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- 04/03/17--01:44: _Article 7
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- 04/04/17--06:52: _Article 4
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- 04/04/17--07:40: _Article 2
- 04/05/17--03:03: _Article 1
- 04/05/17--03:26: _Article 0
- 03/29/17--01:59: Article 7
- 03/29/17--02:21: Article 6
- 03/29/17--02:32: Article 5
- 03/29/17--02:46: Article 4
- 03/29/17--02:48: Article 3
- 03/29/17--03:26: Article 2
- 03/30/17--02:07: Article 1
- 03/30/17--02:41: Article 0
- 04/02/17--06:50: Article 11
- 04/02/17--07:13: Article 10
- 04/02/17--07:35: Article 9
- 04/03/17--01:22: Article 8
- 04/03/17--01:44: Article 7
- 04/03/17--02:14: Article 6
- 04/04/17--06:31: Article 5
- 04/04/17--06:52: Article 4
- 04/04/17--07:05: Article 3
- 04/04/17--07:40: Article 2
- 04/05/17--03:03: Article 1
- 04/05/17--03:26: Article 0
BUSINESS IN BRIEF 29/3
Manufacturing sector accounts for 84.9% of Q1’s FDI
Vietnam’s manufacturing sector has proven a magnet for foreign direct investment in the first quarter, absorbing US$6.54 billion, which accounted for 84.9% of total registered capital in the period.
The information was released by the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
Economic experts said that Vietnam needs to research and create favourable conditions for foreign direct investment (FDI) businesses to improve the quality and value of manufactured products.
In addition, FDI enterprises should be encouraged to enlarge investment scale, renovate technology and diversify investment goals to meet legal regulations on foreign investment as well as manufacturing development planning.
Real estate came in second in FDI attraction with nearly 344 million USD, making up of 4.4 percent of total capital, followed by whole sales and retail sale with 296.8 million USD.
The FIA reported that by March 20, investment licenses were licensed to 493 projects with a total registered capital of 2.9 billion VND, a year-on-year increase of 6.5 percent.
Meanwhile, 223 operating projects added 3.94 billion USD in capital, up more than 206 percent from the same period last year. There were also 1,077 deals of capital contribution and share purchase by foreign investors with a total value of nearly 853 million USD, a year-on-year surge of 171.5 percent.
As such, total FDI capital poured into the country was estimated at 7.71 billion USD, increasing 91.5 percent over the same time last year.
Exports of the foreign-invested sector in the reviewed period (including crude oil) reached over 31.4 billion USD, up 13 percent from the same period in 2016 and accounting for 71.8 percent of total exports.
Among 71 countries and territories investing in Vietnam, the Republic of Korea is the country’s largest investor with 3.74 billion USD, accounting for 48.61 percent of total investment capital. It was followed by Singapore with 911 million USD and China with 823.6 million USD.
Samsung Display Vietnam in northern Bac Ninh province adjusting its capital up by 2.5 billion USD increased the province’s FDI to 2.61 billion USD, or 33.86 percent of the total, making the locality the largest FDI recipient in the period.
Southern Binh Duong province ranked second with a registered capital of 1.39 million USD, or over 18 percent of total foreign investment and Ho Chi Minh came in third with nearly 600 million USD, or 7.78 percent of the total.
Local reform must be hastened: businesses
The Government of Vietnam has made accelerated efforts to improve the business climate but more drastic measures must be taken at local levels where firms still face obstacles in doing business, according to the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).
Resolution 19 has already made positive progress toward improving the business climate and national competitiveness, said Phan Duc Hieu, Deputy Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, at an online conference held on March 23 by the Dien Dan Doanh Nghiep (Business Forum) newspaper.
However, Hieu said the progerss of reform remains slow at many local agencies due to slack officials and lack of accountability, determination as well as cooperation.
"The problem is how the policies are implemented. I have not seen breakthroughs in implementation during the past three years.” Results were still much below the expectations of most firms, he said.
“Challenges are ahead and great effort is needed for this period of reform,” Hieu said, pointing out that reforms must now be hastened in order to realise the Government’s goal of doubling efficient firms to 1 million by 2020.
Hieu said that while several localities were active in quickening reforms, others lacked dynamism. “It is vital to create a transparent and fair working environment to promote the efficiency of State officials. Business associations must play their role in raising their voices and calling for more actions by management agencies to remove difficulties for firms,” said Hieu.
According to Nguyen Van Thoi, President of the Thai Nguyen Province Business Association, policy-makers should force local agencies working directly with businesses to hasten reforms. Due to lack of sanctions, local agencies are stagnant in making changes, he said.
Thoi added that management agencies should regularly hold dialogues with businesses to listen to their difficulties and adopt measures to handle them.
Thoi said that there should be a “meter” to measure results of reforms.
Nguyen Nhan Phuong, President of the Bac Ninh Province Business Association, said administrative procedures remain complicated and time-taking.
Phuong said supports, especially in land policies and credits, targeting small and medium-sized firms should be raised.
At the conference, businesses said that reforms, such as e-tax and e-customs, helped cut business costs significantly, but greater effort were needed.
Experts said that accountability of heads of administrative management agencies must be promoted to speed up reforms. “What businesses want is a reform with quality,” said Dau Anh Tuan, head of the VCCI’s Legal Department.
In April, the Prime Minister will hold a direct dialogue with businesses.
ROK drug companies target Vietnamese market
Leading pharmaceutical companies from the Republic of Korea (ROK) are pouring money into Vietnamese operations as they battle for increased market share in the fast-growing generics segment.
The Vietnam government is initiating a competitive bidding system for generic drugs imported and distributed in the country for which it divides foreign suppliers into five classes and sets a limit on their participation in bidding.
Up until recently the highest rating given to any company from the ROK was to Korea United Pharm, which had a Grade 3, with all other pharmaceuticals from the East Asian country classified into Grade-5 suppliers.
However, in January, Vietnamese officials raised eight Korean pharmaceuticals to Grade 2.
The latest move came after the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety requested Vietnam to recognize its Good Manufacturing Practice certificate and accession to the Pharmaceutical Inspection Convention and Pharmaceutical Inspection Cooperation Scheme.
The eight pharma companies are Dongkwang Pharm, Dongkook Pharmaceutical, Myungmoon Pharmaceutical, Samil Pharm, Samjin Pharm, JW Life Science, LG Chem and Korea United Pharm.
The Grade 2 classification benefits the eight ROK pharmaceuticals in the competitive bid process in Vietnam when they submit proposals for medications, ointments, vaccines and other generics.
The National Assembly of Vietnam adopted a new Law on Pharmacy last June and it came into effect January 1, 2017.
The new law specifically allows parallel import of drugs so long as the price of the parallel-imported product is lower than the price of the original brand-name drug currently being circulated in Vietnam.
Though the general concept of parallel imports is not new to the pharmaceutical industry in Vietnam, this is the first time that a regulation on parallel imports has been promulgated under a law.
The pharmaceutical market in Vietnam is forecast to increase from US$4.2 billion in 2015 to US$7.2 billion by 2020, according to a report by BMI Research.
The domestic pharmaceutical segment is still very fragmented and the management standards typically are quite poor, say most industry analysts, which provides strategic investors from the ROK a golden opportunity.
Regional conference: contracts signed for ensuring food security
As many as 49 contracts were signed at the regional conference on food security in Hanoi on March 22-23, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture of the Netherlands Marjolijn Sonnema.
According to the Dutch official, the Netherlands had three major contracts, including its commitment to an investment package worth 150,000 EUR for seafood index building and governance, thereby supporting big seafood firms in Asia, towards the sustainability in aquaculture.
The Netherlands will also help Vietnam implement a project to reduce post-harvest loss, the country and Vietnam will sign a protocol on enhancing cooperation on food security, she said.
According to Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong, the two-day conference focused on measures to promote cooperation among countries to overcome challenges, towards building a sustainable and smart agriculture, contributing to ensuring food security and safety amidst climate change.
Addressing a press conference in Hanoi on March 23, Sonnema affirmed her country, with its experience, expertise, technology and capacity, can help Vietnam build a sustainable agriculture.
She also highlighted great potential for the two countries to enhance cooperate in agricultural development as both sides are exporters of agricultural products, and both are facing with challenges caused by climate change, especially in water management for agricultural production.
Sonnema was on a visit to Vietnam from March 20-23, during which many events were arranged to boost partnership between Vietnamese and Dutch enterprises, laying a foundation for strengthening economic and trade links between the two countries in the future.
Central localities promotes MICE tourism
Representatives of more than 30 travel agencies in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have visited Danang and Hoi An city of Quang Nam province to survey MICE tourism opportunities.
This year, the central city of Danang is se to host the APEC Summit, the International Firework Festival, the Da Nang International Marathon Competition, the Asia Golf Tourism Festival, the Iron Man competition, and the Da Nang Kite festival.
Quang Nam province will host the 6th Heritage Festival, the Kite Festival, and the International Yachting Race.
Director General of NewStar Tour Company Luong Duy Ngan said Danang city and Quang Nam province have become a potential market for MICE tourism because services are abundant and safe. In Danang, the Fumara Resort can serve 3,500 customers at a time.
Vietnam Airlines now uses Airbus A350 on flights to Japan
Vietnam Airlines carried out its maiden flight to Japan with Europe's new-generation A350-900 for the first time on March 26, as it targets fuel savings and better passenger comfort.
The lightweight carbon-fibre plane landed the debut flight at 2:48pm (local time) at the Haneda Airport, with the pilot reporting that it had performed smoothly.
The Airbus A350-900 is the most popular of the three A350 variants, carrying 325 passengers with a range of 15,000 kilometres. The appeal for airlines is cost effectiveness.
They're workhorses, with durable airframes and low maintenance costs.
PVN shakes hand with US oil supermajor
The Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) and the US-based Exxon Mobil Corporation (Exxon Mobil) signed an investment agreement concerning the Blue Whale natural gas well, under the supervision of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
The Blue Whale well is the largest natural gas project to date in Việt Nam, with an approximated on site reserve of about 150 billion cubic metres.
Exxon Mobil is set to invest in a well head platform for offshore water separation and two underground mining groups, each with four extraction wells and an 88 kilometre-long pipe connecting to the Chu Lai coast.
On land, PetroVietnam will invest in a gas processing factory and a power plant with two generators at 600 to 700 megawatts capacity each.
The Quang Nam province project is expected to become operational in 2023.
Another power plant will be built in neighbouring Quang Ngai province on a similar scale and estimated completion date.
The goal for annual gas production is approximately nine to ten billion cubic metre, in which one billion cubic metre is provided to the Dung Quat refinery for downstream activities.
The Blue Whale project can generate an annual amount of natural gas enough for four to five power plant with over 3,000 megawatts capacity.
It is expected to ensure national energy security, in line with both the PM’s plan for natural gas and electricity and the economic development for Quang Nam province.
The deal between the two oil companies was made as part of a conference on promoting investment in Quang Nam province on March 26th, 2017.
Thailand continues to be top supplier of home appliances to VN
Thailand remains the biggest exporter of electrical appliances and accessories to Viet Nam, according to the customs department.
The first two months of the year saw US$238.5 million worth of electrical appliances and accessories imported into Viet Nam, a year-on-year increase of 5.15 per cent.
Imports from Thailand accounted for $120 million, a 3.1 per cent rise year-on- year.
Imports from China dipped by 2.49 per cent to $42.5 million. Malaysia was Viet Nam’s third biggest supplier, with shipments worth $32.9 million, a year-on-year decline of 8.62 per cent.
Imports from Italy surged by 167.7 per cent, admittedly from a small base, to $1.9 million.
Automated petrol pumps a bust
All 2,400 gas stations owned by the Viet Nam National Petroleum Group (Petrolimex) are designed to accommodate cash free purchases and can switch to an automated pay model to help reduce labour costs, especially late at night, said Bui Ngoc Bao, Petrolimex’s Chairman.
Although automated payment functions are readily available, Petrolimex’s three year test run has yet to be implemented on a larger scale.
In Ha Noi, the company has seven petrol stations with automated pumps for customers paying via credit cards, but they must all be accompanied by normal pumps with workers to supply the demand of the majority who pay by cash.
Bao stated the main reason behind the automated model failure is price difference; banks charge an additional fee for card-based purchases that is not borne by the customers but the company itself and is not included in the circulation and management fee that Petrolimex pays the Government.
Said transaction fee ranges from 0.5 to 1 per cent of total amount paid for domestic cards and 2.5 per cent for international cards.
The circulation and management fee imposed by the Government is about 5 per cent of total price, including importing costs, storage costs, distribution costs or losses, of which labour costs account for 30 per cent in total.
Furthermore, as petrol prices are regulated by the Government, petrol companies cannot change the price to respond to the market’s elasticity.
In reality, the price recorded at Petrolimex’s automatic stations is only VND100 (0.44 US cent) per litre cheaper than those with human workers.
This makes customers hesitant to pump petrol themselves, seeing how they will only save a miniscule amount of money even when the drop in price is solely created by Petrolimex to encourage them and is not included in the Government’s regulated price list.
In addition, since motorbikes, the most common vehicles in Viet Nam, do not have a safety switch to stop petrol from being pumped into the tank like cars, spilling is bound to occur and cause danger to the drivers. This is amplified by the lack of etiquette and regard for public safety in people who use mobile phones and smoke within the vicinity of a petrol station, regardless of prohibiting signs.
To counter this, the company has proposed to the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industry and Trade to adjust the operation costs for petrol from 5 per cent to 10 per cent, a common rate in advanced countries, to push for cash-free purchases and the automated pumping model.
If said transaction fee can be included in regulated petrol price, in the next three years, Petrolimex expects to convert 70 per cent of all petrol stations to automatic model, keeping only 30 per cent with workers, said Bao.
The company aims to make automatic technology more popular to help save time and cut cost for customers and to improve service.
Inter-bank rate hits record high since after Tet
Inter-bank rate has increased for the past three consecutive weeks, with the rate hitting a record high since after Tet (Lunar New Year), according to a report from the Bao Viet Securities Company.
In the week from March 20-24, the rate continuously inched up by 16-17 percentage points for all terms, the report showed.
With the rise, overnight rate reached 4.86 per cent per year. The rates for one-week and two-week loans were 4.92 per cent and 4.94 per cent, respectively.
During the week, the central bank made a net injection of VND3.31 trillion (US$145.99 million) via open market operation to support liquidity for the banking system.
It also did not issue T-bills for all terms in the week.
Liquidity remains strong: State Bank of VN
Liquidity of the banking system remains good and the interest rate level is stable with no pressure on rate hike reported.
The State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) released the news on Monday in the wake of a recent deposit interest rate hike by some small-sized banks.
According to the SBV, while some banks have increased sharply long-term interest rates offered on certificates of deposit, some others have adjusted interest rate down by 10-30 percentage points per year.
Last week, VPBank announced it is offering a rate of 9.2 per cent per year for five-year certificates of deposit.
VietA Bank and Sacombank have also listed a high rate of 8.2 per cent per year for certificates of deposit.
However, during the week, VIB cut interest rate by 10-30 percentage points per year for all terms, making the rate for 1-2 month deposits stand at 5.1 per cent per year, for 3-5 month deposits at 5.2 per cent, for 6-11 month deposits at 5.6 per cent and for deposits above 12 months at 7.1 per cent.
The rate was also down by 20 percentage points for 18-36 month deposits at Maritime Bank and 10 percentage points at Ban Viet Bank and DongA Bank.
In the report released on Monday, SBV also said the adjustment of interest rate at some banks is normal to fit the banks’ business strategies, adding that some banks could increase interest rate temporarily at this time, but they could then adjust the rate lower next time.
Last week, some experts forecast that interest rate could rise after some banks issued certificates of deposit at high interest rates of up to 8.2-9.2 per cent per year.
The rate was much higher than the average deposit interest rates offered by other commercial banks. Currently, State-owned commercial banks offer a rate of 6.5-6.8 per cent per year for long-term deposits, while it is 7-7.5 per cent at large-sized joint stock commercial banks and 8-8.2 per cent at small-sized banks.
Experts said banks have been forced to hike interest rates on long-term deposits so that they have enough funds to provide long and medium-term loans.
According to statistics, 80-90 per cent of deposits currently are short-term while demand for long and medium-term loans is growing rapidly.
In addition, SBV’s amendments to Circular 36/2014/TT-NHNN reducing the ratio of short-term deposits that can be used for medium and long-term loans from the current 60 per cent to 40 per cent have caused deposit interest rates to rise.
Experts, so far, still say keeping the interest rate stable would be hard work for the central bank this year, especially since it has to meet two other targets of controlling inflation to below 4 per cent and providing support to attain economic growth at least 6.7 per cent this year.
IVS to expand to Japan via merger
Vietnam Investment Securities Company (IVS) will merge with Japan Securities Incorporated (JSI) to boost the number of customers, financial capability and expand the operation to Japan.
After the merger, the capital of IVS will increase to VND372 billion (US$16.53 million), IVS said in its statement at the annual shareholder meeting held on Saturday.
The merger will make JSI a department at IVS, and it will focus on the Japanese market only. Current shareholders of JSI will commit not to withdraw from it in the next three years after the merger is approved by the State Securities Commission.
However, the company did not clarify in its statement when the merger would take place.
The merger was also approved by the shareholders of JSI at the firm’s annual shareholder meeting held on March 14.
Vietnamese shareholders hold 48.87 per cent of JSI’s capital now, including Viglacera Investment and Import-Export JSC (10 per cent).
Japanese shareholders hold the rest of the company’s capital, including the Hong Kong-based Tanamark Investment Ltd (20 per cent), Aizawa Securities Co Ltd (14.5 per cent) and Japan Asia Securities Co Ltd (14.5 per cent).
In 2016, IVS earned a total revenue of VND26 billion and a post-tax profit of VND97.4 million. The figures were 95 per cent and only 5 per cent of last year’s targeted earnings. IVS will not pay dividend for last year’s performance.
In the third quarter of 2016, IVS issued 17.9 million shares to increase its chartered capital from VND161 billion to VND340 billion.
For 2017, IVS has forecast Viet Nam’s economic growth at 6.5 per cent to 6.7 per cent and inflation rate at 4 per cent to 5 per cent, allowing the Government to keep the lending rates low and support the growth of the securities market.
According to the company, Vietnamese economy will reach its short-term peak in three years.
Q1 FDI up 91% y-o-y
Foreign direct investment (FDI) stood at $7.71 billion in the first quarter of this year, according to the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA), more than double the $3.4 billion received in the first two months and up 91.5 per cent year-on-year.
As at March 20, 493 new foreign-invested projects with capital of more than $2.9 billion had been licensed, an increase of 6.5 per cent year-on-year. Additional capital of $3.94 billion also came from 223 existing projects, up 206.4 per cent year-on-year.
Foreign investors also outlaid $852.86 million in buying stock market shares, up 171.5 per cent year-on-year.
There was also a slight increase in FDI disbursement in the first quarter, at $3.62 billion, a year-on-year increase of 3.4 per cent.
Samsung Display Vietnam added $2.5 billion to its ongoing project in the northern province of Bac Ninh, Taiwan's Polytex Far Eastern Company added $485.8 million to its investment in the Bau Bang Industrial Zone in southern Binh Duong province, and Coca-Cola Vietnam added $319.8 million to a project in Hanoi.
Newly-licensed projects included the $284.75 million Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park III (VSIP 3) in Binh Duong, the $269.54 million Tole Panel Plant in southern Binh Phuoc province, and the $220 million KVT-1 tire fiber project of Kolon Industries Inc. in Binh Duong.
Thanks to the giant Samsung project, South Korea was the largest source of FDI to Vietnam in the first quarter, with $3.74 billion, accounting for 48.61 per cent of the total, followed by Singapore with $910.8 million and 11.81 per cent and China with $823.6 million and 10.68 per cent.
FDI was poured into 18 industries and sectors. The manufacturing and processing sector remained the most attractive, receiving $6.54 billion and accounting for 84.9 per cent of the total. Real estate sector was second, with $343.69 million and 4.4 per cent, followed by wholesale and retail with $296.8 million and 3.85 per cent.
Among 52 localities nationwide that received FDI in the first quarter, Bac Ninh province took the lead, with registered capital of $2.61 billion, or 33.86 per cent, followed by Binh Duong with $1.39 billion, or 18.01 per cent and Ho Chi Minh City with $600 million, or 7.78 per cent.
Bank AGM season underway
The annual general meeting (AGM) season for banks has begun, with the Lien Viet Post Commercial Joint Stock Bank (LienVietPostBank) holding theirs and other banks to follow in April.
Many banks have already revealed their business plans for 2017.
ACB set a target for credit growth of 16 per cent, customer deposits and total assets to increase 16 per cent, a bad debt ratio of less than 2 per cent, and consolidated pre-tax profit of about VND2.2 trillion ($96.82 million), a 32 per cent increase compared to results in 2016.
The bank will focus on credit growth for individual customers and small businesses and improving customer service quality to increase fee income from service activities. It will also focus on recovering bad debts and restructuring its headquarter and branch personnel.
Military Bank (MBB) plans pre-tax profit of VND4.7 trillion ($206.3 million), up 29 per cent against 2016. ROE is targeted at 15 per cent, compared to the 12 per cent result last year.
Meanwhile, LienVietPostBank has set a profit target this year of VND1.5 trillion ($65.86 million), up 11 per cent compared to last year.
The Orient Commercial Joint Stock Bank (OCB) plans to submit the following figures to its upcoming AGM: Total assets up 33 per cent to VND85 trillion ($3.73 billion), revenue from fees to increase over 12 per cent, and pre-tax profit to reach VND780 billion ($34.25 million), up 60 per cent compared to 2016.
HD Bank will submit seek approval of its business plan for 2017 at its AGM. Lending is to reach VND123.4 trillion ($5.42 billion), pre-tax profit VND1.6 trillion ($72.15 million), up 28 per cent compared to 2016, and a bad debt ratio of less than 1.5 per cent.
Major banks such as Vietcombank, BIDV, and Vietinbank have not published the documents to be presented to their AGMs as yet, but after a positive 2016 they are expected to set higher targets than last year.
Six banks pledge $1.14bn in finance to projects in Quang Nam
Six banks - BIDV, Vietcombank, VietinBank, Agribank, LienVietPostBank, and SHB - pledged credit of VND26 trillion ($1.14 billion) for ten major projects in central Quang Nam province on March 26 at the Investment Promotion Conference.
The projects focus on key areas such as tourism, services and facilities, infrastructure, industrial zone development, hi-tech agriculture, and hospitals.
Vietcombank has signed a credit and loan agreement with the Truong Hai Automobile Joint Stock Company (THACO) and its member companies and a warehouse project belonging to the Central Gas Limited Liability Company.
BIDV signed a credit agreement for the Holiday Inn Hoi An Resort belonging to the Nam Sao Investment Joint Stock Company and for expansions to the Phu Ninh ecotourism area belonging to the Hung Cuong Tourism Investment Joint Stock Company.
Agribank, meanwhile, granted a working capital loan to the Chu Lai Floating Glass Joint Stock Company, while VietinBank pledged to finance the Nam Hoi An Resort belonging to the Nam Hoi An Development Limited Liability Company and a bridge project on the northern access road to Cua Dai Bridge and urban areas of Hoi An belonging to the Dat Phuong Joint Stock Company.
Lien Viet Post Commercial Joint Stock Bank has signed a credit agreement for an investment project completing infrastructure at the Nui Thanh town residential area and a concrete plant of the An An Hoa Limited Liability Company.
SHB Bank signed a credit agreement for the Tien Phuoc Pacific Polyclinic and Factory producing and processing products from ginseng and medicinal plants, belonging to the Danaco Quang Nam Joint Stock Company.
Banks operating in Quang Nam province had provided loans totaling more than VND46 trillion ($2.02 billion), mainly in priority sectors such as agriculture, exports, and tourism, as at the end of February.
Loans for agricultural and rural development signed under Decree No.55/2015/ND-CP dated June 9, 2015 from the government were estimated at VND7.88 trillion ($346 million), accounting for 17.12 per cent of total loans. Loans for new rural construction was estimated at VND7.3 trillion ($324.6 million), accounting for 16.03 per cent.
Savills merges with Alternaty
Savills Vietnam announced a merger with Alternaty on March 28, a leading hotel advisory company in Indochina, to provide a full-service platform on hotel advisory services in Vietnam’s hospitality market.
The merger highlights Savill’s commitment to accelerating growth in the Asia-Pacific region and particular in Southeast Asia.
The Alternaty team will join the well-established hotel business at Savills to focus on providing hotel advisory services to serve institutional owners, investors, and developers in the hotel and leisure sector.
The merger will give Savills a platform to tap into Indochina’s rapidly growing hospitality markets, in which Vietnam saw a 26 per cent increase in foreign arrivals in 2016. With a growing number of investors actively seeking hotel and resort assets, this will complement Savills’ already substantial investment brokerage platform.
Services in Vietnam will include relevant hotel-related services as:
Hotel & Resort Market Research
Operator Selection & Hotel Management Contract Negotiation
Investment Brokerage & Advisory Service
Mr. Mauro Gasparotti, co-founder and Executive Director of Alternaty Vietnam, said “we are delighted to become part of the Savills family and to leverage Savills’ extensive operations, sales and marketing platform in the region. This merger enables us to further our best practices into untapped opportunities in Southeast Asia.”
“Vietnam’s hotel industry is becoming more dynamic as more players enter the growing market, with the number of five-star hotel rooms in 2015 soaring 37 per cent year-on-year to 24,000,” said Mr. Rudolf Hever, co-founder and Managing Director of Alternaty Real Estate. “This growing trend in hotel development can be seen across all hotel segments, with an estimated 15-20 per cent growth in total hotel supply in the short term. Besides the key cities of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, markets such as Phu Quoc Island, Da Nang and Nha Trang are catching investor attention too. The total hotel transaction volume has reached almost $500 million in the last 24 months.”
Mr. Neil MacGregor, Managing Director of Savills Vietnam, said “the Alternaty team, led by Mauro and Rudolf, are well-known as market leaders in Hospitality in Indochina. Their capabilities will add depth to establish a robust platform, offering a complete suite of services for the hotel development lifecycle. Our ability to offer hotel consultancy will expand our capability and boost other Savills Vietnam business lines, including the project management, investment advisory, research & valuation, and agency businesses.”
Founded in 2012, Alternaty is the only local hotel consultancy in Vietnam, with strong local knowledge and contacts and an extensive track record in commercial property, hotel, and resort advisory throughout the Indochina region.
Construction of Vinpearl Nam Hoi An resort and tourim complex underway
Vingroup held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Vinpearl Nam Hoi An resort and tourism complex in central Quang Nam province on March 26 with the attendance of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
The project is Vinpearl’s first resort complex, with total investment capital of VND5 trillion ($227.2 million) and located in Binh Duong and Binh Minh communes in Thang Binh district.
The project will cover an area of 200 ha and includes a Vinpearl hotel and villas, a Vinpearl Golf Club, a Vinpearl Land entertainment area, a Vincom Trade Center, and a Hi-Tech Park combined with VinEco tourism.
The project will be implemented in two phases. The first will see the hotel, villas, convention center, restaurant and hi-tech agricultural area being built, with completion expected on April 30, 2018.
The second phase will focus on completing all technical infrastructure and developing items for the amusement park and golf course, with completion expected by 2019.
Mr. Nguyen Viet Quang, Vice Chairman of Vingroup, told the ceremony that the Vinpearl Nam Hoi resort and tourism complex is an important project for Vingroup, not only expanding Vinpearl’s network but also being the first Vinpearl five-star resort complex. “We are committed to implementing the project on schedule and with top quality, contributing to Quang Nam’s tourism sector becoming a key economic sector in the future,” he added.
Vinpearl will continue to operate eight resorts and hotels in Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Hoi An, Cam Ranh, and Phu Quoc Island this year. It has 18 hotels with a total of 11,000 rooms and meets demand among domestic and foreign tourists at a time when Vietnam’s tourism sector is growing strongly.
Construction of IMG Airlines Building gets underway
The IMG Corporation has held a breaking ground ceremony for its IMG Airlines Building project in Ho Chi Minh City, with construction expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2018.
The project is located at 371 Nguyen Kiem Street in Go Vap district, next to Pham Van Dong Boulevard and Tan Son Nhat International Airport and just 20 minutes away from the city center.
The building will have a gross floor area (GFA) of approximately 30,000 sq m, designed with a large open floor plan and centralized air systems and will have international-standard property management.
The IMG Airlines Building will provide the complete package, from office space to complimentary services for logistics and transportation companies. It will dramatically reshape the business landscape in the Tan Son Nhat area.
“The IMG Airlines Building is designed based on our company’s aspirations, applying green technology and using solar energy to supply electricity,” said Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Hien, Chairwoman of IMG.
The building is a part of IMG Corporation’s sustainable development strategy, establishing a foundation to launch IMG Logistic, which will be a pioneer in providing complete, uniform logistics solutions.
IMG and real estate consultants JLL Vietnam have signed an exclusive agreement, with the latter providing marketing and leasing services for the building to introduce multinational companies to fast-growing Go Vap district.
Mr. Stephen Wyatt, Country Head of JLL Vietnam, said that office vacancy rates in the city have reached an all-time high of 95 per cent. “Occupiers, therefore, are struggling to find good quality office buildings such as the IMG Airlines Building,” he added.
IMG Corporation has a range of subsidiaries, operating mainly in the legal, finance, investment, immigration, communications, airline, and energy sectors.
JLL was previously selected to manage the Vista Verde project in Ho Chi Minh City and Mulberry Lane in Hanoi.
Vista Verde is located on 34,056 sq m in Thanh My Loi ward in District 2 and is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter.
It has 1,152 premium apartments offering state-of-the-art recreational facilities such as a gym and a swimming pool, a clubhouse, lounging islands, a jogging track, and a tennis court. It will also have a retail mall.
Mulberry Lane, meanwhile, sits on 24,466 sq m and is strategically located in the Mo Lao New Urban Area in Ha Dong district, an up-and-coming residential area that is the preferred choice of affluent local people and expatriates.
It has 1,478 premium apartments of various types and entertainment facilities such as a swimming pool.
Office segment still up in Q1
Vietnam’s real estate market was led by Grade B office space in the first quarter of the year, the “Office Market in the First Quarter of 2017” conference held in Hanoi on March 24 heard.
Ms. Nguyen Bich Trang, Director of CBRE Hanoi, said that supply in the office segment has increased slightly.
New supply in the first quarter from the Horison building, with a gross floor area (GFA) of 10,575 sq m, increased the vacancy rate in Grade B space slightly. Horison Tower will be a prominent site in the mid-town area, located within 200 meters of the under-construction Cat Linh urban railway station and set to benefit from the railway’s completion in 2018.
In the months to come, however, the segment will see more competition from the completion of buildings such as the DSD building, with a GFA of 20,000 sq m, the Discovery complex, with a GFA of 49,000 sq m, the Truong Thinh Office Building, with a GFA of 5,400 sq m, and HUD, with a GFA of 70,000 sq m.
In Grade A, a lack of new supply contributed to a 3.3 per cent increase in rents during the quarter compared with the fourth quarter of 2016.
The main factor boosting Grade A absorption continued to be expansion and relocation, especially in the IT/Technology sector.
This increased net absorption reveals current market trends: non-CBD buildings are filling up as companies decentralize from the CBD, an improving economic situation leading to larger spaces for startups and co-working spaces, and a growing desire for better quality buildings.
Ms. Trang also said that green/LEED-certified buildings have become a new topic of focus among developers. Green-certified buildings will soon be expected by office tenants when looking for a new location.
The latest CBRE report noted that after a year of no new supply, Hanoi’s office market welcomed new players during 2016, with one Grade A building and five Grade B buildings. At the end of 2016, total office supply reached nearly 1.2 million sq m of net-leasable area (NLA), of which 65 per cent is Grade B.
Looking forward, rents in both Grade A and Grade B are expected to stabilize in the years to come. Rental growth prospects are limited, as new supply will continue to enter the market, with CBD buildings expected to fare better.
In 2016, average asking rents in Ho Chi Minh City increased due to limited supply combined with strong net absorption and low vacancy rates in each quarter. Supply in 2017 is expected to see strong, steady growth, with new spaces coming in both CBD and non-CBD areas.
New Executive Chef for Pan Pacific Hanoi
Pan Pacific Hanoi announced on March 24 the addition of Chef Simon Volante to the hotel’s team.
With 30 years of experience in the industry, Chef Simon has an extensive background spanning the UK, the US, and Southeast Asia. He will oversee Pacifica Restaurant and all culinary activities at the hotel.
“When your guests are very demanding, they always want the best and want to be looked after,” he said. “That’s part of the excitement. When they leave happy, you know you have delivered that kind of expectation and the team has done well.”
Chef Simon will incorporate his years of experience working in the Pacific Rim region with signature Pacific cuisine. His latest creations have been a premium High Tea package, a brand new buffet concept, and soon a new a la carte menu at Pacifica Restaurant, which promises to be a culinary experience that satisfies all guests.
His culinary career began in his homeland, the UK, where he spent eight years working his way up the ranks in luxury hotels. Working under established Michelin-star chefs in London, he was provided with valuable training and practical opportunities in French and modern British cuisine.
Twelve years in the US followed as his career flourished and he took advantage of the amazing array of ingredients and produce, absorbing all the many regional influences.
A love for Asia arose when he was travelling and he became immediately seduced by the lovely weather, nice beaches, and unique flavors and cuisine. His career move to Asia has since led him to Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia, where he discovered their distinct cultures and lifestyle.
Strengthening technical barriers to meat imports
Vietnam has not imported any meat from Brazil’s 21 meat-packaging plants under police investigation for allegedly selling unsafe products, according to official information from the Department of Animal Health under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).
Previously, from March 23, the MARD signed a decision to suspend imports of meat and poultry from these 21 factories. At the same time, it recommended that consumers who want imported meat and poultry should go to supermarkets and shops with prestige to buy, while considering carefully the origin (the packaging should be clearly labelled) to avoid trade fraud.
Brazil is one of the major suppliers of cattle and poultry to Vietnam. In January 2017, the country spent nearly US$800,000 to import poultry from Brazil.
The import of livestock products is completely normal, in line with international practice. The problem is the mechanism of management and product quality control to prevent unsafe shipments, as especially in the current context, imported meat is increasingly entering Vietnam’s market, both the main and petty categories in both fresh and frozen forms.
For beef alone, there are more than 200 exporters from EU countries licensed to export to Vietnam. In addition, products imported from Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Indonesia also tend to increase. From that point of view, it creates diversification for the market, but also means that there are violations on importing and trading inferior quality goods.
The incident in Brazil has once again raised the alarm bell that Vietnam needs to further strengthen its State management of imported meat products.
There are opinions saying that, as Vietnam commits to opening its market through free trade agreements with several countries and regions, it cannot avoid the "wave" of imported meat. It is a reality to be accepted in the common "playground."
For that reason, in addition to strengthening the management and control of imported products, technical barriers are required to these goods when entering Vietnam to ensure good quality and reasonable prices.
Accordingly, in addition to the normal quarantine in accordance with Circular No. 25/2010/TT-BNNPTNT by the MARD guiding the inspection of food hygiene and the safety of imported goods of animal origin, it is necessary to monitor the residue on each product in a specific and detailed manner.
At the same time, the Department of Animal Health should urge border veterinary agencies to further tighten the control of shipments of meat and poultry products imported into Vietnam.
In the long run, the domestic husbandry industry should further strengthen the application of hi-tech and technical improvements to reduce costs and improve the quality of livestock products, thereby reducing imports of meat and poultry products in general.
Dong Nai carries out cocoa-cashew intercrop project
To help farmers continue planting cashew trees instead of changing to other crops of higher economic value, Dong Nai Province has announced to cooperate with BamBoo Capital Joint Stock Company to carry out a project creating large fields for farmers intercrop cocoa and cashew with a total area of 1,000 hectares.
This announcement was made at a conference on cocoa and cashew intercrop held by Dong Nai Province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in coordination with BamBoo Capital JSC in Trang Bom District, Dong Nai on March 21.
Huynh Thanh Vinh, director of the department, said there are 12 large field projects in the province with the cocoa and cashew intercrop project having the largest area.
According to Vinh, farmers have replaced cashew with other crops due to the unstable cashew price in previous years. However, the cashew area would recover if local authorities help farmers increase productivity and value.
Nguyen Thanh Hung, deputy general director of BamBoo Capital, said the company would adopt preferential policies for seedling, fertilizer and capital and ensure cocoa outlets for farmers participating in the project.
According to Le Thi Minh Tam, head of the cocoa department of Bamboo Capital, the company will shoulder 20% of seedlings cost and 20% of spending on fertilizers. In the following years, cocoa farmers will pay just 50% of the fertilizer fee, and the remaining 50% will be cleared when they sell cocoa to Bamboo Capital. Besides, the company will provide technical support throughout the cultivating process.
In addition, Dong Nai Province will share 30% of costs of watering systems and an additional 30% of expenditures for seedlings with cocoa farmers.
BamBoo Capital expects to cultivate 111 hectares of cocoa-cashew intercrop in Trang Bom District in 2017.
Dong Nai Province currently has 39,000 hectares under cashew farming, down 11,000 hectares compared to a few years ago.
FinLab Cycle No.2 offers US$300,000 prizes for fintech startups
The FinLab Cycle 2 competition will present total prize money of US$300,000 to those fintech startups winning the contest.
After the application round was closed on March 20, there are 30 fintech startups from different countries selected to join the final round that will take place in May in Singapore. The top 10 startups in the round are able to receive cash prizes worth 440,000 Singapore dollars.
In addition, the top 10 startups will be instructed by leading financial experts and enterprises. Through the competition, fintech startups will have the opportunity to join in the global partner network and bring their products to Southeast Asian markets.
Earlier, five Vietnamese startups have excellently introduced their products in the “Propelling your startup dream” event launched by Vietnam’s United Overseas Bank (UOB) and the FinLab early this month.
Felix Tan, executive director of Singapore’s FinLab, said Vietnam will be a favorable environment for fintech startups as the country has seen strong growth in fintech.
The FinLab Cycle 2 is organized by United Overseas Bank Ltd (UOB), and FinLab in coordination with SGInnovate.
Cruise visitors to Hue expected to rise strongly
International cruise ship passengers to the central province of Thua Thien-Hue this year are forecast to double to around 150,000 versus last year.
Le Huu Minh, vice director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said a majority of international tourists arriving in Hue on board cruise vessels mainly come from two major lines, Royal Caribbean International and Star Cruises.
Since 2015, cruise passenger arrivals in the province have sharply surged as Chan May Port has been upgraded to accommodate larger cruise ships, Minh added.
The port has one pier handling both cargo and cruise ships. However, after the second pier is complete late this year, the provincial tourism authority expects that the existing pier will be used to receive cruise ships in a bid to attract more international ships to Hue.
The province last year reported some 3.3 million visitor arrivals, a pickup of 10% against 2015. Of the number, international travelers accounted for half.
In addition, the provincial tourism sector this year expects to lure 3.5 to 3.7 million tourists.
Currently, the provincial government is planning to join hands with some partners to launch flights to Hue in an effort to bring in more tourists.
Hanoi Customs: online public service recorded efficiency
The process of administrative procedures through the online public service system at http://pus.customs.gov.vn of Hanoi Customs prove effective, contributing to facilitating import-export activities of local enterprises.
According to Hanoi Customs, the agency received and processed nearly 400 procedures offered by 108 export-import businesses since the system was launched early this month.
As of the beginning of 2017, Hanoi Customs piloted a model of providing administrative procedures on the e-government system, of which 11 procedures were offered at agency level and 24 other services were provided at sub-agency level.
The move not only boosts administrative reform but also reduces pressure for customs agencies while increasing transparency and simplification. In addition, it helps residents and businesses save time, money and papers while handling documents.
Hanoi authorities planned to provide 120 online public services within the first quarter of 2017.
In July 2016, Hanoi launched the portal egov.hanoi.gov.vn where residents can access to perform seven administrative procedures such as registering a birth, death or marriage.
As of December 15 last year, the e-government system was available in all 584 urban wards and rural communes across the city.
The capital city has set a target to provide 80 percent of online public services by 2020.
Sandy soil veggies lift farmers out of poverty
Growing vegetables on sandy fields is helping farmers out of poverty in a coastal commune in the central province of Thua Thien- Hue.
Farmers in Dien Loc commune are reaping success from the new effort, something older generations have not been able to do.
Le Huy, a local farmer, said he is growing vegetables on a 0.5ha sandy land plot and earning an average annual income of 150 million VND (6,600 USD). “This has helped farmers here a lot in improving their income. We are no longer poor,” he said.
Huy said he learnt this cultivation model from a local man, Ho Hoi.
Hoi, whose family had struggled in poverty for many years, initiated the new venture in 2013 by making sandy embankments around his land and digging tiny canals inside the land plot to hold water for his vegetables.
The embankment helps to hold water inside and prevents hot sand from flying around and damaging the vegetables.
Dien Loc commune has a total area of 14sq.km and more than 80 per cent of its area is sandy.
After Hoi piloted the cultivation model and earned 100 million VND in the first year growing lettuce, celery, green mustard and garland chrysanthemum, he expanded his garden.
Today, his family grows vegetables on a one-hectare sandy land plot for an annual income of 300 million VND.
Other farmers in the commune have copied Hoi’s model and succeeded.
“I can’t imagine that I can afford enough for the whole family. My neighbours and I lived in poverty until Hoi sparked this,” said Le Khuyen, another farmer.
Commune Chairman Le Van Thang said a total of 400 farmers are now applying this model on 50ha.
Thang said locally produced vegetables have been bought and consumed in the neighbouring provinces of Quang Binh and Quang Tri. “The model has lifted up the local economy and we have a plan to expand the area to 60ha.”
Dien Loc is among the five communes with highest percentage of sandy soil in the district. The Phong Dien district People’s Committee is planning to apply the model in other communes of Dien Huong, Dien Hoa, Dien Hai and Dien Mon.
District Vice Chairman Nguyen Van Binh said his administration has prepared a plan to supply farmers with electricity lines and pumps in order to improve irrigation and make the model even more effective.
“Farmers will be equipped with knowledge of Vietnam’s GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) standards to produce better quality vegetables, meeting demands of a wider market,” he said.
Quang Nam aims to send 400 workers abroad in 2017
The central province of Quang Nam aims to send at least 400 labourers to foreign countries this year, targeting high-income markets like the Republic of Korea, Japan, Taiwan (China), and those with suitable requirements such as Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.
According to Le Huy Tu, head of the labour-employment section under the provincial Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the province’s labour export has enjoyed inauspicious achievements in recent years.
Some 1,215 guest workers were sent abroad during 2011-2015, averaging 243 per year, he said, adding that the number of workers sent abroad through local employment service centres and labour export companies reached 541 people in 2016.
Overseas workers send home over 120 billion VND (5.3 million USD) every year, he said.
Labour export is touted as an effective measure to tackle jobs and generate stable incomes for people in rural and mountainous areas. Communication activities on guest worker programmes have been promoted to increase public awareness of the available chances.
Le Thi Dung, deputy director of the High Technician Development Company in South Vietnam (HITECO), stressed that localities need to work closely with prestigious labour export companies to reduce violations of labour contracts.
In the coming time, the province will work to provide more information on labour export for local labourers while creating conditions for them to join training courses to enhance professional skills, meeting demands of employers.
900g-baby with congenital heart disease survived
Doctors of the HCM City-based Paediatrics Hospital No 1 have successfully performed a congenital heart surgery for a premature baby weighing 900grams, the lightest patient ever to receive the surgery.
Dr Pham Thi Thanh Tam visits the baby after surgery in HCM City Paediatrics Hospital No 1.
Dr Pham Thi Thanh Tam, head of the Newborn Resuscitation Department, said that on March 3, the department took in a patient from a hospital in Vinh Long province suffering congenital heart disease and coarctations of the aorta.
The baby was born prematurely, at 31 weeks of gestation and weighing only 900g.
The patient also suffered many injuries, such as respiratory and kidney failure.
Tam said that this was a difficult and dangerous surgery.
According to the doctor, the team could not wait until the baby weighed enough for surgery.
If the surgery was not performed, the heart defects would have affected the baby’s health. The baby’s organs have not developed yet completely and could not keep the baby alive, Tam said.
Doctors from related hospital’s departments held a consultation to find the best solution.
After 20 days of careful preparations, doctors decided to undergo surgery on March 23.
After an hour, the operation was successful. The patient now can breathe with support of oxygen. Nutrition is still supplied from the intravenous to stomach, doctors said.
Ten-ton golden turtle statue proposed for iconic Hanoi lake
An artist's rendering of the golden turtle statue.
Ta Hong Quan has submitted his proposal to the Hanoi administration, detailing how the statue should be designed and where it should be placed.
Hoan Kiem Lake is otherwise known by locals as Ho Guom (Sword Lake) for short.
The sculpture, to be made of pure bronze and gold, should be 2.5 meters long by 3.5 meters tall, and weigh six to ten metric tons, Quan told (Youth) newspaper on Tuesday.
The Hanoi resident suggested putting the massive statue near the Hang Khay – Dinh Tien Hoang intersection, where a giant Swiss clock, a gift from Switzerland to the Vietnamese capital currently sits, or in the park overlooking the Ly Thai To Statue and City Hall.
Quan said it could take two years to finish building the statue, with money raised from the private sector rather than from Hanoi’s budget.
The man said he had come up with the idea of making the golden turtle statue in 2011 and has since been looking for references and feedback from researchers before delivering his final proposal.
“Vietnam is in need of an identity symbol,” he told .
“When you go to Singapore, you will see their iconic Merlion landmark, and the Eiffel Tower when you are in France and the Statue of Liberty in the U.S.
“So, tell me, what is the identity symbol of Vietnam?”
Asked why the symbol of Vietnam should be a golden turtle, Quan said the reptile plays an important role in several Vietnamese legends.
As legend has it, a golden turtle helped King An Duong Vuong build the Co Loa Citadel in the 3rd century BC. In the 15th century, another golden turtle gave a sacred sword to King Le Loi, helping him to defeat Chinese invaders, and earning Hanoi’s iconic lake its name.
Quan added that the turtle has long been a symbol in Vietnamese traditions, culture and spiritual beliefs.
“Should my idea be supported by Hanoi’s authorities, we will hold a contest to find the official design of the statue,” he added.
Duong Trung Quoc, a local historian, said the idea of putting up a golden turtle statue near Ho Guom was first put forward several years ago, as Hanoi was about to celebrate its millennial anniversary in October 2010.
“In that specific context, the idea was considered a good one, but not today,” Quoc told .
The historian emphasized that any construction proposed for the area surrounding Hoan Kiem Lake should be seriously vetted.
“And we should be even more cautious when the idea involves such a spiritual symbol as the golden turtle,” he concluded.
TUOI TRE NEWS
Social News In Brief 28/3
Oil spill response training held in Quang Ninh
Some 200 people from oil exploiting and transporting companies and organisations in the northern province of Quang Ninh were provided with necessary knowledge and skills to respond to oil spills during a training course held in the locality on March 28.
The course was jointly organised by the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment and the Vietnam Maritime Construction Investment Consultancy Joint Stock Company.
Participants were equipped with measures to control oil spills, laws and regulations related to the issue as well as technical measures to clean up oil-contaminated areas and ways to manage environmental pollution after the oil spill.
They also practised collecting oil from the spill in conditions of strong flows and big waves.
There has been no serious oil spill case in Quang Ninh province since the beginning of 2017.
Enhancing skills to prevent and tackle oil spills is necessary for the province as it is a coastal locality with vibrant maritime activities.
Hanoi gets ready for 10th Ministers’ Conference
Plans for the 10th Ministers’ Conference are unfolding without any hitches and the event is set to get underway in the capital city of Hanoi this coming April, says the Vietnam Cooperative Alliance (VCA).
The 10th Cooperative Ministers Conference (April 18-21) is a joint initiative of the Government of Vietnam, the Vietnam Cooperative Alliance (VCA) and the International Cooperative Alliance Asia and Asia Pacific (ICA-AP).
The VCA, the apex organization of the Vietnam cooperative movement promotes the development of cooperatives and the cooperative economy, supports policy formulation around the cooperative sector, and represents the rights of members in a range of sectors including agriculture, trade, industry, and construction among others.
In Vietnam, the first cooperative was set up in 1940s as the iconic President of Vietnam Ho Chi Minh- a believer in cooperative ideology felt it is the only business structure to help the farmers, handicraftsmen and labourers to developing economically.
The theme for the 10th Asia Pacific Co-operative Ministers’ conference is: ‘Vision Ahead of 2020-Stakeholders in realizing the sustainable development goals.’ The conference will aim to highlight the ways in which cooperatives are contributing in achieving the SDGS; explore ways to strengthen partnerships between Governments and Co-operative Stakeholders; and draw a road map to realize the potential of cooperative in sustainable development.
Death penalty upheld for drug ring members
The Hanoi People’s Court has upheld the death sentence given to the ringleader and eight other members of a drug ring at an appeal trial in the northern province of Bac Ninh from March 22-24.
The court also maintained the life imprisonment sentence on two others while handing down the capital punishment to one defendant instead of the original life imprisonment.
The Bac Ninh People’s Procuracy appealed against the life imprisonment for Luong Thi Thao as she had been proven to involve in the transaction of 1,526 heroin bricks.
Trang A Tang (alias Tang Keangnam) and his 11-member ring including Trang’s wife Giang Thi Sua, were convicted at a first-instance trial of the Bac Ninh People’s Court in late September 2016 for trafficking 1,791 heroin bricks and 553 drug pills.
According to the indictment, at about 1pm of July 26, 2013, police tried to stop two cars driven by Trang A Tang and Giang Thi Sua for check in Vo Cuong ward of Bac Ninh city, but they didn’t obey. Police chased and stopped the cars in Song Khe commune of Bac Giang city.
Up to 265 heroin bricks (weighing 91.76kg) and 553 methamphetamine pills (weighing 51.5 grams) were found in the cars.
Investigation results show that Trang A Tang masterminded the ring which trafficked drugs from Laos to Bac Giang province via Son La.
Tang bought drugs from some Mong ethnic people in Laos and Thailand and hid the narcotics at the house of his father, Trang A Chu. The drugs were then sold to Luong Thi Thao in Bac Giang and others, according to the indictment.
Former shareholder of Dai Tin bank faces criminal proceeding
The police department for combating corruption and economic crime started criminal proceeding against Hua Thi Phan, a former shareholder of the Dai Tin bank, now the Vietnam Construction Bank (VNCB), and searched her house and office on March 24.
Previously, at a trial for the losses of over 9 trillion VND (404 million USD) at the VCNB, the court decided to launch criminal proceeding against Phan for “violating the lending regulations of credit institutions”, and “deliberately violating State regulations on economic management causing severe consequences”.
She later appealed against the ruling, but the court rejected the appeal.
Phan was accused of wrongdoings that resulted in a negative 2.8 trillion VND (112.89 million USD) in owner's equity and cumulative losses of over 6.6 trillion VND (290.4 million USD) at the Dai Tin bank before it was sold to VNCB ex-Chairman Pham Cong Danh.
The criminal proceeding against Phan is considered the second stage of the VNCB case.
Two other former managers of Dai Tin bank, former chairman Hoang Van Toan and former CEO Tran Son Nam, were also arrested in January in the VNCB’s second stage.
Int’l tours popular at tourism fair
Hundreds of discounted tours have been sold at the HCM City Tourism Fair, which wrapped up on Sunday, with bookings for international tours accounting for more than 70 per cent of sales, according to tour operators.
A representative from TransViet Travel said 80 per cent of customers booked international tours, with prices starting at VNĐ9 million (US$395), at the company’s booth on the first day of the four-day fair.
Tours to Japan and South Korea accounted for 50 per cent of bookings, followed by China, Taiwan and other destinations in Southeast Asia.
Around 800 visitors booked tours at Saigontourist on the first day of the event.
Domestic tours with discounts of up to 50 per cent were also fully booked on the first day.
Trần Thị Kim Huyền, 57, from Bình Tân District bought a three-day tour to Phú Quốc Island at Saigontourist for two people at a cost of VNĐ2.7 million (US$118), down from the normal price of VNĐ5.6 million (US$245).
“It’s a really good price,” she said.
Besides the Phú Quốc tour, she is also looking for deals to China.
“My husband and I haven’t yet travelled abroad so we want to buy an international tour at a reasonable price,” Huyền said.
Bến Thành Tourist sold more than 100 tours on the first day. Only 20-30 per cent of bookings were for domestic tours to Phú Quốc, Đà Nẵng and Hạ Long.
Nguyễn Thị Tuyết Mai, marketing and communications manager at Bến Thành Tourist, said the company offered discounts and promotions valued at VNĐ350 million (US$15,350) at the fair.
Tours to Japan for four to five days cost only VNĐ30 million (US$1,300), much lower than normal prices, Mai said.
Almost all international tours saw prices fall by 10-20 per cent compared to five years ago, she said.
Prices of international tours are considered "competitive" compared to domestic tours.
Most tour operators attributed the slump in sales of domestic tours to rising prices, particularly during public holidays.
The annual event held by the HCM City’s Department of Tourism attracted more than 70 tour operators, hotels, restaurants, airlines and provincial tourism agencies with 180 booths.
It aimed to create opportunities for local people to access promotion programmes in leisure travel as well as stimulate tourism demand.
Lê Thân, director of Tourism Promotion Centre in Bình Thuận Province, said that the fair is a great opportunity to introduce the province’s tourist destinations to travellers in HCM City.
Vietnam jails whistleblower linked to bribery case
A court in Vietnam's Central Highlands has sentenced a Vietnamese man to four and a half years in jail for “giving bribes” in a corruption case that he himself had exposed, local media reported.
Tran Minh Loi, 49, was found guilty along with five people for "giving bribes" to the police in Dak Nong Province in exchange for the release of several gamblers a year ago, Thanh Nien newspaper said.
The People's Court in Dak Nong opened the hearing on March 22 against Loi and another seven people, including a policeman in Dak Mil District and a bank executive.
Police in Dak Mil District arrested six people for gambling in January last year.
Lanh Thanh Binh, a Dak Mil police officer, suggested that the gamblers would be released if they agreed to give him and two other officers some money, Thanh Nien said.
One of the gamblers told his family about the solicitation and they told Loi, who is known by many in his province as an active whistleblower, using his Facebook page “Diet giac noi xam” (Destroying domestic invaders) to upload video clips as evidence of corruption by local officials and police.
Loi advised them to have a meeting with Binh. They secretly recorded and filmed the meeting, where the officer received VND60 million (US$2,640).
With the evidence, Loi filed complaints against three officers. Binh was arrested while the other two were suspended.
Several relatives of the gamblers were also arrested on charges of “giving bribes”.
The court gave Binh one-and-a-half-year suspended sentence for abuse of power.
At the trial, the judge panel did not believe Loi’s argument that his involvement was only to expose corruption. It said Loi had used the evidence to threaten Binh first, Vietnam News Agency reported.
In the same hearing, the court found Loi guilty for giving bribes to a bank executive in Dak Lak Province to get access to a soft loan in April 2014.
Before his arrest, Loi had collected evidence of corruption by provincial government officials and police.
Thanks to his work, dozens of police officers have been disciplined.
Vietnam attends international cultural week in Mexico
Vietnamese Ambassador to Mexico Le Linh Lan and ambassadors from Thailand, the Philippines and Thailand cut the ribbon to inaugurate a photo exhibition on ASEAN member states’ people and culture during the Naucalpan 2017 international cultural week, which was held in Mexico from March 24-26.
Vietnam’s space at the exhibition featuring the country’s stunning landscapes and the well-known traditional Ao Dai received great attention from international friends. Art performances and traditional cuisine of ASEAN countries also wowed the visitors.
In his opening remarks, director of the Naucalli cultural institute and park Juan Jose Vicencio Estrada highlighted that the event, annually held by the institute, aims to enhance understanding and tighten relations between Mexico and foreign nations.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Ambassador to Mexico Yusra Khan, who holds the rotary chair of the ASEAN committee in Mexico, spoke highly of the cultural week, saying that it offers opportunities to foster cultural exchange, popularise ASEAN states’ image as well as lift up the friendship and cooperation between the bloc and Mexico.
The Ambassador also laid stress on ASEAN’s significant role in the Southeast Asian region, given that the establishment of the bloc helps member states promote integration and collaboration to cope with challenges, especially non-traditional security issue.
Vietnamese pagodas in Thailand help connect two cultures
The presence of 21 Vietnamese pagodas in Thailand has demonstrated the two nations’ cultural interaction, thus helping promote the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership.
Most Venerable Thich Kinh Chieu, head monk at Pho Phuoc pagoda, who led a visiting delegation of 50 Annam Kiya Buddhists and overseas Vietnamese in Thailand, made the remark at a meeting with President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan in Hanoi on March 27.
The monk said the 21 Vietnamese pagodas were built in eight cities and provinces across Thailand, receiving due attention from Thai kings.
Apart from ritual and spiritual activities, the pagodas also open classes to teach Vietnamese for expatriates, he added.
Eight pagodas have been attached with the plates bearing Vietnamese names, which aims to introduce visitors the origin of the pagodas as well as the Vietnamese cultural vitality in Thailand, he noted.
The pagodas also help strengthen the solidarity of the Vietnamese community in Thailand, which now numbers 100,000, and educate young generations about the national unique culture, he said.
Nhan expressed his pleasure to receive the delegation and recognised the Buddhists’ significant contributions to developing the Vietnamese Buddhism over the past 200 years in Thailand.
The head monks at 21 Vietnamese pagodas in Thailand are the symbol of connection between the two countries, he said, hoping that all the pagodas will bear Vietnamese names.
The same day, the delegation visited the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha and the Thai Embassy in Vietnam.
Lao army officers get doctorate degrees
Two officers from Laos’ Kaysone Phomvihane Defence Academy under the Laos People’s Army have received doctorate degrees under the training programme of the Vietnam Academy of Defence (VNAD).
The awardees were senior lieutenant-colonel Thomdam Sengsoulichanh and senior lieutenant-colonel Khamsone Keobuonpanh.
The March 27 ceremony saw the presence of VNAD Director Major General Tran Viet Khoa and Director of the Lao academy Colonel Keosouphan Inthavongsa.
Speaking at the event, Major General Nguyen Van Hanh, head of the VNAD’s Department of Training, hailed the efforts made by the two Lao officers in fulfilling the training course.
Over the past years, VNAD has helped train high-quality human resources for the Lao People’s Army in general and the Kaysone Phomvihane Defence Academy in particular.
Many graduates from VNAD are holding high-ranking positions in the Lao army while others are studying and teaching at the academy.
Vietnamese students show off talent in China
Twenty Vietnamese students in China participated in a beauty – talent contest held at the Beijing Language and Culture University in Beijing on March 23.
The contest, held by Vietnamese Students Association in China for the first time, was one of events celebrating the 67th anniversary of Vietnam – China diplomatic relations and responding to Vietnam Youth Month.
It aimed to honour appearance and intelligence beauty of Vietnamese students, thus promoting their images as dynamic, confident, talented and creative students, said Vietnamese ambassador to China Dang Minh Khoi.
It served as a forum for students to meet with each other while strengthening solidarity among Vietnamese students in Beijing and boosting friendly relations between Vietnamese and international students.
Visitors to the event were impressed by contestants’ performances which featured their characteristics, talent and beauty.
They also enjoyed traditional performances by students from China and Southeast Asian countries.
VOV, Vietnam Airlines cooperate in news reporting
Leaders of the Voice of Vietnam (VOV) and Vietnam Airlines met in Hanoi on March 27 to outline cooperative contents between the two agencies in the time ahead.
During the meeting, both sides have committed to cooperating in news reporting and elevating the image of the two agencies in the eye of the public, local and foreign clients.
VOV President Nguyen The Ky said VOV has faced a number of challenges and fierce competition from other media outlets in securing its market share, noting that VOV has developed a long-term strategy to operate effectively and train a highly qualified staff.
Mr Ky said with advantages of different media forms such as radio and television broadcasting, and print and online newspapers, VOV wants to enhance long-term and comprehensive cooperation with Vietnam Airlines, especially in introducing the image of the national flag carrier to both local and foreign clients.
vov, vietnam airlines cooperate in news reporting hinh 1 Duong Chi Thanh, general director of Vietnam Airlines highlighted the initiative of VOV in promoting and strengthening bilateral cooperation to further promote its brand to the public in the most efficient manner.
Both sides have committed to working out specific cooperative contents in the time ahead with a focus on clients from inside the country and overseas.
Khanh Hoa develops rural areas
The south central coastal province of Khanh Hoa will mobilise over 3.1 trillion VND (136 million USD) for rural development.
The money will be mainly sourced from the State budget as part of a plan promulgated by the provincial People’s Committee to implement the national target programme on building new-style rural areas between 2017 and 2020.
The locality strives to have nearly 62 percent of communes meeting the programme’s criteria by 2020.
It aims to ensure the development harmony between rural and urban areas by developing new residential areas and upgrading the existing ones.
Local authorities prioritise investments in transport infrastructure, irrigation network, medical stations, and schools for 20 communes in the mountainous districts of Khanh Son and Khanh Vinh.
Such fundamental criteria as roads, electricity, and rural markets will receive attention as well.
The province will also focus on developing production and agricultural restructuring as well as shifting rural economic structure to improve local income.
At the end of 2016, Khanh Hoa has 26 out of the 94 communes recognised as new-style rural areas.
Vietnamese expats in Hungary pay tribute to fallen soldiers
A requiem for fallen soldiers who sacrificed their lives to protect the country’s sea and islands sovereignty was recently held in Budapest, Hungary.
At the ceremony, overseas Vietnamese (OVs) recalled the heroic sacrifices of the martyrs, including the 64 soldiers killed while protecting Gac Ma (Johnson South) Reef in Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago on March 14, 1988.
Trinh Tuan Anh, representative of the organising board, said that the requiem is part of the activities to express gratitude and respect for the soldiers who lied down for the national sea and islands.
Communist youth union anniversary marked in Russia
Vietnamese youths in Russia celebrated the 86th founding anniversary of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union (March 26, 1931) at the Hanoi-Moscow Complex (Incentra), Moscow on March 26.
Speaking at the meeting, Le Anh Duy, Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Delegation to the Russia Federation, gave a brief overview of the union’s activities in 2016, saying it successfully held the cultural exchange performances with the Leninist Komsomol and launched a donation campaign to aid flood-affected people in Vietnam.
Anh thanked the Vietnamese Embassy to Russia, the Overseas Party Committee and other Vietnamese associations in Russia for their support to the union last year and expressed his hope for more assistance in the future.
Pham Duc Vinh, Deputy Secretary of the Overseas Party Committee in Russia, reaffirmed that the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union is a helpful arm of the Communist Party of Vietnam. He lauded the accomplishment of the union in the past and urged the union’s members to continue learning to improve themselves.
Outstanding individuals and organisations who greatly contributed to the union’s operation were honoured during the event.
Renowned Vietnamese monk commemorated in Laos
Vietnamese people in Laos paid homage to Most Venerable Thich Trung Quan, one of the greatest overseas Vietnamese monks, at a ceremony at Bang Long Pagoda in Vientiane on March 26.
The memorial service at Bang Long Pagoda – the centre of Vietnamese Buddhism in Laos – was attended by Most Venerable Thich Thanh Dam and Thich Quang Tung from the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha, Vietnamese Ambassador to Laos Nguyen Ba Hung, Lao monks, and Vietnamese expatriates.
Addressing the event, Most Venerable Thich Tho Lac, the fifth leader of Bang Long, said the pagoda was built in 1942 by Vietnamese people. Thich Trung Quang was the fourth leader of the pagoda and also the first person to disseminate the Mahayana Buddhism in Laos. He also had great influence on Vietnamese Buddhists in Europe.
Thich Trung Quan (real name Vu Thanh Quat) was born on June 9, 1918, in Nam Dinh province. From 1969 to 1978, he opened many training courses on Buddhism at Bang Long while building and being the spiritual leader of about 10 pagodas across Laos. The pagoda became a destination for a number of people during that time, thus becoming the centre of Vietnamese Buddhism in Laos
In mid-1978, Most Venerable Thich Trung Quan left for Europe to popularise the Mahayana Buddhism and establish Hoa Nghiem Pagoda in Paris, France. He also set up many other Buddhist temples in other European countries.
He also spent time on translating and writing books on Buddhism with more than 20 publications in total. He passed away on April 1, 2003.
Also at the ceremony, representatives of Bang Long Pagoda presented gifts to disadvantaged Vietnamese and Lao students who had good academic results in Laos.
Quang Binh promotes tourism in Hanoi
The central province of Quang Binh and the capital city of Hanoi co-organised a conference in Hanoi on March 25 to promote tourism connectivity.
The event shapes part of the programme “Quang Binh in the heart of Hanoi” held from March 25-27.
It created a good chance for Quang Binh to introduce its culture and strengths to draw more domestic and international visitors via Hanoi, Vice chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Tien Dung said.
The conference also enabled the two sides’ businesses to seek partners, he added, calling on businesses and investors, especially those from Hanoi and northern localities, to attract more visitors to Quang Binh.
New air routes between Dong Hoi and Cat Bi (Hai Phong), and Dong Hoi-Chiang Mai (Thailand) were introduced at the event.
A number of Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) were signed at the conference, including a MoU on developing Quang Binh-Hanoi tourism cooperation for the 2017-2020 period, and another inked between Quang Binh and Hanoi tourism associations, and Quang Binh Tourism Information and Promotion Center and UNESCO Hanoi Travel Club.
Later on the day, a programme “Quang Binh in the heart of Ha Noi” was launched in Ly Thai To garden, re-enacting part of Quang Binh, especially its famous caves, right in Hanoi’s walking street.
Quang Binh boasts rich tourism resources in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. It is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park and the world’s largest cave Son Doong.
The province also has the longest coastline in Vietnam with beautiful beaches and special seafood dishes, and it is chosen as one of the filming destinations of the movie “Kong: Skull Island” – which is expected to bring great benefits to the local tourism.
It is preserving valuable tangible and intangible cultural values such as “ca tru” (ceremonial singing), and “ho khoan” (a genre of Vietnamese folk music in Le Thuy district).
Workshop reviews integration of policies on poverty reduction
A workshop was held in the northern mountainous province of Son La on March 24 to review the integration of policies on poverty reduction from 2015 – 2016 and set plans for 2017 – 2020.
The event was jointly organised by the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs, the United Nations Development Programme and the Embassy of Ireland in Vietnam.
The workshop highlighted the suitability in integrating policies on poverty reduction in 2016-2020, saying the move helped harmonise mechanisms and synchronise the application process as well as make it easy for local officials, especially those at the grassroots level, to refer to and implement policies.
The integration of policies at the central level also helped reduce overlapping, wasterfulness and increase the effective use of stage budget at local levels.
However, participants pointed out shortcomings in integrating policies on poverty reduction.
At the event, the Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs and several localities called on the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs to discuss with the Committee when they develop policies related to disadvantaged areas.
Hoang Thi Ha from the Social Policy Bank said policies on credit should be integrated into policies on encouraging agricultural production, while Nguyen Thanh Thuy, Deputy Director of the Hoa Binh provincial Department of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs, suggested integrating with local related policies.
Participants agreed that policies on poverty reduction should be based on beneficiaries, localities, and benefited time to enhance access for the poor.
Reviewing and amending are needed to avoid overlapping among policies, thus bettering multi-dimentional access to social services.
Computing education programme to support the blind
The programme on computing education for people with vision impaired was launched at the talking book library for the blind at 18B Dinh Tien Hoang Street, HCM City, on March 25.
The programme was supported by Microsoft Vietnam and the talking book charity fund to teach the blind how to use computers and access the Internet, the huge source of information. It aims to help develop the capabilities of the blind and prepare them for computing career opportunities.
The project will be carried out for a year and each course will be run in three months with 15 students.
Its curriculum was designed by a group of people with vision impaired under consultation from Microsoft Vietnam staff while all ten lecturers are also the blind with university degrees.
Director of the talking book library Nguyen Huong Duong said the programme is expected to not only benefit the attending blind but also inspire the blind community to study information technology for social integration.
Microsoft Vietnam hopes that it will open up more opportunities for people with impaired vision and help them improve their life quality, Director of Legal and Corporate Affairs Pham Khoa said, adding that if successful, the project will be scaled up across the country.
During the launching event, the Tan Nam Do Trading Co. Ltd donated 30 computers to the talking book library and Vietnam Foundation presented the library with 77 computers with no screen for the blind.
Quang Nam province launches key traffic projects
The central province officially launched the Giao Thuy Bridge--one of the key projects connecting mountainous areas with the provincial centre and Da Nang City - on the occasion of the province’s Liberation Day (March 24).
Dang Ba Du, head of the province’s investment projects management board, said the four-lane bridge, which began construction in 2015 with a total investment of 823 billion VND (36.4 million USD), will help link mountainous districts of Nong Son, Que Son, rural Duy Xuyen district in Quang Nam and Da Nang City.
The 1km long concrete bridge will help vehicles travel safely and move efficiently between two provincial roads – DT609 and DT610 – crossing over the Thu Bon River.
Du called it one of the most important projects boosting socio-economic development and eco-tourism in the poverty-stricken mountainous districts.
“The bridge provides a shortcut from Da Nang to Duy Xuyen district and mountainous areas in Quang Nam province. It also puts an end to the operation of dangerous ferry travel among communities during flood season,” Du said.
He said the bridge will links the UNESCO-recognised heritage My Son Sanctuary in Duy Xuyen district with ancient Hoi An city and destinations in Da Nang, Hue city and neighbouring provinces of Quang Binh and Quang Ngai provinces.
The province also launched yesterday the 10km rescue and ring road project from Duy Xuyen to Nong Son with total investment of 120 billion VND (5.3 million USD).
The key traffic projects aims to develop eco-tourism sites in Dai Binh and Hon Kem and Da Dung in Nong Son district.
Last year, the province commenced construction on two key projects – the Nam Hoi An Integrated Resort Project, invested by VinaCapital and Gold Yield Enterprises Corporations, and the expansion of the Truong Hai -Chu Lai Mechanical Automobile Industrial Zone, with initial capital of 535.3 million USD.
The province, home to world heritage sites – Hoi An, My Son sanctuary and Cham Island biosphere reserve, has attracted 110 tourism projects since 1997.
Democratic regulations in education system needs stricter supervision
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has urged the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) to strengthen its supervision of the implementation of democratic regulations in the educational system.
At a conference in Hanoi on March 24, Deputy PM Dam said enforcing democratic regulations at schools and educational institutions plays a particularly important role in the comprehensive and fundamental reform of the educational sector.
The supervision needs to be specific, Dam said, adding that teachers have the right to evaluate the management in a democratic manner through secret ballot while students are allowed to evaluate their teachers’ competence at classes.
The Deputy PM also requested that State management agencies and educational leaders at all levels strengthen their role in implementing democratic regulations at schools.
MoET and the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs are urged to issue joint documents, requesting schools and educational institutions to report their regulations to relevant bodies. The regulations must be developed based on opinions of all teaching and managing staff at the school, approved by the School Board and made public.
Participants shared the view that it’s necessary to establish School Boards at educational institutions to effectively implement the democratic regulations.
However, only 16 out of 38 universities under the MoET have established their School Boards. The structure of those boards is not really appropriate, with the functions and tasks of the Board’s Chairman, the Dean and the Secretary of the school’s Party Committee overlapping.
According to the MoET, there are nearly 1.4 million teachers and educational managers, 22 million students and 44,968 educational institutions from pre-school to tertiary levels.
Better institutions needed to fight corruption in judiciary
Improving legal institutions on corruption prevention and control in judiciary activities to ensure business benefits in Vietnam was the focus of discussions at a workshop in Hanoi on March 24.
The workshop was co-organised by the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Internal Affairs and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Vo Van Dung, deputy head of the commission, said as the country is sparing no efforts to speed up international economic integration, create a healthy business environment and improve national competitiveness, preventing and fighting corruption and negative phenomena in judiciary activities of courts have become more important and is a key task in juridical reform.
Negative phenomena might pose obstacles, result in costs and deprive enterprises of business opportunities, Dung noted.
According to the official, civil, economic and labour disputes among enterprises and between enterprises and organisations and individuals, especially disputes with foreign entities, will increase amidst international economic integration, requiring effective anti-corruption measures in judiciary activities.
UNDP Vietnam Assistant Country Director Dennis Curry said transparency is an important and invariable factor in fighting corruption. He also pointed to the need to build a strong and clear legal framework, avoid legal loopholes and apply technology.
Nguyen Tuan Anh, Deputy Director of the Governmental Inspectorate’s Legal Department, said one of the solutions to perfect legal institutions on anti-corruption is to complete a code of conducts for judges and staff in the court sector.
Vietnam, RoK share experience in national reform, development
National reform and sustainable development in East Asia was the main topic of a forum jointly held in Hanoi on March 24 by the Development Strategy Institute under the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) and the Forum Oh-rae of the Republic of Korea (RoK).
Addressing the event, MPI Deputy Minister Dang Huy Dong said that the forum opens up new prospects of cooperation between Vietnam and the RoK, while contributing to the enhancement of connection between their scholars, policymakers and businesspeople.
Recommendations given at the event will serve as references for the ministry in working out strategies, plans and planning schemes as well as policies for national development, he said.
Hahm Seung Heui, Chairman of Forum Oh-rae, said that the sharing of experience among countries will speed up the removal of obstacles hindering Vietnam’s bid to become a developed industrial country.
Vietnam and the RoK elevated their relations to the level of strategic partnership in 2009, he noted, adding that the RoK is currently the largest foreign investor in Vietnam with a total investment of 50 billion USD in 5,600 valid projects. In 2016 alone, RoK businesses invested over 5.5 billion USD in 828 projects.
Meanwhile, Vietnam is also the third largest recipient of investment from the RoK, just behind China and the US.
The RoK is currently the second largest provider of bilateral official assistance for Vietnam after Japan. In terms of trade, the RoK is Vietnam’s third biggest partner with two-way trade reaching 45.1 billion USD in 2016.
Regarding solutions for Vietnam to deal with low growth, Kim Byong Joon, head of the Oh-rae Institute for Policy Research, highlighted the importance of science-technology, development research capacity and improved productivity.
Meanwhile, Dr Nguyen Thi Tue Anh. Vice Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, said that Vietnam is reforming its growth model to increase productivity and competitiveness.
She stressed that improving qualifications of the workforce is essential, which will also help narrow the gap of competitiveness among regional countries, attract technologies and fully tap opportunities from international economic integration.
Save the Children aids Tien Giang in response to disasters
Save the Children in Vietnam, a non-profit organisation, has funded a project on building capacity to cope with natural disasters and enhance access to clean water and hygiene in coastal areas in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang.
The project is being implemented from March to December 2017 with total funding of 4.95 billion VND (some 220,000 USD) in the four coastal communes of Tan Thanh, Gia Thuan (Go Cong Dong district) Phu Dong and Phu Tan (Tan Phu Dong district). These communes have been facing difficulties caused by climate change and rising seawater.
The project is hoped to benefit more than 15,000 local residents. Composite rubbish bins will be installed in 60 disadvantaged households, while rainwater storage systems will be provided for 262 families and 60 others will receive plastic toilets.
Several activities will also be held, such as establishment of emergency rescue teams, drills on response to natural disasters and training courses on building safe toilets in flooded areas for locals.
Nguyen Thien Phap, Chief of Office of the provincial Steering Committee on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control, said the project is essential for residents living along the Go Cong coastal region. It will raise the climate change adaptation ability of poor and vulnerable people, as well as improve water supplies in the dry season.
Local administrations to play greater role in blindness prevention
Local administrations should play a greater role in the national strategy on blindness prevention, head of the national steering committee for blindness control and Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Viet Tien said at the committee’s debut meeting on March 24.
Deputy Minister Tien also said the chairpersons of People’s Committees of provinces and centrally-run cities have the responsibility to allocate and ensure resources to carry out the strategy on blindness control.
Delivering a report on blindness prevention in 2016-2017, Director of the Central Eye Hospital Nguyen Xuan Hiep, who is a deputy head of the steering committee, said his hospital, in coordination with the Health Ministry, the World Health Organisation and domestic charity organisations, conducted 1,000 cataract surgeries free of charge for the poor in 11 provinces in 2016. The hospital also provided eye care training to 1,500 medical workers of communal and district clinics, and transferred eye surgical techniques to many provincial hospitals across the country.
This year, the Central Eye Hospital plans to transfer medical techniques to 23 medical establishments.
According to the doctor, Vietnam currently has around 2,000 eye doctors and about the same number of nurses specialising in ophthalmology. The number is too small compared to eye care and treatment needs, he said, noting that shortages of human resources and medical equipment are posing great challenges to the prevention and treatment of blindness in the country.
The national strategy on blindness control to 2020 with a vision to 2030 was approved on December 31, 2006.
The strategy sets the goal of improve access to services in preventing, early detecting, treating eye disorders, thus reducing the rate of blindness due to preventable diseases. The overall target is to reduce the rate of blindness to below 45 per 10,000 persons by 2020 while increasing the ratio of people receiving cataract surgery to more than 25 per 10,000 and the rate of diabetic patients receiving periodical eye care to more than 45 percent.
Project helps raise kids’ awareness of wildlife
Save Vietnam’s Wildlife (SVW) has kicked off a project named “Green Childhood” for nearly 1,200 kindergarten kids in Nho Quan town, the northern province of Ninh Binh.
The goal of the project is to raise awareness of protecting the natural environment and wildlife in Vietnam among children.
The project is sponsored by the Welttierschutzgesellschaft e.V., Germany, in collaboration with the Cuc Phuong National Park and the Nho Quan district’s Division of Training and Education.
Ho Thi Kim Lan, SVW Education Outreach Manager, said children today do not have many opportunities to contact with the wildlife and the “Green Childhood” project is created to solve the problem.
With the “Green Childhood,” children will have chances to take part in field trips to the Cuc Phuong National Park to study nature and wildlife animals as well as preservation activities at the Carnivore and Pangolin Education Centre.
There will be a total of 49 trips, each for 25 children, with activities designed for kindergarten pupils.
Dinh Thi Nhien, teacher at the Cuc Phuong kindergarten, said such significant activities will increase kids’ love for animals and awareness of nature protection, thus helping them grow both physically and mentally with social skills via interaction with their peers.
She hopes the project will be expanded to children of other age groups in the district.
Earlier, the SVW organised a conference for 43 officials from the district’s Division of Education and Training, and teachers from 14 kindergartens in Nho Quan district to introduce the project, preservation activities, as well as the role of education in fighting wildlife trafficking.
The project will last until December 2017.
Save Vietnam’s Wildlife (SVW) is a non-profit organisation established to save the future of wildlife in Vietnam. Its main activity is cooperating with the Cuc Phuong National Park to support the management and operation of the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Programme (CPCP).
New project on HIV prevention among young drug users launched
A new project has recently been launched to control HIV infection among young drug users aged 16 to 24 in Vietnam by the Centre for Supporting Community Development Initiatives (SCDI), according to the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office under the Ministry of Health.
The project, which will runs through 2019, was sponsored by Expertise France, a French agency for international technical expertise.
It will be implemented in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong, Ninh Binh, Thai Binh, Quang Ninh and Khanh Hoa and is expected to benefit about 8,000 young drug users.
The project is designed to help develop intervention strategies and enhance capacities of community-based groups in implementing intervention programmes, while improving effectiveness of communication channels.
Within the framework of the project, an initial survey was conducted in Hanoi, Hai Phong and Ho Chi Minh City among 471 young drug users, said the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office.
The result showed drug users often came from economically disadvantaged families or had negative childhood experiences.
It also revealed that about 13.7 percent of youth injected drug, while 60 – 75 percent had experienced sexual intercourse, of which unsafe sex accounted for 50 percent.
Data problems hinder IT application in health insurance
Incomplete data is among the issues hindering the application of information technology in health insurance, according to a report by the Ministry of Health’s Health Insurance Department.
As part of a health insurance medical information system rolled out last June and described as the optimal solution to ensure transparency and prevent insurance fraud, the transmission of electronic data in health insurance management and payment is facing challenges due to continuous changes in local health service facilities, said the report.
These were changes to technical and medical equipment, medicine and other health related items.
Others issues, according to the report, relate to the difficulties in hiring IT service companies to help health insurance agencies follow the Government’s rules on using information systems in health insurance.
In particular, some documents issued by Vietnam Health Insurance are not synchronised with the Ministry of Health’s instructions on the hiring of IT companies to install medical infomation systems for health insurance management and payment
The problems were found mostly at health insurance authorities at grass-root levels where many staff lack qualifications to record data about patients’ tests and treatments and therefore information transmitted to social insurance agencies for payment is often not sufficiently clear, said the report.
A lack of both quantity and quality of IT facilities such as computers and network servers at local health insurance agencies is also hindering the application of IT in their management works.
A majority of hospitals and clinics have not installed information medical systems with a capacity to import the required data, which often includes many figures.
Moreover, most health care workers have not been trained in IT and find it hard to adapt to the medical information system.
Deputy Minister of Health Le Tuan, told the Vietnam Economic Times recently that although this year was promoted as the threshold year for implementing the National Assembly’s resolution on boosting the linkage of health care data between healthcare systems and health insurance and social insurance, the connection is still very limited due to problems in sending and receiving data.
According to another report delivered by Pham Luong Son, Deputy Director General of the Vietnam Social Security at a conference held in January, 99.5 percent of medical facilities nationwide have been linked to the health insurance medical information assessment system since its launch, except for 65 commune-level health stations in remote areas without electricity access.
The health insurance medical information assessment system received some 68.9 million dossiers requesting insurance payments worth 35 trillion VND (1.55 billion USD) in the last six months of 2016, and another 3 million requesting insurance payments of 2 trillion VND (88.6 million USD) in the first month of 2017, the report said.
Doctors complete double-chamber pacemaker surgery
Thu Duc District Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City implanted a double-chamber pacemaker in the body of a 51-year-woman who had an abnormally slow heart rate on March 23.
The patient, from the northern mountainous province of Bac Kan, was brought to the hospital on March 21 with symptoms of dizziness and fatigue. The woman said she could not do any daily activity.
Results of a 24-hour electrocardiogram (ECG) showed that she had a slow heart rate of 40 beats per minute compared to the normal rate of 60 or more per minute. In this situation, cardiac arrest can sometimes occur within six seconds.
The doctor said that her slow heart rate was caused by a sinus node dysfunction.
After counselling from the doctor, the patient agreed to surgery which lasted 90 minutes. She is expected to be discharged within several days.
Compared to single-chamber pacemakers, the double-chamber pacemaker helps hearts beat more regularly. They are used in patients with an abnormally slow heart rate, according to the hospital’s doctor.
Dialysis treatment extends patients’ lives
More than 26,000 people receive regular dialysis treatment in the country, which helps prolong their life.
A 42-year-old patient in HCM City’s District 8 with end-stage kidney failure for three years has visited An Binh Hospital weekly for dialysis, which removes waste, salt and extra water from his blood to prevent them from building up in the body. Dialysis also helps control blood pressure.
Dr Vo Duc Chien, Director of Nguyen Tri Phuong Hospital in HCM City, said that effective dialysis helps prolong the life of patients with the condition.
The hospital has the only advanced dialysis machines in HCM City, which use high-flux membrane (with larger pore size) dialyzers which filter the blood of patients. These are considered by some doctors to be more effective than low-flux dialyzers.
Chien said that many patients at end-stage disease need a kidney transplant, but there are not enough donated kidneys. Those patients must receive dialysis treatment regularly.
Dr Pham Van Bui, Chairman of the Society of Dialysis Therapy of HCM City, said that chronic kidney failure in 2010 was the 18th cause of fatalities globally, compared to the 27th cause of deaths in 1990.
One out of 10 people suffer from the condition worldwide, Bui said, adding that the figure in Vietnam is higher. However, there is no official number of patients with the condition.
Chronic kidney failure cannot be cured, he said, adding that patients diagnosed at the end stage of kidney failure must have dialysis for the rest of their life.
“The leading criterion for dialysis is how to improve quality of living for patients and help them live for an additional 30 years. This can be done with patients who use dialysis in Japan,” Bui said.
He said that it was important for patients to have normal lives and take part in social activities.
To improve efficiency and reduce the death rate, health facilities in the country providing dialysis should use high-flux dialysis and replace low-flux dialysis treatments, he said.
Hirokazu Matsubara of the Japanese Society for Technology of Blood Purification said that patients in Japan lived longer if they used high-flux dialysis, sometimes up to 40 more years.
Matsubara said it was essential to use very pure water to prevent bacterial contamination during treatment.
Filtration membranes in dialysis machines should not be reused to treat another patient, a practice that sometimes occurs in Vietnam, reducing treatment effectiveness, he added.
Bui said that in Vietnam, kidney disease can develop in patients who are obese or diabetic.
A strategy for losing weight and preventing diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiac disease helps reduce the risk for kidney conditions, he added.
“The most important thing is to provide guidance on nutrition for patients,” Bui said.
During dialysis, patients should take vitamins and eat nutritious diets with meals having enough protein, fat and other nutrients to avoid malnutrition and anaemia, he said.
Many patients often become malnourished because they do not obey doctors’ recommendations or do not receive information from doctors about nutritional supplementation, he added.
Illegal zipline makes authorities swing into action in Central Highlands
Authorities in Lam Dong Province are looking into reports of unauthorized tours to a zipline over the Golden Stream in Lac Duong District, an area that is not licensed for adventure tourism.
A group of around 10 tourists, including foreigners, was spotted with a tour guide on March 24 taking turns on the zipline, which is around 50 meters long.
The guides built the zipline themselves, according to the provincial tourism department.
“Only some of them had a chance to try the line before the guide realized they had been spotted,” said an unnamed inspector from the department.
Nguyen Thi Nguyen, the department’s director, confirmed that Lam Dong only allows adventure tourism at Datanla Falls in Da Lat and only licensed travel agencies are allowed to operate there.
Lam Dong is home to the popular resort town of Da Lat.
Last month, a Polish traveler and a Vietnamese tour guide died after falling from a rope as they were climbing down Hang Cop Falls in the province.
The Polish man bought his tour from Giac Mo Vang (Golden Dream) Limited Company, which does not have a license to organize adventure tours, according to local authorities.
In February last year, three British tourists, including two women, died after being swept down Datanla Falls in the Central Highlands province.
Last week, the UK issued a warning to its citizens about traveling to Vietnam, saying that while the country is a safe destination, adventure tourism risks should be taken seriously.
Two killed, 10 injured in head-on bus crash in Central Highlands
At least two people have been killed and 10 others wounded after two passenger buses collided head-on in Vietnam on the afternoon of March 26.
The accident occurred on the section of National Highway 20 in Di Linh District, Lam Dong Province, located in the Central Highlands, at around 2:30 pm.
One of the sleeper buses belonged to Thanh Buoi Bus Lines, which was traveling from Da Lat to Ho Chi Minh City while the other, from Futa Bus Lines, was running in the opposite direction.
Following the collision, the Thanh Buoi bus exited the roadway and slammed into a house, while only a few windows of the Futa coach were smashed.
As of 8:00 pm on the day of the accident, authorities revealed that two people had been killed, namely Dang Thi Hong Nhung, 29, and K’Juroe, 13.
Nhung, a passenger of the Thanh Buoi coach, was found dead after being stuck inside the vehicle for nearly three hours.
K’Juroe was a local boy who had been playing in front of his house before the bus crashed into the residence.
Ten other people were injured in the collision, two of whom remained at a local hospital.
Another two were transferred to Ho Chi Minh City while the six others have all been discharged.
Most of the victims were aboard the Thanh Buoi bus, according to initial reports.
The search and recovery mission had been complete by around 9:00 pm, with the provincial Department of Police continuing their investigation to determine the cause of the devastating crash.
Leaders of the Lam Dong People’s Committee also arrived at the hospital to support the victims.
Police intercept restaurant supply, rescue dozens of bamboo rats
Bamboo rat is a species of rodent that makes a popular delicacy in both Vietnam and China.
Police have seized dozens of bamboo rats of unknown origin from a Vietnamese man who was taking them on a motorbike to local restaurants, traffic police said.
Traffic police patrols on March 26 detected and stopped the man carrying two suspicious sacks on his motorbike on a national highway in the central province of Nghe An, some 300 km (190 miles) south of Hanoi.
They found 40 brown bamboo rats, with weights totaling 25kg (55 lbs), in the sacks. The rodents were inside small iron cages, with one still in a plastic tube-shape trap.
The motorbiker failed to present valid papers. He said he bought the rats from locals and was en route to sell them to restaurants to make a popular delicacy. The species are raised in captivity in several locations across Vietnam.
Having identified the bamboo rats as wildlife animals, the traffic police handed them over to the local forestry unit, which often releases them.
HCMC increases management on private pre-schools
Lately, Deputy Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Le Thanh Liem has sent a document to the Department of Education and Training and people’s committees in the districts asking to tighten measures to manage private day time nurseries.
The document was issued after the ill-treatment on kids in private daytime nursery in District Go Vap was detected. Local officials shut down the nursery soon.
In its document, local authorities are asked to pay unscheduled visits to private nurseries aiming to detect wrong deeds to kids.
People’s Committee also asked districts to publicize lists of private nurseries in the localities including registered and unregistered schools and schools were shut down.
Authorities must be determined to close unregistered nurseries.
Ho Chi Minh City has most private nurseries in the country. Within three recent years, 8 departments of Education and Training recruited more personnel for management of private schools. Private schools have mushroomed recent years.
Camera installed in National Highway 1A to monitor traffic violations
The Road and Railway Traffic Police Department (C67) under the Ministry of Public Security yesterday operated traffic surveillance camera systems in the National Highway 1A through the Southern Province of Dong Nai.
This is one of measures to raise people’s awareness of traffic regulation on driving in streets, helping deal with traffic violations in time to reduce accidents.
The system includes modern specific and automated cameras to verify the license – plate and to analyse lines installed in the National Highway. These cameras are connected to main machines and data storage in traffic police stations in province, districts and communes.
Through the system, traffic police officer will detect violations especially faults leading to accidents such as driving fast in the wrong lanes, wrong parking, contrary direction, and passing red light...The system is expected to support traffic police in probing cause of serious accidents.
According to Major General Nguyen Quoc Diep, deputy head of C67, the 102km complicated traffic National Highway through Dong Nai with nearly 5,000 cars and 120,000 motorbikes travelling a day is an accident prone zone; accordingly the new system is considered an effective measures to reduce accidents.
Next time, C67 and related agencies will install more monitoring systems in hot spots of accidents in the National Highway through Ho Chi Minh City, the central provinces of Phu Yen, Binh Thuan and the Mekong delta province of Tien Giang.
Hue to open six new local, int’l air routes
The People’s Committee of Thua Thien- Hue Province has launched a plan to open six local and international air routes in the 2017-2020 period.
As plan, the flights will connect Phu Bai International Airport in the province and the northern province of Quang Ninh, the Mekong Delta City of Can Tho, Thailand’s Chiang Mai, Singapore, Japan and South Korea.
The province’s official delegation will make a travel demand survey in Chiang Mai, Singapore, Japan and South Korea in April.
The new service is expected to help promote tourism in Hue and the country to the world, meeting the growing travel and trade demand between the ancient capital of Hue and countries.
VN marks World Meteorological Day 2017
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment held a meeting to respond the 2017 World Meteorological Day in Hanoi on March 23.
The 2017 World Meteorological Organization (WMO)'s theme is “Understanding Clouds”, aiming to send a message about the importance of cloud in weather system, climate, weather forecast to serve socio- economic development and natural disaster prevention.
On the occasion, the WMO's organization board released its digitized International Cloud Atlas, the global reference for observing and identifying clouds.
This is the first time that the Atlas has e-version at http://wmocloudatlas.org/index.php/en/.
Its content includes detailed guidance about cloud classification via hundreds of images drawing kinds of clouds. Additionally, the Atlas also contains important information about other meteorological phenomenon such as rainbow, solar corona, snow and hail.
The World Meteorological Day is annually celebrated on March 23.
Exhibition gives Back Long Vi islanders insight into island sovereignty
Bach Long Vi islanders of Hai Phong city is currently offered a chance to gain a better understanding of Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes through an exhibition that opened on March 24.
The displayed maps and documents are part of historical evidence and legal foundation testifying to Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.
They show that throughout history, states of Vietnam have explored, established, exercised and protected the national sovereignty over these two archipelagoes, along with many other islands and sea areas under its territory.
It is a continuous, long-lasting and peaceful process that has been recorded in a number of historical documents, including maps and documents published since the 16th century in Vietnam and other countries.
The exhibition features copies of documents written in Han (Chinese), Nom (Vietnam’s Chinese-like script), Vietnamese and French issued by Vietnam’s feudal dynasties and France’s administration in Indochina from the 17th to the early 20th century.
Copies of administrative documents issued by the Republic of Vietnam’s administration in the south from 1954 to 1975 and by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam since 1975, as well as publications by some western countries from the 18th to the 19 century, are also on display.
Others include photos of Vietnam’s exercise and protection of its sovereignty over the islands from 1930 to January 1974 when China illegally occupied Hoang Sa, 65 maps proving the two archipelagoes under Vietnam’s sovereignty issued since the 17th century, and studies and publications on the country’s Hoang Sa and Truong Sa conducted by Vietnamese and foreign scholars since 1975.
The event also showcases outstanding photos and documents on social, economic and cultural activities in Truong Sa island district, and stamps that feature Vietnam’s islands and seas.
The exhibition will last through March 28.-
Youth Union anniversary celebrated in Da Nang
The Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union (HCYU) Central Committee held a meeting in Da Nang city on March 23 to mark the union’s 86th anniversary (1931-2017) and present the Ly Tu Trong awards to outstanding youth union members.
This year’s Ly Tu Trong awards were presented to 87 outstanding youth union members, who have made contributions to the development of the Union and youth campaigns. The winners, selected from 208 outstanding nominees nationwide, also achieved good academic results in research, studying and launching campaigns for young people.
Speaking at the event, Politburo member and Secretary of the Party Central Committee (PCC) Truong Thi Mai praised achievements made by the HCYU and Vietnamese youth over the past years.
Politburo member Mai, who is also Head of the PCC Commission for Mass Mobilisation, called on the youth union to continue reforming its operations, which should focus on encouraging the youth to study and follow President Ho Chi Minh’s moral example, providing the youth with career guidance, and promoting the vanguard and exemplary role of Vietnamese youngsters.
At the meeting, Le Quoc Phong, First Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee, reviewed the glorious tradition of the HCYU during its 86-year history of establishment and development.
While congratulating winners of this year’s Ly Tu Trong Awards, he expressed his hope that the awards will motivate them to make more efforts, raise their responsibility to the community, the country and its people, as well as make further contributions to the country’s industrialisation, modernisation and international integration.
The same day, the delegates offered incense to President Ho Chi Minh at the Ho Chi Minh Museum and presented gifts to children at a support centre for Agent Orange victims in Da Nang.
Book on Vietnamese market launched in Czech Republic
A Czech-language book featuring Vietnam's market was launched at the Embassy of Vietnam in Prague, the Czech Republic, on March 23.
The release of the book is part of the Embassy’s diplomatic activities to serve the two countries’ economic cooperation.
The Vietnamese Embassy has planned to organise various activities to promote investment, trade and tourism in the year.
Addressing the ceremony, Truong Manh Son, Vietnamese Ambassador to the Czech Republic stressed that the traditional cooperation of Vietnam and the Czech Republic is thriving, with many high-level visits that provided a driving force for economic, trade and investment links.
However, the bilateral economic and trade cooperation has yet to match the potential and wishes of each country.
As of mid-2016, 30 businesses of the Czech Republic have operated in Vietnam, with a total investment of 170 million USD. The European country ranked 40th out of 150 countries and territories that invested in Vietnam. Import-export turnover of the two countries reached roughly 1 billion USD.
Bilateral cooperation still faces difficulties, such as the absence of a Hanoi-Prague direct flight and complicated visa-granting procedures for Vietnamese businesses and tourists to the Czech Republic, Son said.
On the occasion, Ambassador Son and Trade Counsellor Tran Hiep Thuong also responded to questions of local reporters and businesses on investment policies of the Vietnamese Government.
Hanoi calls for investment in wastewater treatment projects
Hanoi is calling for investments into wastewater treatment projects from 2016 – 2020, in a bid to protect the environment for sustainable development.
These projects are in Thanh Thuy commune, Thanh Oai district; Van Canh commune in Hoai Duc district; Ha Dong district; and Son Tay town.
They will be included in the list of projects to be presented at the city’s investment promotion conference slated for June.
As the city’s key tasks in 2017 will include environmental protection, the municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment will set up teams to coordinate with relevant agencies and localities in promptly dealing with arising problems in pollution control and environmental violations.
The agency will call for resources in addressing environmental issues at local industrial parks and zones, urban zones and trade villages, including building wastewater treatment stations in 50 seriously polluting trade villages, using the wastewater treatment Duong Lieu – Cau Nga model in Hoai Duc district.
It will accelerate the implementation of environmental projects, particularly the waste and wastewater treatment projects in Son Dong and Van Canh communes, Hoai Duc district; Thanh Thuy commune in Thanh Oai district; and a concentrated waste treatment in Dong Ke hamlet, Tran Phu commune, Chuong My district.
Hanoi has completed and put into operation a wastewater treatment plant in Duong Lieu commune, Hoai Duc district and a wastewater treatment plant in the West Lake, with a daily capacity of 20,000 cubic metres; and started construction of a wastewater treatment facility in Yen Xa, with a daily capacity of 270,000 cubic metres.
In the first quarter this year, the industrial solid garbage-burning station, with a daily capacity of 75 tonnes funded by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development (NEDO) organisation has recently been put into operation in Nam Son, raising the rate of hazardous industrial waste treatment to over 90 percent.
The Fukuoka – Japan waste filling project in Xuan Son waste treatment area in Son Tay town, with a daily capacity of 240 tonnes have treated over 300,000 tonnes of waste.
Vietnam faces return of trade deficit
According to the General Statistics Office, after many years of trade deficit, Vietnam reported a trade surplus of USD2.7 billion in 2016.
Vietnamese economy sees slower Q1 growth
Viet Nam posted a year-on-year GDP growth of 5.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2017, slower than the previous two years at 5.48 and 6.12 per cent, respectively.
Nguyen Bich Lam, head of the General Statistics Office of Viet Nam (GSO), said at a press briefing yesterday that one of the main reasons for the contraction was the slow growth of agriculture, forestry and aquaculture.
He said this sector grew 2.03 per cent in the first quarter, higher than the same period in 2016, but still recording the second lowest growth rate since 2011.
The sector contributed just 0.24 per cent to national GDP growth, he added.
The agriculture sector was hit by repeated natural disasters like flooding in the central region, severe drought in the Central Highlands and saltwater intrusion in the south, Lam noted.
The slowdown could also be attributed to negative impacts of a global economy that was still recovering, with attendant uncertainties in financial flows, the rising US dollar, interest rate hike by the US Federal Reserve (Fed), making global monetary policy more complex, he said.
At the same time, Viet Nam’s international economic integration was deepening with a series of free trade agreements (FTAs) coming into force and tariffs being abolished, Lam said.
Furthermore, the industry and construction sector grew by just 4.17 per cent, 2.99 percentage points lower than that in 2016, posting the lowest rate of growth in the past 11 years, which dragged down by a 10 per cent drop in the mining industry.
The service industry hit the highest growth rate of 6.52 per cent since 2012, with wholesale and retail sectors up 7.38 per cent; banking, finance and insurance up 7.76 per cent; and real estate services up 3.72 per cent.
Export turnover in the first quarter is estimated at US$43.7 billion, up 12.8 per cent, with significant increase seen in some key items like electronic products, including computers and components, up 42.3 per cent. Textiles and garment exports were up 10.2 per cent, and machinery, equipment and spare parts up 34.6 per cent.
Investment in social development reached VND297.8 trillion ($13 billion) in the first quarter, up 8.6 per cent year-on-year.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) grew 6.2 per cent to reach VND80.5 trillion ($3.53 billion).
Total retail sales and services saw a year-on-year increase of 9.18 per cent to some VND921.1 trillion, going down to 6.2 per cent when factoring price hikes. This was lower than the 7.5 per cent increase in the first quarter of 2016, which means aggregate demand and purchasing power of the economy was rising but at a slower rate than the first quarter of 2016, Lam said.
Viet Nam needed its GDP to expand by 7 per cent in the remaining months to meet the 6.7 per cent target for 2017 to be met, he added.
Lam saw more difficulties and challenges ahead, rather than favourable conditions, making the national growth target very difficult without a breakthrough development in the remaining quarters.
Therefore, the Government, sectors, authorities at all levels, the business community and society as a whole must be proactive and flexible in overcoming obstacles and realising the socio-economic development targets set by the National Assembly, he said.
The country’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 4.96 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter, with January CPI up 5.22 per cent, February CPI up 5.02 per cent and March CPI up 4.65 per cent.
March CPI rose 0.21 per cent against the previous month, 4.65 per cent year-on-year and 0.9 per cent over last December.
Vu Thi Thu Thuy, head of the GSO’s Price Statistics Department, said that to keep the CPI below 4 per cent, the Government should direct the ministries of Finance and Industry and Trade to closely monitor price and market movements, especially for essential goods like rice, gasoline, steel and fertilizer. It should also pay attention to the timing of price adjustments for some goods managed by the State, she added.
The prices of eight of the basket of 11 groups of goods and services used to calculate the CPI increased, with the highest rise recorded for pharmaceuticals and healthcare services at 7.51 per cent, followed by education, 0.75 per cent; housing and construction materials, 0.5 per cent; and transportation, 0.39 per cent.
The three groups that experienced a price decline were restaurants and food services (0.87 per cent), garments, hats and shoes (0.12 per cent) and beverages and tobacco (0.02 per cent).
Thuy said the March CPI tended to decrease every year as consumption falls following the Lunar New Year, but this year, it increased after the Government raised the prices of medical and educational services.
The prices of petrol and diesel oil fell on March 6 and March 21, making the former cheaper by VND790 per litre and the latter by VND480 per litre. Cooking gas (LPG) prices rose 1.48 per cent over the previous month.
In March, gold prices fluctuated at around VND3.6 million per tael while the VND/USD exchange rate was stable at around VND22,700 to VND22,800 per USD. (A tael of gold is 1.205 ounces)
Core inflation (excluding food and fresh foodstuff, energy and State-controlled commodities such as health and education services) in March climbed 1.6 per cent over the previous month.
The CPI is forecast to continue increasing in April with price hikes in food, beverages, garment and educational services, GSO officials said.
Big M&A deals in the property market in early 2017
The real estate market saw a boom in M&A deals in the second half of 2016 and the trend continues in the first months of 2017.
According to the HCMC Real Estate Association (HOREA), 1,200 real estate projects had been developed by the end of 2016 in the city, of which 500 projects had been stagnant.
As many products didn't sell, investors could not take back the investment capital. This forced them to sell projects to pay bank debts and stop losses.
Novaland, after buying the 30 hectare Nam Rach Chiec project from VinaCapital, has taken over another project – the 180 hectare Da Phuoc urban area from Daewon Group.
Hung Thinh Corp has wrapped up the procedures to take over two projects in Binh Tan projects with the transaction value of VND426.5 billion, namely An Lac Plaza and Western Plaza from Binh Chanh Construction JSC, now a subsidiary of Khang Dien Investment and House Development.
Both the projects have been ‘revived’ by Hung Thinh and given new names – Moonlight Park View and Moonlight Boulevard.
A Hung Thinh representative said the company is negotiating to buy more projects in HCMC and the information about the deals will be made public soon.
Nguyen Dinh Bao, deputy CEO of Khang Dien, said after obtaining controlling stakes in BCI, Khang Dien now has the large land fund of 500 hectares. However, Khang Dien is still looking to purchase new projects and willing to transfer existing projects if the deals can bring expected profits.
Most recently, An Gia Investment and the Japanese Creed Group have announced the completion of the deal on their takeover of seven blocks belonging La Casa complex on Hoang Quoc Viet street in HCMC. The seller is Van Phat Hung JSC.
The recipients declined to reveal the value of the deal. However, Van Phat Hung’s reports showed that in the first two months of 2017, the company signed a contract on deposit for the transfer of the land-use rights and a part of La Casa construction work, worth VND490 billion. Later, it transferred other blocks of La Casa, worth VND420 billion. The profit from the two transfer deals was VND325 billion.
Nguyen Ba Sang, president of An Gia Investment, said the company plans to buy five more projects in 2017.
Instead of seeking capital from banks, some Vietnamese real estate developers have decided to join forces with foreign investors to develop projects. This is because the developers too reliant on bank loans would not be at a disadvantage compared with the ones which can control their financial resources.
A source said that foreign investors expect a profit of 20 percent for every investment deal.
Thanh Lich, VNN
BUSINESS IN BRIEF 2/4
Vietnam Airlines opens Hanoi-Sydney air route
National carrier Vietnam Airlines (VNA) officially launched its non-stop route between Hà Nội and Sydney on Wednesday, making this the airline’s third route to Australia.
The nine hours and 35 minutes flight from Hà Nội will take off at 11.55pm every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. The flight from Sydney will depart at 3.15pm in the summer and 2.15pm in the winter every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.
The carrier will operate new-generation Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft on the route.
Speaking at the launch of the route in Sydney, Việt Nam’s General Consul in Sydney Hoàng Minh Sơn said the route would help further boost trade and travel between the two countries.
He noted that the Australian Government had allowed the import of fruits from Việt Nam, which should be transported by air to ensure freshness.
Kerrie Mather, management and operation director at the Sydney International Airport, emphasised that the new route would help cement the bilateral relationship and meet the increasing travel demand from Sydney to Việt Nam.
Vietnam Airlines already operates daily flights from HCM City to Sydney and Melbourne. The new route has brought the carrier’s flights to a total of 17 flights per week.
ChoTot launches used car platform
Chotot.vn, a C2C e-commerce platform, officially announced the launch of its new service Cho Tot Xe, a platform reserved for the trading of used motor cars in Vietnam, on March 28.
Operating as a pilot since last October, Cho Tot Xe has had 10 million visitors, 100,000 news items published, and made 2.4 million connections between buyers and sellers.
Based on official figures as well as data analysis from advertising, Chotot forecast that the number of new cars to be sold would reach nearly 350,000 by 2020.
It also said that Vietnam’s second-hand car market has seen significant growth of more than 80 per cent since 2013, with 100,000 cars traded each year, which will triple to 300,000 by 2020.
With an average car price of about $20,000 on Chotot.vn, the company believes that the used car market will be worth up to $6 billion after three years.
The average 13-day period for an advertisement on Chotot before a transaction is completed shows that the market is operating actively.
Chotot also noted in its first quarter 2017 report on used vehicles that the three motor cars retaining their price are the Hyundai i10, the Toyota Vios, and the Toyota Innova.
According to Chotot’s figures on the used car market in the fourth quarter of last year, used cars are an average of $9,500 cheaper than new cars.
Chotot.vn was founded in Vietnam in 2012 and been a leading C2C e-commerce platform, with a product catalog that ranges from motorbikes to mobile phones, computers, household appliances, furniture, and pet goods.
It recorded impressive business results in 2016, with 1.2 million hits per day, up 35 per cent compared to the previous year, 1.1 billion visitors per month, up 100 per cent, and 2.5 million successful transactions per year, up 150 per cent.
Eximbank targets 2017 earnings of $26.35 million
The Export-Import Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Eximbank, HSX stock code EIB) has released a resolution from its Board of Management approving business targets for 2017, which will be submitted to its annual general meeting (AGM) on April 21.
Total assets are to reach VND150 trillion ($6.58 billion), mobilized capital VND120 trillion ($5.27 billion), and total outstanding loans VND108.8 trillion ($4.78 billion), with a non-performing loan (NPL) ratio of less than 3 per cent. Pre-tax profit is targeted at VND600 billion ($26.35 million), up 53 per cent compared with 2016’s result.
In another resolution released recently, the Board of Management approved a $100 million loan granted by the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) at market interest rates agreed upon by the two parties in each capital withdrawal. The maximum loan term is 18 months and the loan is unsecured.
The bank has received three candidate profiles for its Board of Management and will seek comments from the State Bank of Vietnam before the election at the AGM.
It expects to elect up to three new members, with the AGM to decide on exact numbers. Its Board currently has eight members.
Eximbank is one of the largest joint stock commercial banks in Vietnam, with charter capital of more than VND12 trillion ($527 million). Its unaudited consolidated financial results for 2016 showed pre-tax profit of VND390 billion ($17.13 million), up 542.25 per cent against 2015 and fulfilling 39 per cent of the targeted VND1 trillion ($43.9 million).
Its 2016 business results were disappointing as both lending and capital mobilization were weaker. The net interest margin (NIM) also narrowed, with net interest income falling. Other operating income was up and provision costs were down.
Manufacturing, processing inventory increases 12.5 percent
The inventory index of the processing and manufacturing field was up 12.5 percent in March compared to the same period last year, reported the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Some industries seeing inventory rates higher than the common level comprise motor vehicle making with 89 percent; electronic, computer and optic products with 79.6 percent.
The rate of paper and paper products in stock hit 51.5 percent, beverage 50.8 percent, nonmetallic mineral products 35.2 percent, furniture 29.3 percent, rubber and plastic items 28.1 percent.
During the first two months this year, the manufacturing and processing field posted the inventory rate of 74.3 percent.
Industries having high inventory levels include medicines with 113.4 percent, precast metal products except machines and equipment 111.5 percent and chemical and chemical products 102.8 percent.
Company prepares for export of poultry meat to Japan
The Koyu & Unitek Co Ltd has recently inaugurated a meat processing plant with a daily capacity of 50,000 chickens at the Long Binh industrial park in the southern province of Dong Nai, as part of its preparation to export poultry products to Japan.
The plant built at cost of 6 million USD has been equipped with advanced machinery imported from Japan and run following strict hygiene and food safety standards.
Chickens for production are sourced from a farm run by Nguyen Minh Kha in Nam Cat Tien commune, Tan Phu district.
Kha said he has taken part in the supply chain for poultry export to Japan for two years. He made sure his poultry is free from diseases and Japan-banned antibiotics.
The farm is expected to be scaled up to 720,000 chickens in next June or July from the current figure of 560,000. Most of its breeds have been imported from France, while feed has been provided by De Heus Vietnam.
The last barrier for Koyu & Unitek chicken meat products is animal quarantine from both countries.
Nguyen Van Quyen, head of the company’s export project board, said Koyu & Unitek is confident to pass the examination as its production chain is strictly in line with standards set by Japan.
The company expected to sell chicken products in the home market from April and ship its first chicken container to Japan in June or July.
Import-export earnings estimated over 89.3 billion USD
Vietnam was estimated to have an import-export value of 89.36 billion USD in the first three months of 2017, with the figure for March alone hitting about 33.7 billion USD, said the General Department of Vietnam Customs.
The three-month sum represented a 17.5-percent increase compared to the same period last year.
Of which, export reached 43.73 billion USD, up 12.8 percent year-on-year.
Computers, electronic devices and components recorded the highest annual jump, at 42.3 percent to reach 5.31 billion USD.
Garment and textile value increased 10.2 percent from last year to hit 5.63 billion USD, while phones and components shipments generated 7.39 billion USD, an annual decrease of 10.7 percent.
Tran Thanh Hai, Vice Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Export and Import Administration, noted that growing export value has contributed significantly to improve the balance of payments and boost GDP growth, while reflecting the recovery of domestic production.
Import of raw materials and machinery in service of local production and outsourcing accounted for 80 percent of the import value of 45.63 billion USD, which showed a 22.4 percent rise year on year, signaling a positive sign for the country’s export activities in the coming months.
Industrial production index grows slightly in first quarter
The industrial production index rose 4.1 percent in the first quarter this year, lower than the figures of the same period of previous years, the General Statistics Office (GSO) has said.
Mining experienced a drop of 11.4 percent while manufacturing and engineering was up 8.3 percent and electricity production and distribution hiked 9.4 percent.
Ha Quang Tuyen, Director of the GSO’s National Account System Department attributed the modest growth to food manufacturing and processing, which account for 15 percent of the index, posting a 4.4 percent growth rate, a far cry from the 8.6 percent rate in 2016. The electronics sector saw its production value down by 1 percent due to Samsung Vietnam’s 38 percent manufacturing contraction.
Industries that recorded high production value growth include metal (43.4 percent), prefabricated metal (14.3 percent); paper, paper products and apparel (11.6 percent), and apparel (11.4 percent). Meanwhile, crude oil and fuel, and coal mining were down 13.6 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively.
Significant expansion was seen in the manufacturing of several industrial items, including television (43.3 percent), rolled steel (32.2 percent), crude iron and steel (23.2 percent), urea (18.5 percent), fresh milk (12.7 percent), and chemical paint (12.1 percent).
Cities and provinces registering industrial production indexes higher than the average level include Hai Phong (17.2 percent), Thai Nguyen (12.5 percent), Da Nang (10.6 percent), Hai Duong (9.3 percent), Ho Chi Minh City (5.9 percent) and Hanoi (6 percent).
In the meantime, Can Tho, Quang Ninh, Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Bac Ninh and Quang Ngai ran a 3.3-11.7 percent annual decrease in the index.
Inventories in manufacturing and engineering as of March 1 went up 12.5 percent year-on-year.
The employees of industrial firms rose 2.2 percent annually, with those working for State-owned and non-State enterprises down 1.7 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively, and for foreign-invested businesses up 4.4 percent.
Handicraft exporters seek to expand markets
Experts have advised handicraft businesses to improve workers’ competence and increase value-chain connectivity to expand markets.
They said Vietnamese handicraft products have been exported to such choosy markets as the EU, the US, the Republic of Korea, and Japan, with a total export turnover of nearly 1.5 billion USD per year.
Director of Hanoi Hung Anh Co., Ltd Trinh Tuyet Nga said European customers still favor handicrafts made in Vietnam due to their high quality and sophistication.
The EU would remain the main importer of Vietnamese handicrafts, she said, noting that her company has exported one container of fine-art handicrafts worth around 10,000 USD to the EU since the beginning of this year.
However, it is difficult for the company to handle big orders from foreign businesses due to financial restrictions and small-scale production while the EU has strict demands for quality, design and delivery of products, Nga said.
Most of Vietnamese handicraft exporters are small-and medium-sized enterprises; hence their trade competence is not high, and they lack of experience to make use of international trade opportunities.
The application of traditional methods also makes it difficult for businesses to produce and export handicrafts at the same time.
Ta Minh Hung, a trade promotion expert from the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, held that it is necessary to improve the production value chain from manufacturing to selling the products as well as embrace links between production and trade to optimize production and consumption capacity.
For example, in the stage of production, he suggested boosting the application of technologies to increase output and quality, thus meeting the demand of big orders.
Regarding the commercial stage, it is essential to set up financially-strong companies to expand markets, he said.
He recommended encouraging potential domestic businesses to participate in international trade promotion programmes and trade fairs to popularize products, seek partners and open markets.
Vietnamese businesses are scheduled to attend the Mega Show – an international handicraft trade fair in China’s Hong Kong in October and France’s Paris in November 2017.
Selection of Vietnam’s best aquatic products kicks off
The Vietnam Fisheries Society and Vietnam Fisheries Magazine held a press conference on March 31 to launch the voting for the best aquatic products of Vietnam.
The title has been given twice in five years since 2009, honouring 100 units and individuals each time, said Nguyen Viet Thang, President of the Vietnam Fisheries Society. After three times, thousands of businesses, collectives and people have applied for the competition.
Its criteria cover economic and social benefits, technology application in production, along with resources and environment protection.
According to the organising board, the award aims to boost the quality of aquatic products as well as the use of technology in production, thus raising the fisheries sector's competitiveness.
The aquatic sector has contributed a large sum of foreign currency to Vietnam, from 285.4 billion USD in 1991 to about seven USD currently. It has become the strategic export of the country.
Besides, the sector also generates jobs in numerous fields, such as aquatic farming, fishing, processing and logistics, benefitting the economic development of localities.
Binh Duong promotes favourable business environment
The southern province of Binh Duong has set creating a favourable business environment a top priority to attract investment and improve its provincial competitiveness index (PCI).
The move is part of an investment attraction programme in the period 2016 – 2020, according to Mai Hung Dung, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’ Committee.
Accordingly, the province will hold more dialogues with enterprises to resolve problems they are facing and boost administrative procedure reform, including single-window system and online administration services.
Binh Duong has to date had 2,890 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects worth 27.1 billion USD.
In the first three months, the locality attracted over 1.34 billion USD of FDI capital. Of the total, 793 million USD was from 43 newly licensed projects and the rest was from 18 projects that got additional capital.
It is also home to over 26,500 domestic firms with a total registered capital of 198.2 trillion VND (about 8.7 billion USD).
During the first quarter, the province approved the setting up of 966 new enterprises with a total investment capital of 5.39 trillion VND (about 237.3 million USD), while allowing 166 operating ones to raise their capital by a total of 3.73 trillion VND (164 .1 million USD).
Binh Duong plans to attract partners with strong economic potentials to industries with high technology and high-added value, agro-industry and support industry.
Regarding domestic investment, the locality aims to have 23,000 new projects worth 110 trillion VND, doubling the period of 2011 – 2015.
It also will give priority to investment into industrial parks with well-prepared infrastructure.
PetroVietnam surpasses business targets in Q1
The Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) surpassed its business targets by 4-16 percent, especially oil exploitation, in the first three months of the year.
Total revenue of the group topped 117.1 trillion VND (5.14 billion USD), exceeding its quarterly plan by 16 percent. The group posted an after-tax profit of 5.1 trillion VND (224.1 million USD), 18 percent higher than its target or accounting for 30 percent of yearly plan.
During the period, PetroVietnam’s tax payment to the state budget was 20.8 trillion VND (914.1 million USD), 12 percent more than its goal and up 19 percent year-on-year.
The group produced about 6.47 million of oil equivalent, surpassing the three-month plan by 5.3 percent. Gas exploitation in the period reached 2.52 billion cubic metres, 5.7 percent higher than the target.
In the first quarter, PetroVietnam produced 5.44 billion kWh of electricity, 1.69 million tonnes of petrol and some 447,000 tonnes of nitrogenous fertilizer.
The PVN said that its industrial production value was estimated at 116 trillion VND (5.1 billion USD) in the quarter, surpassing the target by 7.4 percent and accounting for 27 percent of its yearly plan.
In a bid to fulfill plan for the second quarter and the whole year, PVN General Director Nguyen Vu Truong Son said that the group has focused all resources and measures on ensuring the effective operation of its five core areas of oil and gas exploration and exploitation, electricity, gas, petrochemical industries and high-tech services.
It will also continue strict management of oil and gas exploring and exploiting activities and giving priority to major projects like Ca Rong Do (Red Emperor) and Ca Voi Xanh (Blue Whale).
Particularly, the group will continue its business restructuring plan in 2016-2020 as approved by the Prime Minister.
In 2017, PVN strives to exploit some 23.81 million tonnes of oil equivalent, generate 20.1 billion kWh of electricity, and produce 1.52 million tonnes of nitrogenous fertilizer and about 6.8 million tonnes of gasoline.
Quang Ninh looks to improve public services for businesses
A conference took place in the northern province of Quang Ninh on March 31 to launch the implementation of the Government’s Resolution 19 on improving the business climate and national competitiveness.
Speaking at the conference, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Long said Quang Ninh’s provincial competitiveness index (PCI) was 65.6 points in 2016, ranked second nationwide.
The overall ranking jumped one place from 2015, he said, taking note of administrative shortcomings that led to lower places in a number of PCI criteria, including time costs, labour training, legal institutions, and transparency.
He urged local officials and public servants to do their best in providing quality services for residents and enterprises.
As heard at the function, Quang Ninh was set to continue to organise dialogues between provincial leaders and business representatives once every quarter, while district- and commune-level officials were encouraged to hold regular meetings with local businesses and promptly help them access land sources and handle difficulties.
All local policies and announcements on business administrative procedures would be made public.
IT application was considered a priority in building an e-governance system in the province, which would offer cost-saving online administrative procedures.
A hotline connecting businesses with relevant officials and an online support service to receive and process local feedback will be put in place.
Ta Duc Quyet, head of the Mai Quyen service firm, said administrative services in Quang Ninh have become more efficient in recent years.
In 2016, Quang Ninh attracted 567 million USD in foreign direct investment, up 30 percent year-on-year.
FPT Online signs MOU with Japanese firms
FPT Online has announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with two Japanese companies specifically aimed at expanding its footprint in the television and entertainment segments.
fpt online signs mou with japanese firms hinh 0 The Japanese companies are Okura Co. Ltd and Pia Corporation.
Over recent years, Japan has been the most important market for FPT, which accounts for more than 50% of its top line revenue. This relationship is expected to further help FPT gain market share and boost revenue in the island nation.
Saigontourist to offer huge discounts at int’l travel expo
Saigontourist Travel Service Company has announced that it will offer discounts of up to nearly US$230,000 for visitors at the Vietnam International Travel Mart – VITM 2017 scheduled for April 6-9 at the International Exhibition Centre in Hanoi.
This is the fifth time the company has participated in the event. Saigontourist plans to offer US$272 in discount for each tourist booking inbound and outbound tours along with vouchers for huge discounts on services at luxury resorts.
Visitors to the pavilion of Saigontourist will also have a chance to win a free Da Nang-Bay Mau Coconut Forest Tour valued at about US$210 with and get discount vouchers on air ticket bookings and car rentals.
Ancient city starts essential oils plant from local herbs
Thanh Ha Industrial Park in Hoi An city has started construction of its first-ever essential oils plant, which will be used for domestic products and export.
The province said the plant, which covers on 2,500sq.m, with a total investment of VND90 billion (nearly US$4 million), will be the largest essential oil manufacture plant in Viet Nam, after the ones built in Ha Giang, Nghe An, Vinh Phuc and Yen Bai provinces in the north.
Project director La Ngoc Anh said the plant will start production in the third quarter this year, with a capacity of 1 million units of essential oils for cosmetics from local herbs each year.
According to the project’s investor, the Viet Nam Natural Cosmetics Company, the company exports 15,000 litres of essential oil from local herbs each year to Asian and European markets.
As scheduled, the plant will use various herbs such as basil, mint, coriander Chinese parsley, citronella and other cosmetic herbs from Tra Que village for essential oil production. The plant will also produce shampoo, shower cream, skin cream, soap and perfumes with natural aromas.
Tra Que village, with area of 18ha, was allocated for organic vegetable farming under a brand name recognised by the Intellectual Property Rights Office of Viet Nam in 2009.
Nguyen Van Dung, Chairman of Hoi An City People’s Committee, said natural oil production will develop the Tra Que brand, making it a favourite destination for safe farm products.
He said the village can be part of a value chain that extends from farming to oil production.
HCM City to offer soft loans to manufacturing firms
The HCM City People’s Committee plans to offer low-interest loans of no more than VND200 billion (US$8.8 million) with a maximum seven-year term to enterprises operating in the manufacturing or support industry.
The aim is to reduce the number of imports by helping domestic companies buy more advanced equipment that can make high-value products.
Vietnamese enterprises and business groups operating under the Enterprise Law and Co-operative Law, and non-business units having investment projects, are eligible to receive the loans.
The city would cover 70 per cent of the interest rate on loans taken out for construction projects and 85 per cent of the interest for equipment and technology projects.
If companies need more than VND200 billion and a longer loan term, the People’s Committee will consider each case and seek support from other sources.
For loans in foreign currency, the city’s budget will support interest on loans at exchange rates issued by the State Bank of Viet Nam.
The city will cover 100 per cent of the loan’s interest rate for projects related to environmentally-friendly equipment and renewable energy or the latest automatic technologies (controlled by computer software).
Half of the interest rate will be covered for projects that include construction of exhibition centres and provision of gas and chemicals for factories and research laboratories. Projects on design, research and development of products for supporting industries and industry in general will also pay only 50 per cent of the interest.
Interested enterprises can register at the city’s Department of Industry and Trade. The city’s People’s Committee said it would issue a decision on each project submission within 15 days.
Dong Nai: Investors eye industrial parks beyond centre
Industrial parks located in mountainous areas or far from downtown Dong Nai province have caught eyes of more investors since early 2016 thanks to local efforts to develop transport infrastructure.
According to the Dong Nai Industrial Zones Authority (DIZA), Long Khanh Industrial Park in Long Khanh town welcomed 43 projects, worth more than 100 million USD since the beginning of last year while over 80 million USD from 11 projects landed in Nhon Trach III Industrial Park in Nhon Trach district. Four investment projects bumped more than 130 million USD into Dau Giay Industrial Park in Thong Nhat district.
It was estimated that the money poured in these IPs in combine accounted for over 40 percent of the total newly-registered investment of the province.
DIZA deputy head Mai Van Nhon said all the three parks are situated far from Bien Hoa city of the southern province. The locations seemed to make them less attractive than others as only few businesses, mostly in textile and footwear, settled there in the past.
Roughly 30 percent of land in Long Khanh Industrial Park was leased to ten investors in 2015, seven years after the park was rolled out in 2008. But thing has changed, the industrial park has seen a dramatic rise in leasing applications over the last year, leading to a demand for more land. The province has proposed the government to expand the estate by 200 hectares, added to the existing area of 180 hectare, Nhon said.
He noted fast infrastructure development that has made the IPs more accessible by roads is the main reason behind that. Additionally, Bien Hoa city, Trang Bom and Long Thanh districts where industries were earlier developed have become short of worker supply so that investors had to turn their head to other areas with larger labour pool.
Dong Nai currently hosts 32 industrial parks, covering a total area of 10,240 hectares, of which approximately 4,900 hectares, or over 71 percent, have been leased.
By the end of 2016, the province had 1,253 valid foreign invested projects with total registered capital of 25.7 billion USD, with the Republic of Korea, Taiwan (China) and Japan being the largest investors.
Vietnam’s FPT Japan hailed for strengthening bilateral ties
FPT Japan, a branch of Vietnam’s largest software producer FPT Software, has been hailed for its outstanding contributions to promoting the country’s IT potential to the world and boosting Vietnam-Japan ties.
It was presented a certificate for merit on March 30 by Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan during his working visit to Japan.
As a Vietnamese IT company leading in discovering new markets, FPT has helped enhance the status of Vietnam, said Minister Tuan at the event that took place in FPT Japan’s office in Tokyo.
He also expressed his hope that FPT Japan will continue its development and every staff will be an envoy to deliver culture and spirit of Vietnamese, thus tightening friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and Japan.
Vietnam will continue to collaborate with the Japanese government to promote career guidance programmes, training for IT engineers, and research on new technologies, Tuan added.
For his part, Tran Dang Hoa, Director of FPT Japan, thanked the Ministry of Information and Communications and Vietnamese Embassy in Vietnam for supporting FPT Japan since its inception 12 years ago.
FPT Japan is now one of the 50 top IT firms in Japan with earnings of 128 million USD in 2016, a year- on- year increase of 49 percent, he said.
It is also the biggest foreign company in Japan in terms of staff with 760 employees working at four offices in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka, Hoa noted, adding that the firm plans to expand its size to 2,000 – 3,000 employees.
The firm will continue working to become one of the 40 largest IT companies in Japan, contributing to strengthening relations between the two countries.
Talk helps businesses access agricultural processing technology
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) on March 30 held a dialogue on agricultural product processing and export with 30 domestic businesses to help them gain access to advanced technology in the world and in Switzerland in particular.
Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong said that the processing of agricultural products brings about the highest economic value, but it is currently the weakest phase of Vietnam.
Therefore, the event was held to introduce Switzerland’s technology to participating enterprises, so they can choose appropriate technology for their production.
The ministry will help connect the two sides, Cuong said, emphasising the possibility of holding visits by the two countries’ businesses in order to boost intensive processing of farm produce.
In the time to come, the MARD will usually organise talks with businesses to help them deal with difficulties in production, he added.
Ambassador Duong Chi Dung, head of Vietnam’s permanent delegation in Geneva, Switzerland, introduced participating businesses to technology currently applied by Swiss groups and companies.
Dung also affirmed to help connect the two countries’ enterprises in order to increase the quality of Vietnamese farm produce.
At the event, many enterprises paid attention to advanced technology and showed their hope to collaborate with Swiss groups and companies.
They also proposed the ministry remove difficulties they face in mechanism, policy and product distribution.
mVisa to come out later this year
Visa Vietnam on Thursday announced that its mVisa, a quick response (QR) code-based payments service, will soon be expanded to merchants and consumers in 10 countries, including Viet Nam.
mVisa is a mobile payments solution that brings the benefits of easy and secure digital commerce to financial institutions, merchants and consumers, helping accelerate global migration from cash to electric payments.
The new payment service will also help merchants reduce their investments in expensive point-of-sale infrastructure.
Sean Preston, Visa country manager for Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos, announced that his company was working with banks and merchants so that the service could come out late this year.
On the same day, Visa announced its 2016 Consumer Payment Attitudes Study, which said that consumers in Viet Nam were increasingly leaving their cash at home, with 62 per cent preferring to use electronic payments.
“When asked why they are carrying less cash the majority of consumers said this was because of greater usage of cards and safety concern of carrying cash,” the study said.
Visa said that its findings come on the back of an announcement that the Vietnamese Government plans to make transactions almost totally electronic by 2020 with the goal of having only 10 per cent of all transaction conducted.
The company’s survey also showed that 83 per cent of respondents said they shopped online at least once a month, an increase of 11 per cent over 2015.
It also uncovered positive attitudes towards some of the less frequently discussed aspects of electronic payments.
For instance, 77 per cent of Vietnamese respondents had a favourable view of services that use automated payments to eliminate the physical process of paying, such as taxi apps.
In addition, 72 per cent said that they were comfortable with the use of biometrics such as fingerprints and face recognition for payment authentication.
The survey, conducted in October last year, was an online study of payment behavior and trends across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Viet Nam and the Philippines.
Respondents were people above the age of 18 with a monthly personal income of VND5 million and above.
Newly-licensed firms rise, but GDP growth slows
Vietnam licensed 26,478 new businesses in the first quarter of this year worth VND271.2 trillion (USD12.3 billion).
Small and medium-sized enterprises account for97% of the total number of newly-licensed firms during the first quarter of this year
The number of newly-licensed enterprises in the January-March period increased 11.4%, compared to the same period of last year, while the capital increased 45.8%.
Pham Dinh Thuy, head of the GSO’s Industrial Statistics Department, small and medium-sized enterprises account for up to 97% of the total number of newly-licensed firms during the first quarter. The average capital of each enterprise is VND10.2 billion (USD45,450).
Meanwhile, GDP growth between January and March was estimated at 5.1%, compared to 5.48% during the same period in 2016 and 6.12% of 2015.
The lower GDP was attributed to the impact of environmental and natural disasters along with the slowdown in the mining industry.
Vietnam has set a target of 6.7% GDP growth this year.
Enfinity wind power project to start construction in October 2018
Enfinity Ninh Thuan’s delayed $266-million wind farm project in the central province of Ninh Thuan is going to start construction in October 2018.
Enfinity’s plan on implementing the project has recently been approved by the related government agencies of Ninh Thuan following the meeting between the company and Ninh Thuan authorities on March 28 to resolve all the issues to enable Enfinity to make progress on the project.
According to the plan submitted to the provincial People’s Committee, the project is going to have three phases. The first phase entails installing six wind turbines with the combined capacity of 20MW that will go into operation in February 2019.
The second phase will consist of 14 additional wind turbines with the combined capacity of 46MW to be put into operation by June 2019.
The project will be completed in September 2019, with 18 additional wind turbines with the capacity of 60MW. In total, the project will add 124.5 MW to the national grid and construction will take a total 29 months.
By February 2018, the project will finish getting approval from the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on its feasibility study.
The Enfinity wind power project by Belgian company Enfinity received its investment certificate in March 2011 with the total investment capital of $266 million, an area of 533.1 hectares, and capacity up to 124,5MW.
Color galvanized steel sheet exports hit by anti-dumping duties in Thailand
The Vietnam Competition Authority at the Ministry of Industry and Trade has received information from Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce that the country’s Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Committee has issued a final decision on an anti-dumping investigation of color galvanized steel sheet imports from Vietnam.
Thailand will apply anti-dumping tariffs from 4.3 per cent to 60.26 per cent on color galvanized steel sheet products imported from Vietnam for five years.
The anti-dumping measures will be effective from the date of publication in the Government Gazette. Color galvanized steel sheet products HS 7210.61, 7212.50, 7225.99 and 7226.99 imported from Vietnam will be subject to tariffs ranging from 6.2 per cent to 40.49 per cent and applied to aluminum-zinc alloy coated steel plates from five major producers and other Vietnamese producers.
Experts in the steel industry said that in 2015 and 2016, iron and steel were two of the most-dumped goods. Prolonged cases not only cause direct economic losses but also cause Vietnamese enterprises to face the risk of loss of markets and export declines.
In 2015, Vietnam’s steel products faced a series of anti-dumping cases in many countries in Southeast Asia and around the world.
Continued litigation and the imposition of antidumping tariffs may result in the loss of export markets and a decline in production.
Siemens launches new version of TIA Portal
Siemens has officially launched the new Version 14 of the TIA (Totally Integrated Automation) Portal in Vietnam, which will shorten the time to market for machinery manufacturers and increase the productivity of end-users.
Version 14 of the engineering framework is enriched with a wide range of new functionalities for the digital enterprise and the requirements of Industry 4.0.
“There can be varied machinery and system components in an engineering process, making it complex and challenging to manage,” said Mr. Tindaro Michele Danze, Digital Factory and Process Drives Division Lead and Vice President at Siemens Vietnam. “With added features such as simulation via a digital twin, an open interface system and cloud solutions, processes and data can be seamlessly integrated via the TIA portal, reducing commissioning time and redundant workflows and increasing flexibility.”
He added this would be especially beneficial to manufacturers in Vietnam, which have recently seen an emergence of new players in the industry. “Through our various conversations with customers, we are beginning to see that manufacturers in the food and beverage (F&B), cement, water and wastewater as well as chemical sectors are starting to realize the need to digitalize in order to remain competitive by reaping the benefits of increased production flexibility, higher levels of efficiency, and reduced time-to-market of their innovation cycle,” he said.
The TIA Portal interacts with other systems and exchanges data through open interfaces. The Team center gateway has a new interface for product data management in Team center, the Siemens data collaboration platform for design, planning and engineering. Users can easily create model-based programs with a new interface to Matlab/Simulink.
The cloud-based engineering is also new. From their private cloud, users can access the plant controller with the new TIA Portal Cloud Connector, or use Mind Sphere, the Siemens cloud solution for industry, for additional digital services from Siemens. Another new feature is PLCSim Advanced with interfaces to simulation software, such as Plant Simulation and Process Simulate. A Simatic S7-1500 controller can be simulated as a digital twin with PLCSim Advanced to achieve efficient, virtual commissioning.
Siemens AG (Berlin and Munich) is a global technology powerhouse that has stood for engineering excellence, innovation, quality, reliability and internationality for more than 165 years. The company is active in more than 200 countries, focusing on the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization.
One of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, Siemens is No. 1 in offshore wind turbine construction, a leading supplier of gas and steam turbines for power generation, a major provider of power transmission solutions, and a pioneer in infrastructure solutions as well as automation, drive and software solutions for industry. The company is also a leading provider of medical imaging equipment, such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems, and a leader in laboratory diagnostics as well as clinical IT.
NA to consider draft law on restructuring and supporting NPLs
State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) Governor Le Manh Hung has said that the Draft Law on Restructuring and Supporting non-performing loans (NPLs) will be considered at the next National Assembly session.
The National Financial and Monetary Policy Advisory Council, headed by Deputy PM Vuong Dinh Hue, held its first quarterly meeting of the year on March 29. The restructuring of credit institutions (CIs) and dealing with bad debts were identified by members as important tasks.
Reporting on monetary and banking operations in the first quarter of 2017, SBV Deputy Governor Nguyen Thi Hong said that the interest rate was governed by sound liquidity regulation and instructed CIs to reduce costs, improve business efficiency, and be able to reduce interest rates on loans.
The SBV continues to control credit growth in line with credit quality improvements, focusing on production and business sectors, priority areas, and strict control of risky areas, to create conditions for customers to access credit.
Credit growth has been sound since the beginning of the year, with a positive credit structure, and positive credit programs and policies have been actively implemented. Money supply for the economy in the first quarter increased to serve capital requirements a reasonable level and were completely controlled.
Inflation is at stable monthly average, which shows that current monetary policy is heading in the right direction.
Council members concurred with the results of fiscal and monetary policies as well as the coordination of these policies, which contribute to macro-economic stability, economic growth, and inflation control. However, Council members also pointed out that the handling of difficulties and obstacles, vigorously promoting the process of economic restructuring, especially the restructuring of ICs, and dealing with bad debts are among the most important measures to contribute to macro-economic stability, curb inflation, stabilize interest rates and exchange rates, and boost economic growth in the time to come.
At the meeting, Governor Hung added that the SBV has finalized the draft restructuring plan for CIs associated with dealing with bad debts for the 2016-2020 period and has developed a draft law to restructure and support the handling of bad debts. It was proposed that the draft law be submitted to the National Assembly for consideration and approval at its next meeting.
Saigontourist to fully divest from Jetstar Pacific
The Saigon Tourist Corporation (Saigontourist) has secured approval from the Ministry of Finance to sell 363,775 shares in Jetstar Pacific to existing shareholders in the second quarter of this year.
Jetstar Pacific has charter capital of VND3,522 billion ($154.8 million), or more than 32 million shares with a par value of VND110,000 ($4.8) per share, according to the shareholder register for November 7, 2016.
Shares to be offered by Saigontourist account for 1.14 per cent of charter capital and will have a starting price of just VND15,000 ($0.66) per share, or 14 per cent of the face value.
If the auction is successful, Saigontourist will receive some VND5.5 billion ($241,700). If existing shareholders do not buy all shares, there will be a public bid.
The current shareholding structure at Jetstar Pacific has Vietnam Airlines as the largest shareholder, with 22.04 million shares or 68.85 per cent, together with Qantas Asia Investment Company (Singapore) Pte. Ltd with 9.6 million shares or 30 per cent, and former CEO, now CEO of Air Mekong, Mr. Luong Hoai Nam, with 4,490 shares, or 0.014 per cent.
Vietnam Airlines became the largest shareholder in Jetstar Pacific in 2012, after the former racked up years of losses. Jetstar Pacific then updated its fleet, moving from older Boeing 737 aircraft to Airbus A320 aircraft. It first announced its earnings in 2015.
As at September 30, 2016, revenue in the first nine months of last year stood at nearly VND3.96 trillion ($174 million) and after-tax losses at VND346 billion ($15.2 million), with a negative earnings-per-share (EPS) of VND10,813 ($0.47). Recent dividends are not available.
Total assets are VND3.753 trillion ($164.9 million). Liabilities account for 90 per cent, or VND3.34 trillion ($146.8 million), of which nearly VND1.8 trillion ($79.1 million) is short-term debt and finance leases. Accumulated losses have reached 3.69 trillion ($162.2 million).
Dat Xanh invests $209mn in Quang Nam resort project
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and the Quang Nam Provincial People’s Committee have officially assigned the Dat Xanh Group (DXG) to implement the Opal Ocean View Resort project.
Located in Hoi An, the project covers an area of 185 ha and has total investment capital of VND4.6 billion ($209 million).
The project is strategically located adjacent to Cua Dai Beach, the Nam Hoi An Resort, and the Quang Nam Vinpearl Resort Complex.
It includes villas, a beach resort, and a hotel, with synchronized technical infrastructure.
The project is one of six key projects in Quang Nam province.
It will contribute to boosting the existing tourism potential, increasing revenue from tourism, services and urban real estate and being a driving force of local economic development.
DXG was one of the ten largest real estate development companies in Vietnam in 2016, according to Vietnam Report, and it has developed rapidly in recent times.
The company has set a target of becoming one of the ten largest real estate development companies in Southeast Asia in the near future.
Quang Nam authorities recently granted investment decisions and licenses to 33 projects with total registered capital of $15.8 billion at an investment conference.
Investment is going to many sectors, including industrial production, urban development, tourism, training, and hi-tech agriculture, with strategic cooperation agreements also signed for the development of the automotive industry and mining and gas processing.
It attracted 30 projects last year, bringing the total number of valid projects to 135 with capital totaling nearly $2 billion.
Thanks to the will of the local people to turn the province’s sandy soil into fertile land, Quang Nam is now one of the Top 20 localities in Vietnam, with rising GDP, and ranks 10th among all cities and provinces in terms of budget revenues.
First quarter’s FDI pledges to Ho Chi Minh City reach US$575 million
Foreign investors pledged nearly US$575 million to Ho Chi Minh City in the first quarter of 2017, up 56.7% over the same period last year, according to the municipal department of planning and investment.
In the first three months up to March, the city granted new investment licences to 141 projects worth US$133 million while US$89 million was poured into existing projects.
The Ho Chi Minh City authorities also approved 401 cases where foreign investors contributed capital or bought shares and equities in enterprises in the city worth a total of US$352 million.
Malaysia was the largest investor, accounting for one third of investment, followed by Japan, the Netherlands and Thailand.
A breakdown of the sectors shows that information and communications technology was the largest beneficiary, attracting US$51.77 million, more than three times the figure during the same period last year.
Ho Chi Minh City said it has implemented an online system since late 2016 to facilitate investors to apply for investment licences, apply to contribute capital, buy shares or equities in local firms.
To date the city has received 432 dossiers and is planning to roll out a second phase that expands the service to other procedures related to foreign investment.
In the first quarter of 2017, Ho Chi Minh City also saw 7,947 newly established enterprises with aggregate capital of VND99.475 trillion (nearly US$4.4 billion), up 14% in terms of the number of enterprises and 61.7% in terms of registered capital.
In addition, nearly 11,000 enterprises adjusted their capital, adding VND49.453 trillion (US$2.2 billion).
Vietnamese startups mobilize $205 million in 2016
The community of Vietnamese startups mobilized the record high capital of US$205 million last year, according to statistics by Topica Founder Institute.
The funds reduced about 25 percent over 2015 and increased 46 percent over the previous year.
Startups from financial technology took the lead with the total raised amount of $129 million.
In 2016, there were seven funds raising deals with the value of over $10 million. They number includes four deals with capital exceeding $15 million.
Foreign investors continued transgressing domestic firms in both the number of deals and capital amount.
A mother fights drug addiction with love, no reproach
To have one child, and then another, become drug addicts guarantees a life of suffering, a life of living on the edge.
At 70, Nguyen Thi Minh Le has garnered several lifetimes’ worth of experience in dealing with a hopeless situation.
She had resigned herself to taking care of two adult sons until her last breath. At the same time, however, she never stopped trying.
A resident of District 4 in HCM City, Le said both her sons became drug addicts with the “The little brother following the older one,” she said in tears.
She remembers the village as a centre of drug addicts. Every family had at least one addict.
“This people-killing white powder (heroin) had come to every corner, like a plague,” she said.
When he was four, her older son dropped out of school, fell into bad company and became a drug addict. The family was broken, but worse was to follow. The second child, three years younger, took after his brother, and became an addict, too. The life of the mother collapsed.
“It is a nightmare when both children are addicted.”
The mother had to develop "three heads and six hands" to be able to survive. She woke up early, went to bed late, travelled to other provinces to purchase agricultural produce to sell in the city, aiming to save small sums of money that she could give to her two sons.
Her reasoning was simple.
"The two are very kind, but I was afraid they would steal from others, so I tried to make money for them.”
Meanwhile, she also took the two addicts to rehabilitation centres, and brought doctors home to treat them.
All this while, Le had hopes that some day her sons would escape from their drug addiction. But these hopes diminished as she borrowed money from relatives, friends and neighbours, sometimes at usurious rates to keep the treatments going. She had to evade creditors by living temporarily in remote commune.
Then, time seemed to stop. There was a period when both sons got married and children were born as the sons did not relapse into drug use again.
Sadly, it did not last, and the relapse happened. The wives left, leaving behind their children, although they were just infants. The two addicts were admitted to drug treatment centres.
On her own, Le took care of three children, 10 months, 20 months and 27 months.
After all the ordeals, a mother’s and grandmother’s love paying off, at least partially.
In 2006, the second son ended his two-year treatment at the Nhi Xuan Clinic, and found work as an electrician. He has remained drug-free since.
The older son remained addicted, so Le had to take him to the city’s mandatory methadone treatment centre for addicts in 2012. This time, it worked.
The elder son found work, too.
For more than 10 years, there were several times that she felt like ending it all. “I wanted to die, but it is a mother’s love that forced me to wait until today.”
A few months after the rehabilitation of her eldest son, Le Van Ho, an education official at Ward 8, came to meet Le. He suggested that she works as a peer educator with the voluntary treatment programme for drug addicts.
She agreed. "As a mother of drug addicts, I understand the misery of parents and families having children who get addicted. If you take ten addicts to the treatment centre, eight return to using drugs again.”
“But, with the information I have, I still want to help everyone avoid the mistakes my two sons made.”
Despite having to deal with drug addicts again, Le is very happy with what she is doing now.
At 70, she is in the consulting room of Ward 8 every day, to support addicts admitting themselves to the treatment centre and helps organise outdoor activities.
“She assists addicts with a mother’s love. Sometimes, she gives them small amounts of money,” said Ho, the Ward 8 official.
For Le, both two battles to take two sons back from addiction, and to help addicts were harder.
“Those who give up addiction successfully, I am happy. Those who relapse, I take them to other routes. I guide them to be treated with methadone or at compulsory rehabilitation centres,” she said.
One addict, a young woman, asked Le recently to help because her mother, the only relative, was seriously paralysed and couldn’t vouch that her daughter would drink the methadone as required. Le persuaded the doctor at the district’s treatment centre to allow the girl, standing as a guarantee herself.
Many addicts now see Le as a life-saving benefactor.
N.V Trung, a local longtime drug addict, has been assisted with money many times by Le to go to the treatment centre, but has relapsed every time. Le was sad, but gave her love without reproach. As he talked with her, Trung cried a lot, and once again, she guided him to register for using methadone, and bought rice for Trung family.
Ho said the local treatment programme faces many difficulties because there is a high rate of relapse after treatment.
“We, peer educators and drug addicts see the life of Le as an inspiration to continue the fight against addiction,” he said.
Vu Thuy, VNS
VND3.2 billion crown awaits Miss Ocean Vietnam 2017
The pearl crown which will be awarded to Miss Ocean Vietnam 2017 is worth VND3.2 billion (US$140,000), according to the organizing committee of the pageant.
Miss Ocean Vietnam 2014 Dang Thu Thao
In addition to the crown made by artisans of Hoang Gia Pearl, the beauty queen will receive a cash prize of VND600 million.
Fashion designer Vo Viet Chung, head of the organizing committee, said the Miss Ocean Vietnam would be responsible for calling for young people and the community to protect marine life and the ecosystem.
Those passing the qualifying round of the contest set for April 1 to September 1 will enter the semi-final and final rounds in Phan Thiet City, Binh Thuan Province.
The coronation night will be broadcast live on VTV9 on October 27.
There will be three top prizes and some extra titles like Miss Ao dai, Miss Bikini, Miss Fashion and Miss Photogenic.
French director Henri Hubert, who has had 35 years’ experience in fashion industry, will be in charge of the coronation night at the Fisherman Show Theater.
Dang Thu Thao, 22, from the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho was the first Miss Ocean Vietnam in 2014.
Chinese travelers: opportunity or risk for tourism development?
While many people have expressed concern about the thousands of Chinese tourists coming across border gates, businesses think it presents great opportunities to develop tourism.
Many photos of Chinese travelers standing in long queues in the rain at border gates, waiting for their turn to be checked into Vietnam, have appeared in local newspapers recently.
The Quang Ninh provincial authorities have confirmed that 10,000-15,000 Chinese travelers have entered Vietnam daily through the local border gate, while the figure was only 4,000-5,000 in the past.
Chinese travelers were also seen squeezing into excursion sites on Ha Long Bay and waiting at boat stations on March 19-20. The number of travelers fell on March 21, but only slightly, to 7,000-8,000.
Some analysts said many Chinese have been flocking to Vietnam because they are not allowed to travel to some countries, including South Korea.
However, Lao Dong reporters have found that the number of Chinese travelers coming to Vietnam has increased steadily year after year.
About 500,000 Chinese travelers entered Vietnam through the Mong Cai Border Gate in 2016.
The number of travelers is usually higher on days just before and after Tet and falls later, but the figure is no less than 5,000 a day.
Lao Dong quoted a tourism expert who said that Vietnamese travel firms, under pressure from Chinese partners, have to lower tour fees dramatically. This has contributed to the increase in the number of travellers.
Tours that charge ‘zero dong’ offer Chinese travelers trips of three nights and four days.
Though there are no fees, travel firms do not lose money because they collude with tour guides to provide other services to travelers at exorbitantly high prices.
Shops which serve only Chinese travelers have been increasing in Mong Cai, Ha Long, and Mao Khe, Dong Trieu.
Chinese travelers are brought there by tour guides and travel firms where they have to buy products at high prices. The revenue of the shops is believed to be sky-high, but Vietnamese agencies cannot collect taxes from them.
The expert said Chinese travelers are diverse. Those who come to Vietnam on cruises are more affluent and those who arrive by land have lower incomes.
Some people believe that it would be better for Vietnam to restrict the number of travelers coming by land because the travelers often make trouble, while the revenue they generate is modest.
However, Tran Van Minh, the owner of a tourism boat on Ha Long Bay, said he was willing to accept the low service fees, saying that if boats don’t have Chinese clients, they will operate at only 60-70 percent of capacity.
Mai Thanh, VNN
Transport Ministry looks to reduce road transport
The Ministry of Transport will restructure the transport sector towards reducing the market share of road transport and expanding that of other modes, according to a scheme for transport restructuring in 2016-2020 with a view to 2025 approved last week by the ministry.
Road transport is still dominant in the local transport market
From now to 2020, the transport market will achieve a more rational structure with a reduction in the share of road transport, whereas other modes will be promoted.
By 2020, the market share of inter-provincial cargo transport by road will fall to only 54.4%, while rail, inland waterway, sea and air will take up 4.3%, 32.4%, 8.85% and 0.04% respectively.
Meanwhile, the proportion of passenger transport by road will dip to 93.22%, versus rail with 3.38%, inland waterway 0.17% and airway 3.23%.
Such proportions show substantial change compared to the current structures.
Statistics of the Ministry of Transport indicate road still holds 95.75% of the passenger transport market, followed by rail with 1.14%, air with 2.05%, inland waterway with 0.19% and sea with 0.01%.
As for freight, carriage by road still accounts for more than 70%, leading to an imbalance between modes of transportation.
Consequently, vehicles are overloaded, roads damaged, and road transport charges unreasonable.
Therefore, the Ministry of Transport with the new restructuring plan deems it as necessary to bring down the share of road in both passenger and cargo transport and promote other modes of transport.
Under the scheme, public passenger transport in Hanoi will meet 25% of travel needs, in which urban railways account for 4-5%.
In HCM City, some 20% of demand will be satisfied, with urban railways making up 4-5%.
The ministry also aims to improve the quality of freight and passenger services to the regional level with appropriate charges, contributing to cutting logistics costs in Vietnam to about 15% of GDP.
To achieve this objective, the ministry will further better policies and mechanisms, perfect the legal system, improve the quality and ensure the implementation of the plan.
In addition, connection between different modes of transport, multimodal transport and logistical services will be promoted in an appropriate manner.
To effectively exploit the existing infrastructure system, priority will be given to the investment and upgrade of important works to create a breakthrough in transport development and carry out transport restructuring.
Vietnam anti-corruption official moonlights as xe om to save for $133k villa
The two-story villa of Nguyen Sy Ky is seen in Dak Lak Province, located in Vietnam's Central Highlands.
Nguyen Sy Ky, deputy head of the Commission for Internal Affairs in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, made headlines last weekend after his property was found to be illegally built on land zoned for agricultural purposes only.
Ky defied an order to voluntarily demolish his two-story villa by late last month, requesting he be allowed to change the usage purpose for that plot of land.
His villa is built on land spanning hundreds of square meters in the Ea Tam Ward in Buon Ma Thuot, the provincial capital.
The land is zoned for agricultural purposes until 2020, according to the Ea Tam authorities.
A report by the Ea Tam administration reveals that Ky built a 200 square meter villa on the land, plus a 152 square meter swimming pool and a 91 square meter dining area.
The ward administration has booked the case and reported the illegal construction to the Buon Ma Thuot administration for further investigation, Ea Tam chairman Pham Tan told (Youth) newspaper on Sunday.
Tan said Ky had previously been given a deadline to remove his property by March 25 but had not followed it.
Instead, the anti-corruption leader requested that he be allowed to keep the construction until he obtains permission to use the land in an alternative way.
Also on Sunday, Ky explained to that he and his wife were upset that his villa had made national headlines.
“We couldn’t sleep well after numerous criticisms from the public,” he moaned.
Ky said the property had been funded by money he had been saving his entire life and is intended as his retirement home.
The official said the villa had cost some VND3 billion (US$133,929), and was funded by “income from the farming work of my wife, contributions from my children and my own savings.”
His wife had been a teacher before taking up a farming job on the family’s coffee plantation, Ky said.
“I started my career with empty hands,” he told .
“In order to have enough money to construct this villa, I worked part-time as a driver at night while I was an official at the provincial inspectorate.”
Ky also claimed that it was unfair for authorities to request the demolition of his villa only, given that there are numerous other homes built on agricultural land in Ea Tam Ward.
Tan, the ward chairman, responded by saying that Ky, a state servant and Party member, should set the example to local citizens by following the law, rather than compare himself to the public and complain.
The ward chairman said he would verify Ky’s allegation that there were multiple illegal constructions in the area.
Tan also admitted that the ward was at fault for only discovering Ky’s illegal villa after the construction was completed.
TUOI TRE NEWS
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc the Cabinet meeting on April 3 (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi -Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has assessed that the business and investment environment of Vietnam has been effectively supporting the development of enterprises, pointing a high number of startups and profitable firms.
Along with a surge in the number of newly-established enterprises, as many as 65 percent of businesses enjoyed profit, the highest figure in five years, and 45 percent of enterprises expanded their business in the first quarter of this year, he noted at the Cabinet meeting on April 3.
He said that total social investment surged over the same period last year, with the private sector recording the highest growth.
At the same time, the quality of investment and business activity of the FDI sector increased, while exports were higher than the same time last year and tourism saw rapid development.
The PM noted that in the first quarter of this year, 51 cities and provinces showed strong performance in governance in all fields, especially in improving the quality of services for businesses and people as well as investment environment.
Analysing challenges facing the national economy amidst the complicated situation in the world, especially the trend of trade protection, the cabinet leader pointed to two main pressures burdening the country: GDP growth and exchange and interest rates.
He said that GDP growth in the first quarter was low, especially in industry.
He stressed the need to design specific growth scenarios for each sector, especially mining, construction, and mechanics manufacturing.Alongside, it is crucial to maintain and promote the growth of agriculture and tourism, he said.
The PM said that solutions to exchange and interest rates should go with reining in inflation, highlighting the significance of appropriate management and balancing measures.
He urged ministries and localities to speed up administrative and institutional reform to better serve businesses and remove economic barriers.
At the meeting, PM Nguyen XuanPhuc also announced the organisation of the second Business Conference to listen to the voice of business community.
Regarding the equitisation of State-owned enterprises, he asked for faster results with the prevention of loss of State property.
It is necessary to create more favourable conditions for enterprises to access capital, speed up credit reform as well as bad debt settlement, promote credit growth and reduce interest rates to encourage business activity, he stated.
He also asked for more effective management of the real estate market, the promotion of domestic consumption, and measures to remove obstacles hindering production.
After hearing a report on the fourth industry revolution (Industry 4.0), the PM asked ministries, sectors and media agencies to strengthen communications to raise public awareness of opportunities and challenges generated by the revolution.
He urged research institutes, scientists and exports as well as businesses and people to join hands in tapping changes of the Industry 4.0 for renovation, thus making breakthrough in socio-economic development.
He asked the Viettel, FPT groups and leading IT firms of the country to take the lead in taking advantages of the revolution for national development, while directing ministries and sectors to review and build their growth strategies with specific activities to grasp opportunities of Industry 4.0-VNA
Social News 4/4
Fire engulfs wood workshop, causing huge loss
A fire broke out early on Tuesday at a 500sq.m - timber workshop in a crowded residential area in Đồng Nai Province’s Biên Hòa City, destroying the equipment and wooden products inside.
Locals and firefighting police found it difficult extinguish the fire due to the presence of flammable wooden products along with a large quantity of timber.
A local whose house was next to the burned-down workshop witnessed the incident. He said at about 2am, he heard several explosions and saw that a huge blaze had engulfed the timber workshop. At the time, the workshop was closed and there was nobody inside and no guard.
The resident phoned the city’s firefighting department to inform them about the fire. After 30 minutes, four trucks and dozens of firefighters were mobilised to prevent the blaze from spreading to residential houses in the area.
The fire was finally put out after three and a half hours. All the machines, furniture and timber inside the workshop were completely burnt. Property damage was estimated at several billions of đồng.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Saltwater influx in Mekong Delta to last till June
According to the Southern Institute of Water Resources Research, saltwater influx in Mekong Delta region is predicted to be average level in the dry season of 2016- 2017.
By late this month, the salinity intrusion could be 4 gram a litter which will affect water resource of local people living within 20- 25 kilometers of a coastline.
The condition is likely to last until June if it is not rain and the high salinity on local rivers.
The Southern Institute of Water Resources Research asked the coastal areas need to prepare necessary measures for production in this year’s summer-autumn cultivation.
The saltwater influx could still influence to the coastal areas near Vam Co River due to high flood tide next time.
Hanoi facilitates activities of Evangelical Church of Vietnam (North)
The Hanoi administration is ready to facilitate religious followers’ practicing their religions and contributing to the city’s development, Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung has said.
He made the remark while receiving Pastor John Chadwick Hanmond, a representative of the President of Samaritan’s Purse – a nondenominational evangelical Christian organisation – Franklin Graham, in Hanoi on April 3, Ha Noi Moi daily reported.
Chung informed his guest about local socio-economic development, noting that the city appreciates contributions by the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (North), especially in humanitarian aid for the poor.
He voiced his hope that Protestant pastors, dignitaries and followers will remain united and foster local development.
Local authorities will provide the best possible conditions for the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (North) to conduct activities in 2017, including the ceremony marking 500 years of the Protestant Reformation, he added.
Pastor Hanmond said he is impressed with the city’s development, noting that the Church will support the city’s activities.
He also took this chance to convey the invitation to visit the US in 2017 from Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham to Chairman Chung.
The Hanoi official promised to visit the headquarters of Samaritan’s Purse at an appropriate time.
Tien Giang spends over 215 billion VND on water supply pipelines
The Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang has invested more than 215 billion VND (9.4 million USD) in building water supply pipelines to ensure clean water for residents of coastal districts in dry season of 2017.
Consisting of 183 pipelines with a length of 150,000 metres, the pipeline system was designed to supply water for 7,700 households in Go Cong Dong, Go Cong Tay, Tan Phu Dong districts and Go Cong town, said Nguyen Thien Phap, head of the Irrigation and Flood Prevention and Control Division of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Tien Giang also mobilised all resources to provide sufficient fresh water for residents.
In addition, the Tien Giang Water Supply Company was asked to dredge ponds to increase the capacity of fresh water and reopen free water supply points while raising public awareness of keeping and saving water for dry season.
As a result, no water-shortage was recorded in coastal areas in Tien Giang in the 2017 dry season.
Vietnam to ensure power supply for APEC 2017
The National Power Transmission Corporation (EVN NPT) has developed a plan to ensure power supply for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Vietnam.
Vietnam will host about 200 APEC events across ten major cities, with the biggest being the APEC week in central Da Nang city in November.
2017 marks the second time Vietnam will host the APEC, following the first in 2006.
The EVN NPT, a member of the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) Group, said it completed construction of many projects last year in preparation for the international event, including those to improve the capacity of the 500 kV Da Nang, 220kV Hoa Khanh, and 220kV Ngu Hanh Son transformer stations.
The corporation has directed local units to ensure the operation of the transformer stations and transmission lines and provide regular updates on the lines’ status.
The local units were also assigned to intensify management of the transformer stations, especially in Da Nang, and requested to not cut off the electricity in the second and third quarters of 2017.
The EVN NPT inspected the operation and safety of the Power Transmission Company No.2, the Da Nang Power Transmission Company, and the 220 kV 220kV Hoa Khanh, 220kV Da Nang, and 220kV Ngu Hanh Son transformer stations from March 13-15.
Expressway set to open in 2019
Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng has urged the two ministries overseeing the Trung Lương-Mỹ Thuận expressway project to speed up construction of the Mỹ Thuận-Cần Thơ stretch so that the entire road can be open to traffic by 2019.
Dũng asked the Ministry of Transport to approve a feasibility study of the Mỹ Thuận-Cần Thơ stretch last month, according to the Government Office.
To resolve any hurdles during the construction process, he has urged the ministry to choose experienced contractors and propose measures to resolve problems for approval to the Prime Minister.
He said the Mỹ Thuận-Cần Thơ stretch should open at the same time as the Trung Lương-Mỹ Thuận stretch in 2019.
Dũng also told authorities in localities where the road section traverses to coordinate with the Ministry of Transport and investors in site clearance, compensation and resettlement.
In addition, agencies, investors and consultants should work with local authorities to step up progress to ensure quality and labour safety.
Dũng has demanded that all agencies must ensure that the project would not affect the environment.
Construction on the Trung Lương-Mỹ Thuận stretch began in 2015 and is expected to be completed in 2019.
The Trung Lương-Mỹ Thuận expressway is 50 kilometres long, and it connects to the HCM City-Trung Lương expressway in Châu Thành District in Tiền Giang Province.
The expressway also connects to Highway 30 in Cái Bè District in Tiền Giang.
The project under the BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) model has an investment of VNĐ14.7 trillion (US$646.3 million).
The four-lane expressway is 14 metres wide and has four intersections and flyovers.
Construction of the expressway has affected 2,300 households in 26 communes and wards from five districts and towns in Tiền Giang.
The expressway’s Trung Lương-Mỹ Thuận stretch extends to Cần Thơ city.
HCM City okays Can Gio bridge
The HCM City People’s Committee has approved a proposal to build the 3.4km Cần Giờ Bridge above the Soài Rạp River linking Cần Giờ District with the city.
The Cần Giờ Urban and Tourism JSC and Trung Nam Construction Investment JSC had submitted a proposal to build the bridge, which will have four lanes and a clearance of 55 metres above the river.
It is expected to cost VNĐ8 trillion (US$351.3 million).
Simultaneously, Rừng Sác Street leading from the river to Cần Giờ will be upgraded and widened by the Cần Giờ Urban and Tourism JSC.
The bridge will help reduce travel time between the rest of HCM City and Cần Giờ District by replacing the Bình Khánh ferry which had become a burden due to the increase in the number of passengers.
In addition to the obvious economic benefits better connectivity will bring, the bridge is also expected to help develop tourism in Cần Giờ.
HCM City stages new play about young volunteers
A new play on young volunteers and their contributions to society will be staged this weekend in HCM City, as part of the city’s cultural activities to mark the 41st anniversary of the HCM City Young Volunteer Force (HYVF).
The 90-minute work, titled Một Thời Để Nhớ (A Time to Remember), is a production directed by Trịnh Kim Chi in co-operation with young screenwriter Trang Trần of the TKC Drama Club, one of the city’s private art troupes.
The VNĐ120 million (US$5,400)-production tells the story of young volunteers living in remote areas of southern provinces during the 1980s.
It has attracted 20 young theatre actors, including Uyên Nhi, Minh Tiến and Phúc Thiện of the TKC. Veteran artists Chi and Mai are also featured.
“We wanted to highlight the brave volunteers’ remarkable work in rebuilding our homeland after the war,” said the play’s female director Chi.
Chi said that HYVF’s members and their contributions to the country were an endless source of inspiration that had helped her young actors perform their roles.
To highlight her play’s theme, Chi used revolutionary songs, such as Cô Gái Mở Đường (Young Female Volunteers Maintain the Roads), Em Là Thanh Niên Xung Phong (She’s a Young Volunteer) and Em Ở Nông Trường Em Ra Biên Giới (She Works at a Farm, She Goes to the Border), written by famous musicians Xuân Giao, Trịnh Công Sơn and Quỳnh Hợp.
“I faced challenges playing a young girl who volunteered to live and work in remote areas. But I’ve improved my performance skills,” said 21-year-old actress Nhi, who stars in a leading role.
Nhi and her colleagues have worked with Lê Thị Mai, former member of the force, to improve their acting skills.
“I volunteered to work in Kiên Giang and Cà Mau provinces in 1976 when I was 21 years old. I’m very happy to help young actors. Through their work, I hope audiences will learn more about our work,” said Mai.
Mai and her colleagues attended the play’s premiere at District 6’s Cultural Centre last week.
Một Thời Để Nhớ will be staged on Saturday and Sunday night at the centre, which can be found at 170 Kinh Dương Vương Street in District 1.
Workshop spotlights late Party chief’s life and career
The life and career of late Party General Secretary Le Duan was spotlighted at a workshop in Hanoi in April 3.
The event was organised by the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Information and Education on the occasion of the late Party chief’s 110th birthday (April 7).
In his speech, head of the Commission for Information and Education Vo Van Thuong said the event aims to honour late Party General Secretary Le Duan, who made great contributions to the Party and nation’s revolutionary cause.
It also educates on revolutionary ideals and promotes emulation movements among people from all walks of life and soldiers nationwide, he added.
Thuong underlined the need to follow the example of late Party General Secretary Le Duan’s steadfast will.
It is also necessary to pursue national independence and socialism and uphold patriotic spirit and national unity towards realising the country’s industrialisation and modernisation and international integration, he noted.
Participants agreed that late Party General Secretary Le Duan is a shining example of faithfulness to the Party and nation’s revolutionary ideals.
Most of the papers presented at the workshop noted Le Duan as a strong and steadfast communist, an outstanding leader and a great thinker whose initiative contributed to the successes of Vietnam.
Le Duan, real name Le Van Nhuan, was born on April 7, 1907 in Bich La village, Trieu Dong commune, central Quang Tri province’s Trieu Phong district. He was the Party’s First Secretary and then the Party General Secretary from 1960 to 1986.
His leadership helped the Party to successfully guide the people to carry out revolutionary missions in both the North and South of the country, contributing to the country’s victory in the resistance war against the US in 1975, as well as national construction and defence after that.
ROK may cease taking Vietnamese laborers as more overstay
The Republic of Korea (ROK) may not further an agreement to take on Vietnamese workers if Vietnam fails to reduce the number of its laborers overstaying their visas to work illegally, a labor ministry official was quoted as saying.
ROK has already blocked people from dozens of locations in Vietnam to apply to work in ROK in 2017 due to a high rate of illegal workers, even though Seoul said it was now recruiting 3,600 Vietnamese labors, the labor ministry has said.
Vietnam has sent 40,000 people to work in ROK by the end of 2016, but ROK advised that 39% of them had overstayed and been working illegally, said Dang Sy Dung, deputy director of the ministry's Department of Overseas Labor Management.
"If this problem is not fixed, it is certain that the number of locations to face the blocking will rise, and we even have to face the possibility that ROK will stop the agreement," Dung was quoted by Tuoi Tre newspaper as telling reporters on April 3.
In 2012, ROK stopped renewing a labor agreement signed with Vietnam in 2004 because the number of Vietnamese workers overstaying their visas to work illegally in ROK rose to more than 50%. Seoul resumed the agreement only in December 2013 after the rate of illegal workers was cut to 38%.
This year ROK needs Vietnamese workers for jobs in manufacturing, construction, fishery and agriculture and its blocking spares several localities in the two coastal provinces of Ha Tinh and Quang Binh, which have been hit by the Formosa environment disaster last year.
Vietnam and ROK have pledged to work closely on measures to reduce the high rate of illegal workers, with ROK planning to impose more fines on the companies which employ illegal workers from Vietnam, the overseas labor management department said in a report on its website.
The illegal workers, all coming from impoverished neighborhoods, have said they decided to overstay their visas because it was easier to find good income in ROK.
Vietnamese workers in ROK receive a minimum wage of more than US$1,000 a month and work 40 hours a week, according to official reports. Back home, by comparison, workers would receive a minimum wage of between US$120-US$175 and often have to work extra hours.
Vietnam has been sending more than 100,000 people each year to work overseas in the past five years as part of a government program to reduce poverty, while last year the number beat the annual target by about a quarter to reach 126,000, the labor ministry said.
NGO, enterprise promote better sanitation for remote Vietnamese children
Around a hundred elementary school students from a disaster-prone coastal commune in southern Vietnam has attended an a recent event to improve their hygiene practice.
Entitled “School-based Communication Campaign on Washing," the event was held at Tan Thanh 1 Elementary School in Tan Thanh Commune, Go Cong Dong District, Tien Giang Province, by the international non-government organization Save the Children, with the sponsorship of Samsung Engineering.
At the event, the 4th and 5th graders learned how to wash their hands through songs and quizzes, collected and classified garbage, and planted new plants in their schoolyard, before they received gifts from the organizers.
“Washing your hands actually prevents many diseases, some of which can be fatal for young children," Save the Children Vietnam Country Director Dragana Strinic told Tuoi Tre News at the event.
“So learning the basics of hygiene and how to wash their hands can sometime be life-saving, although many people do not think about it,” she added, saying dirty hands could cause diseases including diarrhea.
“It’s really important for schoolchildren to know those skills and use those throughout their life, and hopefully to teach other children and adults, parents, and the community.”
Representatives from Samsung Engineering also joined hands to paint the walls of the school’s latrine to give it a new and neat look.
Saturday’s event to raise hygiene awareness was part of a project building resilience against natural hazards and improving access to clean water and sanitation among vulnerable coastal communities in Tien Giang.
With the support from Samsung Engineering, the project is meant to cover four disaster-prone coastal communes in Go Cong Dong and Tan Phu Dong Districts.
It will directly benefit approximately 4,020 people, of which 45 percent are children, the organizers said.
According to Save the Children, with its 32km long coast, Tien Giang, in the low lying north-east area of the Mekong Delta, is extremely vulnerable to sea level rises and tropical cyclones, and is susceptible to flooding during heavy rains.
Among the issues faced by the region is access to clean water, particularly during the dry season.
Through its study, the NGO found that the pipe water system did reach 45 percent of the four communes' population, however, only half of that percentage actually has access to it because the water pressure is too weak to reach more remote locations.
All of the households inteviewed by Save the Children also indicated a lack of knowledge on safe water and did not recognize the quality of different water sources.
The shortage of safe water, together with inadequate sanitation practices, has resulted in water-borne diseases such as diarrhea and other gynecological illnesses.
In an effort to improve the situation, the project is intended to implement a number of measures, including building the capacity of local governments and community members, improving access to safe water through the installation of rainwater harvesting systems and flood-safe latrines, facilitating access to clean drinking water in schools through schemes that use solar energy in the distillation process, and more.
The project launched at the beginning of February and is expected to run until the end of this year.
Ho Chi Minh City plans to invest in smart parking
A series of projects on the construction of smart parking garages has been laid out in a bid to resolve the parking space problem in Ho Chi Minh City.
Local investors have recently put forward multiple plans to build multi-story parking lots at nine major hospitals in the southern hub, where parking space is always in high demand.
During a recent meeting with the municipal People’s Committee, En-Parking Japan, a company specializing in developing smart car parks also suggested the construction of the modern parking models at four locations in District 1.
Accordingly, a nine-story smart parkade that can accommodate 130 cars will be set up at Lam Son Square, situated behind the Municipal Theater, while a six-floor garage will be constructed at 23/9 Park.
Two other multi-story smart parking lots will be established at Tao Dan and Le Van Tam Parks, each with a capacity of about 144 automobiles.
According to the city’s Department of Transport, the smart parking garages will notify users of the slots available at the time of parking.
Some will also be equipped with a smart system that can automatically arrange vehicles.
The construction of this type of parkade will be completed in a shorter time than underground parking basements, thus resolving parking lot issues in a faster manner.
Many investors have been increasingly interested in developing parking lots at local hospitals, parks, and schools, as they can see the huge potential of such projects.
Competent agencies have supported the idea of building smart parking lots at nine of the city’s infirmaries, stating that developers should devise a detailed plan this month.
Regarding the four smart car parks in the downtown area, Nguyen Van Tam, deputy director of the municipal transport department, said that the parking system would be very useful and could be in use for up to eight or 10 years.
Tran Vinh Tuyen, vice-chairman of the city’s administration, has encouraged local businesses to invest in building parking lots across the metropolis.
The high demand for parking space is not only present in the downtown area but also in other parts of the city, Tuyen continued.
These projects will be carried out by the private sector, the official said, adding that developers could collect service charges and place ad banners at the facilities.
However, businesses should determine a reasonable rate and be transparent in their operation of the parking lots, he noted.
Cần Thơ workers to get help to find jobs
The 1,300 workers of Taiwanese garment firm Kwong Lung-Meko, whose Cần Thơ City factory was destroyed in a fire, will get help to find jobs, the city’s trade union said.
Huỳnh Ngọc Thạch, president of southern Cần Thơ City’s Trade Union, said on Monday that after the fire, which occurred on March 23, the trade union, the city’s labour department and Cần Thơ Industrial Zone’s management board have joined hands to support the garment workers.
Of the 1,300 workers, Kwong Lung-Meko has arranged jobs for 200 workers. Việt Tiến Garment Company offered employment to another 150 workers. The remaining 950 workers are expected to get jobs in other garment companies in the city soon, Thạch said.
Lâm Văn Lợi, Kwong Lung-Meko’s head of human resources department, said the firm would re-employ as many workers as possible as soon as it can, once the survey on usable machines is complete.
On Monday, the Cần Thơ City Trade Union and other donors gave 920 gifts to workers, including VNĐ500,000 in cash, rice and other necessities.
The blaze started in the morning of March 23 on the top floor of a five-storey building in Trà Nóc Industrial Zone in Cần Thơ, where the garment firm Kwong Lung-Meko stores fabric. Hundreds of workers were forced to flee but no casualties were reported. On Sunday evening – just four days after the original incident – the blazed reignited.
Kwong Lung-Meko specialises in feather processing and garment production.
Its factory covers about 17,000sq.m and has about 1,300 workers in the Trà Nóc Industrial Zone, about 15km from downtown Cần Thơ.
Woman uses drug to plunder driver’s property
Police investigators in Thu Duc District yesterday said they arrested Phan thi Kim Loan, 47, for probe of murdering and property robbery.
The victim is a taxi driver, 51, in Ho Chi Minh City’s Thu Duc District. Before, on March 26, while passing by the alley No.47 , a waste collector detected a dead man in a taxi. Frightened, she called out for help and informed police officers who soon rushed the driver to a nearby hospital for emergency treatment yet he died.
Through investigation, police officers discovered the driver’s assets such as money, mobile phone disappeared; accordingly, they arrived at a conclusion that the man was robbed. The culprit has controlled him to the alley and robbed him.
With their skills, police officers in Thu Duc District verified Loan who are famous for deploying anesthetic to rob people’s property to be the customer on the taxi.
In the police station, Loan confessed to be culprit of the robbery. She intended to rob those who want sex. On March 25, she and another woman invited man to have sex in a street in District 12. Later, she called the taxi and seduced the man to Thu Duc District. On the way, she bought beef jerky and 4 beer cans which she put drug into. When the driver fainted, she searched for money and mobile phone.
The woman is a professional anesthetic user. 6 years ago, she was arrested for causing 20 cases of robbery with anesthetic. One year ago, she finished serving her sentence in prison yet she returned to the same way.
Investigators thought her to be a culprit of other cases so they expanded probe.
Hanoi proposes to build model of urban government
The Hanoi Municipal Party Committee held a conference on April 3 to gather opinions from ministries, sectors and central agencies on the draft report on evaluating the five-year implementation of Resolution No. 11-NQ/TW of the Politburo on the direction and development tasks of Hanoi for the 2011-2020 period and three-year implementation of the Law on the Capital City.
The conference saw the presence of Politburo member and Secretary of Hanoi municipal Party Committee Hoang Trung Hai.
The draft report underscored the significance of the two documents to the construction and development of Hanoi at present and in future.
In order to fulfil the objectives and tasks of socio-economic development by 2020, Hanoi offered the Politburo and the central bodies four groups of content on accelerating the progress of major projects in the city, building a number of specific policies and mechanisms for the city, as well as enhancing the Law on the Capital City and the building of urban government.
Meanwhile, after three years of implementation, the Law on the Capital City has helped enable the effective realisation of the Party’s viewpoints and policies on building, developing and managing the capital.
The four-chapter, 27-article law contains the position and role of the capital city, and the responsibilities of the National Assembly, Government, ministries, branches and people in protecting and developing the city, as well as regulations to protect the capital’s culture, education, science and technology, housing development and traffic and land management.
At the conference, leaders of ministries, central agencies and department suggested additional results in the building of new-style rural areas and urban planning, as well as administrative reform, organisational and personnel work.
Regarding future directions, they proposed the capital city devise more effective measures to utilise land resources and improve mobilisation of social resources.
Innovative fashion show moves from runway to poolside
A fashion show and pool party at the same time? No, you’re not dreaming.
Cacdemode will be hosting the Saigon Soul Pool Party - Fashion Show and Charity Event with beautiful host and MC Kiko Chan featuring beautiful models, singers and dancers on April 8. This fashion show is being held to support the Seam the World Charity and their awesome Environment Project to turn unused city space into plant purifying gardens to provide clean air to the community.
Saigon Soul has become an institution for many expats, locals and travelers as the liveliest Pool Party & Dayclub in Saigon. Hundreds attend the parties every weekend in the elegant surroundings of the New World Saigon Hotel pool.
The party will be hosted by rising supermodel Kiko Chan, who has been voted as “the most beautiful flight attendant in Asia-Pacific” by 40 online magazines, and receiving considerable coverage from within Vietnam and abroad. DJs Ryan Wik, Rory Thomas, and Nina Nova will be spinning house music at the event.
Tickets are priced at VND150,000 per person upon arrival. There are five VIP cabanas available at the event. Participants are advised to arrive early for seating.
For information or cabana booking, access www.saigonsoul.com, instagram.com/saigonsoul on Instagram or their Facebook page.
Quang Nam responds to int’l day for mine awareness
Thousands of youngsters gathered in a ceremony in the central province of Quang Nam on April 4 to launch activities responding to the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.
The event was jointly held by the State Steering Committee on the National Action Programme on Settling Consequences of Unexploded Ordnance (known as Steering Committee 504), the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee and the People’s Committee of Quang Nam.
Vietnam is among countries with serious unexploded ordnance (UXO) pollution and suffers from the most severe war consequencesin the world.
It is estimated that around 800,000 tonnes of UXO were left across the country after the war ended, mostly in the central region. More than six million hectares of land in the country is bomb-and mine-polluted, accounting for 18.82 percent of Vietnam’s total area.
At least 100,000 people have been injured and killed by bombs and mines since 1975, while the environment and natural resources have been affected, the report said.
In central regions such as Nghe An, Ha Tinh, QuangBinh, Quang Tri, ThuaThien-Hue, QuangNgai and BinhDinh, there have been 22,800 UXO victims, 10,540 of whom died.
Deputy Minister of DefenceSenior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, who is head of the Steering Committee 504, said that since the war ended, more than 2,000sappers have died and got injured while performing bomb and mine clearance tasks.
Despite their great and silent efforts and sacrifice, the country has yet to completely avoid UXO-caused accidents, he said, stressing that the most effective measure is to mobilise the engagement of the whole political system and social organisationsin raising public awareness of preventing UXO accidents.
During the event, the organising board presented 30 gifts, each worth 12 million VND,to victims of post-war bombs and mines.
On the occasion, Quang Nam also opened an exhibition featuring efforts to address UXO consequences, which will run until April 8.
BUSINESS IN BRIEF 4/4
$23,711 invested in high-tech Park
The Saigon Hi-Tech Park
The Saigon Hi-Tech Park yesterday granted investment license to the Tay Saigon School (Western Saigon Vocational College) to build research and international training cooperation center.
The center covers an area of 17,550 meter square with total investment of VND540 billion ($23,711).
It is aimed to carry out research, application and transfer of technology and training in the field automated technology, new material technology, precision mechanism, biology, waste treatment technology, solid waste and environment protection.
The school plans to enroll from 2,000 to 3,600 students.
CJ Group looks to step up presence in Vietnam
CJ Group will sound out business opportunities in multiple sectors in Vietnam, especially food processing, to expand its presence in this growing market.
Chang Bok Sang, president and CEO of CJ Group Vietnam, told reporters in HCMC on March 28 that CJ will continue investing in this market, including via mergers and acquisitions (M&A), and bank on the equitization of State-owned enterprises. Food processing is among the priority sectors the group is eyeing.
Chang did not elaborate how much CJ will inject in Vietnam this year but said the group has sufficient finances for new good investments.
Chang said CJ will boost cooperation with partners in the investments it made last year, with priorities given to introducing its advantages in food, culture and application of new technology.
CJ had poured around US$500 million into investment projects in Vietnam as of the end of 2016. The group bought stakes in Vietnamese food and foodstuff processing firms Vissan, Cau Tre and Minh Dat.
In March 2016, CJ Group unveiled a plan to spend an additional US$500 million expanding its Vietnam operations within the year after investing US$400 million in this market.
The fresh investment plan was part of CJ Group’s target of turning Vietnam into its third largest investment venue after South Korea and China by 2020.
To realize the target, the group, via CJ Cau Tre, will get involved in a VND1.2-trillion project to develop a complex of food processing and research and development (R&D) facilities, and food safety research and logistical centers in Hiep Phuoc Industrial Park in HCMC.
Thanh Phuoc Port JSC, a member of CJ, is completing procedures for a project to develop an inland customs clearance depot in southern Vietnam.
Last October, CJ Blue joint venture was established to provide strategy consulting and marketing solutions. The investment also went to the development of CJ CGV cinemas, food processing, film production and logistics, among others.
In February, the sixth animal feed plant of CJ Vina Agri got off the ground in the central province of Binh Dinh and is scheduled to be commissioned at the end of this year. Its fifth animal feed plant, located in Ha Nam Province, is expected to come on stream this September.
CJ is now in talks with livestock and food processing partners to realize its strategy to improve a feed-farm-food model to turn out products for local consumption and export.
Chang said CJ will further spend on human resource development this year to help the group better capitalize on investment opportunities in this market.
Investment in startups rises 46%
Investments in startup projects in 2016 increased 46% to roughly US$205 million although the number of funded projects was 25% lower than in 2015, according to business incubator Topica Founder Institute (TFI).
A report on startup investments issued by TFI shows that some US$205 million was invested in 50 startup projects last year. Of this figure, US$129 million went to startup enterprises active in the field of financial technology.
Some 30% of the investments were funded at the beginning of the projects, while investments in the development stage of startups accounted for 40%. Acquisition deals attracted 14% of the investments while angel investors injected some 4% of the total investment.
Some startup projects attracted huge funds in 2016, such as the F88 pawnshops invested with US$10 million by Mekong Capital, the educational app named GotIt! obtained US$9.1 million by Capricorn investment fund, the digital wallet project MoMo with US$28 million invested by Standard Chartered and Goldman Sachs.
Startup projects in education in 2016 had a significant development with six investment contracts worth US$20 million.
In addition, the transfer of 62.25% of VNPT E-pay’s shares worth US$33.8 million to UTC Investment, the acquisition of VNG for 38% of Tiki’s shares worth US$17 million and the acquisition of Zalora Vietnam by Central Group at US$10 million were some outstanding deals last year.
Shipping route between Can Tho and Singapore to be launched soon
A direct shipping route between Tan Cang-Cai Cui Port in Can Tho City and Singapore ports will be launched next June or July, said Vu Khanh Duong, director of the Saigon Newport Corporation’s Southwest Office, at a seminar in Can Tho on March 28.
He said the launch may come sooner if local producers support the corporation’s decision. Ben Line, a Singapore-based shipping agency, will cooperate with the corporation to transport the first shipment to the island city-state.
He added Tan Cang-Cai Cui Port has received around 1,500 container vessels since the Quan Chanh Bo Canal was opened for sea-faring ships late last year. The port has been equipped with modern machinery and equipment.
In addition, information technology has been use to facilitate management and operation activities at the port as at Cat Lai and Cai Mep ports in HCMC.
The corporation plans to develop a crane system, expand warehouses, and install more facilities at the port.
Chance to rebuild tra fish image comes up
Tra fish exporters are having trouble in the European Union market given an export decline but industry insiders believe this is an opportunity to rebuild the image of the industry through sustainable farming, cost reduction, and production aligned to market demand.
The above remark was given at a review meeting on the Sustainable Pangasius Supply Chain (SUPA) project in HCMC on March 29.
The EU is a demanding market with strict environmental requirements for sustainable development of everyday consumer products such as seafood. That is why the export of tra fish to this market has been tumbling since negative news about tra fish in Vietnam emerged in the EU media, said experts.
Therefore, to win back its EU market, tra fish has no other way but to take the path of sustainable farming, and efficient use of resources like water and power.
Le Xuan Thinh, SUPA project coordinator, said the greatest challenges for the tra production chain were high feed costs, low fish survival rates, and high water and energy consumption.
The existence of too many intermediaries pushes up costs while businesses experience a lot of hardships with certificates.
Therefore, the SUPA project focuses on these issues. The project has helped enterprises develop 20 new products mainly from by-products, thereby improving their quality to meet market demand.
Also, thanks to the project, businesses are able to slash power consumption by 18-20% and water use by 26-30%, thereby lowering the production cost of each processing plant by VND2-5 billion.
This is why Hoang Thanh, a representative of the EU delegation in Vietnam, commented that the SUPA project was assessed by the EU as one of the comprehensive projects.
Tran Dinh Luan, deputy general director of the Vietnam Directorate of Fisheries, ascribed the flimsy price of tra fish in the past to the lack of sustainability in the development of the industry. Therefore, Vietnam is planning production restructuring towards sustainability, cost efficiency, and alignment of production to market demand.
To restructure the tra fish industry, the Directorate of Fisheries has many projects that help businesses add value to their products and expand consumption markets.
One of the unsustainable factors of the tra fish supply chain is that fish fillets make up the majority of products, with low added value. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has signed Decision 655/QD-BNN-TCTS, according to which nearly VND165 billion will be spent on reorganizing the fisheries sector, including tra fish, from 2017-2020.
The SUPA project is supported by the EU via the EU SWITCH-Asia program for a four-year period from April 2013 to March 2017, with tra fish production and processing units in the Mekong Delta as beneficiaries.
Four organizations involved in the SUPA project are Vietnam Cleaner Production Center, Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, and WWF Vietnam and WWF Austria. The purpose of this project is to help the tra fish industry of Vietnam achieve sustainable production, meeting the standards and demands of the market, especially of EU countries.
Tetra Pak to build US$110 million packaging plant
Tetra Pak, the world’s leading food processing and packaging solutions company, will build a US$110 million manufacturing facility in Binh Duong Province.
Robert Graves, general director of Tetra Pak Vietnam, told the local media on Tuesday that the facility, which is expected to come on stream in 2019, has a designed production capacity of around 20 billion products per year to serve customers at home and abroad.
The project was licensed by the provincial government of Binh Duong.
Tetra Pak has long imported packaging products from its long-established production facilities in Singapore and India. Output from the new plant is expected to meet the increasing demand in the domestic market, while part of it will also be shipped to ASEAN and Australian markets.
Notably, raw material will be fully imported, according to Graves.
Last year, Tetra Pak supplied around 7.5 billion packaging products for the domestic market.
Maritime, air-conditioning expos start in HCMC
Two international exhibitions on the maritime and air-conditioning sectors were opened under the same roof at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center (SECC) in HCMC on March 29.
The sixth International Maritime Exhibition (INMEX Vietnam 2017) features 300 brands of shipbuilding, shipping, marine services and engineering, marine equipment, offshore marine, port and logistics from Germany, Italy, South Korea, Norway, Russia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the UK and the U.S.
Vietnam has a coastline of 3,200 kilometers, plus 1,900 kilometers of inland waterway and 127 ports, which all facilitate maritime development.
Hendrik G. Lacet, director of the Maritime - Consult Lacet Company and INMEX consultant, noted that Vietnam has good conditions to develop the shipbuilding industry. He highly valued the sector development in the coming time.
Meanwhile, the 11th Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Exhibition (HVACR) is attended by 250 major enterprises from 12 countries and territories including India, Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Turkey and Singapore. These enterprises are showcasing modern heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration systems.
These two exhibitions, organized by the Vietnam National Trade Fair and Advertising JSC (VINEXAD) and Informa Exhibition (Asia), will wrap up on March 31.
HCM City eyes boost to tourism promotion, marketing
HCM City’s tourism industry will strengthen co-operation with official agencies, district administrations and various industry stakeholders to improve tourism promotion and marketing, city officials have said.
Trần Vĩnh Tuyến, deputy chairman of the People’s Committee, said the city is focusing on developing river tourism and promoting rural, ecological and cultural tourism in districts 9, 5, Củ Chi, and Cần Giờ in the coming months.
Every month the People’s Committee would organise meetings to assess tourism growth, he told a meeting this week.
Close co-ordination between State agencies and stake holders is vital to gather feedback for developing tourism, he said.
Bùi Tá Hoàng Vũ, director of the Department of Tourism, said there would be at least one tourism event held in the city every month.
Processes to ensure the safety of tourists visiting the city would be strengthened, he said.
The Department of Tourism will work with the Department of Transport to upgrade piers for tourist boats to dock.
It is expected that the first river public transit route from Bạch Đằng Wharf in District 1 to Thủ Đức District will start at the end of June.
Route No.2 from Bạch Đằng Wharf to District 8 will begin early next year.
This year the department has promoted tourism products in districts 5, Củ Chi and Cần Giờ through field trips to tourist destinations and meetings with local authorities, major tour operators and tourism services providers, Vũ said.
A wide range of tourism promotion activities and events to attract tourists have been held, including a ceremony to welcome the five millionth international tourist, the HCM City Áo Dài Festival, Tourism Fair, and the Việt Nam-HCM City Promotion Programme in Russia.
The number of foreigners visiting the city soared 15 per cent in the first quarter of the year to more than 1.5 million.
Turnover from tourism is estimated at VNĐ27.7 trillion (US$1.22 billion), a year-on-year increase of 15.6 per cent.
Shandong, Đà Nẵng to seek investment in agriculture
Businesses from the Chinese province of Shandong have been seeking more investment and co-operation opportunities with local partners in the fields of agriculture, trade, agricultural machinery production, farm produce export, bio industry, hi-tech farm and food safety in the central city.
Head of Shandong’s working delegation, Wang Junmin spoke at a seminar on agriculture and business co-operation in the city yesterday.
Wang said Vietnamese fresh fruits are a popular farm produce in Shandong as well as rubber, while garlic, ginger and agricultural machinery have been made available for the Việt Nam market.
He said 102 investment projects with total registered investment capital of US$1.22 billion from Shandong have been approved by the central city’s People’s Committee.
Wang said businesses from the province have so far poured $4.1 billion in Việt Nam.
“We have called for a co-operative mechanism in boosting investment, tourism, cultural exchange and connections among travel and enterprise associations and universities between Đà Nẵng and Shandong,” Wang said.
He also invited Đà Nẵng to join the Ocean Forum to be held in Shandong this September, strengthening the relationship of the two locations.
Vice Chairman of Đà Nẵng city’s People’s Committee, Hồ Kỳ Minh said the city would offer favourable conditions for Chinese investors with long-term projects in hi-tech farming, ‘green’ technology and food processing.
Minh also said the city has offered preferential policies for businesses from Shandong who invest in the city’s Hi-tech Park and Information Technology park as well as available Industrial Zones.
The two cities set up a relationship in 1994, but trade and investment progress has failed to reach its full potential.
In 2012, the two sides agreed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on tourism cooperation and the investment environment.
According to a report from the industry and trade department, the city of 1 million consumes 145,000 tonnes of seafood and 140,000 tonnes of vegetables per year. However, the city’s 80ha of farms only provide 10 per cent of daily vegetable demand.
In terms of tourism, Đà Nẵng hosted 443,000 Chinese tourists, 27 per cent of total foreign visitors – in 2016.
International cooperation to improve workers’ skills
Vietnam needs skilled workers in many sectors to maintain economic growth. International cooperation in training is the best way to ensure a qualified labor force.
Of 15 countries sending trainees to Japan, Vietnam is the second biggest contributor, just behind China. President of the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization (JITCO), Kazuhiro Suzuki, said the number of Vietnamese trainees in Japan increased from 10,000 in 2013 to 40,000 in 2016.
They work in electronics, mechanics, garments and textiles, seafood processing, construction, shipbuilding, and nursing.
Japan’s 2016 Law on Intern Training for Foreigners generated opportunities for Vietnamese workers to sign 5-year contracts instead of 3-year contracts and receive more benefits.
Mr. Suzuki said, “Vietnam has sent large number of intern-workers to Japan. We’ll inform Vietnam of the latest policy adjustments and offer consultations to obtain the best training cooperation result.”
Vietnam has seen huge labor shifts from agriculture to other sectors. The government needs to help these workers train to take new jobs.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has committed to help Vietnam implement the Skills and Knowledge for Inclusive Economic Growth Program.
ADB Vietnam representative Sakiko Tanaka said that ADB has been working with MOLISA and other Vietnamese partners.
The program will be a good model of collaboration between the Vietnamese government, MOLISA, and some investment components to be led by some vocational training businesses.
International cooperation in vocational training is the key to building a high-quality labor force which helps improve Vietnam’s competitiveness in the international labor market.
Vietjet Air begins new service to Siem Reap
Vietjet Air has started a new flight service to Siem Reap reinforcing its commitment to strengthen its footprint in the Southeast Asia region.
The flight time between Hanoi and Siem Reap is about one and three quarters of an hour each way. The flights are currently scheduled to operate daily.
The inaugural flight departed from Hanoi at 4:55pm yesterday (Mar. 30) and arrived in Siem Reap at 6:40pm. The return flight from Siem Reap left at 7:30pm and arrived back in Hanoi at 9:15pm.
Vietjet Air is currently offering highly discounted fares for the service with prices beginning as low as US$18 (VND399,000) each way.
HCM City to host tech forum Smart Emotion
More than 250 exhibitors will take part in a digital and technology forum to be held in HCM City from April 12 to 14.
Smart Emotion will feature three exhibitions -- the 2017 Việt Nam International Broadcast and AV Show, the 2017 Việt Nam International LED/OLED and Digital Signage Show, and the 2017 Smart Tech Show.
Exporum Company, the organiser, said the exhibitors would include companies from many nations and territories, including China, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
Thousands visitors are expected, the organiser added.
Many advanced technologies will be on display from many famous brands like Điền Quân Media, Sony, Anh Duy, Rạng Đông, Điện Quang, Hyundai, Arirang, Xiaomi, and Seoul Semicondutor.
The event will also have a business matching session, a hackathon competition, a start-up conference and a lucky draw.
It will be held at the Sài Gòn Exhibition and Convention Centre in District 7.
Tetra Pak Vietnam building factory in Binh Duong
The Tetra Pak Vietnam JSC will invest $110 million in building a factory in southern Binh Duong province this year, according to General Director Mr. Robert Graves.
Construction of the factory, with a capacity of 20 billion packaging products per year, is expected to be completed in 2019.
Vietnam is among the Top 10 biggest consumption markets of the Tetra Pak Group, he went on. Per person consumption of milk, however, a major user of Tetra Pak’s products, remains relatively low, at only 22.7 liters per person per year, compared to an average of 80 to 120 liters in Australia, the UK, Canada, and the US.
“We expect milk consumption in Vietnam to reach 28 liters per person shortly,” he said.
He also said that changes in Vietnamese drinking habits is helping Tetra Pak to develop.
The size of Vietnam’s dairy market is about 2.1 billion liters. White milk is nearly 900 million liters, of which more than 90 per cent is in liquid form. Consumption of other milk products, such as flavored milk, milk for infants and children, and powdered milk, is also quite high.
“The trend towards liquid milk will increase as consumers seek more convenience,” Mr. Graves predicted.
Tetra Pak sold about 7.5 billion packaging products in 2016, primarily to the dairy industry.
The Binh Duong factory will not only supply the domestic market but also the export market in Asia.
Tetra Pak Group has 42 factories around the world. Once in operation, its Vietnam’s factory will be one of its five largest.
From 2010 to 2015, milk production in Vietnam increased nearly 70 per cent, from 1.2 billion liters to 2.1 billion liters, according to Euromonitor research.
VIB posts 7% growth in pre-tax profit
Vietnam International Bank’s (VIB) before-tax profit in 2016 was VND702 billion (US$30.9 million), up 7 per cent year-on-year, the bank’s financial results released on Friday revealed.
Last year was quite a successful year for VIB as it achieved most of the targets set during its general shareholders’ meeting, the bank said.
In 2016, VIB’s total assets rose sharply to VND104.5 trillion, surging 24 per cent compared to 2015, and 16 per cent higher than the target set. The bank’s deposits also recorded an annual growth of 11 per cent to touch VND59.26 trillion. Its credit growth rate was 24.7 per cent, while lending balance reached VND60.18 trillion, up 26 per cent year-on-year.
As per the latest data, VIB has managed to balance sources of deposit to meet credit growth demands, considering the State Bank of Viet Nam’s (SBV) tightly controlled liquidity ratios. The bank’s short-term deposit to medium- and long-term loans ratio was 47.1 per cent, while its loan to deposit ratio was 65.6 per cent, much lower than the maximum 80 per cent limit set by the central bank.
In 2016, VIB took various steps to strengthen and improve its early credit risk warning and credit risk identifying systems.
Along with the implementation of credit quality management measures, the bank also focused on dealing with its old non-performing loans (NPL). The bank’s NPL ratio decreased to 1.5 per cent last year (excluding bad debts bought from Viet Nam Asset Management Co, or VAMC) from 2.07 per cent in 2015. As of December 31, 2016, the bank’s NPL ratio (including bad debts bought from VAMC) was 2.58 per cent, while the VAMC lending balance reduced by 30 per cent.
VIB and Vietcombank are the first two banks to have bought bad debts from VAMC to help speed up the bad debts handling process.
VIB’s Basel II project is in its final preparatory phase for implementation, in line with the SBV’s deadline, the bank said.
UK oceanography centre brings expertise to VN expo
The UK’s National Oceanography Centre sent a delegation to HCM City for the international maritime exhibition INMEX Vietnam which ended on March 31.
The visitors, marine scientists and executives, had a booth at the three-day expo and organised seminars and networking sessions.
“This is the first time that NOC has come to Southeast Asia with such a delegation,” Kevin Forshaw, NOC’s associate director for innovation and enterprise, said.
“NOC collaborates extensively with industry, transferring its knowledge and developed technology to improve business operations and help drive innovation for new product development.
“Key themes within the NOC’s global partnerships programme will be to promote resilience to climate change, food and energy security, Blue Economies and innovation in marine technology.”
NOC is home to Europe’s largest fleet of autonomous and robotic vehicles and also manages two state-of-the-art scientific research vessels.
Viet Nam’s maritime industry has tremendous potential as many experts acknowledge.
It has a favourable geographical location, with 3,200 kilometres of coast, 127 ports, 1,900 kilometres of navigable inland waterways, and proximity to major international maritime routes.
With the Government’s support and private investments, the maritime industry is set to develop and grow rapidly, according to experts.
Petrol pump seals increase tax collection
Petrol pumps in all stations nationwide will carry stamped seals by the end of this month as a measure to prevent tax losses and limit fraud, the General Department of Taxation announced on Friday.
Tax departments in 46 provinces and cities nationwide have completed the stamping of pumps, and 12 other localities are in the process of doing so.
Only five localities, for various reasons, were yet to start implementing this measure, the department said at a meeting held in Ha Noi.
Nguyen Van Thuy, Deputy Director of Large Enterprise Department under the General Department of Taxation, said the stamping plan has significantly improved petroleum management on a national scale and should apply nationwide in the shortest possible time.
Some petroleum dealers with large market shares, like the Viet Nam National Petroleum Group (Petrolimex) and the Military Petroleum Corporation have supported this measure as it does not have a negative impact on their operations.
Besides, it helps increase revenues to the State Budget, creates a healthy business environment for petrol traders, and protects the rights of consumers.
In September 2016, the Minister of Finance sent a written request to tax authorities in provinces and cities to create a management scheme for petrol business operations, basically by supervising pumps at local petrol stations.
Following this, joint teams comprising officials from different agencies were organised to stamp seals on petrol pumps nationwide.
The seals have been prepared and managed by the Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality. Local tax departments will monitor sales at the pump, opening and closing the seals at regular intervals.
Any discrepancy found in tax declarations made by traders and supplier invoices will attract sanctions and due taxes collected.
The General Department of Taxation estimates that after the new measure became operational, the collection of environmental protection tax levied on oil and gas consumption increased by 10 per cent.
In Quang Ninh, the northern province where all pumps were stamped and sealed by November 2016, the monthly average fuel consumption and environmental protection tax collected have risen by approximately 15 per cent. A corresponding increase of 14 per cent was seen in Thai Binh Province. In Nghe An Province, where the plan began implementation in June 2015 and was completed by November the same year, the increase was 20 per cent.
The General Department of Taxation said it would continue to direct tax departments of cities and provinces to promptly advise and guide provincial authorities in implementing the scheme, and at the same time, standardise and synchronise evaluation criteria to accurately assess the results of the campaign.
2017 salary guide reveals top-paying jobs
Adecco Vietnam has launched its fourth Salary Guide, which includes an update and overview of salary information for key positions in various sectors and industries.
It covers seven industries in which the company specialises, such as finance and banking, legal and compliance, office, sales marketing and events, information technology, engineering and technical fields, and medical and life sciences.
It is based on Adecco Vietnam’s permanent positions and client and employee needs.
The information includes job description, salary range and years of work experience.
Andree Mangels, general director of Adecco Vietnam, said “While Viet Nam has an abundance of young labourers, youth unemployment remains high as the gap between academic training and real world business skills has widened. Talent shortages, especially among senior level jobs, continue to be a challenge for businesses as companies tried to engage and retain their existing talent base.
“While compensation plays a key role in employee retention, firms are exploring different ways to keep their key talent engaged without getting caught in a pay-inflation spiral.”
Adecco Vietnam Salary Guide 2017 aims to provide companies the insights they need to meet emerging salary expectations in order to attract and retain talent, Andree said.
It is available for free download at the company’s website adecco.com.vn.
The salary guide was undertaken in seven countries in Asia Pacific: Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, China and Viet Nam.
Malaysia promotes medical tourism in HCM City
Penang Medical Tourism Health Talk and Exhibition opened in HCM City on Saturday with the participation of six leading general hospitals and health organisations from Penang and many Vietnamese businesses.
The two-day event featured many professional talks on cardiovascular and urologic diseases, rectum cancer and other topics.
Dr. Mary Ann Harris, chairperson of the Penang Centre of Medical Tourism, who led the delegation to Viet Nam, said Maylasia is currently ranked among the world’s top health tourism destinations thanks to its affordable, high quality medical treatment.
According to the Malaysian Health Travel Council, about 60 per cent of all medical tourists coming to Malaysia go to Penang.
Penang is also named the second top destination to visit in 2017 by CNN, she said.
Bui Thi Thanh An, deputy director of the Viet Nam Trade Promotion Agency, said in recent years, tourism service combined with medical treatment is a new developing trend in the Asian tourism industry.
The event will help Vietnamese businesses to understand more about Penang’s medical tourism sector as well as boost co-operation between the two sides in the sector.
HCM City fails to hit Q1 growth target
Despite higher growth than in the same period last year, HCM City has fallen short of its economic growth target in the first quarter.
Its GRDP was worth nearly VNĐ235 trillion (US$10 billion), an increase of 7.46 per cent year-on-year compared to 7.08 per cent a year earlier.
The services sector expanded by 7.95 per cent (7.8 per cent a year earlier) and industry and construction by 6.67 per cent (the respective rate was 6.25 per cent).
Retail sales topped VNĐ227.5 trillion ($9.8 billion), an increase of 12 per cent.
Revenues were worth VNĐ86.6 trillion ($3.8 billion), or nearly 25 per cent of the full-year target and an increase of 18.56 per cent.
The city’s designated four key industries -- engineering and automation; electronics; chemicals – rubber – plastics; and food processing -- continued to perform strongly, expanding markets, investing in technology, improving quality and competitiveness and growing at nearly 9 per cent.
“The electronics industry … grew at 14.2 per cent … and this is the highest [quarterly] increase in the last few years,” Phạm Thành Kiên, director of the city Department of Industry and Trade, told an economic review meeting yesterday.
A study by the department found that of the mobile phones used by city dwellers, 42.7 per cent were made in Việt Nam. The numbers were 50.9 per cent for laptops and 58.3 per cent for television sets.
According to the city People’s Committee, enterprise support programmes have achieved good results, with the business and investment environment improving.
This has strengthened confidence among investors and entrepreneurs in the city’s economic potential.
This is demonstrated by the investment the city managed to attract -- of nearly $575 million, an increase of 56.7 per cent year-on-year – an expert working for the city administration said.
Around 8,000 new companies with a combined registered capital of VNĐ99.5 trillion ($4.4 billion) received licences during the quarter, increases of 14 per cent and 61.7 per cent.
Some 1.58 million foreign visitors arrived in the city, an increase of 15 per cent, and the tourism sector reported a turnover of VNĐ27.8 trillion ($1.23 billion), a 15.6 per cent rise.
“Though we have achieved positive results in the first quarter of this year, to accomplish the yearly plans, we must work hard,” Nguyễn Thành Phong, the chairman of the city People’s Committee, said.
While first quarter growth was 7.46 per cent the city targets 8.4 – 8.7 per cent growth for the full year, he pointed out.
Industries and local administrations need to take strong measures to achieve the targets, he said.
“Key and supporting industries and the trade and services sectors must speed up their growth.”
The city has already cut or suggested cuts to administrative procedures, especially with respect to insurance, land, taxation, customs, and labour, to help businesses cut costs, he said.
Võ Văn Hoan, head of the People’s Committee Office, called for setting up a task force to deal with investment and construction, which have been identified as problems, and supporting enterprises to improve the city’s ranking in the Provincial Competitive Index.
Phu Yen biomass power plant joins national grid
The biomass power plant invested by the KCP Vietnam Industries Limited in the south central province of Phu Yen was connected to the national grid on April 2.
The India-invested company commenced the construction of the factory in 2015 in the mountainous district of Son Hoa after its sugar plant in the locality raised capacity to 8,000 tonnes of sugarcane per day.
The power plant fuelled by bagasse has a designed capacity of 60 MW and a total investment of nearly 1.3 trillion VND (57.1 million USD).
The first phase of the project has been completed with a capacity of 30 MW and it is able to generate over 70 million kWh of electricity annually.
The company is carrying out the second phase of the power plan along with raising the capacity of the sugarcane processing plant to 10,000 tonnes per day.
Director General of the KCP Vietnam Industries Limited K.V.S.R Subbaiah said the company also hopes to invest in processing side products of sugar production such as alcohol and microbiological fertilizer.
Malaysian firms keen on business expansion in Vietnam
Up to 38 percent of Malaysian firms chose Vietnam as their favoured Asian destination for business expansion in the next 3-5 years, according to the 2016 Asian Enterprise Survey released by the United Overseas Bank (UOB) on March 31.
The firms said they were drawn to Vietnam’s stable political climate (44 percent), huge and growing customer demand (42 percent), and favourable tax and regulatory environment (32 percent).
Vietnam continues to be attractive for foreign investment thanks to its 6 percent growth and a young workforce base with 60 percent of its 90 million population aging below 35.
The findings were taken from more than 2,500 interviews granted to financial planners working for Malaysia-based Asian enterprises which have been in operation for at least three years and earn at least 3.5 million USD each year.
UOB Malaysia Chief Executive Officer Wong Kim Choong said Malaysian investors in Vietnam mostly operate in export-oriented industries such as manufacturing, health care, pharmaceuticals, construction and real estate, adding that they also look forward to more opportunities brought about by Vietnam’s free trade agreements with the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union.
UOB has noticed Vietnam’s strategic importance since 1995 when the bank opened a branch mostly serving foreign businesses in the country, he said.
Japanese floriculture firm to invest in Lam Dong
Japan’s Kawasaki Flora Auction Market company plans to invest in floriculture in Da Lat city, the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, for export to Japan and European countries, said former Counsellor from the Vietnamese embassy in Japan Dao Ngoc Canh.
According to him, the company wants to do business for up to 50 years in Da Lat or the entire province.
In the first year, it plans to work on a site of 10-20ha, and expand to 50ha after three years and 100-200ha from the fifth year and afterwards.
Established in 1961, Kawasaki currently owns production facilities in 12 Japanese prefectures and foreign countries such as Colombia and Kenya which provide fresh flowers for its chain of stores across Japan.
President of the Vietnam Cooperative Alliance Vo Kim Cu vowed all possible support for bilateral partnership and asked the Japanese investor to devise specific cooperation plan soon.
He also suggested tapping Lam Dong province’s vast area of fertile land by investing in vegetable cultivation and other agricultural activities there.
Vietnam real estate association convenes annual meeting
The Vietnam Real Estate Association (VNREA) convened its annual meeting in Quy Nhon city, the central coastal province of Binh Dinh on April 1, with 500 delegates representing firms and members taking part.
Apart from the official meeting, the VNREA’s executive board also converged a plenary session to adopt its 2017 action plan and witnessed the signing of a cooperation agreement with the Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association (CVRA).
Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister of Construction Bui Pham Khanh said as much as 92 trillion VND (4 billion USD) was poured into real estate developments as of the end of the first quarter this year, adding that the ministry has received and considered VNREA’s recommendations to refine relevant legal documents, thus creating a favourable and transparent environment for the property market.
VNREA Chairman Nguyen Tran Nam affirmed that the real estate market is developing stably with growing foreign direct investment and improved liquidity.
The association will focus on expanding ties with its counterparts in Southeast Asia in the near future, thereby creating favourable conditions for both sides to navigate each other’s markets, he said.
According to him, VNREA is looking to join relevant professional organisations on the global scale as well as host the World Real Estate Congress in the country, which he said, will enable Vietnam to popularise its property market, tourism and the people to international friends.
The VNREA’s annual conference provides a venue for developers to meet policy makers, leading experts and foreign associations in the field.
Peugeot Scooters celebrates return to Vietnam
French automaker Peugeot held an event at the Vietnam Embassy in France on April 1 to mark the return of its high-end scooters to the Southeast Asian country after 60 years.
At the event, Vietnamese Ambassador to France Nguyen Ngoc Son said the comeback reflects the Vietnamese market’s appeal to foreign investors.
Peugeot Scooters’ distribution network in Vietnam will benefit local consumers in terms of prices and services, he added.
Eric Mougin, Marketing and Style Director at Peugeot Scooters, said the company has studied the Vietnamese market to come up with a suitable business strategy.
Peugeot scooters were once very popular in Vietnam, while recent technologies have made them cope well with the local weather conditions, he noted.
He said Peugeot sees little competition in the local market segment of high-end scooters, expressing his belief in potentials and opportunities Vietnam could offer.
The event also honoured two French nationals – Samuel Felice and Ambroise Prince, who have travelled from Paris to Ho Chi Minh City on the Peugeot Django scooter. Their journey spanned 12,000 km through 14 countries.
The men said they were inspired by a journey on Peugeot S57 scooters from Sai Gon (now Ho Chi Minh City) to Paris made by two French 60 years ago.
They said the memorable road trip has enabled them to meet interesting people and behold beautiful landscapes.
Peugeot is placing high hope on success in the Vietnamese market for further expansion to neighbouring markets, such as China, India and Indonesia.
HCM City - A growing base for Japanese investment
Ho Chi Minh City and Japanese firms discussed investment opportunities at a business-matching event held in HCM City on March 30.
At the event, more than 100 participants, including representatives from HCM City companies and 11 members of Junior Chamber International Japan (JCI), met to discuss potential business deals in various fields, including finance, industry and service, as well as in industrial zones.
Kentaro Harada, chairman of JCI, said that Vietnamese industry and service sectors had been developing well and that the country had become an ideal destination for investors, but that it needed to attract more investment to speed up industrial growth.
He said Japanese companies should not miss the chance to invest in the industrial, service and consumption sectors in Vietnam.
Steve Bui, chairman of Delta E&C Japan, said that Vietnam had great potential.
He said that, through co-operation with Japanese companies, domestic companies would have opportunities to apply modern technologies and improve product quality.
Japan is one of Vietnam’s key investors. As of the end of last year, Japanese companies had invested in 3,280 projects in the country, worth a total of 42 billion USD, equivalent to 14 percent of total foreign investment in the country.
Bilateral trade between the two countries continued to increase in recent years, with average annual growth in the last 10 years of 13.9 percent.
Trade volume by 2020 is expected to be 60 billion USD, compared to 9.93 billion USD in 2006 and 30 billion USD now.
Formosa Vietnam evaluated for furnace launch, one year after fish deaths
The steel plant of Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Group in Ha Tinh Province.
The mass fish deaths, affecting four central provinces, was first recorded on April 6, 2016, but Formosa only in June the same year, pledging US$500mn in compensation.
The Taiwanese company has promised to fix all of its violations and make sure its steel mill, located in Ha Tinh Province, follows all environmental standards and requirements set by the Vietnamese authorities.
One year on, (Youth) newspaper has asked the question as to how Formosa has kept its word at a regular government meeting in Hanoi on Monday, and was told that the company has been correcting its mistakes.
“Formosa has fixed 51 out of 53 violations it was found to have,” Minister and Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung told , citing a report by the environment ministry.
Minister Dung added that as required by the government, local authorities in the four affected provinces, Ha Tinh, Quang Tri, Quang Binh and Thua Thien-Hue, have completed the task of distributing the Formosa compensation to fishermen impacted by the fish deaths.
More than 100 metric tons of fish were killed, and the environment, jobs and economies of the four provinces were severely affected between April and May last year.
The chairman of the Government Office said Formosa is only allowed to put the steel mill into use when the company meets all requirements for a safe, disaster-free operation.
“If they cannot ensure the safety for the facility’s operation, the mill will never be allowed to go into production,” Dung said, adding that this is “the consistent view of the government with regard to the Formosa issue.”
On Monday, an inspection team from the environment ministry began a three-day examination of the Formosa plant in Ha Tinh, checking various construction units at the facility to decide whether it would be allowed to put a blast furnace into use.
Inspectors are slated to check the plant’s wastewater treatment and chemical processing systems, as well as an air pollution monitor for the furnace, which will emit smoke through 15 chimneys.
The inspection is scheduled to finish on Wednesday, after which the environment ministry officials will discuss with a group of scientists to evaluate the effectiveness of the environmental technology at the steel mill.
The evaluation result will be submitted to the government, which will then decide the fate of the blast furnace.
TUOI TRE NEWS
AirAsia joint venture’s prospects uncertain
On April 1, Bloomberg reported that Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia planned to partner up with two domestic firms to start an airline in Vietnam. However, available information draws questions over the plan’s legitimacy and feasibility.
Talking to VIR, an official from the Department of Enterprise Management under the Ministry of Transport said that AirAsia has yet to submit an official application to establish a joint venture with Gumin and Hai Au Aviation.
Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam said the first time it heard of the news was from the media.
“Hai Au, Gumin, and AirAsia. None of them has applied for a certificate to do business in air transport,” said Vo Huy Cuong, deputy director of CAAV.
Hai Au has a license to provide general air transport for commercial purposes, with a fleet of four amphibious airplanes.
Gumin, which operates in management consultancy, has only started operation on March 29.
Official information is forthcoming only from Thien Minh Group.
According to the company’s website, the new airline is going to start operation in 2018 after being ratified by the Vietnamese government.
The new airline is going to provide “high-quality service at affordable prices.”
An expert said that it is currently unclear whether this airline is going to be a new entity or part of Hai Au.
However, given the time that it normally takes to obtain a license to fly commercially, the joint venture is unlikely to get a license by the end of 2018.
Vietstar One-member Co., Ltd., which applied for a license to provide air transport services in July 2016, is still waiting.
This is AirAsia’s third attempt in 10 years to join hands with a Vietnamese partner to set up an airline.
Earlier, Air Asia made an agreement with Vinashin (now Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Corporation) in 2007 and with Vietjet in 2010 to set up the second foreign-invested airline in Vietnam after Jetstar Pacific.
For one reason or another, these plans failed to materialise.
At the moment, AirAsia has two airlines that fly frequently to Vietnam, Thai AirAsia (FD), which flies from Thailand, and AirAsia Berhad (AK) which flies from Malaysia.
There was also Indonesia AirAsia which used to fly from Indonesia, but at the moment this activity has been suspended.
The Vietnamese aviation market sees ripe competition from Vietnam Airlines and SkyViet/VASCO, as well as two low-cost airlines, namely Vietjet and Jetstar Pacific, the former of which is considered to be on par with big regional airlines, such as AirAsia, in terms of capital and governance ability.
The growth in demand still outpaces the growth in supply. However, in the first quarter, demand showed signs of slowing growth.
Moreover, the price of airplane fuel is increasing sharply, affecting the profit of airlines.
The average price in January this year was $65.15 per barrel, up 1.57 per cent compared to December 2016.
CAPA Centre for Aviation expects that the profit margin for global air transport will decrease from 8.3 per cent in 2016 to 7.4 in 2017 and further to 6.6 in 2018, due to the increasing price of fuel and the surplus in airplanes as airlines have been buying too many of them recently.
“AirAsia is very late to the party in Vietnam and as a result faces huge challenges,” said Brendan Sobie, Singapore-based chief analyst at CAPA Centre for Aviation at a recent interview with Bloomberg on the issue.
“The market is now well served by two low-cost carriers, VietJet and Jetstar Pacific. The rate of growth will likely slow in the coming years as the market is now more mature.”
HIV/AIDS infected people to have health insurance
Vietnam strives to have more HIV/AIDS infected people with health insurance in a bid to eliminate HIV/AIDS epidemic.
A HIV patients receive drug at a clinic in the city
Because financial aid from international groups has been cut thus treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS will reliant on domestic sources forcing patients to have health insurance which ensures for a prolonged treatment.
However, the rate of HIV/AIDS infected people having health insurance is low causing difficulties for the country’s efforts to end the epidemic.
There are almost 29,402 people living with HIV/ AIDS in Ho Chi Minh City, said Duong Minh Hai from the city’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Center at a seminar to value the treatment of HIV/AIDS people with health insurance in 2016 lately.
Of 29,402 people, 27,685 people received consultation. 19,583 city residents were consulted the treatment of the disease, just 13,639 had health insurance accounting for 70 percent yet only 4,985 used health insurance card.
Though the city authority has adopted many measures to improve treatment quality for these special patients including encouraging them to buy health insurance, to set up more medical clinics to provide drug and developing hospitals’ capability in providing comprehensive treatment plan for nearly 30,000 people yet it has not achieved its set target.
Currently, around 70 percent of HIV-positive people have bought health insurance while the remaining 30 percent have not bought.
To meet the target that most of people living with HIV/AIDS to have health insurance in 2018, deputy director of the Department of Health in HCMC Nguyen Huu Hung petitioned the People’s Committee to use the insurance compare’s spare cash in 2016 to buy health insurance for poor HIV people who are unable to afford a health insurance card.
In addition, some patients are not eligible to buy health insurance because they have no ID card and patients are treated in rehabilitation centers.
The city has petitioned the Ministry of Health to have measures to help these above-mentioned people.
So far, HCMC has 46 medical clinics to provide treatment for outpatients yet only 20 of them have service for people with insurance cards. In 2016, additional 16 infirmaries in hospitals in district had been provided treatment for HIV people and 11 of them had service for medically insured people.
It is scheduled that in the second quarter, 2017, 5 clinics will provide treatment for people with insurance cards and two private clinics will be operational.
Deputy Head of the Insurance Company Dr. Luu Thi Thanh Huyen said that the Ministry of Health should give more drugs for insured patients who are treated in infirmaries in districts to meet their demand.
As per the Department of HIV/ AIDS Prevention, as of January 2017, 116,000 people living with HIV nationwide were treated with ARV in 397 infirmaries and 33 clinics to provide drug. However, just 59 clinics provided treatment for insurance card holders.
HCMC has spent VND13 billion ($572,259) to support HIV/AIDS people to buy insurance cards. Head of the Department of Health’s Finance Ward Dinh Thi Lieu said that following the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Health’s guideline, the city adopted a plan to provide free insurance cards to HIV people who are city locals.
The amount is taken from the Fund for Treatment for the poor and the insurance company’s abundance.
Additionally, the city health sector plans to pay 20 percent for special patients’ ARV drug. It is estimated VND3 - 18 million a person a year.