB must complete procedures for business registration and disclose information as required by the prevailing rules.

    VVF is required to hand over all its assets and liabilities to SHB, return its establishment and operation licenses to the central bank, and announce its closure.  

    In mid-September, the central bank gave “in principle” approval to the merger of VVF into SHB.

    VVF’s chartered capital is VND1 trillion and SHB’s more than VND9.48 trillion. The merger deal was already approved by shareholders of the two businesses.

    The SBV has given the green light to SHB to establish a consumer finance company.

    At an extraordinary general meeting in late October last year, SHB shareholders passed the VVF-SHB merger plan. The bank said it would issue 100 million shares worth a combined VND1 trillion to make the share swap at a 1:1 ratio. SHB will restructure VVF and convert it into a consumer finance firm.   

    According to the SBV, Vietnam had had 16 finance companies by the end of last year. Increasing merger and acquisition (M&A) deals are expected to support the consumer finance market which holds huge growth potential.

    A number of banks have acquired finance companies to restructure them, increase their capital and sell part of their shares to foreign investors over the past years.

    Vietnam high on Japan investor radar

    In Southeast Asia, Vietnam has attracted the most attention from Japanese investors over the past three years, said Koji Maeno, chairman of the Japanese Business Association of HCMC (JBAH).

    Speaking at a roundtable meeting between HCMC authorities and Japanese businesses on December 14, he said Japanese firms were still eyeing Vietnam as a key destination for doing business.

    He said JBAH would carry out a variety of activities to shore up Japanese investment in the city in the coming years, including this roundtable meeting.

    Neighboring provinces including Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Long An and Ba Ria-Vung Tau have also expressed interest in holding such a roundtable between their leaders and Japanese investors to lure more investment from Japan, he noted.

    Le Thanh Liem, vice chairman of HCMC, said the city is determined to make its investment environment better and that Japan is always a key partner of the city in multiple aspects.

    Japan is now the sixth largest foreign investor in HCMC with 943 valid projects worth US$3.05 billion.

    Cat Lai Port says to process exports online next year

    Cat Lai Port will start next year to process containerized cargo exports online to speed up goods clearance and thus cope with worsening traffic congestion around the port area.

    Saigon Newport Corporation (SNP), the operator of Cat Lai Port, on December 15 met importers, exporters, logistics services providers and truckers to introduce its plan to process import and export documentations online.

    To reduce traffic congestion on the roads leading to Cat Lai, SNP deputy general director Ngo Minh Thuan said his firm would offer the online service for goods importers and exporters from January 1, 2017.

    In the initial time, businesses can submit import-export documents either in person or online. But documents of containerized cargo for export will be entirely processed online at the end of the first quarter of 2017.

    In the online procedure, businesses will get electronic invoices. On January 15, 2017, Cat Lai Port will completely shift to issuing electronic invoices, freeing businesses from the requirement to go to the port to collect paper invoices.

    Pham Truong Sa, head of the truck fleet at Tracimexo - Supply Chains and Agency Services JS Company (TRA-SAS), said it normally took his firm about 30 minutes to complete paper procedures for receiving cargo. The time required for online transactions will fall to a mere two minutes, accelerating the transport of export goods to the port.

    “The online procedures will certainly save a lot of time, energy and cost,” he said.

    Online procedures and fee payments have been piloted by SNP since early this year. Now 60% of exporters file for export procedures online.

    SNP expects to make all the remaining services online in the second or third quarter next year.

    Traffic congestion on the roads leading to Cat Lai Port has recently worsened. At present, Cat Lai Port handles about 17,000 truck visits a day, 13,000 of them by container vehicles, according to the HCMC Department of Transport.

    Therefore, online documentation processing and fee payments are highly expected to ease traffic congestion in Cat Lai Port area.

    Central city and Gifu Shinkin bank ink MoU on investment     

    The Da Nang Investment Support and Promotion Board, and Japan’s Gifu Shinkin Bank, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on co-operation, investment promotion for small and medium-sized enterprises from Japan in the central Vietnamese coastal city.

    Gifu Shinkin, the largest bank in Gifu, Japan, has more than 156,000 customers, of which seven are Japanese enterprises in Da Nang.

    Director of the city’s Investment Support and Promotion Board, Le Canh Duong, said this was the first MoU that the board has signed with a Japanese bank.

    He said Japan is the biggest investor in Da Nang, with 113 projects worth $397.5 million – 10.78 per cent of the accumulated foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in the city – creating 32,000 jobs.

    Duong said 84 per cent of Japanese investment is focussed on manufacturing, food processing, construction and information technology, while healthcare, real estate, tourism and education have emerged as new investment fields among Japanese investors in recent years.

    Bank Chairman Masatoshi Takahashi said many Japanese investors eye Da Nang investments and are eager to explore the investment environment there.

    Takahashi said a business delegation from Aichi will visit Viet Nam next March, and Da Nang will be a favored stop.

    Đà Nẵng has smoothed the way for Japanese investors by setting up a Japanese to support investors by explaining administrative procedures, investment licences, policies and other issues.

    The city has developed an Information Park on 344ha of land in Hoa Vang District and an IT park on 55.6ha nearby, where space has been reserved for IT investors from Japan.

    The city also plans to build an industrial park for small- and medium-sized businesses from Japan on 134ha.

    Da Nang will begin construction of the Japan-Viet Nam Culture Centre in Ngu Hanh Son District and launch a new direct flight from Da Nang to Osaka next year.

    The Route Inn Group from Japan has started construction of a coastal resort, the first of its kind in Viet Nam, with a total investment of $18 million, while the Japanese JP Holdings company plans to invest in a high-quality kindergarten education project in the city from next year, with estimated capital of $5 million.

    According to the latest reports, Da Nang has attracted 423 foreign investment projects worth $3.68 billion to date.

    Last year, the board also inked a MoU with KPMG, one of the largest audit, tax and advisory firms in the world, on co-operation, investment promotion and providing service for businesses and investors in Da Nang.

    The central city greatly improved its administrative reform and Provincial Competitive Index over the past few decades, but poor investment promotion abroad has prevented key investors from approaching the city and central region in recent years. 

    Improvement urged in e-authentication     

    The National Electronic Authentication Centre (NEAC) should put in place technical solutions to manage providers of certificate authentication (CA) services, said Nguyen Thanh Hung, deputy minister of Information and Communication.

    Hung said at a conference in Ha Noi on Thursday that the centre should enhance check-ups of the CA service providers, as well as on-site training of their human resources.

    CA service is used to certify information of online transactions. Local businesses are obliged to use CA for implementation of electronic tax and e-customs declaration.

    The centre should promote international co-operation in CA services as the development of the information and communication sector is dependent on international integration, he said.

    He also instructed the centre to design both short-term and long-term projects for its further development.

    La Hoang Trung, NEAC’s director, said the centre paid attention this year to building policies and legal documents for CA operations. It co-operated with the ministry of Finance’s Planning and Finance Department on a directive regulating collection fees, declarations and management of CA systems, which will take effects at the beginning of next year.

    Last year, the centre reviewed applications to provide CA services of four companies including SmartSign, Newtel-CA, Safe-CA and VNPT-CA. SmartSign was granted a licence to provide the service on Nov. 4. The other licences have still not been issued.

    The centre also applied for special CA operation of SeaBank for the banking sector.

    It has promoted international co-operation with KOICA–NIPA, signing memorandum of understanding with the Laos National Internet Centre (LANIC). It also co-operated with the Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA) to implement a project for advanced CA infrastructure in Viet Nam, as well as ICT co-operation in ASEAN region.

    The centre will implement co-operation activities to promote CA applications by State agencies, localities and businesses in 2017. It will also provide consultancy for setting up of CA applications in State-owned groups and corporations and provide training courses on CA services for companies. 

    Private sector’s role in national economic development

    Vietnam now has 500,000 private enterprises which employ more than 15 million people and contributes 40% of the national GDP. Vietnam has adopted many policies to develop the private economic sector.

    The 12th National Party Congress, which has insisted on building a socialist-oriented market economy, considers the private sector a key driver of the national economy where stakeholders in different sectors are equal under law.

    Associate Professor Doan Minh Huan, Deputy Editor-in-chief of the Communist Review, said “Ensuring equality between economic sectors provides the private economic sector with more opportunities to access land and credit, even the resources of the public sector. The policies on public-private cooperation have ensured that the private sector will cooperate with the state sector to exploit the available resources.”

    Most private companies are small and lack the connectivity and capacity to respond to risks. Tran Kim Chung, Deputy Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, underscored the need to ensure healthy competition and equality between businesses so that private enterprises can grow.

    According to Chung, “the most essential thing is to improve the market mechanism. We should enhance transparency, renovate the state management, stabilize the macro-economy, and eliminate problems that reduce investment effectiveness.”

    To support the contribution of the private sector to the national economy, Vietnam has implemented corporate solutions in which businesses identify their competitive advantages and disadvantages, focus investment on their core business, and improve the management capacity.

    Pham Thi Thu Hang, Secretary General of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said “The Chamber is identifying obstacles faced by enterprises for a report to the government. In addition to a government resolution on supporting and developing businesses until 2020, we are devising an action plan to help private companies and SMEs.”

    Addressing the recent Vietnam Business Forum, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc reiterated the government’s commitment to perfecting market institutions policies, and laws, continuing administrative reform, enhancing national competitiveness, and facilitating conditions for the domestic private and FDI sectors.

    He said “FDI businesses should trust in Vietnam’s reforms and accelerate the transfer of advanced technology, human resource training, and the sharing of corporate governance experience. FDI enterprises should also honor their responsibility to society and join hands with Vietnam in protecting natural resources and the environment.”

    In the socio-economic development strategy until 2020, Vietnam has pledged to create the most favorable conditions for Vietnamese enterprises, especially private businesses, to promote competitiveness and economic self-reliance.

    Vietnam posts brisk sales of beef from France

    The Vietnam government has lifted a 15-year ban on the import of French beef effective as of December 15, of last year.

    France is currently the largest cattle producer in the EU and dominates the beef trade in the political-economic union of 28 member states with its estimated 510 million strong population. 

    In June 2015, the World Organization for Animal Health declared the French beef industry as having a negligible risk for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), more commonly known as Mad Cow Disease.

    This is the best possible sanitary status that can be attained for BSE, reserved for the countries that have demonstrated a perfect management of the disease and that have had no reported cases for a minimum of ten years (April, 2004 for France).

    Before this upgrade, the French industry had been classified under the already commendable category of ‘controlled risk status’.