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Investors express interest in Hanoi metro system
BUSINESS IN BRIEF 27/6
Site clearance solutions sought for Long Thanh airport
An inspection team led by Deputy Minister of Transport Le Dinh Tho on Saturday made a field trip to Dong Nai Province and worked with the provincial government over site clearance, compensation and resettlement for the Long Thanh International Airport project.
Data of Long Thanh District, Dong Nai Province shows about 5,000 hectares of land should be cleared to make room for the project with 4,730 households and 26 organizations to be reallocated. Around 70% of 15,000 affected people are farmers and the rest are rubber workers and those working for other sectors.
It would be hard for people aged over 45 to change jobs or work for factories. Moreover, land prices in the airport area have snowballed, making it difficult for the affected people to buy land there to build new homes.
At the meeting, Deputy Minister of Transport Le Dinh Tho said there need to be solutions and policies to support the affected people to find new jobs. Dong Nai Province should ask the central Government to disburse VND5 trillion (about US$220 million) as pledged for site clearance, resettlement and compensation for the project, he said.
The National Assembly (NA) on June 19 approved a proposal for separating compensation, site clearance and resettlement from the Long Thanh International Airport project and treat them as a sub-project to boost the pace of airport construction.
According to a report of Dong Nai Province, costs of site clearance, compensation and resettlement are estimated at VND23 trillion (over US$1 billion). However, the total amount which the Government has allocated for these components in the medium-term public investment plan for the 2016-2020 period is only VND5 trillion.
Where the remaining VND18,019 billion comes from is not known. In a report sent to the NA, the Ministry of Planning and Investment said it will work with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport to consider using backup funds for medium-term public investments to finance the project.
The Long Thanh International Airport project will be executed in three phases at a total cost of VND336.6 trillion (US$16.03 billion).
In phase one, which requires VND114.45 trillion (US$5.45 billion) and is scheduled for completion in 2025, a runway, a passenger terminal, and other auxiliary facilities will be built, with a capacity of 25 million passengers and 1.2 million tons of cargo a year.
A second runway and terminal will go up in the second phase, so raise the airport’s annual capacity will rise to 50 million passengers and 1.5 million tons of cargo. The airport will be capable of handling 100 million passengers and five million tons of cargo a year after phase three is complete.
HCMC seeks to retain 10% of import-export tariff revenues
HCMC plans to ask the central Government for approval to retain 10% of import and export tariff revenues so that it could have an extra VND43.4 trillion (US$1.91 billion) in 2017-2020 to finance much-needed investment projects.
Under the current regulations, all import and export tariff revenues in the city must go straight to the central State budget.
According to the HCMC Institute for Development Studies, the city’s 2016 value added, import, export and special consumption tax revenues were estimated at VND172.18 trillion, accounting for 15% of the city’s gross regional domestic product (GRDP).
Import and export tariffs, and VAT and special consumption tax for imported goods reached over VND100.8 trillion, representing 8.79% of the city’s GRDP.
The legal basis for the city’s plan is Resolution 16-NQ/TW dated August 10, 2012 on directions and tasks for development of HCMC until 2020. The resolution mentions the possibility of using the State budget and regional import and export tax revenues to partially fund the city’s major projects and programs.
To finance traffic infrastructure and port projects to boost economic growth, the city will request the central Government to allow it to keep 10% of annual import and export duty revenues for a period of 10 years. The city’s tax collections from import and export operations in 2017-2020 are forecast to amount to VND434 trillion, so if approval from the central Government is forthcoming, the city would have an additional amount of VND43 trillion in the four-year period.
The municipal government will also propose higher tax on some luxury goods and services. At the same time, the city wants to impose some new fees on the transport and environment sectors.
The central Government has assigned the city to contribute VND348 trillion to the State budget in 2017, up by VND43 trillion against 2016, but revenues shared for the city will total only VND60.3 trillion, up by a mere VND1.3 trillion versus last year. Meanwhile, the ratio of retained revenues for the city is down from 23% to 18%.
Long An to supply safe food for HCMC
The HCMC Food Safety Board and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Long An Province last week signed an agreement on cooperation in agricultural goods production, trading and consumption to ensure food safety.
Long An is the first province to cooperate with the board to supply HCMC with safe agricultural products.
The board earlier visited Phuoc Thinh Service Trading Production Agriculture Co-operative in Can Giuoc District and San Ha chicken processing facility in Ben Luc District, Long An.
The supply chain of farm produce with clear origin will be strictly controlled.
The two sides will jointly inspect vegetables, meat and seafood suppliers in Long An to make sure food is secure.
HCMC authorities will create favorable conditions for Long An suppliers to gain access to the city market through fairs and workshops, and cooperate with HCMC partners, such as wholesale markets, supermarkets and retail stores.
Monthly import-export tax revenue in HCMC hits record high
The HCMC Customs Department collected a staggering VND10 trillion (US$440.3 million) in import and export taxes from May 15 to June 15, a record high in months.
The city’s import and export tax revenue in January-June has amounted to VND53.2 trillion, increasing 9.9% compared to the same period last year and accounting for 48.8% of the full-year target of VND109 trillion.
Therefore, the department will have to collect VND55.8 trillion in the rest of the year.
The department credited the rise to a pickup in tax collections from key imported products, including iron, steel, completely-built-up (CBU) autos under nine seats, computers, and electronic products and parts, according to a report the department sent to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.
However, the department noted, imports of some major products have been in decline, thereby dealing a budget collection shortfall. For instance, fuel imports have plunged, with 981,800 tons imported in the first half of this year, down from over 2.15 million tons a year ago.
The city imported more than 2,500 CBU autos under nine seats worth US$35.08 million in the second half of May while the respective figures in the first half of this month were over 1,600 units and US$20.07 million.
The city saw its January-June export turnover rising 16.8% year-on-year to over US$19.96 billion and its import bill surging 19.3% to US$23.1 billion, leaving a trade deficit of US$3.14 billion.
Mekong Delta rice production to increase despite possible early flooding
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has called for an increase in fall-winter rice production in the Mekong Delta this year although flooding is forecast to come early.
Speaking at a conference on rice production in the Mekong Delta in Can Tho City on Friday, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh told local authorities to take measures to ensure safety for rice production in the fall-winter season.
According to Doanh, this rice farming season is an important rice season as the price of this food staple is increasing but rice output in the winter-spring season dipped as weather anomaly brought early rain and fewer days of sunshine.
Le Thanh Tung at the ministry’s Department of Crop Production said rice output in the Mekong Delta this fall-winter season is estimated at 4.65 million tons, up by over 446,000 tons compared to the same period last year. The delta’s rice acreage will reach 832,000 hectares, up by 7,071 hectares against 2016, with rice productivity projected at 5.6 tons per hectare, up half a ton per hectare year-on-year.
According to Tung, a spike in rice output in the fall-winter crop can make up for a decrease of 226,095 tons in the winter-spring crop. The rice export outlook is brighter as rice export is expected to grow in both volume and value. All the 13 Mekong Delta provinces now grow fall-winter rice, up from just five around 10 years ago.
Tung said those areas not prone to flooding will be given priority to develop the fall-winter rice crop. Measures will be taken to minimize impacts of flooding on rice farming, including reinforcing dykes, selecting suitable rice varieties and changing harvest, transport and drying methods.
The southern weather center forecast flooding may come in the Mekong Delta sooner than normal this year. In late July, upstream water levels of the Mekong River in Tan Chau District, Dong Thap Province and Chau Doc District, An Giang Province could rise to 2.5-3 meters, exposing Tan Hung and Vinh Hung districts of Long An Province and some farming areas in An Giang and Dong Thap provinces to flood risk.
Data of the Vietnam Food Association showed the country’s January-May rice exports reached 2.3 million tons, up 9.71%, with a total FOB value of nearly US$975 million, up 11.29%, and the CIF value of over US$1 billion, up 12.29% compared to the same period of 2015.
The average FOB price was US$427.17 per ton, up US$6.06 per ton. Vietnamese rice traders signed contracts to export over 3.5 million tons of rice while rice inventory was over 1.15 million tons.
According to the Ministry of Finance, the average rice production cost of the Mekong Delta in the summer-fall crop is estimated at VND3,992 (US$0.18) per kilo, up VND154 per kilo versus the same period last year. Ben Tre Province has the highest rice production cost, VND5,192 per kilo, and Ca Mau Province has the lowest cost, VND3,148 per kilo.
Vietnam’s private sector overburdened with costs
Vietnamese private enterprises are overburdened with formal costs, let alone informal expenses and harassment, so they can hardly develop, experts said at a forum in Hanoi on June 22.
Ho Sy Hung, head of the Enterprise Development Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, told the Vietnam Enterprise Development Forum jointly organized by the ministry and Economy and Forecasting magazine that the cost burden imposed by the State is too heavy for private enterprises.
Citing a survey by the Japan External Trade Organization in 2016, Hung said the minimum wage increase in recent years was around 8-12% a year, outpacing annual labor productivity growth of 4-5%. Specially distressful is the high social insurance, at 22% of the total salary fund, far higher than in regional countries, such as 13% in Malaysia and 10% in the Philippines.
The rate of return at private enterprises is worryingly low, at a mere 1.72% compared to the average rate of 6.04% at State-owned enterprises and 6.95% in the foreign investment sector.
Regarding the overall business community, 97.7% of firms are small and medium in terms of labor force, and 94.8% of enterprises are small and medium by capital scale.
For the private sector, such rates are even worse. Up to 98.6% of private enterprises are small- and medium, but the number of medium-sized private enterprises makes up a mere 1.6%. Most private enterprises have fixed assets of VND7-8 billion, and this trivial scale had barely improved throughout the 2011-2015 period.
“Domestic private enterprises are financially incapable of building up fixed assets like machinery and technology to cut costs and improve business efficiency. This is food for thought to policymakers to mull new supportive policies for the sector,” Hung of the ministry said.
Dau Anh Tuan, head of the Legislation Department of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said bigger enterprises tend to be subject to more inspections by authorities than smaller ones.
“Many small and medium enterprises are satisfied with the business scales since they are fretful over inspections by State administration agencies and the taxman. Some enterprises complained that the day before, they were inspected by the tax agency, and the day after, they were inspected by other State bodies on environment or social insurance,” Tuan told the forum. He added that up to 65% of private enterprises face difficulties in land access.
Vu Dinh Anh, an economic expert, said it is urgent to clarify the role of the private sector in the economy. “When the private sector grows, the economy will also grow. Therefore, it must be clarified that the private sector and the State sector are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they supplement each other in growth,” he said.
HCM City property market to change
HCM City’s real estate market in the 2017-20 period will see major changes as supply and demand will gradually adjust, stabilising and strengthening the market, according to the city’s Real Estate Association.
In its latest report on the real estate market in the second half of 2017, the association said there would be a switch from high-end projects to mid- and low-end segments to meet demand from people with lower incomes.
The emphasis on the low- to mid-end market segment began early this year, the report said.
Thirty-two new housing projects were approved in the first half of the year with a total of 16,505 apartments. Of these, more than 68 per cent were in the mid- and low-end market.
“This is a good sign because developers are re-structuring their products to develop apartments with one or two bedrooms to meet the huge demand of people with lower incomes,” said Lê Hoàng Châu, chairman of the association.
The association said that in the last half of the year, co-operation among developers would be more common as the development trend continues.
Merger and acquisition activities are also expected to increase as the National Assembly’s resolution to reduce bad debt becomes effective in mid-August.
The market is expected to become more stable and transparent when new policies related to tax, credit, planning and administrative procedures become effective.
The association said that investment flows would come mostly from foreign investors and overseas remittances.
Châu said that in the first half of the year, 20 per cent of US$2.1 billion in overseas remittances was poured into real estate.
Nearly 13 per cent of foreign direct investment (FDI) was invested in the real estate market, equivalent to $50.3 million.
“FDI to the sector in the last six months of the year will surge because many contracts to develop property are under negotiation,” he said.
Châu said that infrastructure upgrades, including metro lines and rapid bus routes, would create advantageous conditions for companies to develop in the mid- and long-term.
Developers are expected to focus on projects friendly to the environment to meet the demand of consumers who want modern technologies, including the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence, he added.
In the first half of this year, the city developed 1.92 million sq metres of housing.
During the period, the city continued to upgrade housing, and targeted rebuilding 50 per cent of 474 old apartment buildings until 2020.
As of the end of last year, the city had 13,220 real estate companies.
In the first half of the year, one-third of 18,000 new companies established in the city were real estate companies, with most of them providing real estate services.
SAV & ICAEW sign MoU
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), a world leader in the accountancy and finance profession, and the State Audit Office of Vietnam (SAV) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to work more closely together.
The agreement between the two was signed on June 26 by ICAEW’s CEO Mr. Michael Izza and Deputy Auditor-General Mr. Cao Tan Khong at a ceremony in Hanoi. It sets out detailed activities that will see the two exchange professional experience and information while tightening cooperation for mutual benefit.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Khong said the development of human resources and international integration are the two core priorities within the strategy for SAV’s development to 2020. “The MoU sets the foundation for SAV and ICAEW to conduct supportive programs in improving professional experience, contributing to the development of talent in Vietnam’s auditing industry to integrate on a regional and global scale,” he added.
“The partnership with SAV will legalize commitments and ICAEW’s will to contribute to Vietnam’s development,” said Mr. Izza said. With ICAEW’s vision of operating for the sustainable development of the global economy, “the operation and activities of ICAEW in Vietnam during recent years have had a positive impact on the enhancement of talent within the accounting sector in general and the auditing field in particular.”
In 2011, ICAEW also signed an MoU with the Vietnam Association of Certified Public Accountants (VACPA) to establish a framework to work together to develop talent and advance the accountancy profession in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
Mr. Izza affirmed that during the time to come it will continue with these commitments while at the same time conducting more activities to bring State authorities and Vietnamese organizations and businesses closer to the most up-to-date and modern financial and accounting standards.
As an official member of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) and the Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI) since July 1996 and January 1997, respectively, SAV has participated more actively in global cooperation. It has developed and retained extensive relations with numerous external organizations, including a large number of prestigious supreme audit institutions (SAIs) and foreign agencies around the world that have signed bilateral cooperation agreements with SAV.
SAV has defined its development goals and vision to 2020 as to attain enhanced operational capability and legal effectiveness and quality and efficiency in State audits so as to make it a strong tool of the State in controlling and monitoring the management and use of State budget funds and assets, and to build SAV into a highly professional agency that is modernized from phase to phase into a responsible and prestigious position in the field of public finance control, with a view to better meeting the requirements of the country’s industrialization and modernization and being in line with international practice and standards.
With a philosophy “Transparency, Integrity, Professionalism and Brightness”, SAV is now doing its utmost to become a responsible and renowned public finance control agency to ensure Vietnam’s sustainable and prosperous development.
MWG launches BigPhone store in Cambodia
The Mobile World Group (MWG) officially launched its first overseas store, “BigPhone” in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on June 23, to approach Cambodians and visitors to the country and with a look similar to its stores in Vietnam.
Initially, BigPhone will focus on mobile phones and tablets, which account for 85 per cent of all products in the store. Samsung phones and tablets are in the majority, followed by those from Huawei, OPPO, Camfone, and LG, while Apple and Nokia products will be available in July. The remaining 15 per cent are accessories and SIM and phone cards.
Due to the low consumption in Cambodia, laptops will only be sold when other core products have generated stable revenues. The first BigPhone store is projected to earn average revenue of $100,000 per month.
The launch of other BigPhone stores will depend on the business performance in the first three month of the initial store, which is currently being promoted by roadshows, leafleting, and other marketing activities.
“The fake phone market in Cambodia is an issue, while the training of staff for long-term planning also needs to be considered further,” said Mr. Ho Viet Dong, CEO of MWG in Cambodia.
BigPhone is a trial for MWG in seizing overseas opportunities and testing the company’s systems when operating outside of Vietnam. If things go according to plan, it will calculate the possibility of expanding into Myanmar or Laos, according to the company.
MWG and HAGL signed MoU
MWG also signed a strategic partnership agreement on June 23 with the Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group (HAGL), a multi-sector group from Vietnam that engages in fields from agriculture to power generation, to provide fresh fruit to MWG’s Bach Hoa Xanh chain in Vietnam. This will bring the partnership between the two to the strategic level, with HAGL to accompany Bach Hoa Xanh’s nationwide expansion plans in the future.
The partnership agreement makes clear that HAGL will prioritize Back Hoa Xanh over other exporters or local buyers while at the same time providing a preferential pricing system for Bach Hoa Xanh to ensure its market competitiveness.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, MWG CEO Mr. Tran Kinh Doanh said he believes Bach Hoa Xanh will grow quickly in the time to come, and “our ambition is to grab a substantial share in the consumer retail market” and “we are glad to have HAGL as our companion,” Mr. Doanh added.
For its part, HAGL CEO Mr. Vo Truong Son said that as of now the group has planted thousands of hectares of 17 types of tropical fruit in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, which are all high-quality products. “We believe the Bach Hoa Xanh chain will create prestige within the consumer retail market and via this cooperation will bring our trusted products to consumers nationwide,” Mr. Son added.
According to its 2016 financial report, MWG recorded net sales of VND44.6 trillion ($1.97 billion) and after-tax profit of VND1.57 trillion ($69.5 million), increases of 77 and 47 per cent, respectively, compared to 2015. Its revenue also exceeded the initial annual target by 14 per cent. Over the last five years, MWG’s revenue and after-tax profit have increased by 43.87 and 65.7 per cent per year on average.
UPCoM marks eighth birthday
The capitalisation of the Unlisted Public Company Market (UPCoM) has rocketed 100 times to reach VND444 trillion (US$19.73 billion) after eight years of operation.
The number of traded companies has also risen from about 40 in 2009 to 568 in 2017, making the scale of UPCoM 2.4 times bigger than the listed market on the Ha Noi Stock Exchange.
The secondary market for unlisted companies also recorded a 50-times increase in its daily trading value, which has reached an average of VND197.7 billion from VND4 billion in 2009.
UPCoM was first launched by the HNX on June 24, 2009 to narrow and limit the trading of companies’ shares on the free, unmanaged market and expand the Government-managed market.
After eight years of operation, UPCoM has undergone significant changes to draw attention from businesses and increase its attractiveness to investors by improving its trading criteria and applying the online trading mechanism.
Those efforts have helped companies, whose shares are traded on UPCoM, become listed companies on the HCM and Ha Noi stock exchanges and raise the transparency of both markets and their businesses.
To celebrate the eighth anniversary of UPCoM, the HNX has issued a new mechanism that divides UPCoM into three categories by companies’ market capitalisation in order to improve trading conditions for the secondary market.
The three levels are the UPCoM Large for 40 companies, which have more than VND1 trillion in their charter capital, UPCoM Medium for 70 companies, which have charter capital of between VND300 billion and VND1 trillion, and UPCoM Small for the remaining 379 companies that have charter capital of between VND10 billion and VND300 billion.
The new firm categorisation also marks new efforts of HNX to improve its monitoring and supervision over UPCoM, which has a variety of companies, capitalisation, quality and sectors.
Other markets on the northern securities exchange like bond and listed markets also posted big improvements in their operation.
In the Government bond (G-bond) market, the HNX has raised approximately VND1.4 quadrillion from G-bond auctions between 2006 and 2016 for the country’s socio-economic development.
Investors have become more interested in long-term bonds in recent years, especially 20- and 30-year bonds. By June 2017, the average maturity of G-bonds reached 13.8 years compared to that of 2016 G-bonds at 8.27 years.
In 2016, the G-bond market recorded its repo (repurchase agreement) trading value was equal to 40 per cent of total trading value in the G-bond market, nearly close to outright trading value.
Repo trading value has also risen in the first half of 2017, occupying 47.9 per cent of the total market’s trading value and nearly balancing the outright trading value.
On the listed market, the number of listed companies has increased to 377 in 2017 from 257 in 2009 with total market capitalisation of VND183 trillion and average market trading liquidity in each session reaching VND500-600 billion.
A lot of large-cap firms have become listed on the northern bourse, such as Asia Commercial Bank (ACB), Hai Phong Port JSC (PHP), insurance-finance group PVI Holdings (PVI) and PetroVietnam Technical Services (PVS).
In the future, the HNX will apply the market maker mechanism to increase and improve the trading of listed shares.
Market makers will be able to connect investors together, creating opportunities for low-liquidity shares to be attractive to investors.
In the past eight years, listed companies have raised more than VND69 trillion for their business activities in the context that they have difficulties getting access to bank loans due to high lending rates.
The HNX has worked with the Viet Nam Securities Depository (VSD) and the State Securities Commission (SSC) to develop the derivatives market in order to provide a new product for investors and improve the quality of the Vietnamese securities market.
To make sure the derivatives market operates properly in its early stage, the HNX will launch the first product, which is the futures contract for the VN30 Index, which contains shares of the 30 largest companies by market capitalisation.
After two years of preparation, the HNX has completed developing the facility and infrastructure for the new market and connected with banks, as settlement units, and brokerages, as market members.
Transforming from the Ha Noi Securities Trading Centre on June 24, 2009, the HNX has risen and affirmed its positive position in Viet Nam’s securities market and received a lot of honourable awards from the Government, the State and the finance ministry.
NCB sees major growth from core products and niche markets
From standing at the edge of the abyss, the National Citizen Bank (NCB) has recorded among the highest revenue of commercial banks in Vietnam. This success comes from the determination of its leaders to shift development towards niche markets and also design tailor-made products for each customer segment.
Throughout the recent years, NCB’s net profit has consistently grown at an average of 30 per cent a year. Total assets in 2016 rose 43.1 per cent against 2015 to VND69 trillion ($3.03 billion) and net profit by 90.9 per cent to VND210 billion ($9.2 million), or five times higher than the period prior to its restructuring in 2012.
As at the end of 2016, mobilized capital stood at VND42.76 trillion ($1.9 billion), up 24.9 per cent compared with 2015, while customer deposits were up 24 per cent to VND25.4 trillion ($1.12 billion). Significantly, the bank’s bad debt rate was kept below the 3 per cent threshold, standing at 2.07 per cent of total outstanding credit as at December 31, or three times lower than in the period before restructuring, while loans in Groups 3, 4 and 5 were tightly controlled.
Instead of becoming involved in a race with giant banks, after restructuring it chose its own path by providing specific tailor-made products for customers in each segment. “Trying to win customers from major banks in the retail and wholesale markets would be like hitting our heads against a brick wall,” one NCB Director said. “Major corporate customers have been with banks like Vietcombank and BIDV for a long time, while the individual customer segment has seen fierce competition between large commercial banks and 100 per cent foreign-owned banks.”
Immediately upon restructuring, the bank decided its core customer segment would be most suitable and developed products that would become the specialty of its individual loan segment. In the time to come, “we will continue to design tailor-made products with ‘state-of-the-art’ technology for each and every individual customer, so that NCB will become the most friendly and efficient financial consultant,” the Director added.
The bank’s niche products, such as home loans, car loans, and household business loans saw the highest revenue compared to other products and services in 2016, with total customer loans last year rising two-fold from 2015 to VND26 trillion ($1.14 billion).
From a small bank with only some saving products, after more than 22 years of development and three years of restructuring, 2016 marked a turning point for NCB with the launch of significant new products such as the NCB app for smartphones, NCB Visa Credit Card, and the NCB Priority Customer Center, among others. It now has 2,400 employees and 90 transaction points in major cities and provinces in Vietnam.
During the 2016-2020 period, NCB plans to focus its business in the north while improving customer awareness in the south and in the central region. At the same time, it will transform each transaction point to become a revenue center. After 2018, it will expand its network to the north-west, south-central, and central highlands markets.
It was recently named among the Top 5 leading banks in Bac Ninh, Bac Giang, Thue Thien Hue and other large provinces. Not only gaining success in its business, NCB is also the best bank in Vietnam regarding corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.
In 2012, it established the NG Community Fund, operating as a non-profit, voluntary organization, raising funds from NCB’s employees and partners. NCB has efficiently used the community fund to create social and welfare bridges, schools for remote children, charity houses for poor people, and sponsorships to people affected by natural disasters and by war.
Maritime Bank provides auto cashback for Clingme users
Maritime Bank on Thursday signed an agreement with Gingatum Viet Nam to provide auto cachback services for users of the startup’s shopping app Clingme.
Accordingly, Clingme users with accounts at Maritime Bank will receive money immediately in their bank accounts when they want to withdraw money from Clingme accounts.
Normally, it takes five days to withdraw cash from Clingme accounts.
Clingme is an app via which users will get cashback of up to 40 per cent on their shopping bills from the company’s partner stores. At present, Clingme has partnered with 2,700 stores in Ha Noi and HCM City.
Founded in 2013, Gigatum has raised funding of US$3 million. The company plans to have one million users at Clingme and 10,000 partner stores by the end of this year.
Sacombank to launch three affiliates
Sai Gon Thuong Tin Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Sacombank) will establish three affiliates between now and 2020, the bank announced.
One of the affiliates will be a financial limited liability company operating in the fields of credit-consumer finance services, finance leasing, credit card services and other related services. It is projected to have chartered capital of VND500 billion (US$22 million). The other two affiliates will be a life insurance company and a general insurance company, with chartered capital of VND500 billion and VND300 billion, respectively.
Sacombank’s annual general shareholders’ meeting will be held on June 30 after being postponed two times. At the meeting, shareholders will discuss the election of the new members of the Board of Directors and the Supervisory Board for the 2017-22 period.
They will also work on the establishment of the three affiliates.
Sacombank’s leaders said that in order to serve the needs of customers, the bank needed to specialise its consumer lending services through the operation of financial companies.
The establishment of new financial company would help professionalise consumer lending services and improve risk management, the bank said.
Regarding insurance services, Sacombank has diversified customers who would help the bank exploit potential in the field and boost cross-selling of products, gradually penetrating the market.
Previously at the 2015 annual general shareholders’ meeting, Sacombank’s plan of establishing a financial company and two insurance companies was approved. However, the plan has not yet been implemented. In 2017, Sacombank aims to increase total assets by 16 per cent to VND384.6 trillion. Total mobilised capital is expected to reach VND356.1 trillion. Total outstanding loans are projected to touch VND277 trillion and pre-tax profit is estimated to be VND585 billion.
Korea scouts for investment opportunities in Can Tho
Officials of Can Tho City in Mekong Delta met with a delegation from South Korea on Friday to explore opportunities for enhancing cooperation in the healthcare and construction sectors.
Haeseung Shin, director of Korea’s Gumi Gangdong Hospital, who is leading the delegation on this investment promotion trip, said Can Tho is among their six destinations, the others being Ha Noi, HCM City, Thai Nguyen, Bac Ninh and Soc Trang provinces.
The delegation had meetings with the Can Tho municipal People’s Committee and People’s Council, Can Tho General Hospital, Hoan My Cuu Long Hospital, and some construction companies, to understand local mechanisms and policies on foreign investment, especially in these two fields, Shin said.
He expressed hope that the city would support Korean businesses in building medical equipment factories, and distributing medical equipment and materials. Shin added that they are also looking to invest in construction, building materials supply, and construction consultancy and supervision.
Truong Quang Hoai Nam, vice-chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, said Korea ranks first among foreign investors in Can Tho City. To create an optimal investment climate for foreign firms, aside from administrative procedure reforms, Can Tho has also paid attention to upgrading both its hard and soft infrastructure, focused towards large healthcare and education projects, Nam said.
In the first half of 2017, the city sent many investment promotion delegations to step up cooperation with Korea in smart city building, hi-tech agriculture and education training, Nam said.
As of this May, Can Tho had nine Korean investment projects with a total registered capital of US$247 million, and the $17.7 million Korea Vietnam Incubator Park, which uses official development assistance (ODA) from Korea.
Another ODA project on supporting agricultural mechanisation in Can Tho is being considered by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the municipal Department of External Affairs said.
Four other projects sponsored by Korean non-governmental organisations are also underway in the Mekong Delta city, which include healthcare for children and women; and teaching Korean language and culture to Vietnamese women who wish to marry Korean citizens.
In 2016, Can Tho posted $9.5 million in exports to and $6.9 million in imports from South Korea. The figures were $2.1 million and $1.7 million, respectively, in the first four months of this year.
HCMC requests extra VND18 trillion for key traffic and environment projects
The HCMC People’s Committee has proposed the central Government allocate an extra VND18 trillion (US$192.6 million) for two major traffic infrastructure and environment rehabilitation projects.
Metro Line No.1 connecting the Ben Thanh Market in District 1 and the Suoi Tien Park in District 9, and phase two of a water environment rehabilitation project in the basin of Tau Hu-Ben Nghe-Doi-Te canals are in dire need of funding.
Total demand for official development assistance (ODA) capital from the State budget of the two projects is over VND29.5 trillion, with VND20.9 trillion for the city’s first metro line and VND8.5 trillion for the environment project in 2016-2020.
Speaking at a working session last Friday with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, city vice chairman Le Thanh Liem said the city had thrice called for the central Government to inject more finances, otherwise the two projects could stall.
The Ministry of Planning and Investment has so far allocated a mere VND7.5 trillion for the metro line and VND4.01 trillion for the environment project, meeting a slight 39% of the total financial needs of the two projects.
The city cannot complete the projects on schedule if it continues to struggle with funding delays, Liem stressed.
He noted work on the projects has been on schedule but the city is running short of cash to pay contractors in a timely manner. If the situation remains unresolved, the contractors would suspend construction work, which would entail tremendous losses for the city.
The city asked the Government to guarantee as sufficient capital for the projects by 2020 as required in a bid to ensure they can be carried out in line with contract terms to avoid cost overruns and penalties on overdue interest payments, and bring them into operation by 2020, Liem suggested.
At the meeting, PM Phuc approved a city proposal for using proceeds from the sale of shares at State-owned enterprises (SOEs).
The city plans to use about VND67 trillion in proceeds from the equitization and divestment of State-owned stakes at enterprises from 2017 onwards to fund its medium-term public investment plan in 2016-2020 in which urgent projects will be executed.
Besides, the city asked the Government for approval to use more than VND9.9 trillion from the budget of the State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) to finance vital flood control projects.
It asked for an extra VND10 trillion to finance traffic and port infrastructure projects like the Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Cat Lai Port, and Hiep Phuoc Port to keep up with growing demand for export and import activities.
Challenges facing State firm equitisations
Most State-owned enterprises still face difficulties after being equitised due to a lack of changes in management, delegates heard at a seminar on Friday.
“The goal of equitisation is to help enterprises re-arrange their structure, but many enterprises do not meet this expectation because there are no changes in management, especially for those firms where the State still keeps a 51 per cent stake,” Le Trong Sang, head of the HCM City Board for Enterprises Management Renewal, was quoted as saying in the Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper.
Of a total of 32 equitised enterprises during 2013-2015, only 4 of them registered to list on the stock market.
“Turnover of the equitised firms has reduced 1.5 per cent in comparison with the past and only 30 per cent of them are profitable and contribute to the State budget,” Sang added.
Poor management and the price of renting land increasing 12-15 per cent were the reasons for losses.
HCM City still has 42 enterprises which are seeking to be equitised, of which, the Government has a stake of under 50 per cent in 39 of them and over 50 per cent in three.
In addition, 22 public utility enterprises at the district level face a lack of a legal framework to be equitised.
“The most difficult work is how to assess the value of an enterprise, and we should hire an international consultancy to do this work,” he suggested.
By the end of last year, HCM City withdrew a total of VND3.5 trillion ($155 million) from core businesses, such as real estate, banking and insurance and this year, the city will take its capital back from an additional 10 enterprises.
“Right now, there is around VND2.4 trillion ($106 million) needed to be withdrawn,” Sang added.
By the end of 2018, the city plans to equitise 51 enterprises and complete a management model to supervise State assets in equitised enterprises.
At the seminar, delegates thought that the most difficult work in equitisation was how to deal with real estate related matters in joint-ventures because the legal framework for valuing enterprises within joint venture projects hasn’t been released yet, including the value of real estate.
“Meanwhile, strategic investors mostly pay attention to assets and real estate,” Huynh An Trung, general director of Cho Lon Investment, Import-Export Joint Stock Company (Cholimex) said.
Trung revealed that his company spent nearly half a year to identify the value of real estate.
He also pointed out that if the Government only sells a small proportion of its shares, investors did not want to buy because there is no chance for them to change the businesses.
“Another thing we should be concerned about is if we give a high value to enterprises it will be difficult to sell shares because it makes the return on equity (ROE) low,” he added.
“To speed up equitisation for State-owned enterprises, a legal framework should be completed along with improving staff capacity,” Le Thi Hong Hau, party secretary of the HCM City Enterprises Bloc, concluded.
Vietnam companies go on trade mission to South Africa
Representatives of 10 Vietnamese companies are in Johannesburg, South Africa to attend an international trade exposition running June 25-27 in the hopes of establishing new partnerships.
The Vietnam News Agency reports that the topics of the expo include gifts and premiums, houseware and kitchenware, fashion accessories, electrical and electronic products, office equipment and stationery, and toys.
Citing the expansive and continual growth of South Africa, Ambassador Vu Van Dung said in a speech at the opening on June 25 that the region is ripe with opportunity for partnerships with Vietnamese companies.
Companies that are on the trip include the Thang Long Food Processing Company, Sunhouse Joint Stock Company and Toan Thien An Company that specialize in processing seafood, housewares and fashion accessories.
More than 652 companies from 34 countries around the globe attended last year’s exhibition in Johannesburg to exhibit their wares, said Ambassador Dung, adding that 12,480 visitors from 72 countries attended it.
European SMEs look to rule changes
More European small-and medium-sized enterprises are finding Vietnam a favourable destination for investment in anticipation of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and a new law supporting small-and medium-sized firms.
The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is expected to be ratified and come into force in 2018, while Vietnam’s Law on Supporting Small-and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) was ratified in this June and will become effective from January 1, 2018.
Tran Vu Hanh, a partner DFDL Vietnam law firm, told VIR that Vietnam’s commitments under EVFTA for certain service sector is higher than in other trade pacts.
For example, EU companies can form joint ventures with Vietnamese partners (with foreign equity not exceeding 51%) to provide equipment, rental, and leasing services in Vietnam-as such services are unbound under the country’s World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments.
European companies are also keen on the incentives of the Law on Supporting SMEs in addition to the Law on Enterprises and the Law on Investment.
“Foreign companies will benefit from the new law if they meet the criteria applicable to SMEs in Vietnam, including: having no more than 200 employee contributing social insurance and total capital not exceeding VND100 billion (US$4.4 million) or having no more than 200 employees contributing social insurance and the previous year’s total revenue not exceeding VND300 billion (US$13.2 million). Investors will have to wait, however, for decrees containing governmental guidance on the implementation of the law,” she said.
According to Thomas McClelland, chairman of EuroCham’s Tax and Transfer Pricing Sector Committee, the new measures contained in the Law on Supporting SMEs will make good on the government’s pledge to encourage private firms and create a favourable environment to support startups and innovative enterprises.
The law will benefit both local enterprises-which contribute nearly 50% of Vietnam’s GDP-and foreign-invested SMEs. The reduction in the corporate income tax rate to 17%, simplification of accounting and tax filling procedures, and better access to credit will be a boon to EU-invested SMEs in light of the coming enforcement of EVFTA.
EVFTA is an innovative and ambitious deal, covering a wide range of areas from trade to sustainable development and touching many economic sectors. The foreseeable benefits include tariff removal, lower import costs, trade liberalisation, global value chain expansion, competitive advantages maximisation, and supply diversification.
The agreement is set to bring more business and investment opportunities to companies from both sides, while also establishing innovative investment protection mechanisms.
Nicolas Audier, vice chairman of EuroCham, said that EVFTA will be a landmark event in the relations of Europe and Vietnam, and has the potential to foster one of the most dynamic intercontinental trade corridors in the world.
“But EVFTA is not only about trade and investment, it will also bring a new attitude towards business,” he said. “It will create conditions for European knowhow and SMEs to reach Vietnam more easily, with new cutting-edge, smart, and environmentally-friendly solutions and technology. SMEs are the fabric of Europe and Vietnam’s business landscape, and they will benefit from the new environment established by the agreement.”
EuroCham’s Business Climate Index for the first quarter of this year shows that businesses are already anticipating EVFTA. Indeed, firms’ satisfaction scores have jumped to a record level of 86 out of 100. This positive evaluation is thought to be related to the performance of Vietnam as a market, but also to the coming deal.
Vietnam, an emerging market for US beef
Over the past few years, the American Brahman Breeders Association and US Brahman breeders have been cultivating a new business relationship with the agriculture community in Vietnam.
Vietnamese cattlemen, says the Brahman Journal, are now importing bulls and other breeding stock looking to utilize American Brahman genetics and husbandry techniques on a massive scale to boost in-country beef production.
The Vietnamese cattle breeders are primarily interested in Red Brahman genetics. Most of their domestic cattle herd is derived from Red Sindhi, a popular Zebu dairy breed that originated in Pakistan, and the agricultural community in Vietnam prefers the Red Brahman genetics as they are used to red Bos indicus cattle.
Vietnam is one of the fastest-growing markets for US food and agricultural products. US exports to Vietnam totalled more than US$2.3 billion in 2015, a 357% increase from 2007, which is the year Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization.
Vietnam ranks as the US eleventh largest agricultural export market.
The ABBA and the Holstein Association USA conducted a successful trade mission to Vietnam October 29-November 7, 2016.
The focus of the trade mission was to introduce and promote US beef and milk breeds and demonstrate how the utilization of high quality genetics could help develop the Vietnamese cattle segment.
We don’t do many trade missions, said one of the leading representatives on the trade mission, noting that the case of Vietnam is different. Vietnam is a new, emerging market, and the people there are very excited about the American Brahman.
During the trip, the trade mission conducted an educational workshop in Ho Chi Minh City that was attended by more than 80 producers, key leaders and government officials.
Participants included representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, agriculture departments from several provinces, veterinarians, agriculture engineers as well as large animal corporations and producers.
The workshop was held at the Caravelle Hotel meeting facilities and was highly publicized with national television and newspaper coverage. The workshop covered a variety of topics from genetics, environment and housing to importation procedures and management.
After the workshop, the trade delegation participated in ranch tours as well as meetings with government officials. They also visited the Ruminant Husbandry Centre and the National Institute of Animal Science in Vietnam. These visits allowed them to meet many individuals and organizations vital to the beef and agriculture industries in Vietnam.
The Vietnamese cattlemen are very interested in growing their beef cattle segment, and there is a substantial demand for more American Brahman genetics to be imported into their country, said the leading US trade representative.
In addition to providing the Vietnamese agricultural community with information about the Brahman breed, the trade mission worked to facilitate talks between them and animal science professionals in the US.
The Moncada Breeding Station - Vietnam Ruminant Breeding Centre in Hanoi is currently the only cattle semen collection station in the country, and it is run by the government. To bolster the country’s beef and dairy cattle genetics, the centre collects bulls and sells semen to citizens at an economical rate.
Over the last two years, the Moncada station has imported 20 Red Brahman bulls from breeders in the US.
The first shipment consisted of ten young, breeding-age Red Brahman bulls from top ranches in Texas and Louisiana, including K Bar Farms, Detering Red Brahmans, Broken Triangle, Oden Ranch, 4L Cattle and a few others.
During the US 2016 trade mission, the breeding station made a verbal commitment to import ten more bulls, due to the success of the 2015 importation and the high demand for American Brahman genetics.
In March of 2017, Alfredo Muskus of Santa Elena Ranch in Madisonville, Texas escorted the second shipment of Red Brahman bulls on their journey to Vietnam.
The bulls were selected from top breeders including HK Cattle, Detering Red Brahmans, Santa Elena Ranch, Canyon Creek and Rich Cattle Company. They were between a year and eighteen months old.
World Wide Livestock Express handled the quarantine, and TK Exports, Inc. managed the exportation of animals from Houston, Texas to Hanoi.
It was an incredible experience, Alfredo said. The hospitality was great, and the people were very excited about the quality of the American Brahman bulls and the semen collected from previously imported animals. I am enthusiastically looking forward to working with them again in the future.
HCM City eyes boost to dental tourism
Dental tourism has been identified as one of Ho Chi Minh City’s five main medical tourism products, according to its Department of Tourism.
Every year Vietnam gets around 100,000 medical tourists from many countries, including the UK, France, Australia, the US, and Cambodia, Bui Ta Hoang Vu, Director of the department, said.
Dental care, cosmetic surgery, traditional medicine and acupuncture, screening for diseases, and artificial insemination, which are keeping pace with regional standards, are promising medical tourism products, he said.
But dental care in Vietnam costs only half or a third of the cost in neighbouring countries, he said.
On June 24, the department in coordination with the Department of Health organised the first ever dental tourism fair at the Independence Palace.
“It is a great opportunity to introduce new dental tourism products to domestic and foreign visitors,” Vu said.
Nguyen Duc Minh, Director of the HCM City Hospital of Odonto-Stomatology, said the city has more than 3,000 highly skilled and experienced dentists, or more than 50 per cent of the total number in the country.
With its potential, the city could attract more tourists who combine travel with dental care as well as promote the Vietnamese dental brand to compete with countries like Singapore and Thailand.
The fair also featured an exhibition on dental and travel services and dental technologies.
At the event, the HCM City Odonto-Stomatology Association unveiled a dental tourism club that will bring together Vietnamese and foreign experts in the field.-
Vietnam-Brazil trade up 16 percent
Two-way trade between Vietnam and Brazil hit about 1.73 billion USD in the last two quarters, representing a year-on-year increase of 16 percent, according to the Vietnam Commercial Affairs Office in Brazil.
The Latin American country’s export to Vietnam was estimated at 665 million USD, down 13 percent against the same period last year.
Meanwhile, Vietnam shipped goods worth 1.065 billion USD to Brazil, an increase of 46 percent.
The export of Vietnam’s staples to Brazil in the first five months of this year increased strongly again, especially synthetic fabric (over 300 percent), rubber and products from rubber (73 percent), telephones and electronic equipment (over 57 percent) and aquatic products (43 percent).
The Vietnam Commercial Affairs Office suggested Vietnamese exporters coordinate closely with Brazilian importers in handling complaints of relevant trade associations in Brazil, aiming to avoid lawsuits related to trade protection.
Experts said Brazil is one of the most important markets of Vietnam in Latin America. However, trade between the two nations declined in recent time due to the ongoing unstable politics in the Latin American nation.-
Garco 10 to export products to Japan through Uniqlo
The Garco 10 Corporation – SJC is seeking Japanese partners to bring products to the Japanese market in 2017 and the coming years, said the company’s Deputy General Director Than Duc Viet.
The company will sign an outsourcing contract with Uniqlo, thus supplying garment products for the Japanese brand for export to Japan, Viet said.
Uniqlo products are popular in Vietnam. The brand has 836 outlets in Japan, 416 others in China, 39 in the US and 27 across Europe. It has one new outlet established every week.
Besides, Garco 10 will also partner with Aeon Group to bring its products to the Japanese market.
Previously, Director General of AEON Vietnam Nishitoghe Yasuo said many Vietnamese exporters have shipped their products, such as tra fish, fruits, garments-textiles, foods and household utensils to Japan via its supermarkets.
In 2016, AEON imported about 200 million USD of made-in-Vietnam commodities, mainly apparel products and foods, he said, adding that the Japanese retailer plans to order more from Vietnam soon.
Garco 10’s export earnings to the Japanese market now account for 12 percent of its export turnover.
WB helps Vietnam in trade facilitation, logistics development
Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue had a working session with the World Bank (WB)’s Country Director in Vietnam Ousmane Dione, in Hanoi on June 26 to discuss trade facilitation, logistics development and on-stop-shop model.
Representatives from the Vietnamese Ministries of Finance, Planning and Investment, Industry and Trade, Transport and Foreign Affairs and the Government’s Office, and the WB experts group attended the session.
WB experts said that Vietnam has approved a national action plan on trade and logistics facilitation based on four pillars, including the simplification of customs procedures and professional management, the enhancement of trade infrastructure capacity and connection quality, the development of a competitive logistics sector, and the increase of coordination between Government agencies and businesses.
They suggested Vietnam exert comprehensive impacts on logistics value chains and create favourable conditions for foreign trade.
Although Vietnam has increased transport connection, the country’s multi-modal transportation has yet to catch up with national development, they said.
At the same time, the production of goods has outpaced the national gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate and infrastructure has failed to meet demands of goods transportation, they added.
Statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Trade show that during 2016-2020, it needs about 24 billion USD for transport infrastructure. However, the State can afford only one third of the amount.
Given this, the WB asked the Vietnamese Government to mobilise private capital and credit trade in order to raise the efficiency of transport infrastructure.
The WB experts also suggested the Vietnamese Government assign the National Committee on One-Stop-Shop Mechanism and Trade Facilitation to be in charge of logistics and call for the involvement of the private sector in the committee.
Ousmane Dione said that the WB experts group will give advice and technical support to Vietnam while sharing international experience in trade and logistics facilitation.
Deputy PM Hue said Vietnam is focusing on developing roads and railways along the North-South route without due attention to East-West and coastal routes.
He called on the WB to take this issue into account, calculating its impacts at national, regional and international levels.
The Vietnamese Government will call for the participation of the private sector in infrastructure development and professional inspection over exports and imports under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model and, he said.
The official urged the WB to help the Vietnamese Government with the framework, function, tasks and structure of the committee to facilitate trade, logistics and one-stop-shop model.
Binh Son company receives quality assurance system 2017 certificate
The Binh Son Refinery and Petrochemical Company Limited (BSR),which runs the Dung Quat oil refinery, has received the certifications of top 10 Quality Assurance System 2017 and the Quality Brands Outstanding 2017.
The certificates were awarded by the InterConformity Assessment and Certification and the Asia-Pacific Quality Network (APQN), which are announced by the Global Trade Alliance (Global GTA) annually.
Earlier, the Vietnam Enterprise Institute coordinated with the Global GTA, the InterConformity and the International Accreditation Forum, rated the BSR as the Golden Quality Provider 2017.
After seven years of operation, the BSR has produced and sold 47 million tonnes of products, meeting about 40 percent of domestic petroleum demand.
Its revenue hit 36 billion USD with profit reaching over 13 trillion VND at the end of the first quarter of this year. It contributed more than 7 billion USD to the State budget, more than two times higher than the investment of the Dung Quat oil refinery.
Bac Giang’s six-month export earnings hit 2.7 billion USD
The northern province of Bac Giang earned 2.7 billion USD from exports in the first half of 2017, up 33 percent from a year earlier, marking the highest growth rate compared to the same period of the last three years.
The provincial People’s Committee said the figure is equivalent to 56.3 percent of this year’s target, which was set at 4.8 billion USD.
Most of the export items were electronic products, apparel and agricultural products which were mainly shipped to the US, China, the Republic of Korea and the European Union.
Bac Giang eyes an annual export growth rate of 20-21 percent between 2016 and 2020. It expects to rake in 6.5 billion USD from exports by 2020 with industrial, agricultural, food and handicraft products being its key export staples.
To that end, Bac Giang will push ahead with administrative reform in the customs sector, thus facilitating export and import activities.
It will also promote the development of agricultural brands in order to boost the shipment of processed products such as canned agricultural products, lychees, Yen The hill chicken, Chu noodles, and rice wine of Van village.
The People’s Committee added that it will also step up communication activities, shifting the economic structure, developing markets, and fine-tuning financial, credit and investment policies for export-oriented manufacturing. Efforts will also be made to develop logistics infrastructure, human resources and local businesses’ competitiveness.
Kien Giang develops fisheries exploitation
The Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang is focusing on fisheries exploitation on the back of its favourable natural conditions.
Quang Trong Thao, Vice Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said Kien Giang currently offers fisheries logistics services and builds high-capacity fishing vessels for offshore fishing, particularly those with engines of more than 400 horsepower.
The province’s fisheries output rose from 311,000 tonnes in 2006 to 520,000 tonnes in 2016 and 268,000 tonnes in the first half this year, or half of the yearly target.
Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Mai Anh Nhin said before 1990, the province issued regulations on the management of fisheries resources exploitation and protection. In compliance with the Fisheries Law and the Vietnam Marine Strategy until 2020, the province has amended and supplemented such regulations many times.
At present, the province has embarked on a project to rearrange fisheries exploitation and production, a programme on fisheries protection and development until 2020, and built a major fisheries centre.
Kien Giang has approved the building and upgrade of 75 fishing vessels worth more than 671 billion VND (29.1 million USD), 21 of them have been put into operation.
Nhin said the province has partnered with Cambodia and Thailand to manage and tap fisheries resources, particularly migratory species with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Centre.
With the support of Japan, Kien Giang is developing high-tech fishing vessel fleets, fishing port, modern fishing markets and several infrastructure.
In order to fully develop marine-based economy, the locality plans to step up offshore fishing, fishing logistics services and infrastructure in combination with ensuring national defence-security.
Between now and 2020, further attention will be paid to increasing high-capacity fishing vessels and scaling down low-capacity ones used for inshore fishing.
At the same time, Kien Giang revised and supplemented planning for disaster-proof wharves until 2020 with orientations to 2030. As scheduled, 23 fishing ports and wharves will be put into operation in Chau Thanh, Phu Quoc, Kien Hai, Kien Luong, Hon Dat, An Minh, An Bien and Ha Tien township.
According to Nhin, the province will extend external work to attract more investment in the field, and suggest the State provide support for infrastructure construction on populated islands as well as search and rescue and patrol equipment.
Korea’s Hanwha, BCG Bang Duong ink deal to build solar power plant
BCG Bang Duong Joint Venture and South Korea’s Hanwha Group have signed an agreement to set up a US$100 million solar power plant in Long An Province.
The 125ha plant in Thanh Hoa District will have a capacity of 100MW.
Construction is expected to start in the first quarter of next year, and it will begin to generate electricity in 2019.
Under the agreement, BCG Bang Duong will arrange capital sources, obtain the licence for the project, implement the project and negotiate a power purchase contract with Electricity of Viet Nam, the country’s sole power distributor.
Hanwha will provide the technology and equipment, carry out the installation and arrange international funding for the project.
Nguyen Ho Nam, chairman of BCG – one of the two companies in the joint venture – said, “Understanding the importance and benefits of renewable energy amid rising electricity demand, BCG has chosen to enhance investment in renewable energy projects.
“With Hanwha Group’s experience and modern technologies in the renewable energy field, we believe that [the plant] will [help] mitigate climate change and protect the environment.”
The agreement was signed in Long An on June 22 in the presence of provincial leaders and officials.
Hanwha, founded in 1952, is the eighth largest Korean corporation and has interests in petrochemicals, aerospace, construction, finance, renewable energy, and others.
BCG Bang Duong Joint Venture, a joint venture between Bamboo Capital JSC (BCG) and Bang Dương Investment - Construction - Trading Company, specialises in infrastructure development, real estate and renewable energy.
ABAC prioritises regional integration, sustainable growth
Strengthening regional integration, promoting sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth, and enhancing the competitive edge of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are among the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) 2017 priorities.
Business Advisory Council (ABAC) chairman Hoang Van Dung unveiled this information at a press conference held in Ha Noi on June 21 by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) to provide information on activities being held towards the APEC High-Level Week 2017.
Dung said ABAC’s work plan in 2017 will also focus on encouraging innovations in the digital era, ensuring food security and promoting sustainable and smart agriculture adaptive to climate change.
Regarding the second ABAC meeting in Seoul, Republic of Korea, he said APEC members agreed to focus their recommendations on the benefits of trade liberalisation and development as well as reduction of non-tariff barriers to goods.
The council emphasised the importance of the World Trade Organisation and values of free trade agreements such as the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, Dung said.
ABAC also noted that a stronger global supply chain will create opportunities to realise the huge potential of the digital economy and lenient policies will enable MSMEs to get easier access to international markets and global value chains and strengthen the participation of women in the economy.
The VCCI will also host ABAC’s third meeting in Canada and the fourth meeting in Viet Nam’s Da Nang City to discuss and give business recommendations. ABAC’s report will be submitted to APEC leaders at the APEC High-level Week to be held in Da Nang in November.
ABAC is the private sector arm of the APEC. APEC economic leaders decided to establish ABAC in November 1995 to advise them and other APEC officials on issues of interest to business. ABAC also responds to requests from various APEC sub-groups for information about the business perspective of specific areas of cooperation.
This private sector body presents recommendations to APEC leaders at an annual dialogue and advises APEC officials on business sector priorities and concerns.
ABAC comprises up to three senior business people from each APEC economy. Appointments are made by the leader of the member economy concerned. The chair of ABAC comes from the economy that is hosting APEC and therefore changes annually. ABAC represents a diverse range of sectors and includes small and large enterprises.
Level the field to foster private sector: forum
The nation’s private sector needs less intrusive management rather than short-term policy support, some economists said at a forum on Thursday.
They also argued that a genuinely level playing field is the only way that the Vietnamese private sector, mostly comprising small and medium-sized enterprises, can pull its real economic weight.
At the 2017 Viet Nam Business Development Forum (VBDF) held in Ha Noi, they said the private sector was becoming more crucial for attaining national economic growth targets, but it could only progress further with right incentives and support from the Government.
Ho Sy Hung, deputy head of the Department of Enterprise Development under the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), said that the private sector in Viet Nam consists mostly of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
These firms account for 97.7 per cent of the total labour and 94.8 per cent of total capital in the private sector, he said.
As such, the majority of private companies fail to generate enough return on sales (ROS), since they lack the capital to upgrade facilities and improve productivity.
As of 2016, the ROS for these small businesses was around 1.72 per cent, compared to the public sector’s 6.04 per cent and the foreign direct investment (FDI) sector’s 6.95 per cent.
Hung urged policy makers to take these low numbers into consideration and issue suitable policies for the private sector, instead of just accommodating the State and FDI sectors.
He said he firmly believed in the potential of the private sector, which contributed 43.22 per cent of the GDP in 2016, while the State sector accounted for 28.69 per cent.
In the first five months of 2017, more than 50,000 new private businesses have been established and an additional VND1.2 billion (US$53,492) has been put into circulation, said.
Vu Dinh Anh, deputy director of the Price and Market Research Institute under the Ministry of Finance, agreed with Hung, saying that the private sector must be given the same treatment as the State and foreign-owned sector if it is to drive Viet Nam’s economic progress.
However, he said, small and very small enterprises are also undermining themselves by not taking the initiative to follow relevant regulations even as they demanded preferential treatment.
Anh noted that policy makers cannot give further priority to these firms in terms of rentals and loan rates.
He said the current interest rates for small and very small businesses of 7 to 9 per cent per annum were already normal, and the only help the Government can provide is to make loans more accessible.
Regardless, the current set of Vietnamese business regulations sometimes prevent small enterprises from growing, said Dau Anh Tuan, director general of the Legal Department of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).
He also said that he’d observed a trend in which the larger a business is, the more likely it is subjected to several inspections by different agencies.
Such approaches do not provide businesses incentives to grow, he said, adding a study found 14 per cent of businesses reporting “duplicated” inspections in 2016, while 65 per cent said they’d had trouble dealing with administrative procedures.
Hung from the MPI recommended that the Government lifts the burden on the private sector by helping reduce production costs in terms of logistics, insurance and transportation, and by simplifying administrative procedures.
The forum was jointly organised by the MPI and the Economy and Forecast Review Journal.
More than 300 representatives of various ministries and economic sectors attended the forum.
Fivimart hosts "In-store Promotion for Thai Products 2017"
Ten branches of the Fivimart supermarket chain have displayed Thai commodities as part of the “In-store Promotion for Thai Products 2017 in Ha Noi” programme lasting from June 22 to 25.
The event has been co-organised by the Department of International Trade Promotion under the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand and the Thai Embassy at Ha Noi’s Office of Commercial Affairs in cooperation with Viet Nam National Trade Fair and Advertising Company VINEXAD and Fivi Mart, owned by Nhat Nam JSC.
Along with exhibiting and trading activities through a series of fairs, exhibitions and B2B events, which have been organised to promote Thai products in the Viet Nam market for years, this event, held for the third time in Ha Noi, aims to enhance trade relations between Viet Nam and Thailand, Thai Ambassador to Viet Nam Manopchai Vongphakdi said during the opening ceremony of the event held on June 22.
“Besides promoting Thai products, we also have a Thai dancing show, Thai cooking and fruit carving demonstration to promote Thailand’s traditional culture to Vietnamese customers,” Vongphakdi said.
According to Vu Thi Hau, deputy general director of the Nhat Nam JSC, Thai commodities, comprising of food products, household appliances and fruit, have been showcased at the Fivimart supermarket chain’s 10 branches -- Fivimart Chuong Duong Do, Fivimart Dai La, Fivimart Hoang Quec Viet and Fivimart Truong Dinh, as well as Fivimart My Dinh, Fivimart Nhat Tan, Fivimart Ly Thai To and Fivimart Vo Thi Sau, along with Fivimart Truc Khe and Fivimart Xuan Dieu.
“It is expected that in the next four days, Fivimart will attract more than 10,000 visitors, and sales of Thai products at these 10 Fivimart supermarkets during these days are estimated to increase 300 per cent over 2016,” Hau said.
Doosan and partners agree on Vietnamese market accessing
South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with five partners at its Vietnamese operation Doosan Heavy Industries Viet Nam Company (Doosan Vina) to help them enter the Vietnamese market, the company said.
As per the June 18 agreement, Doosan will provide consulting on administration, financial management and business management to support the partners to establish their subsidiaries or manufacturing facilities at the site of Doosan Vina plant.
It will also enter into negotiations with local authorities to help the partners receive benefits like tax cuts.
The power generation market in the Southeast Asian country has a strong growth potential, as the country is expected to add new facilities generating 100 gigawatts of energy by 2030.
Doosan Vina, situated in the Dung Quat Economic Zone in Binh Son District of the central province, is a high-tech industrial complex with nearly 2,500 employees, supplying mega infrastructure products for thermal power plants, desalination plants, cranes and chemical processing equipment for export.
The company exported $300 million worth of goods in 2015.
Quang Ninh’s GRDP growth sets five-year record
Quang Ninh Province’s gross regional domestic product (GRDP) expanded by 9.6 per cent in the first half of this year against 9.2 per cent in the same period last year.
In the first quarter, the province’s GRDP grew 8.3 per cent while the figure recorded in the second quarter was 10.7 per cent, the fastest pace since 2012.
With this performance, Quang Ninh has been listed among the leading cities and provinces in the northern key economic region and nationwide.
Sectors posting the highest growth rate include services at11.5 per cent, industry and construction at10 per cent, and agriculture-forestry-fishery at 2.2 per cent.
To reach the target of 10 per cent growth rate, the province will focus on drastically instructing the implementation of socio-economic development tasks and solutions set for 2017.
The locality will remove difficulties facing businesses, support startups, facilitate production and business, and spur growth. At the same time, it will accelerate administrative reform and intensify investment, tourism and trade promotion to attract more resources for local socio-economic development.
Located on the northern coast with advantages in location and natural resources, Quang Ninh is striving to tap its full potential in maritime economic development.
As part of efforts to implement Resolution 09-NQ/TW on Viet Nam’s Sea and Island Strategy until 2020, Quang Ninh has applied measures to boost its sea-based economy in line with ensuring national security and defence.
In recent years, the province has focused on building infrastructure to boost maritime economic development, especially tourism and aquaculture.
Currently, all seaports in Quang Ninh have been upgraded to strengthen their capacity in providing services and connecting the mainland and islands in the region.
Some seaports in the locality are being expanded to national and regional scales, including Hai Ha, Cai Lan and Cua Ong.
Quang Ninh has also mobilised resources for the comprehensive development of infrastructure in coastal economic zones and industrial parks (IPs), including the Van Don EZ and Hai Ha, Dam Nha Mac, Viet Hung and Hai Yen IPs, attracting more investment.
Investment promotion activities have been used to call for investment in major projects, including Van Don airport, Van Tien bridge, major seaports and roads, as well as other projects in entertainment, resorts, aquaculture and fishing.
In 2016, Quang Ninh welcomed 8.3 million tourists, a year-on-year increase of 7 per cent, earning over VND13 trillion (US$571 million) in revenue, up 23 per cent, according to the provincial Department of Tourism.
By 2020, the province aims to serve 15-16 million tourists, including seven million foreigners, and rake in VND30-40 trillion ($1.3-1.7 billion) in revenue. The tourism sector is expected to contribute 14-15 per cent to the GRDP.
New department launched to accelerate agricultural export
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) on Wednesday launched Agro Processing and Market Development Authority (AgroTrade).
The new department will advise the minister on the implementation of laws on developing markets of agro-forestry and seafood products and salt; it will coordinate activities to expand markets; and organise the management, processing and preservation of agro-forestry and seafood products and salt, as per the minister’s instructions.
Speaking at the launch ceremony in Ha Noi on Wednesday, Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong said agriculture played an important role in the country’s economy and the society’s sustainability. After 30 years of doi moi (renewal) period, Viet Nam had evolved from being a rice deficit nation to one that meets local demand as well as has enough for export.
In 2016, the country earned US$32 billion from export. Of this, 10 types of goods crossed more than $1 billion in value each.
Cuong said the country now faced three challenges. Firstly, with 10 million farmer households, agricultural production is less, as is the labour, which is lower than that in the region and the world.
Secondly, Viet Nam is among the top five countries in the world most affected by climate change, especially in agriculture. And finally, integration is weak.
The minister said the sector needed to be restructured and efforts must be focused on concentration and sustainability using technology and a deep value chain that is adaptable to climate change. “At the present, processing and marketing are weak, and the processing value chain is not closed because production is still separate from the market. This leads to having to take measures to rescue agricultural products from plummeting prices,” Cuong said.
The world market is fluctuating unpredictably, especially when it comes to agricultural products, the minister said. At such a time, the AgroTrade would play a critical role by closely co-ordinating with ministries, sectors, localities, associations and businesses to better organise production and market in order to optimally exploit the global market, which has a population of seven billions, and the domestic market, which has around 92 million people.
Maritime Bank provides auto cashback for Clingme users
Maritime Bank on Thursday signed an agreement with Gingatum Viet Nam to provide auto cachback services for users of the startup’s shopping app Clingme.
Accordingly, Clingme users with accounts at Maritime Bank will receive money immediately in their bank accounts when they want to withdraw money from Clingme accounts.
Normally, it takes five days to withdraw cash from Clingme accounts.
Clingme is an app via which users will get cashback of up to 40 per cent on their shopping bills from the company’s partner stores. At present, Clingme has partnered with 2,700 stores in Ha Noi and HCM City.
Founded in 2013, Gigatum has raised funding of US$3 million. The company plans to have one million users at Clingme and 10,000 partner stores by the end of this year.
Isuzu launches SPV models
Isuzu Vietnam on June 23 launched its Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) line-up, marking an important step for the brand in Viet Nam’s market.
With the basic structure of an Isuzu truck, special rear bodies can be installed on the SPV, depending on customer demand.
At the launch, typical SPV models were showcased, including a refrigerated truck, fork-lift truck, garbage truck, dumper truck, breakdown truck, 10-door van truck, full-wing van truck and crane truck.
“We studied and collaborated with our inbound and outbound partners who specialise in van manufacturing to create the high-end SPV under the brand of Isuzu,” said Hidekazu Noto, general director of Isuzu Vietnam. “We continue to improve both after-sale services and accessories.”
Isuzu Vietnam will focus on developing a short chassis line-up to serve the diverse demands of the SPV segment.
In Viet Nam, Isuzu has focused on developing and diversifying its products, including light-duty, medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks and durable and fuel-efficient tractor heads, as well as pick-up trucks and seven-seater SUVs.
EVN exports 0.7 billion kWh of electricity in H1
The Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) exported about 0.7 billion kWh of electricity in the first half of 2017.
In January-June, the company generated and purchased 95.7 billion kWh of electricity, a yearly increase of 7.9 percent, ensuring supply for domestic needs.
Commercial electricity reached 84.1 billion kWh, a year-on-year rise of 10.05 percent.
The EVN accounts for 61.5 percent of the total national power generation capacity of 43,010 MW.
In 2017, the company aims to generate and purchase 196.8 billion kWh of electricity, up 11.1 percent year-on-year, and sold 177.8 billion kWh of power, up 11.3 percent against the previous year.
To realise this goal, the group will make full use of electricity plants, especially the Vinh Tan 2 and Duyen Hai 1, 3 thermal power plants, as well as gas and coal-fired plants to provide sufficient electricity for the dry season of 2018.
It plans to reduce the import of electricity from China while increasing the power-generating capacity at domestic plants.
The EVN will consider increasing the sale of electricity to Cambodia and ensure safe operation of power transmission grid, particularly the 500kV North-South system.
It strives to reduce electricity losses by 7.47 percent in 2017, and take saving measures so that the total production cost will be slashed by over 2.9 trillion VND (127 million USD) against the yearly target.
Social News 27/6
Rural transport development helps promote poverty reduction
Measures to promote transport infrastructure development in rural areas and the use of official development assistance (ODA) for the work was the focus of a seminar held by the Dai bieu nhan dan (People's Deputy) newspaper in Hanoi on June 26.
The event aimed to gather opinions of NA deputies, experts, scientists, and managers on the current rural transport development and issues in the coming time.
Participants said transport has significantly contributed to promoting socio-economic development in general and serving agricultural production and rural development in particular.
In recent years, capital sources for developing rural transport infrastructure have been increasing, including ODA. The Government has spent a remarkable amount of ODA capital for rural transport projects.
In the last five years, about 48 trillion VND (2.1 billion USD) was poured into rural transport, up over 10 trillion VND from those for the 2005-2010 period. The ODA capital for rural transport accounted for between 10 percent and 15 percent of the total source for transport construction.
Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Transport Nguyen Hong Truong underlined the importance of stepping up transport development, which he described as a foundation for developing other sectors.
While highlighting the role of rural transport in poverty reduction, deputy head of the National Assembly's Committee for Social Affairs Bui Si Loi affirmed the NA and Government need to continue prioritising investment for transport development, and consider the work as part of activities to promote sustainable poverty reduction.
Deputy head of the NA Council of Ethnic Affairs Nguyen Lam Thanh emphasised the involvement of local people and authorities in rural transport development.-
Hai Phong asked to turn private sector into momentum of development
The northern port city of Hai Phong should make greater efforts to turn the private sector an important motivation of its economic development, said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
At a working session with the municipal Party Committee’s Standing Board on June 26, PM Phuc said that, despite its strong performance in the first half of 2017, Hai Phong has yet to meet requirements as the major industrial hub of the country and the driving force for socio-economic development of the northern coastal region.
The government leader asked Hai Phong to mull over development orientations to deserve its position as the third largest city of the country and develop itself into a green, modern port city, and a big centre of services and industries with high competitiveness edge.
To contribute to the country’s economic growth of 6.7 percent this year, Hai Phong must strive to achieve a 14 percent GDP growth rate in 2017, he said.
The PM suggested that Hai Phong coordinate with domestic and foreign agencies in completing its development planning to make it a leading seaport centre of the country and the region.
At the same time, Hai Phong should continue improving its investment environment, enhancing its competitiveness through speeding up administrative reform, and complete its infrastructure system for tourism, turning tourism an important economic sector of the city, he said.
Statistics released at the working session showed that in the first half of 2017, Hai Phong saw the highest gross regional domestic product (GRDP) growth in the past 10 years.
The total volume of goods handed by Hai Phong port reached 43 million tonnes, up almost 13.8 percent, while total social investment was 23.9 trillion VND, an increase of 22.56 percent. The city’s budget collection topped 35 trillion VND, a rise of 10.7 percent.
Hai Phong remained one of the top 10 most attractive investment destinations with 24 foreign-invested projects licenced in the first six months of this year, while 20 existing projects permitted to increase their investment, with a combined capital of 617 million USD.
The city also disbursed over 3.7 trillion VND as public investment, equivalent to 40.8 percent of the annual plan. The number of newly-established firms in the first six months of 2017 was 1,598, 23.7 percent higher than the same period last year, with a combined capital of over 7.4 trillion VND.
Vietnamese in India, Nepal look towards homeland’s sea, islands
The Vietnamese Embassy in India on June 26 launched a campaign themed “Looking towards the homeland’s sea and islands.”
The programme aims to promote solidarity among Vietnamese in India and Nepal to protect sea and islands of the homeland.
At the launching ceremony, the participants, including the embassy staff and officials of other Vietnamese agencies, donated their one day’s salary to support forces who are protecting national sovereignty at sea.
The campaign will last until September, 2017.
More martyrs’ remains repatriated from Cambodia in dry season
The team for searching and repatriating martyrs’ remains of the southern province of Long An brought home 21 sets of remains of volunteer Vietnamese soldiers and experts from Cambodia during the 2016-2017 dry season.
At a conference to review the work on June 26, the team also revealed that it helped move and rebury 38 sets of remains of martyrs who laid down their lives in domestic battlefields.
On this occasion, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Van Can presented certificates of merit to five collectives and ten individuals who made important contributions to the search and repatriation of remains of Vietnamese martyrs who died in Cambodia.
Also during the 2016-2017 dry season, two teams for searching and repatriating martyrs’ remains in Tay Ninh province collected 263 sets of remains of Vietnamese martyrs in Cambodia.
From the 2001-2002 dry season until now, the two teams discovered and repatriated 4,131 sets of remains of martyrs from Cambodia.-
PM pledges actions to build facilitating Government to voters
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stressed that not only the central government but also grassroots administrations must take actions to build a transparent and facilitating Government while meeting with voters in the northern port city of Hai Phong on June 26.
“The construction of a transparent and facilitating Government must be carried out with actions, not just through words”, he said.
The PM also spoke about the government’s measures to address a number of socio-economic issues of great public concern.
Answering a question on the settlement of 12 prolonged loss-making projects, PM Phuc reiterated the Government’s viewpoint of quickly recover the lost property.
The investigating bodies have launched criminal proceedings against and detained some stakeholders who will be strictly punished according to law, he added.
Regarding numerous violations of the order to close natural forests in the Central Highlands, the PM stressed that the responsibility of local authorities will be clarified in implementing the Government leader’s directions while resolutely preventing violations from re-occurring.
Regarding the fight against corruption, Phuc said positive changes have been recorded in the detection and handling of corruption cases, adding that many corruption cases will be drastically addressed in the coming time.
Talking about the East Sea issue, the PM stated that Vietnam pursues the policy of building peace, friendship, and freedom of aviation and navigation in the sea, on the basis of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), while well implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and working towards a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).
“Vietnam protects her legitimate interests via implementing international law on the East Sea issue”, he affirmed.
At the meeting, the PM also explained policies for persons who made contributions to the nation and the revolution, the implementation of policies on high tech agriculture development and education reform.
He also briefed the outcomes of the third session of the 14th National Assembly and his official visits to the US and Japan.
GCF funds project to increase Vietnam’s climate change resilience
The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) on June 26 announced a GCF-funded project to increase the resilience to climate change for coastal residents in Vietnam.
The 29.5 million USD project, approved by the GCF in 2016, has been developed as a partnership between the UNDP, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Construction, the MPI and coastal provinces.
It will focus on supporting communities vulnerable to natural disasters to protect themselves from the impacts of frequent typhoons and floods and improve their livelihoods.
Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen The Phuong said that Vietnam has an urgent need for investment to mitigate climate change impacts, reduce risks and develop the low-carbon economy.
This project is the first step in the long-term strategic partnership between Vietnam and the GCF, he stated, adding that the country also wants to contribute to the fund and share its experience with other GCF-supported countries.
Kamal Malhotra, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam, said that UNDP is working with the Vietnamese Government on initiatives to strengthen the resilience to extreme climate phenomena for poor people in rural areas, many of whom are women and ethnic minorities.
Vietnam is one of the 30 countries rated as at “extreme risk” of climate change by Maplecroft, a global risk and strategic consulting firm based in the UK, in its Climate Change Vulnerability Index within the next 30 years via 42 socio-economic and environmental factors.
During 1992-2012, natural disasters claimed the lives of 457 people, destroying over 96,000 houses, and caused losses equivalent to 1.3 percent of GDP each year.
The rate of poor households accounts for 23 percent in coastal areas, two times higher than the average rate of the country, which is partly caused by natural disaster-related losses.
Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of the central coastal province of Thanh Hoa, Nguyen Duc Quyen said to cope with climate change, it is necessary to mobilize resources from the private sector in the forms of public-private partnership, official development assistance (ODA) and aid of non-Governmental organisations.
He also stressed the need for the Government to upgrade sea and river dykes, improve the early disaster warning system, support poor households in production and build livelihood models adaptive to climate change.
At the event, delegates also discussed Vietnam’s strategy to access the GCF with focus on the country’s strong commitments to climate change, investment in climate change adaptation and green growth and strengthening strategic cooperation between Vietnam and the fund.
Vietnamese students in Belgium convene third congress
The Vietnamese Students Association in Belgium (SIVIBI) on June 25 convened its third congress to review activities during 2014-2017 and set out orientations for the next three years.
Attending the event, Vietnamese Ambassador to Belgium Vuong Thua Phong encouraged Vietnamese students to further participate in external activities of the embassy and affirmed that the embassy would continue support for the students in the host nation.
He suggested that the association should enhance connections with the General Association of Vietnamese in Belgium to popularise Vietnam’s culture and cuisine to international friends.
In its 2014-2017 tenure, the association gained significant achievements, including sharing learning experience, supporting new students with learning materials, accommodation, travel and other necessary procedures.
The congress elected a new executive board for the 2017-2020 tenure with seven members led by Trinh Hoang Khai.
There are some 300 Vietnamese students living and studying in Belgium’s big cities like Brussels, Gent, Louvain, Liege and Antwerp.
Social investment in Central Highlands increases
Social investment in the Tay Nguyen Central Highlands has increased in recent years thanks to the improvement of the business environment.
According to the regional Steering Committee, total social investment in the region reached 267.6 trillion VND (11.77 billion USD) in 2011-2015 from 40 trillion VND (1.76 billion USD) in 2001-2005.
The proportion of non-State capital poured into the region rose from 38.37 percent in 2006 to nearly 70 percent in 2015, with Gia Lai the most attractive destination.
Central Highland provinces focused investment on developing the transport system and building irrigation facilities in Dak Lak, Gia Lai and Lam Dong.
In 2016, total gross regional domestic product exceeded 151 trillion VND (6.64 billion USD), a year-on-year rise of 7.47 percent, and per capita GRDP was estimated at 39.56 million VND (1,740 USD), up 8.57 percent.
The Central Highlands comprises Dak Lak, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dak Nong, and Lam Dong provinces, with total population of about 5.64 million people and 47 ethnic groups.
1 dead, 1 injured after motorbike crash in southern Vietnam
A province of Dong Nai motorbike driver is dead and his passenger left clinging to life in a hospital bed after a crash this morning (June 26) in the southern Vietnam city of Bien Hoa.
The motorbike was travelling at a high rate of speed on National Highway 51 in the city of Bien Hoa when it lost control and collided head on with an oncoming truck, according to police officials investigating the accident.
Police officials said their preliminary investigation revealed that the driver, Nguyen Van Giau, 58, of the motorbike was travelling to fast for road conditions and was killed upon impact with the truck.
The female passenger of the motorbike was transported to the hospital with serious life-threatening injuries.
The name of the woman has not been released pending notification of the family.
Quảng Ninh coal mining sector to protect environment
The People’s Committee of northern Quảng Ninh Province has ordered the coal mining sector to implement urgent solutions to protect the environment.
Accordingly, the committee has asked for lowering the height of coal dumps, planting trees to cover the dumps and stepping up monitoring of the environment.
Việt Nam Coal and Mineral Industries Holding Corporation Limited (Vinacomin) and Đông Bắc Corporation under the Ministry of Defence have proposed solutions under six groups.
The proposals include solutions to avoid landslides and rocks floating to protect the environment; dredging and improving water drainage system; relocating inhabitants out of risky areas; treating waste water, water on the surface, toxic waste and solid waste; and reducing level of dust, noise and emissions. Vinacomin also proposed recovering environment of some 190ha of land with dumps at Chính Bắc Núi Béo, Đông Cao Sơn and Hà Ráng areas within this year.
In addition, the corporation aims to stop dumping of coal at dumps exposed to Highway 18A during the 2018-20 period and construct conveyor belts to transport coal from and to ports and power plants by 2020.
To effectively implement the proposals, deputy chairman of Quảng Ninh Province’s People’s Committee Đặng Huy Hậu asked the two corporations to share the conveyor belt system to avoid waste, reduce released dust while using the mistorising system and launch projects to dredge rivers and streams.
The companies were also urged to build automatic environmental monitoring stations following standards.
Earlier, households living in Mông Dương Ward, Cẩm Phả City, submitted a petition to local authorities detailing the risks they face from coal mining activities of the Thăng Long One Member Ltd Company, located nearby.
Within this month alone, three downpours have washed mud from the company’s dumps towards houses in the area, causing floods and landslides. Some families have been forced to leave their homes for temporary shelters.
Hoàng Ngọc Chí, a local, said the company started coal mining activities in July 2015, dumping piles of soil and rock 30 to 70m high without any safety measures. The dumps are less than 50m from the houses of locals.
The company often drills the ground for mine explosions without informing the public.
Drop in traffic accidents, deaths
More than 9,500 traffic accidents occurred across the country in the first six months of this year, killing more than 4,100 people and injuring more than 7,900, according to the National Committee for Traffic Safety.
The numbers represent a drop of 636 in the number of accidents, 229 in the number of dead and 1,004 in the number of injured compared with the same period last year.
The dealiest accident occurred in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai at the beginning of May when a coach crash into a lorry killing 13 people and injuring dozens of others.
In June, more than 1,500 traffic accidents were recorded with more than 600 dead and more than 1,300 injured.
Teen survives being stabbed in heart
Doctors at the Định Quán Town General Hospital in the southern province of Đồng Nai successfully operated on a 16-year-old after he was stabbed in the heart.
Nguyễn Minh Sang was hospitalised on Thursday in a serious condition with the wound about two centimetres deep.
Doctors conducted surgery within two hours.
Tạ Quang Trí, deputy director of the hospital, said that Sang might have died if he hadn’t undergone the timely surgery.
Sang is now stable and should be discharged from the hospital in 7-10 days.
Eight weak bridges in dire need of repairs
Hà Nội Urban Traffic Works Investment Management Board has proposed the city allocate fund to upgrade eight weak bridges.
In 2011, the municipal People’s Committee was approved to appoint contractors to build or upgrade 34 bridges in the city. The projects were deemed urgent to ensure traffic flow and safety, yet not all the bridges have received upgrades.
After six years of implementation, 16 bridges have been reported as downgraded. Of those, eight were seriously weak, including Chiếc Bridge in Thường Tín District, Suối Hai 1 in Ba Vì District, Phú Tiên Bridge in Hà Nam District, Hạ Dục in Chương Mỹ District, Gốm in Chương Mỹ District, Hồng Phú in Thanh Oai District, Phú Thứ in Thạch Thất District and Ái Mỗ in Sơn Tây Town.
These bridges have a high usage rate, causing traffic congestion and danger, especially during stormy season. Management units have installed warning signals on trucks’ weight and mobilised staff to be on duty during peak hours to monitor the bridges.
Chiếc Bridge was built in 1999 with maximum capacity of 10 tonnes. In 2010, the bridge was reinforced with steel plates on its surface and a barrier was installed to prevent trucks taller than 2.1 metres getting through.
However, since the Giáp Bát-Kim Bài bus route was set up, the barrier has become useless.
A resident in Hiền Giang Commune’s Nhân Hiền Commune said that the bridge was slippery in the rain and traffic jams struck everyday.
Other bridges are in the same situation. Ái Mỗ Bridge even lacks a pedestrian path, forcing them to walk under the bridge on the road for vehicles.
Phùng Tuấn Minh, director of Hà Tây Road Management No1 Company said that among these eight bridges, some were built in the previous century with outdated technical criteria and low capacity, which failed to ensure traffic flow.
Head of Thạch Thất District’s People’s Committee’s Urban Management Unit Phí Đình Phùng said these bridges had not been upgraded due to a shortage of funds.
He cited Hạ Dục, Gốm, Hồng Phú bridges as examples. The bridges were approved for upgrades in 2012, but these have not been carried out.
Capital investment for these bridges was about VNĐ10-115 billion (US$440,000-5.06 million) depending on the repair levels.
Phùng said that upgrading the bridges was necessary and should be done promptly to ensure socio-economic development in the city.
Fishermen resuced at sea
The Việt Nam Maritime Search and Rescue Co-ordination Centre (VMRCC) and the Nghệ An Border Guards yesterday rescued 17 seamen from a floundering fishing ship.
At about 3pm on Friday the VMRCC received signals asking for help from the fishing ship, owned by Hoàng Văn Hoa, from Cửa Lò Town, the central province of Nghệ An. The ship’s enginge stopped working, water was going to flood the ship and the seamen had ran out of food and water. At that time the ship was about 110 nautical miles off the province’s Lạch Quèn seaport.
The VMRCC reached the vessel at 9am on Saturday, with the crew having been battered by strong waves.
The ship and its crew were taken to the Cửa Lò seaport.
Programme honours Raglai ethnic people’s culture
An arts programme, introducing the unique cultural identities of the Raglai ethnic minority people from Ninh Thuan province, will take place at the Vietnam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism in Dong Mo, Son Tay district, Hanoi, on June 24-25.
Themed ‘Giac mo Chapi’ (Chapi dream), the programme will offer visitors an opportunity to enjoy the performances with the Chapi, a traditional musical instrument of the Raglai people.
In addition, visitors will have the chance to learn about the origin of the instrument, as well as the way to make the Chapi.
During the programme, the ‘bo ma’ ritual, an important and traditional ceremonial ritual in which the Raglai ethnic group pays tribute to the dead, will also be reproduced. Raglai people believe that two separate worlds exist at the same time – one for the living and one for the dead. The ritual is believed to help the dead unite with their ancestors and become reborn into a new life.
The programme will also honour the cuisine of the Raglai people in Ninh Thuan province, including traditional food and offerings in their spiritual rituals.
Notably, the relationship between Raglai and Cham ethnic group will be introduced at the programme.
As many as 20 photos on the beauty of Ninh Thuan province, as well as activities in the daily life of local Raglai people, will be on display during the two days of the programme, which is expected to attract a large number of visitors.
Number of visitors soars 50% during Da Nang firework festival
The number of visitors to the Da Nang International Firework Festival (DIFF) 2017 has surged by 50% in the two months of festival.
The information was announced on June 22, by the organising board of the 2017 DIFF, at a press conference outlining the programme during the festival’s final round and the result of the 2017 Firework Display on Computer Competition.
Themed “Shining Marble Mountains”, the 2017 DIFF has offered a lot of activities to entertain visitors, in addition to the eight nights of fireworks on display from April 30 to June 24.
The festival featured the participation of eight teams from different eight countries – Switzerland, Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Austria and Vietnam.
Over 6,000 artists and actors have also participated in the event. Up to now, the investment cost for the event stands at nearly VND130 billion, with nearly 100,000 tickets being issued. In particular, the amount of funding from donors (including artifacts) is around VND37.5 billion.
According to General Director Le Quy Duong, the final round of the fireworks festival promises to bring spectacular performances combining harmony and light. During the final round, three fireworks teams from the UK, Australia and Italy, who are considered as the "players" in the world of fireworks, will showcase their most modern techniques.
The winners of the 2017 DIFF Championship will be awarded a US$ 10,000 prize after the final round.
As part of the press conference, the organising board honoured the three most outstanding works in the 2017 Firework Display on Computer Competition.
HCMC says to cut tourism services checks
Tourism services providers in HCMC will not have to meet as many inspection teams of authorities as before, said city vice chairman Tran Vinh Tuyen.
The city government told relevant agencies to strictly implement Decree 103/2009/ND-CP of the Government governing cultural activities and services.
The city has fetched VND451 trillion (US$19.8 billion) from retail and tourism in the first six months of the year, a year-on-year rise of 10.3%.
The city has welcomed about 2.8 million visitors in the year to date, up 14.7% year-on-year and accounting for 51.5% of the year’s plan. Tourism revenue rose 12% to VND53.6 trillion, representing 47.9% of the full-year plan.
Switzerland assists Vietnam to develop natural ingredients
Hanoi last week saw the launch of a Switzerland-funded project designed to conserve biodiversity through sustainable trade of natural ingredients following the BioTrade principles in Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.
The BioTrade project is financed by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, a Swiss government agency, and carried out by Helvetas Vietnam, a Swiss-based international non-government organization.
Total capital of the project for Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar is US$4.9 million, with US$2.7 million for Vietnam by 2020, according to a statement issued by Helvetas Vietnam.
The natural ingredient sector has been facing a slew of challenges. For instance, the overexploitation of biodiversity-based resources from natural forests for exporting to low-quality markets like China is threatening the environment and livelihoods of upland farmers, and limiting export opportunities for local companies, said Nguyen Que Anh, director of Vietnam Star Anise Processing and Exporting Co Ltd.
The project pays special attention to enhancing the competitiveness of local exporters and producers, and the livelihoods of rural residents, and encouraging them to apply BioTrade principles, according to Miroslav Delaporte, head of cooperation at the Embassy of Switzerland in Vietnam.
“Over the next three years, we will work to increase the competitiveness of local exporters and enable them access high-end markets, while providing better income and job opportunities for harvesters and producers. By incorporating the principles of BioTrade, we will ensure that, biodiversity is protected and encouraged during this process,” said Andrew Wilson, regional project manager of Helvetas Vietnam.
BioTrade refers to the collection, production, transformation and commercialization of goods and services derived from the native biodiversity in line with the criteria of environmental, social and economic sustainability.
Natural ingredients are products processed from plants, animals and microorganisms collected and cultivated in the wild or domesticated and produced in an ecological way, without the use of petrochemicals. They are used in many ways in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics or food industries for commercial purposes.
In Vietnam, regional museums are a state budget black hole
While museums in Ho Chi Minh City lack the exhibition space to display prized artifacts and national treasures, counterparts elsewhere crave both the funding and technology to protect their exhibits from permanent damage.
Several lack the essential infrastructure to operate or exhibit their valuable artifacts publicly, and receive scarce visitors, let alone appeal to tourists.
Some are unable to employ qualified staff and have made basic mistakes in identifying their own artifacts.
During a recent visit to the Museum of Vietnamese History, near the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden, at 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem Street in District 1, Bui Ta Hoang Vu, director of the municipal Department of Tourism, made the observation that local museums should create more compelling ‘narratives’ in order to make them regular destinations for tourists instead of attempting to cram such a large number of items into a limited space.
Speaking to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters, Hoang Anh Tuan, the museums director, acknowledged the shortcomings.
“While the museum space remains unchanged, its number of artifacts has surged eightfold since 1975 to 40,000 individual pieces, with the majority covered in dust inside a warehouse,” he added.
The institution has become desperate for space to properly showcase and preserve its collection of national treasures.
One of these is the museum’s collection of more than 100 age-old Buddha statues. Currently, only 20 are on public display.
An appropriate area to exhibit more antiques from Vietnam’s Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945), the country’s last monarchy, remains Tuan and his predecessors’ burning desire, as they can now only display around one-sixth of their total assortment.
The Museum of Southern Vietnamese Women, at 202 Vo Thi Sau, District 3, does not fare much better.
Its valued collection includes wartime banknotes, 200 ao dai (a traditional Vietnamese gown) worn by celebrities, and approximately 15,000 war mementos still awaiting their first public showing.
Unbeknownst to most, eight years ago the municipal People’s Committee granted the Ho Chi Minh City Museum, at 65 Ly Tu Trong, District 1, VND3 billion (US$ 130,793) to purchase a collection of 220 gold and silver coins and bars used as bonuses during the Nguyen Dynasty.
Luu Tuyet Trinh, the museum’s deputy director, said they had so far only been able to put a portion of the collection on view due to a lack of proper exhibition space.
The situation is equally grim and even worse in other parts of the country.
A worrying number of artifacts, including some designated as national treasures, have suffered from years of neglect.
Among them are two of the three Uy Phuc cannons, both named Bao Quoc An Dan Dai Tuong Quan (High-ranking General who fights to safeguard his country and people), which were recognized by the government as national treasures in late 2013.
The otherwise cherished items are currently lying neglected in an aisle at Ha Tinh Museum in the namesake province in north-central Vietnam.
Nguyen Tri Son, the museum’s director, acknowledged the risk of extensive damage, adding they had no other choice, other than spending millions of dong (VND1 million = $44) saving the items from further decay.
The cultural facility is currently home to more than 8,000 prized artifacts which fill four warehouses to capacity.
“Our ‘cutting-edge’ equipment includes electric fans and vacuum cleaners. It really makes our hearts ache to see the items wasting away, but our hands are tied,” Son noted.
Nghe An Museum in the namesake province in the north-central region, which prides itself on 25,000 pieces, is in a similar state.
Its centuries-old collectibles from Vac Village, representing the peak of the Dong Son culture that flourished between 700 and 100 BC, lie dormant and at the mercy of the elements.
Several of these priceless cultural exhibits, including exquisitely adorned daggers and iconic bronze drums, currently fetch thousands of U.S. dollars on the open market.
According to Nguyen Duc Kiem, the museum’s acting director, the institution can do little to prevent the collection, as well as others crafted from paper, leather, fabric or herbs, from further deterioration.
Meanwhile, Hue Cultural Museum, located in Hue City, the country’s former imperial capital, in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue, remains ‘an empty institution.'
Established in 1989, the facility did not settle into its current home, two French villas, until 2012, after its directorate had sought an official premise for years.
With a mere 752 artifacts and 12 staff members, only two of whom are qualified, the museum’s regular activities so far include leasing space for exhibitions, and ca Hue (traditional Hue music) performances.
Nguyen Hong Hoa Tranh, its director, admitted that they were yet to hold any exhibitions given the paltry number of items, and are yet to receive sufficient funding to make purchases, which is also a time-consuming process.
Experts, however, have pointed out that even if museums manage to recruit qualified personnel, most of the staff are not knowledgeable about the artifacts, particularly how to tell fakes from the genuine articles.
Commune officials take high school graduation exam
The recent National High School Graduation Exam saw some special candidates, one of whom was Hoang Thi Dong (46), a member of the Women's Union of Hong Tien commune, Huong Tra town, Thua Thien Hue province.
Ms. Dong took her 2017 national high school exams at Kim Dong Primary School (A Luoi town, A Luoi district, Thua Thien Hue province).
According to Ms. Dong, she had failed nine high school graduation exams.
Ms. Dong taking her 2017 national high school exams at Kim Dong Primary School (A Luoi town, A Luoi district, Thua Thien Hue province).
Although not being confident in her answers, she still hoped to pass the exam at her 10th attempt.
"I have become a grandmother this year. However, to better serve career, I still have to try my best to study and get a high-school certificate. Learning is a lifetime job and I want to set an example for my children, showing thema lesson: never be discouraged", she said.
Mr. Huynh Truong Than, Chairman of the Examination Board of Kim Dong Primary School, said that 200 candidates from 3 high-schools in the area participated in the exams. There were some aged examinees.
The oldest examinee was Nguyen Van Quy (47), a resident of Hong Tien commune, Huong Tra town while a number of others were communal-level officers.
New Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism appointed
PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc has appointed Mr. Trinh Thi Thuy as Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Ms. Thuy was former Director-General of Grassroots Cultural Department, under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Noi Bai airport tells airlines to reduce delays
The Nội Bài International Airport has asked all domestic airlines to improve operations so as to cut down on the increasing number of flight delays recorded recently.
Airlines that have been asked to get their act together includes national carrier Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air and Jetstar Pacific.
Figures from June 1 to 15 show that VietJet Air led the list, with 435 of its total 1,094 flights being delayed, or 39.8 per cent.
Vietnam Airlines had 191 delayed flights of its 1,489 flights, or 12.8 per cent. Its subsidiary Jetstar Pacific operated a total of 244 flights, of which 26.2 per cent was delayed.
The Nội Bài airport has instructed the airlines to strengthen their flight operations control to minimise the number of delays, and to improve the experience for passengers.
Houses on farmland in HCMC can be reconstructed
Existing houses on farmland that had been in use prior to July 1, 2006 can be repaired, upgraded or reconstructed with a height limit of three storeys, according to a new decision on construction licensing issued Tuesday by the HCMC government.
In particular, houses built before the planning scheme of scale 1/2,000 was approved by government agencies can be repaired, upgraded or reconstructed but not exceeding three storeys.
Houses that were built after the planning scheme of scale 1/2,000 was approved by government agencies can be repaired (raising the floor, raising the roof, upgrading the floor and roof by using light materials and repairing the walls) but changes to the houses’ structure and functions are disallowed.
For houses inside safety corridors for bridges, their owners are allowed to do simple repairs that do not affect or change the houses’ structure, scale and functions, such as raising the floor and the roof, repairing the walls, and upgrading the floor and roof by using light materials.
Besides, the municipal government allows the management boards of the Saigon South New Urban Area, Thu Thiem New Urban Area and Tay Bac Urban Area as well as the management boards of Saigon Hi-Tech Park and other industrial zones and export processing zones to grant construction permits to buildings within their assigned precincts, except individual houses, special buildings like historic or cultural monuments and statues.
Social Insurance Fund may get nod to invest in high-return projects
The Vietnam Social Insurance (VSI) reports accumulated revenue of a whopping VND500 trillion (about US$22 billion), so part of the fund may be used to invest in high-return national projects apart from the bulk being used now to buy Government bonds.
The organization plans to invest the fund in the banking sector, and some key national projects that are financially viable, said a VSI representative at a conference in HCMC last week.
In a bid to safeguard the fund from risks, VSI has issued a board resolution on the 2017 investment plan focusing on purchasing G-bonds.
The combined proportion of funds to buy G-bonds and lending to the State budget is around 85% of the total by the end of this year. VSI intends to make the most of the remaining capital for other investment forms in line with the Government’s Decree No. 30/2016/ND-CP dated April 28, 2016.
Specifically, the agency plans to diversify its investment channels, such as placing term deposits at banks, purchasing promissory notes, securities, and certificates of deposit at banks.
Bui Sy Loi, deputy head of the National Assembly’s Social Affairs Committee, said the fund has enjoyed higher returns than interest rates at banks, with last year’s average rate reaching 7.8%.
In the coming time, the NA committee recommends VSI invest in some financially viable projects of national importance for higher returns.
VSI said at the conference that the total number of enterprises partaking in social insurance, health insurance, and unemployment insurance was over 208,397 as of end-2016. Notably, 7.7% or 16,085 companies of the total were from the foreign direct investment (FDI) sector.
VSI has earned revenue of more than VND151.5 trillion from the business community, with over VND71.6 trillion, or 47.2% of the total, from the FDI sector. The total number of employees joining these insurance programs was over 8.7 million, with 3.7 million from FDI enterprises.
However, VSI deputy director Trinh Dinh Lieu said the total insurance premium arrears at FDI enterprises amounted to VND1.24 trillion, equivalent to 3.9% of the amount the agency should have collected.
Many enterprises have been late in paying insurance premiums for their employees due to business difficulties; some were even disbanded or suspended. Meanwhile, some companies deliberately tried to find ways to evade or delay their payments for other investment purposes.
These have had adverse effects on the legitimate rights and interests of employees, and social security in general.
Int’l students to learn about Vietnam agriculture
Twenty-six students from Vietnam and seven other Asia-Pacific countries will spend two weeks learning about sustainable agriculture and impacts of climate change on smallholder farmers in the country.
The students majoring in agriculture from Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, South Korea and will participate in a field trip to HCMC and the Mekong Delta from June 25 to July 7 to gain an insight into small farming households and the role of agricultural enterprises, governmental and non-governmental organizations in assisting smallholder farmers and improving food security in the region.
The program “Connecting students 2017” is co-organized by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Syngenta, a supplier of genetically modified (GM) corn varieties. The program is also supported by Winrock International, Rimfire Resources, MimosaTek and Grameen Intel.
Launched in 2010, the annual program benefits developing countries in the region. This is the second year Vietnam has been chosen to host the program.
Enhancing the effectiveness of State management for the benefit of the society is a justifiable goal, but it is also generally agreed that even the right end cannot justify the means. When the means employed to achieve a righteous end causes public disturbance, tough reactions and protests are understandable. That can be the case of a new rule requiring all mobile phone subscribers to have their portraits submitted to mobile carriers to facilitate State management.
Angry voices are heard in local media these days, when the Ministry of Information and Communications orders mobile carriers to send digitalized data of subscribers, including their portraits, to the ministry within one year. Those subscribers who fail to have their photos submitted will have their mobile services suspended, in line with the Government’s Decree 49/2017, effective from April 24, 2017.
Local media is flooded with questions as to whether such a demand is logical or not, what the cost-effectiveness of the new rule is, and why the disturbance is unnecessarily imposed on not one or two, but tens of millions of people nationwide.
Under the decree, all mobile carriers will have to take pictures of those people subscribing to new mobile services after Aril 24, 2017, which is quite an easy job for them. For those people who have subscribed mobile phone services prior to this date, carriers will have 12 months to complete the required data.
Such a rule triggers public outrage, as it “causes difficulties for users and is not necessary,” says Sai Gon Giai Phong. The newspaper explains that when subscribing to mobile services, users already have to submit the scanned copies of their identity cards and other personal data with photos included in such papers, so any extra requirement for them to add portraits is a waste of time and money.
In explanations to local media, the Telecommunications Department under the Ministry of Information and Communications gives various important reasons to assert that adding portraits to subscribers’ data is of utmost importance for the benefit of the society.
Le Thi Ngoc Mo, deputy director of the Telecommunications Department, says in Dan Viet that full data of subscribers is critically necessary to safeguard national security and social order and safety, and protect the legitimate rights and interests of the people. She refers to the practice in some other countries such as the U.S., India and Pakistan, where subscribers have to submit not only photos, but also their fingerprints or even blood samples, all to ensure national security.
Asked about the data previously collected from subscribers’ legal papers, Mo says such personal data, and even copies of identity cards of subscribers available in databases or mobile carriers, can be falsified. A report from the Telecommunications Department, Mo says, shows that as of early 2016, data from over 80 million subscribers out of the total 120 million subscribers were incorrect, as identity cards could be forged beyond the recognition of mobile service agents.
“Without the corrective measures, certain subscribers can make unidentified phone calls or messages intended to cheat or harass others, send spam or even poisonous information beyond the control of management agencies,” she is quoted in Nguoi Lao Dong as saying. As such, the new requirement is meant to verify the personal status of each and every subscriber, according to Mo of the Telecommunications Department.
Such an argument is challenged by the widespread public.
Nguoi Lao Dong, quoting several people, says that if data including photos and fingerprints from legal papers like identity cards can be forged, then photos or portraits can face the same fate. “If mobile service agents can send fake information into the system, they could do the same with portraits,” the paper quotes a reader as saying. Therefore, the new rule only spells trouble, leading to a waste of time and money for both enterprises and the people.
As of the end of 2016, there had had some 140 million subscribers nationwide, according to Thanh Nien. To implement the new rule, all these subscribers will have to come to mobile service agents to have portraits taken, which is impossible due to such a huge number, economist Nguyen Minh Phong says in the paper.
In addition, extra costs will be huge. Each mobile carrier has over 1,000 agents, and if such agents have to acquire new equipment to conform to the rule, then cost will be hundreds of billions of Vietnam dong, says Thanh Nien.
National Assembly deputy Luu Binh Nhuong, speaking with reporters on the sidelines of the ongoing NA sitting in Hanoi, estimates the total social cost may amount to trillions of Vietnam dong due to the new rule, according to the news site of the Voice of Vietnam radio station.
Echoing the point, Lawyer Truong Thanh Duc with the law firm Basico says in Thanh Nien that if each subscriber spends just a few minutes to implement the rule, the total social resource spent on this move will be tremendous, let alone costs borne by enterprises. “Why did the State agency before issuing any new regulation fail to estimate the benefits in relation with the expenses? If the expenses outweigh the benefits, the rule should not be implemented,” he is quoted as saying.
Bui Trinh, an economic expert, also affirms the new rule is troublesome. Any policy before being issued must be weighed in terms of pros and cons, from reality in the society to possible impacts. “Don’t let it repeat the case of a rule by the Ministry of Transport to force drivers to change their driving licenses from paper to plastic, which was later dismissed by the Ministry of Justice as illegal,” says Trinh in Thanh Nien.
Nguyen Ngoc Son, dean of the Economy-Law Faculty of Ton Duc Thang University, says in Thanh Nien that stringent requirements for telecommunications already exist, but unidentified SIM cards for mobile phones are still awash, which is the fault of mobile carriers in their management, while subscribers are not to blame. It is the responsibility of such carriers as well as State management agencies to correct their faulty practices, rather than to place a new burden on users. The first step should be to deal with fake subscribers, singled out to be 80 million as stated by the deputy director of the Telecommunications Department early on, rather than to choose the easier way of forcing all subscribers to redo their contracts with carriers by adding portraits. Such an approach will only increase the subscribers’ vexation.
Chemical in dialysate hundred times higher than allowable level
The test results of the investigation carried out by the Criminal Science Institute of the Ministry of Public Security indicated that the concentration of fluoride in water dialysis exceeds a certain level up to 245-260 rolling causing the catastrophe in Hoa Binh Hospital.
Tests of water used for dialysis showed that dialysate, the fluid in a dialysis machine, has high fluoride concentration; accordingly, it failed to meet water quality for dialysis.
Concerning to the dialysis catastrophe in Hoa Binh Hospital in the northern province of Hoa Binh infecting 18 patients and killing eight others, the provincial Department of Health June 26 decided to continue suspend director Truong Quy Duong for further investigation.
Before, director of Tram Anh Company Bui Manh Quoc, hospital employee Tran Van Son, and doctor Hoang Cong Luong had been detained for their involvement in the catastrophe.
Quoc was arrested on the charge of “accidentally causing human death because of violating career regulation”, Tran Van Son was prosecuted for irresponsibility leading to serious consequences while Dr. Hoang Cong Luong was facing prosecution of violating treatment regulation.
Before, director of the Department of Health Tran Quang Khanh said that Thien Son Pharmaceutical Company in Hanoi’s Cau Giay District is a medical supplier to clinics including dialysis equipment in the General Hospital Hoa Binh.
One day before the incident, on May 28, Thien Son hired Tram Anh Company owned by Bui Manh Quoc to carry out maintenance of RO water filtering system in Hoa Binh Hospital’ dialysis ward.
Subsidized medicine program achieves good results
Subsidized essential medicine program in the 2016-2017 period achieved good results, said the Department of Health in Ho Chi Minh City.
According to the Department, the quantity of medicine in the program increased and stores selling subsidized drugs have been mushrooming in the city. Consumption of these drugs also went up.
Subsidized drugs comprise 21 local drug groups: 176 active ingredients, 563 medications for normal and chronic diseases with huge demand.
Some 12 new drugs are added into the list of subsidized medication, meeting the demand of infirmaries and pharmacies that participated in the program.
Of additional 164 participating drug stores, 154 private pharmacies and 10 stores of enterprises registered to partake in the program bringing the total number of subsidized drug stores to 4,016. Prices of subsidized drugs are 5-10 percent lower than market prices.
Sale figure of subsidized drugs gradually increased monthly; for instance the sale figure of subsidized medicine in 2016-2017 reached VND78.2 billion meanwhile sale figure in hospital pharmacies accounted for 30 percent of the program’s total sale figure in the city.
Tran Van Muoi who is in charge of the program said that enterprises well implemented the regulation of production plan and stock.
Hospital stores even sell subsidized drugs 5 percent lower than the current market price to offer patients good prices. The program contributed to maintain domestic medications’ price therefore.
To have good result, the program has received regular instruction from Party Committee, People’s Committee, and related agencies.
Many hospital management boards adopted measures to encourage doctors to use domestic drugs in their prescription.
The Department of Health in coordination with media, pharmaceutical companies continued to increase information of the program plus enhanced inspection to distribution and sales of subsidized medicines.
Yearly, the health authority liaise with enterprises to find out more drugs for the program.
Overall, the program is also to help to raise participating enterprises’ capability and encourage them to invest in facilities and technologies as well as expand the consumption market to satisfy patients’ demand.
HCMC administrations urges people to strengthen environment protection
People’s Committee in Ho Chi Minh City urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resource to enhance information on environment protection programs.
Related agencies and people in districts, unions will carry out the program, including spreading information of environment protection and raising quality of the Environment Award for individuals, teams or enterprises that have great contribution in protecting environment.
The municipal People’s Committee also asked district people’s committees to call for people’s agreement in implement the regulation of environment protection by planting trees, build civilized lifestyle and keep the living space clean and fresh.
Chairmen of people’s committees in districts will be in charge of keep good hygiene in the jurisdictions. Enhancing inspection is needed to check locals’ obedience of the regulation.
HCMC might install smart pumps to cope with street flooding
HCMC leaders yesterday worked with Quang Trung Industry Joint Stock Company about pilot installation of a smart pumping system to cope with flooding in Nguyen Huu Canh street, Binh Thanh District.
The leaders comprised secretary of the HCMC Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan, deputy chairman of the city People’s Committee Le Van Khoa and agency representatives.
At the meeting, chairman of the company’s board of directors Nguyen Tang Cuong said that coping with flooding in Nguyen Huu Canh street needed a smart pumping system, automatically removing garbage and soil while pumping water out from the street.
The company’s system designed with centrifugal pumps moves water from low to high ground at the capacity of 27,000-96,000 cubic meters an hour. The pumps operating with oil or electricity will be connected with the available sewer system of the city.
Investment capital will total VND88 billion (US$3.88 million). The company pledged that it will not receive money if the system does not work.
Director of the Department of Transport Bui Xuan Cuong said that the agency had collected opinions from experts and scientists about the feasibility of the project. Most of them said no doubts about the pumping ability of the system.
Still, they said that the street has been flooded because the drainage system has been damaged due to depression in the area. Therefore more surveys should be conducted to prove that the sewer system is able to receive water volume from the pumping system. The project should count locations to install pumps and environmental impact.
Mr. Cuong said that radical solution to solve flooding in Nguyen Huu Canh street is to upgrade the street and rebuild the drainage system.
The Department of Transport has assigned Urban Traffic Management No.1 to be investor of a project to repair Nguyen Huu Canh street, part of a priority program to reduce traffic jam in the phase of 2017-2018 with the total investment capital of VND473 billion ($21 million).
Deputy chairman Le Van Khoa said that previously a delegation of agency representatives led by the Department of Transport had visited anti-flooding pumps of Quang Trung company at its plant in Quang Ninh province.
He required agencies to urgently study the sewer system, water flow and pump installation locations within ten days before reporting to the city People’s Committee to decide.
Secretary Nguyen Thien Nhan said that the pumping system project must meet all relevant requirements to be implemented, stressing that it is unfeasible for the city to spend VND88 billion on the system now.
He suggested the company to rent the pumping service with a specific and clear price frame.
SCG & Hanoi FC provide game-day fun
SCG partnered with the Hanoi Football Club on June 24 to create activities aimed at lifting professional football in Vietnam and encouraging youth development via sports.
At the V-league match between Hanoi FC and Hai Phong on the same day, SCG offered free tickets to hundreds of children and university students to watch the game, arranged pre-match activities, and donated sports facilities to local communities.
“Based on the principle of human development and sustainable development, SCG is delighted to partner with the Hanoi Football Club to inspire and engage Vietnamese youngsters in football,” said Mr. Montri Mahaplerkpong, Deputy Country Director of SCG Vietnam. “Creating more exciting activities on the field and improving the club’s performance will attract more fans to the stadium to watch the game and encourage the younger generation to develop via football.”
“As part of our corporate social responsibility (CSR), SCG continues to donate sports facilities, like football, badminton, and basketball equipment, to Hanoi neighborhoods to provide opportunities for local youth to have a healthy lifestyle in their free time,” he added. “This is in line with SCG’s corporate vision of creating better lives for Vietnamese.”
Early this year, SCG announced its sponsorship of the Hanoi Football Club in the 2017 and 2018 seasons out of a desire to support the development of professional football in Vietnam and as part of its corporate sustainable development strategy, with the goal of human development. The cooperation between the two also marks a milestone for SCG, as its first sports sponsorship in Vietnam.
SCG is widely known for supporting regional sporting talent to head to the global stage. It has sponsored Ariya Jutanugarn to become the world’s Number 1 golfer and also sponsors famous Thai football club SCG Muangthong United and the SCG Badminton Academy in Thailand.
Aside from sports sponsorship, SCG leads many CSR projects that focus on human development, such as the SCG Sharing the Dream Scholarship program, the SCG Sharing the Dream Playground at Hoang Van Thu Park in Ho Chi Minh City, and the SCG International Internship Program for university graduates, among others.
HCM City urged to improve transport infrastructure
Deputy Transport Minister Nguyen Ngoc Dong said HCM City’s infrastructure projects had lots of problems during a meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on June 23.
Dong said even though HCM City was Vietnam’s key economic hub, its road infrastructure left lots to be desired and this was an obstacle to the city's development. HCM City must quickly finish slow road and metro projects including Ring Road 3 and the Ben Luc-Long Thanh Expressway.
"HCM City's infrastructure is a far cry from Hanoi's. In Hanoi, all roads entering the city are wide, there are routes to various provinces and the closed ring roads helps make travel to the airport easily. HCM City doesn't have closed ring roads and the road and traffic to Tan Son Nhat Airport is a huge problem," he said.
He urged the quick completion of Ring Road 2 and deal with difficulties in the construction of Ring Road 3 that play an important role in the city's and the region's traffic planning and economic development.
"There's congestion whenever goods are brought in from Cat Lai Port. There's hours-long traffic jams every few days. The damage to the economy is immeasurable," he said.
HCM City needs fund from the government to complete the Ring Road 3 and the metro line. Currently, the city is trying to improve the traffic around Tan Son Nhat Airport by government directive.
He said, "With a population of over ten million, HCM City needs its own urban railway network. Only three million-plus population cities already have metro lines."
Dong also constantly urged the government to give additional ODA to key traffic projects. With the current slow disbursement rate, contractors had sued and demanded the city to pay them interest. If no money is forthcoming, contractors may stop working or the project completion dates will be delayed by two years to 2022.
The Ministry of Transport will prioritise on-going construction and give the contractors funds first to complete the projects on time, ensuring the good relations with other countries and credits institutes.
HCM City to open maiden river bus route in August
Ho Chi Minh City is expected to operate its first-ever river bus route this August to help relieve the increasing traffic pressure on local streets.
After nearly eight years of preparation, the river bus route No.1 is set to connect Bach Dang Port in District 1 with Linh Dong Ward in Thu Duc District.
The 10.8-kilometer-long route will run along the Saigon River and Thanh Da Canal.
The construction of the second route stretching from Bach Dang to Lo Gom in District 8, measuring 10.3 kilometers, is anticipated to begin in 2018.
The two projects cost a total of VND125 billion (US$5.48 million).
The upcoming inauguration of the maiden river bus route has received quite positive feedback from local residents.
Nguyen Minh Phong, a student from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, expressed his joy at the new form of transportation.
“My house in District 2 is only 20 minutes away from the school. However, I’m often late for class due to serious traffic jams,” Phong said.
“I will absolutely switch to using the river ‘bus’ to avoid the jams as well as smoke and dust on the road,” he continued.
Nguyen Thi Huyen Mi, a law student, said she could not wait to get on the waterway bus.
“It will be a great convenience as my school is located near the Bach Dang Port,” Mi elaborated.
Trinh Thi Phuong Anh, a resident in District 6, considered the river bus a good way to ease road congestion and air pollution, and to take advantage of the city’s river and canal system.
According to Nguyen Kim Toan, director of Thuong Nhat Company, which is the investor of the river bus project, the new transport system has to meet a variety of requirements regarding esthetics, convenience, and punctuality.
Aside from providing a comfortable journey and sightseeing opportunity, these buses have to be on time in order to attract passengers, Toan stated.
A one-way journey will take approximately 21 minutes, during which the boat will drop by seven stops besides the two main terminals, Toan explained.
Each trip will cost VND15,000 ($0.66), he continued, adding that the fare would remain the same in the first one or two years.
While supporting the river bus, Associate Professor Nguyen Van Hiep, a lecturer from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, still voices some concern over the new means of transportation.
“Water pollution has to be addressed to maximize the potentialities of these river buses,” Hiep remarked.
“I have been on speedboats and cruises along the Saigon River so many times and I notice that garbage in the water affects the speed of the boats,” the expert explained.
It is necessary or dredge the river and deal with rubbish properly for the smooth operation of the waterway bus, thus attracting more passengers, he added.
Nguyen Ngoc Tuong, deputy head of the city’s Traffic Safety Committee, asserted that dredging activities should be carried out promptly to ensure pleasant scenery for passengers.
The project investor and the municipal Department of Transport should also inform local residents of the new transport service before its official opening.
Junior tennis tournament opens in Sóc Trăng
More than 300 players are participating in the National Junior Tennis Tournament, which is being held in the southern province of Sóc Trăng.
The athletes, aged 12 to 18, are from 21 teams nationwide, including the Military, Hà Nội, Bắc Giang, Sóc Trăng, Lạng Sơn, Bình Dương, Tây Ninh and Lào Cai teams. The athletes are competing in both the men’s and women’s singles and doubles category.
The event will give young players a chance to hone their skills and gain experience, as well as get selected for the national teams.
The event will last until July 3.
Thanh Hóa beat Đà Nẵng at V.League
LC Thanh Hóa defeated Đà Nẵng 3-2 in the 14th round of the national premiere league at Thanh Hóa Stadium on Saturday.
Thanh Hóa started attacking as soon as the referee blew his whistle. Lê Quốc Phương opened the score for Thanh Hóa in the 14th minute.
Fifteen minutes later, Đà Nẵng’s Phan Văn Long levelled the score at 1-1.
After the break, Thanh Hóa continued dominating the match, and their efforts were rewarded with Pape Omar Feye and Lê Văn Thắng scoring the goals in the 69th minute and 76th minute, respectively.
In the remaining time, Đà Nẵng who last won the league in 2012 and were the runners-up in 2013, tried their best to narrow the gap to 2-3 with a goal by Eydison Teofilo Soares.
With this victory, Thanh Hóa topped the ranking with 29 points and Đà Nẵng ranked eighth with 18 points.
“Thanh Hóa showed a different face in this match. We played actively and effectively, so we are worthy of the win. This was very valuable three points, as Đà Nẵng are a strong candidate for this year’s tournament,” said coach Ljupko Petrovic of Thanh Hóa.
Meanwhile, coach Lê Huỳnh Đức said he was sorry for his team’s loss.
“We exerted ourselves. We deserved to have one point. The host team played very well, especially on the attack line,” said Đức.
In the other match, Sông Lam Nghệ An (SLNA) drew 1-1 with Quảng Ninh Coal. Despite not beating their rival, coach Nguyễn Đức Thắng was satisfied with his players’ performance.
“After two months of training, we improved many things. We started well and played unitedly. Trần Phi Sơn played a key role for SLNA. We scored first but were levelled in the final minutes,” said Thắng.
Elsewhere, Hoàng Anh Gia Lai bested Becamex Bình Dương 2-1, Khánh Hòa lost to Quảng Nam 0-3, HCM City beat Long An 3-2, Sài Gòn crushed Cần Thơ 2-1, and Hà Nội won Hải Phòng 2-0.
HCM City and Long An Province to ensure safety of agricultural products
HCM City Food Safety Management Board and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Long An Province signed an agreement regarding the production, trade and consumption of agricultural products for the 2017-20 period.
Under the agreement, they will strictly control safety in the cultivation, breeding, fishing, production, processing and slaughter of agricultural products.
They will co-operate with each other to check and supervise areas of vegetable and fruit cultivation, animal breeding and fishing in Long An Province, which provides products for the city’s markets.
They also will co-ordinate with each other to find the origin of products which violate regulations on food safety and hygiene.
Through this co-operation, enterprises and co-operatives as well as producers in the province will have favourable conditions to access the city’s wholesale markets, stores and supermarkets.
The board and department’s staff will exchange experiences in management and market information to improve effectiveness in production and consumption.
Long An Province is the first province to sign an agreement with the HCM City Food Safety Management Board.
Young Vietnamese scientists present research in RoK conference
The fourth annual Conference of Vietnamese Young Scientists (ACVYS) took place in the Republic of Korea (RoK) on June 25, featuring nearly 100 reports and research presented by Vietnamese scholars and students living in the host country.
The event was held by the Vietnamese Students’ Association in Korea (VSAK) at Gachon University, Seongnam City, Gyeonggi Province with about 300 Vietnamese and foreign academics and students from universities across the RoK in attendance.
Opening the conference, VSAK President Pham Hai Chien said, with the goals “connecting knowledge, igniting passion”, the ACVYS lets young scientists present their latest research and share their interests and experience in biotechnology, mechanical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, information technology, telecommunications materials science and more.
Vietnamese Deputy Ambassador to RoK Tran Anh Vu noted that the 15,000 Vietnamese students and alumni in the RoK form the second largest foreign student society in the country.
He lauded the knowledge and skills they obtained in the RoK, contributing greatly to Vietnam’s economic development, adding the event marks the 25th anniversary of Vietnam-RoK diplomatic relations.
Highlights at this year’s conference were reports on the Industrial Revolution 4.0, Vietnamese-Korean automatic translator Utagger, energy transition and the East Sea issues.
Traffic accidents, deaths drop in six months
More than 9,500 traffic accidents occurred across the country in the first six months of this year, killing more than 4,100 people and injuring over 7,000 others, according to the National Committee for Traffic Safety.
The figures represented a drop of 636 in the number of accidents, 229 in the number of dead, and 1,004 in the number of injured compared to the same period last year.
The deadliest accident occurred in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai at the beginning of May when a coach crashed into a lorry, killing 13 people and injuring dozens of others.
In June, more than 1,500 traffic accidents were recorded with over 600 dead and 1,300 injured.
Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia front chiefs meet outstanding students
The Presidents of the fronts of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam had an exchange with outstanding students from the three nations at the Vietnam National University in Hanoi on June 25.
Opening the event, President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee Tran Thanh Man stressed the necessity for the younger generation to keep the three countries’ traditional solidarity.
He urged the youth to spare no effort to foster their capacity and do together more for their homelands and the tri-lateral ties.
President of the Lao Front for National Construction Saysomphone Phomvihane asked the students, particularly Lao students in Vietnam, to support one another in learning.
He thanked Vietnamese teachers for their assistance towards Lao students in Vietnam.
On behalf of the participating students, La Thi Thu Hue, from the University of Languages and International Studies, showed her pride in the strong friendship shared among Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
She pledged to work with her Lao and Cambodian peers to contribute to the relations’ growth.
The exchange featured performances of signature music of the three nations.
Vietnam hosts UN staff officer training course
A training course on UN peacekeeping for staff officers funded by the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) opened at the Vietnam Peacekeeping Centre in suburban Thach That district, Hanoi on June 21.
The three-week course drew the participation of 24 officers, including those from partner countries of GPOI – Cambodia, Indonesia and Mongolia.
They are working as managers and planners for the preparation and deployment of individuals and units to UN peacekeeping operations, and those who are planned to perform duty in UN peacekeeping missions.
In his opening speech, Lt. Gen. Pham Hong Huong, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army, said the course aims to prepare forces for effectively joining UN peacekeeping activities, contributing to implementing Vietnam’s consistent external policy of peace, cooperation and development, multilateralisation and diversification of relations. Vietnam is a realiable friend and partner and a responsible member of the global community, he stressed.
The course is hoped to equip officers with professional knowledge, skills and experience, contributing to improving peacekeeping work for Vietnamese officers.
Cần Thơ court hears traffic inspectors’ bribery case
The People’s Court of southern Cần Thơ City on Thursday opened the second day of trial to hear the case of seven traffic inspectors accused of bribery.
The inspectors are Dương Minh Tâm, 37; Đoàn Vũ Duy, 39; Võ Hoàng Anh, 35; and Nguyễn Trần Lưu, 40; as well as Lý Hoàng Minh, 32; Hồ Công Thiện, 40 and Trần Lập Pháp, 31 tuổi.
Two other defendants -- Trần Tường An, 39, and Nguyễn Văn Cần, 30 -- are also accused of the same crime.
According to the indictment of the People’s Procuracy of Cần Thơ City, the accused were prosecuted and brought to trial on charges of bribery in connection with an amount of nearly VNĐ4 billion (US$177,700).
During 2013 to 2016, the seven accused colluded with Trần Tường An and Nguyễn Văn Cần to negotiate with some local transport enterprises and neighbour provinces in the Cửu Long Mekong Delta to impose fines for minor traffic violations only.
Transport enterprises and individuals were forced to pay cash or transfer at least VNĐ1 million to VNĐ28 million per month to the above mentioned defendants upon violation of traffic regulations.
In four years, the defendants received nearly VNĐ4 billion from several enterprises and individuals.
According to the indictment, five defendants -- Dương Minh Tâm, Đoàn Vũ Duy, Võ Hoàng Anh, Trần Tường An and Nguyễn Văn Cần -- were charged with "taking bribes" and will receive the highest sentence of life imprisonment or death penalty if found guilty.
On the first working day, the trial panel began a questioning session to clarify the offense of each defendant in the case. The trial is expected to be completed within three days and sentencing will take place on Friday.
Vietnam junior golf tournament tees off
The Vietnam Junior Open 2017 starts June 22 and runs through June 25 at the Bluffs Ho Tram Strip 18-hole championship golf course in the province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, reports the Tienphong Online Newspaper.
About 90 junior golfers comprised of 70 local players and 20 foreigners registered for the tournament, the biggest junior golfer challenge sponsored by the Vietnam Golf Association.
Yen Bai works to care for HIV/AIDS-affected children
The northern mountainous province of Yen Bai has carried out a lot of measures to protect and care for children affected by HIV/AIDS.
The province has more than 2,000 children affected by HIV/AIDS, of whom 70 are living with HIV and 460 at high risk of getting HIV.
To date, over 95 percent of these children have been provided with services in health, education, nutrition and entertainment, and social welfare policies, depending on their age and demand.
All local HIV/AIDS treatment clinics and staff were equipped with knowledge and skills on caring for children affected by this disease.
The provincial Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs guided its sub-departments at the city, district and town levels to implement the Prime Minister’s decision on taking action for children affected by HIV/AIDS, and expand care services for the needy at high-risk communes.
The department has also coordinated with the HIV/AIDS Prevention Centre in stepping up communications to avoid discriminations against HIV/AIDS-affected children and in providing them with free check-ups, consultations and treatment.
The children have been provided with health insurance cards, while those at high risk of getting HIV have received early screening tests.
Since 2012, the Department of Child Care and Protection under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and several non-governmental organisations have supported Yen Bai in implementing a project on connecting services for children affected by HIV/AIDS in several communes in the mountainous districts of Van Yen and Van Chan, benefiting hundreds of children.
As a mountainous province inhabited by many ethnic minority people with limited awareness, Yen Bai will continue stepping up measures to change locals’ awareness in order to make a breakthrough in the protection and care for HIV/AIDS-affected children.
It will also work to attract more financial assistance from central agencies and social organisations to do this work effectively.
Writing contest on Vietnam-Russia friendship launched
The Vietnam-Russia Friendship Association under the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations has launched a writing contest on Vietnam-Russia friendship on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Russia’s October Revolution (November 7, 1917).
The contest aims to highlight the significance and historical role of Russia’s October Revolution to Vietnam’s revolution as well as deepen the traditional friendship and cooperation between the two countries.
All Vietnamese and Russian citizens can participate in the contest. Entries should be written in Vietnamese and Russian with no more than 2,000 words and can be attached with photos or audiovisual materials.
There will be one special prize worth 30 million VND (1,320 USD), three first prizes, five second prizes, 10 third prize, and 20 consolation prizes.
The entries should be submitted between June 19, 2017 and March 30, 2018. The prize announcement is slated for June 2018.
Second ISSF spotlights Industrial Revolution 4.0, smart city
The second International Student Science Forum (ISSF) took place in Ho Chi Minh City on June 22, focusing on the Industrial Revolution 4.0 and smart city development.
The three-day forum attracts the participation of 108 students from 10 countries.
They are set to present opinions on the role of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 in global development and smart city models and solutions.
Smart city services and citizens’ roles are also part of the discussion.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Nguyen Duc Nghia, Vice President of the Viet Nam National University Ho Chi Minh City (VNUHCM), said the southern city is leading Vietnam in innovations for sustainable development and integration.
The forum helps Vietnamese students exchange views and learn from their international peers, he added.
On the sidelines of the forum, international students will visit the Ho Chi Minh City high-tech industrial park and take part in exchange activities with students from the VNUHCM.
Reader's response to 'Do Vietnamese like picking on foreigners?'
Editor’s note: Annie Nguyen, 29, works in PR management. She was born and grew up in Vietnam. She graduated from a university in Australia, and is currently residing in Ho Chi Minh City. She wrote this email to us in response to our article "Do Vietnamese like picking on foreigners?"
We believe that constructive opinions from readers are crucial in keeping us in check and our journalism as open as possible. Thus, we publish Nguyen’s email with her prior permission. Don’t hesitate to send yours to email@example.com.
A foreigner (in red) is seen engaging in a fist fight with two locals in a road rage in Hanoi on June 24, 2017
Dear Tuoi Tre News,
As a loyal reader of your articles, this is the first time I’ve written to express my distress towards the article "Do Vietnamese like picking on foreigners?" due to its inappropriateness and misguidance.
First, you raised an ethnicity/nationality issue that directly aims at Vietnamese – your main readers, those you wish to inform and educate. Whether this was intentional or unintentional, this kind of title will make readers assume that it is actually an existing issue.
Second, there has been a subtly uninformed discontent between Vietnamese men and Western men. The false belief of "foreign is better/nicer than local" has created a trend that draws Vietnamese women to date Western men blindly, without knowing that they may be used, emotionally abused, discriminated and manipulated. Such a lack of awareness not only creates unfairness for Vietnamese men, but also fuels the belief of supremacy (or "white male privilege") in some individuals.
Hence, such a title neither created fairness for both sides nor erase the stereotypes, but it gave rise to a label that Vietnamese men are violent, gangsters and misogynists. The outcome of this kind of article will only make Vietnamese women binding to the misjudgment that "dating Westerners is better", encourage Vietnamese men to stay opposed to Western men and lead Westerners to believe in the existence of this bias.
Thirdly, as a Vietnamese media outlet, you run to serve Vietnamese readers and deliver the news as objectively and fairly as possible. As a news publisher, you are expected to be neutral in the way you provide the contents and make people change their thinking, instead of creating hatred and prejudice.
If you actually watched the clip and reported it objectively, you would see that the woman was also hit by those men. Then why didn't you mention the fact that road rage in Vietnam includes everyone, regardless of their gender, race or nationality? Why didn't you mention that men need to learn how to control their temper and to behave appropriately? Why didn't you mention that public violence between genders is alarming because it is not the only case during the recent years that a man hit/beat mercilessly a woman and nobody did anything. No hard punishment was made, no viral clip has been done, and we women are given 2 days per year (National Women’s Day and International Women’s Day) to take care of our wounds and bruises?!
However, I hereby attach a comment of a Westerner under an article on The New York Times about the truth of living and dating in Vietnam. This is what you should be concerned about, to awake and to raise awareness and also to educate Vietnamese men to stop picking on "Women", not "Westerners".
TUOI TRE NEWS
Large corporations compete for market share in food sector
The long-term demand of the market has prompted large corporations to spend trillions of dong making food, although 2017 is expected to be a tough year.
Kido Group has announced a plan to launch chili sauce, its new product, in August. The group, formerly a sweets manufacturer, sold the sweets production facilities to Mondelēz International last August and jumped into the food sector.
It has acquired vegetable oil, spices and frozen food production companies, moves that helped it join the food market in the quickest way.
In 2016, PAN Group, a business operating in many fields, decided to withdraw capital from two of its subsidiaries to gather strength in two major fields – agriculture and food.
Within one year, PAN increased its ownership ratio in Ben Tre Seafood (ABT), Long An Food Processing (LAF) and Bibica (BBC) and established PAN Food with charter capital of VND1 trillion. All the moves are a part of a strategy to develop business in the food sector.
Other large corporations, whose core business fields have no relation with the food sector, have also expressed their willingness to invest in food production projects.
These include Vingroup (real estate development), FPT (information technology), Hoa Phat (steel manufacturing) and Thaco (automobile).
The growing tendency of investing in the food sector and fast-moving consumer goods, plus the wave of foreign groups taking over Vietnamese enterprises, shows the great potential of the Vietnamese food market.
A report from Stoxplus shows that Vietnamese average spending on food increased from $28.1 a month in 2011 to $61.3 in 2015.
In 2016 and the first months of 2017, Kido obtained the controlling stakes in two large vegetable oil companies – Tuong An and Vocarimex.
A Kido senior executive said Kido would wrap up the procedures to acquire a 50 percent stake in Dabco Food in some days.
As for Masan Consumer, known for its meat, spice and fast-moving consumer goods, has set the target of $2-3 per consumer each month in the next three years.
In 2009, one consumer paid $0.2 a month for Masan products. The figure rose to $0.7 in 2016 and is expected to increase to $2-3 by 2020, which means sales of $2-3 billion.
According to EIU, the total consumption of individuals and households in Vietnam in 2015 reached $128 billion. Of this, the spending on food, drinks and tobacco was $55.3 billion, or 43.3 percent.
The amount of money was equal to spending on four fields – housing & building materials; entertainment & education; transport & telecommunication; and on healthcare services.
Kim Chi, VNN
Social News 28/6
Binh Thuan forbids state staffs to use social networks at work
State agency employees in the central province of Binh Thuan are not allowed to use social network while working at their office.
Chairman of People’s Committee in Binh Thuan Province Nguyen Ngoc Hai yesterday sent a document to leaders of agencies and departments in the province ordering managers must re-arrange working behaviors of all state staff.
In the document, it said that state employees are not allowed to use social network (facebook) in office hours as well as release comments, information which invade others’ personal lives. In addition, employees are banned to publicize indecent photos.
Information for farmers
Local farmers’ achievements are undeniable. Vietnam has gained reputation worldwide, taking top positions among the world’s leading exporters for numerous types of farm produce ranging from rice, coffee, cashew and pepper to shrimp, tra fish and some other seafood. But farmers are not gaining the good fruit.
Sadly enough, farmers for the most parts are still grappling with difficulties, as millions of them have incurred huge losses in relentless “boom and bust” cycles. Numerous rescue programs have been initiated of late to call for efforts from the society to help farmers overcome their hardships.
Live pig prices, for example, have stayed at around VND25,000 a kilo for months on end, a sharp plunge from around VND50,000 a kilo a year earlier, and the same picture is seen for many other types like chickens and eggs and crocodiles. Similar outcries are also heard from farmers growing dragon fruit, watermelon, banana, and dozens of other agricultural products.
Why does the picture still depict gloomy dabs instead of bright shades despite the aforesaid achievements? This question has been repeatedly asked, one year after another, but it seems no one has worked laboriously enough to give a right answer.
Farmers, in pursuing profits, are all ears at news that a certain product brings better profit, and then are ready to empty their pockets into rearing that certain animal or planting that certain crop. Upon gaining a decent profit, they will expand farming without knowing whether such farm produce output has doubled or even tripled while the market has become saturated. After the booming comes the busting, and battered by huge losses, farmers will usually shift to another animal or a new plant in the same way, and the same cycle begins.
The key problem is that farmers are not kept updated on market developments. If pig farmers had learned with reliable data that the market glut was looming large, perhaps they would have not taken such risks; if pepper farmers had known for sure that the global pepper market was reaching the saturation point – forcing prices down from VND200,000 a kilo last year to a mere VND70,000 now – they would have probably thought twice before chopping down their coffee plants for this spice.
Apparently they need reliable information.
State agencies cannot dictate what farmers should do, but they can give advice and good information so that farmers can rely on to make well-informed decisions. Information must be easily accessed so that farmers can instantly learn of market demand each year through statistical reports and get updated on the number of pigs or dairy cows being reared in comparison with output in recent years. Farmers should also be informed of market trends locally, regionally and globally, and all possible predictions on supplies and demands. They need to be kept abreast of market changes.
And, among training programs for farmers, there should be special programs to show them how to access information.
German university aids climate change adaptation in Hue
The Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences under the German University of Postdam has sponsored 85,545 USD for a flood resilience project in the central city of Hue.
Key activities of the project include suggesting pilot investment to improve the drainage system and natural water reserves, boosting women’s role in flood management and training students at the Hue University of Sciences on natural disaster prevention.
Chairman of the Thua Thien – Hue People’s Committee Nguyen Van Cao said flooding is increasing in Hue City due to climate change.
He noted urbanisation is also a problem, as cement surfaces prevent water absorbtion and increase flooding risks for lower areas with weak drainage facilities.
Hue City is 20km from the coast, so faces storms and rising seawaters.
NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan meets Can Tho constituents
National Assembly (NA) Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan met constituents in Cai Rang and Phong Dien districts, the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on June 27 to inform them about outcomes of the recently-ended third session of the 14th legislature.
Constituents raised more than 30 opinions regarding site clearance and compensation for displaced residents, employment, rural infrastructure, health insurance and vocational training, which were answered by local authorities.
On suggestions about site clearance and compensation, Ngan asked the municipal authorities to protect people’s interests in the spirit of placing their interests above others and in line with the Law on Land while seeking solutions to harmonising interests of parties concerned.
Sharing with concerns over food security in face of site clearance for industrial zone and urban development, she said as part of the agricultural restructuring plan, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has zoned off rice cultivation acreage to ensure national food security. The NA also issued a Resolution to guarantee 3.8 million ha of rice farming.
She also explained regulations on lending for hi-tech production, saying that incentives are provided for projects with outcomes certified by local authorities.
The top legislator also answered questions regarding effective exploitation of Can Tho airport, expansion of international Tan Son Nhat airport, construction of Long Thanh airport, and management of information on the social media.
On the occasion, she also visited and presented gifts to several policy beneficiaries in Can Tho city and Phong Dien district.
Quang Tri to complete compensation for marine incident in June
The central province of Quang Tri is working to complete the distribution of a compensation batch for local victims of last year’s marine environment incident within June.
So far Quang Tri authorities have allocated to local administrations more than 679 billion VND (29.87 million USD) for the compensation.
To date, over 618 billion VND (27.19 million USD) of the sum have been disbursed.
Nguyen Duc Chinh, Chairman of the Quang Tri People’s Committee, urged local agencies of different levels to speed up the progress for completion on June 30.
Fishery activities and tourism across 16 coastal communes in the four districts of Vinh Linh, Gio Linh, Trieu Phong and Hai Lang have so far recorded good recovery.
Four central coastal provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue were affected by a marine environment incident that caused mass fish deaths last year. The pollution affected more than 260,000 people who earn their living from the sea.
In late June 2016, Taiwanese-invested Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Limited Company admitted responsibility for the incident and pledged 11.5 trillion VND (500 million USD) in compensation.
Thanh Hoa busts heroin traffickers from Laos
Police in the north central province of Thanh Hoa has arrested three people for smuggling heroin from Laos to Vietnam.
The three residents of Muong Ly commune, Muong Lat district, were caught red-handed transporting three bricks of heroin was arrested on June 26 in Trung Son commune, Quan Hoa mountainous district.
The police seized three bricks of heroin and other objects relating to drug trafficking.
The men confessed that they purchased the drug in Laos and brought it to Thanh Hoa to sell.
More investigation is underway.
Vietnam updates contribution to Paris agreement implementation
Workshop on the review and update of Vietnam’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) as part of the implementation of the Paris Agreement was held on June 28 in Hanoi.
The workshop was held by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the German Development Cooperation GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).
Participants include members of the Steering Committee for the Implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement; members of Vietnam Panel on Climate Change; representatives of ministries, development partners, embassies, enterprises, national and international scientists and media.
Speaking at the workshop, First Counselor of the German Embassy Martin Hoppe emphasized that he highly appreciates the attempt of the Government of Vietnam to update the NDC and start this process very timely.
The historic Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015, is the first legally binding document that formalizes the responsibilities and commitments – through NDCs – of Parties in the global response to climate change. Under the Agreement, countries are expected to submit updated NDCs every five years, defining their commitments in order to contribute to holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C, pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C, and achieving net zero emissions by the second half of this century.
In recognition of the importance of Vietnam’s NDC implementation, the Prime Minister, in Official Dispatch No. 199 / TTg-QHQT dated 8 February 2017 and at the 8th meeting session of the National Committee on Climate Change on 18 May 2017, assigned MONRE to cooperate with other ministries, sectors and stakeholders to review and update Vietnam’s NDC.
The workshop aims to build a consultative NDC review process on the content, roadmap and roles of key stakeholders in reviewing and updating the NDC from now to 2020.
Through this, Vietnam aims to apply a holistic approach in reviewing commitments from each sector as well as to evaluate its related impacts to the economy as a whole. The process will also explore opportunities to identify synergies and co-benefits of mitigation and adaptation measures across sectors, which is key to ensure ambitious and effective climate actions in Vietnam.
“NDC is a national contribution, and requires careful consideration by all major contributors and ensures transparency in the process of implementation.
vietnam updates contribution to paris agreement implementation hinh 1 The stakeholders should understand what their contributions are; what to prepare to implement; what responsibilities they need to do after NDC is approved,” said Vice Minister Vo Tuan Nhan.
He also called for close cooperation and support from all ministries, local agencies, development partners and other related stakeholders to this important process of reviewing and updating NDC, which will complete by 2020 before COP 26.
Toyota Vietnam starts football camp for kids
Thirty best young players will take part in the Toyota Junior Football Clinic & Camp 2017 in Ho Chi Minh City from July 30 to August 6.
They were selected after four qualifying rounds in HCM City, Danang, ThanhHoa and Hanoi. The list of the young footballers is updated on website www.toyotavn.com.vn or Facebook www.facebook.com/toyotavnsports.
toyota vietnam starts football camp for kids hinh 1 After the training, 18 best footballers will be chosen for a Japan trip on August 23 – 29. During the trip, they will take part in the Toyota Junior Football Cup with Toyota teams from Thailand and Japan, visit famous tourist attractions in the sunrise country and study its special and unique culture.
This year, Toyota Vietnam also offers scholarships to five outstanding young footballers. They will join a training course provided by football clubs in four big cities in Vietnam for one year. The move aims to nurture and develop talented future footballers.
Activities highlight Central Highlands' culture
A wide variety of activities will be held at the Vietnam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism in Dong Mo, Son Tay district, Hanoi throughout the entire month of July to introduce the unique cultural identities of the ethnic minority groups from the Central Highlands region.
The highlight of the programme will be an arts exchange programme featuring folk songs and dances performed by ethnic minority people who are living at the village as well as songs praising the beauty of the Central Highlands region.
In addition, activities displaying and introducing Central Highland traditional musical instruments, including gongs, T’rung and K’rong put (local traditional bamboo xylophones), will be expected to attract a large number of visitors.
A training course will be organised at the Khmer people’s pagoda, offering an opportunity for children to play as well as learn about beautiful things in life, filial piety and human virtue.
A requiem for martyrs who sacrificed their lives for national independence and freedom will also be held at the village, as part of activities to mark the 70th anniversary of War Invalids' and Martyrs' Day (July 27, 1947-2017).
The daily life and the process of making traditional handicrafts of ethnic minority groups, including Tay, Muong, Dao, Kho Mu, Ta Oi, E De and Khmer, will be reproduced during the month, highlighting the unique cultural identities of the region.
Visitors will also have a chance to enjoy traditional cuisine and folk art as well as join folk games of ethnic minorities.
On the occasion, 21 sovereignty rocks and a photo exhibition will be displayed to affirm Vietnam’s dominion over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spartly) archipelagos. In addition, a photo exhibition will be held featuring the beauty of the Central Highlands.
Project helps disabled children in Quang Binh
Over 650 children with disabilities have had access to early detection, intervention and inclusive education services during a three-year project in central Quang Binh province.
These children, who are at kindergarten and primary school ages, were helped to integrate into society and unblock their potentials, according to a workshop to review the results of the project “Early Identification and Inclusive Education for Children with Disabilities in Quang Binh province” in the locality on June 27.
The project was carried out in nine communes of Le Thuy and Quang Trach districts and Dong Hoi city under the joint effort of Switzerland-based Caritas and the provincial People’s Committee.
Launched in September 2014, the project has achieved positive results in all three components – healthcare, education and community’s awareness improvement.
It has not only given rehabilitation equipment, wheelchairs, and hearing aids to children with disabilities but also provided training for medical workers and teachers.
The project’s management board took the occasion to honour six organisations for their contributions to the project.-
Tourist arrivals to Khanh Hoa rise by 22 percent
The central coastal province of Khanh Hoa welcomed more than 2.6 million tourists in the first half of 2017, up 22 percent from the same period last year, earning more than 7.5 trillion VND (330 million USD) in revenue.
International arrivals rose by 180 percent year-on-year to 949,000 and average length of stay also increased by 90 percent to 3.3 days.
The number of foreign visitors from China and Russian jumped by 263 percent and 248 percent, respectively, while tourists from Japan, the US, the UK, Canada, France and German decreased.
Khanh Hoa and its resort city Nha Trang are among the country’s most popular destinations thanks to beautiful beaches and islands alongside friendly locals, the safe environment and affordable prices.
This year, the province hosted several international and national events, notably the first 2017 APEC Senior Officials Meeting, Nha Trang – Khanh Hoa Beach Festival and the Ponagar Temple Festival.
According to the People’s Committee of Khanh Hoa, the locality is working to improve local services by upgrading infrastructures and adding more tourism products.
Dak Nong: More than 2.2 trillion VND for power grid development
The Central Highlands province of Dak Nong will spend more than 2.2 trillion VND (96.8 million USD) to upgrade the provincial power transmission grid under the local power development plan until 2025.
The money will come from the power sector, the state budget, the provincial budget and from organisations and individuals.
By the end of 2025, the province aims to build nearly 650 medium-voltage transmission lines and more than 1,400 kilometres of low-voltage transmission lines.
Some 1,000 medium-voltage power stations with total capacity of 130,000 kVA will be constructed while 660 hectares will be used to construct power facilities in the next eight years.
Dak Nong province is a sparsely populated locality with poorer infrastructure than other localities in the region.
Socio-economic development has driven demand for power in the locality, particularly in urban areas and large industrial zones. In addition, expanding the power grid system to remote locations inhabited by ethnic minority groups will help ensure economic development and national security.
Long An sets aside nearly 750 million USD for water work construction
The Mekong Delta province of Long An plans to invest more than 17 trillion VND (748 million USD) by 2030, or some 1.21 trillion VND (53.2 million USD) each year on average, to construct water works to supply clean water to the localit’s entire 1.5 million population.
The investment will be sourced from the State budget, official development assistance (ODA) and other foreign-funded capital as well as private firms.
The province will build 35 water works in 15 districts, towns and Tan An city at a total cost of about 13 trillion VND, along with 200 rural water plants at more than 4 trillion VND.
As part of efforts to provide clean water to all locals by 2030, Long An will encourage the private sector to invest in the water supply by providing them with preferential policies.
Long An will allow the use of natural rivers for plants using surface water, while helping investors exploit underground water. The province will also support enterprises in land use and capital access.
Currently, about 20 percent of people in Long An have accessed clean water. The province has been allocated about 200 billion VND each year for water work construction, while private firms have invested about 100 billion each year to the water supply sector, mostly in Can Duoc and Can Giuoc rural districts.
Soc Trang inaugurates hi-tech water supply station
The Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang inaugurated its modern water supply station on June 26.
The station cost to build 5.9 billion VND (about 259,630 USD). Of which, three billion VND (132,000 USD) was sourced from the Central Vietnam Disaster Prevention Support Fund and the rest was from the local budget and social resources.
The station has an operational capacity of 240 cubic metres daily. With a 7,400 metres long pipeline, it will provide clean water to 410 households in Tong Cang hamlet, Tran De district. To date, 173 household have access to clean water from the station.
Tran De district of Soc Trang was among localities hit hardest by drought and saline intrusion in 2016.
The station is the first in Soc Trang province to apply reverse osmosis technology which uses saltwater to produce clean water meeting Health Ministry standards.
Le Van Hieu, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee stressed the water station is expected to meet demand of people living in dry localities, contributing to building new style rural areas.
World Anti-Drug Day marked in Vietnam
Activities to mobilize the public to help drug-rehabilitated people re-integrate into the community are underway across Vietnam to mark World Anti-Drugs Day, June 26.
Vietnam’s National Anti-Drug Day is also observed on this occasion.
Da Nang city has introduced drug rehabilitation model which involves support from the community and families of drug addicts.
After one year of implementing the model, more than 300 drug users have re-integrated into the community.
Ms Nguyen Thi Thuan, Head of the Hoa Hai Communal Women's Association in Da Nang, said, “There are certain difficulties because drug addicts tend to be reckless. We should sympathize with them to change them.”
The B93 post-rehabilitation club in Mai Dich ward, Hanoi, was set up in 2005.
It helps drug addicts give up drugs and create a good environment for them. The club also helps them get loans to start a business.
Le Minh Xu, Head of the Club, said, “Most of the club members are poor. We asked the communal administration to loan them money to do business. In the beginning, many families hesitated to meet us to talk about their problems. I just want to help them.”
Ba Ria Vung Tau province has approved a project to provide free consultancy and treatment for drug addicts.
Other localities have continued mobilizing resources to help drug users rehabilitate themselves and reintegrate into the community.
Vietnam women footballers rise in world ranking
Vietnam women’s national football team moved up one spot to finish No 32 with 1644 points in the world ranking for the second quarter of 2017.
Vietnam ranks 7th in Asia, followed by Japan, Australia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, China, the Republic of Korea and Thailand.
The team is currently in training in Hanoi to prepare for the upcoming SEA Games 29 in Malaysia.
Globally, the US ranks 1st in the list, followed by Germany in second place and France in third position.
Undersea internet cable out of action for another three weeks
International internet connections in Vietnam are likely to remain slow for another three weeks with repair work to a major internet cable which broke off central Vietnam last week expected to take until July 14, a service provider said.
The source told Vietnam News Agency that repair work on the Asia Pacific Gateway won't start until July 3 and is expected to take 10 days. The cable should be fully reconnected by July 14, depending on the extent of the problem, said the representative.
The cable snapped on Tuesday afternoon about 125 kilometers off the coast of Da Nang.
Service providers such as Viettel and VNPT said they have prepared contingency routes to minimize downtime.
No announcement on the cause of the problem has been made.
The cable was officially launched on January 3, but was quickly hit by a technical problem that took two weeks to fix.
The cable cost US$450 million and has a capacity of more than 54 Tbps, promising to double internet speeds in Vietnam and ease reliance on the notorious Asia America Gateway, which has ruptured or been shut down for maintenance on numerous occasions since 2011.
The new system took four years to build, and links Japan with Hong Kong, mainland China, Malaysia, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Nearly 49 million people in Vietnam, or more than half of the country’s population, are online.
World leading orthopaedic expert transfers technologies to Hanoi’s hospital
Well-known US paediatric orthopaedic surgeon, Professor Stuart L. Weinstein, has conducted free consultations and screenings for children with scoliosis at the Hanoi-based Vietnam-Germany Friendship Hospital.
At the same time, Prof. Stuart Weinstein, who is former president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and head of the Orthopaedic Surgery Department under the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, also briefed Vietnamese doctors on the latest knowledge in relation to paediatric chiropractic treatment.
According to Dr Dinh Ngoc Son, head of the Spinal Surgery Department of Hanoi hospital, if spinal diseases are not promptly treated, patients are more susceptible to serious damage or injury, resulting in severe consequences such as paralysis of the limbs or the whole body, causing a major disadvantage to their lives and making a burden for their families and society.
For that reason, examination and treatment is very important as the rate of children with scoliosis in Vietnam is quite high.
In cooperation between the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons with Vietnam Orthopaedic Association and the Vietnam-Germany Hospital, from 2012 to present, Prof. Stuart Weinstein has directly operated on over 100 children with complicated spinal anomalies and offered free medical screenings to hundreds of other paediatric patients.
Thanks to his support, spinal deformities have been detected and prevented, such as scoliosis, kyphosis and other spinal cord defects.
Prof. Tran Binh Giang, Director of Vietnam-Germany Hospital, said that the sharing of knowledge and the latest skills in spinal specialisation is essential to help doctors improve their professional qualifications and meeting treatment requirements for patients.
Prof. Stuart Weinstein visit to Vietnam not only helps to improve treatment for patients, but also helps domestic surgeons improve their skills, contributing to the development of children's spine surgery in Vietnam, said Assoc. Prof. Nguyen Van Thach, President of the Vietnamese Orthopaedic Association cum Vice President of Southeast Asia Orthopaedic Association.
This is also a very important issue because the field of spinal surgery in Vietnam is still new and error-prone, added Assoc. Prof. Thach.
CPV delegation attends Mexican Labour Party’s congress
The Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and Vietnamese people will always stand side by side with the fraternal Labour Party (PT) of Mexico in the common struggle for peace, stability, national independence, democracy and social progress, said a CPV official.
In his speech delivered at the PT’s 10th Congress held in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, from June 24-27, Deputy Chief of the CPV Central Committee Office Le Quang Vinh commended the cooperation and friendship between the two parties in recent years.
The two sides signed various cooperation agreements and achieved positive outcomes in communications, training and agriculture, thus helping to enhance mutual understanding, friendship and solidarity between the Vietnamese and Mexican people, Vinh noted.
The official took this occasion to thank the PT and Mexican people for their great support to and unity with Vietnam over the past years.
Vinh conveyed a congratulatory message from the CPV Central Committee and expressed his belief that the congress will open up a new period for the PT.
On the sideline of the congress, the Vietnamese delegation had a meeting with PT’s General Secretary Alberto Anaya, who said that the presence of the Vietnamese delegates at the event showed the CPV’s solidarity with and support to the PT as the two parties are celebrating the 20th founding anniversary of relations.
Anaya spoke highly of the achievements made by the Vietnamese Party and people during 30 years of reform, considering them as encouragements to the PT. He also hoped for stronger friendly and cooperative ties between the two parties and the people of Mexico and Vietnam.
While in Mexico, the Vietnamese delegation also held separated meetings with participating international delegations, visited the Vietnam Embassy in Mexico and laid wreaths at a monument of late President Ho Chi Minh in Mexico City.
Shipbuilders asked to fix substandard steel fishing boats
Two shipbuilders were found to be violating shipbuilding contracts, delivering dozens of substandard steel fishing vessels to fishermen in central Bình Định Province.
Under the Government Decree 67 dated July 7, 2014 on fisheries sector development policies, shipowners building steel vessels with total main engine capacity between 400CV and 800CV can borrow from commercial banks a sum of money that does not exceed 90 per cent of the total investment in the building of the ships.
The interest rate is 7 per cent per year, of which shipowners are required to pay 2 per cent per year, while the State budget will subsidise 5 per cent. Many fishermen who received loans from commercial banks to buy steel ships built under the decree have complained about the poor quality of these ships, saying they continued to face malfunctions and were forced to make repairs.
In central Bình Định Province, 18 steel fishing ships were found to be of substandard quality, of which 13 were built by Nam Triệu One Member Ltd Company and five were built by Đại Nguyên Dương Shipbuilding Company.
According to examination by the province’s agriculture department, the ships suffered from frequent breakdowns and degradation.
In particular, main engines on nine ships built by the Nam Triệu company were broken, while the power supply machines on three other ships were working intermittently. Shipowners reported that under contracts signed with the companies, materials to build the ships were to be made in Japan or the Republic of Korea, but in reality they were made in China.
To re-examine the steel fishing boats after problems were detected, Bình Định Province People’s Committee early this month established a specialised team.
At a meeting with the provincial leaders, relevant agencies, shipbuilders and shipowners, the team asked the two shipbuilders to replace substandard vessel shells with shells regulated under the contracts on design, material, origin, instruction for use and maintenance.
Nam Triệu Company was asked to replace 10 major engines in a vessel built for a shipowner named Trần Đình Sơn as the current engines were unsuitable.
Vice chairman of the province’s People’s Committee Trần Đình Châu said all the substandard steel fishing boats must be fixed by the end of next month.
The two ship builders were responsible for repairing, covering the repair cost and compensating ship owners since the vessels were undergoing repairs and could therefore not be used for fishing, Châu said.
The provincial People’s Committee would recommend Central agencies and banks to allow owners of substandard fishing vessels to delay returning loans and interest, Châu said.
Colonel Trần Huy Giáp, vice director of the province’s police department, said the police would continue investigating economic violations related to the shipbuilders as they violated economic shipbuilding contracts, resulting in poor quality fishing vessels.
Trần Văn Hương, vice chairman of Phù Cát District People’s Committee said the new vessels experienced problems after being used for just a year, which caused losses for shipowners and left many fishermen without a job, thus affecting their livelihood.
He asked for compensation from the shipbuilders.
According to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, by the end of last year, there were 771 new steel fishing ships being built under the decree, most of which are in good condition.
Political-military conference lays out tasks for army
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defence to continue effectively implement the national protection strategy in the new situation.
The government leader made the request at a political-military conference for the entire army in Hanoi on June 27, which reviewed the performance of military and national defence tasks in the first six months of 2017 and lay out missions for the second half of the year.
PM Phuc pointed out other short-term tasks for the entire army such as improving the institution-building and forecasting work, bettering training quality, combat capacity and preparedness, and effectively carrying out the Politburo’s Resolution No. 06-NQ/TW on building and developing the national defence industry until 2020 and beyond.
He also emphasised the need for the army to pay more heed to mass mobilisation activities, defence diplomacy and international integration.
PM Phuc also affirmed that, in any circumstance, the Party, State and people always support the army and create the best possible conditions for the army to fulfil its tasks.
A report delivered at the conference showed that in the first half of 2017, the Central Military Commission and the Defence Ministry instructed military agencies and units to realise Resolutions of the 12th National Party Congress and the 10th Congress of the Army Party Organisation on military tasks, national defence and Party building in the army.
Apart from giving advices to the Party and State as well as local Party Committees and administrations on issues regarding military, national defence and defence policy, the army has teamed up with the police and other forces to timely deal with circumstances to firmly protect national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as the nation’s land border, sea and airspace security.
Regular army units have also closely coordinated with local armed forces in overcoming natural disaster consequences, conducting search and rescue activities and clearing bombs and mines left from the war.
Efforts have also been made to prevent degradation in political ideology, morality and lifestyle as well as manifestations of internal “self-evolution” and “self-transformation.”
In the next six months, the Military Party Commission and the Defence Ministry will bring into full play the achievements while preventing all “peaceful evolution” schemes.
The focal tasks are to improve training, combat preparedness and discipline compliance, help people with poverty reduction and socio-economic development, building new-style rural and civilised urban areas, dealing with consequences of wars, natural disasters and diseases and combating crimes and smuggling.
At the same time, the army will participate in the UN peace-keeping operations and build up a regular, elite and modern revolutionary army to firmly safeguard the nation in the new period.
HCM City launches digital traffic app
Commuters can now plan their routes to avoid getting stuck in HCM City’s congestion hotspots as the city’s Transport Department has announced the launch of a digital traffic app aimed at informing commuters of traffic congestion.
The move aims to curb the worsening traffic congestion in the southern metropolis.
To access the free-of-charge app, users can visit www.giaothong.hochiminhcity.gov.vn on their computers or smart phones or download the ‘TTGT Tp. Ho Chi Minh’ app on Android smart phones.
According to Tran Quang Lam, deputy director of the city’s Transport Department, the website, which is designed with four key functions, operate using data collected from the city’s traffic cameras and other sources.
The app provides recommendations for the most appropriate route for commuters to reach their destination, helping them to avoid certain streets with serious gridlock or where accidents have happened.
The application updates its users on traffic situations at specific times, including the volume of traffic, speed of vehicles, and traffic flow images at congested hotspots across the city (by more than 300 cameras operated by the department).
The app also provides other useful information on streets such as the allowed speed of vehicles on specific streets, parking locations, streets which allow parking with fees and public restrooms.
During the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, which begins this week, citizens will also be informed where local festivals are organised.
The website is equipped with a tool to receive feedback or reports from the city’s residents on any issues regarding road infrastructure.
The digital map will be accessible 24/7, according to Lam.
Le Van Khoa, vice chairman of the city’s People’s Committee, highly appreciated the transport department’s efforts in applying IT in curbing traffic congestion, contributing to building a smart city.
Traffic congestion has become one of the most serious problems in the country’s large cities like HCM City and Ha Noi.
With a population of more than 10 million, HCM City is seeking drastic measures to tackle traffic jams, especially during peak hours.
The city is considering making some major streets become one-way streets, building elevated roads and even banning private vehicles from downtown areas to ease congestion.
Nearly 9 million motorbikes are currently running on more than 4,000 kilometres of roads in HCM City, not to mention private cars and bicycles.
Nearly 4,200 new cars and 9,000 new motorbikes are registered every month, while public transport is limited to only buses.
Wrong recruitment, appointment of officials found: home affairs ministry
Recent personnel recruitment and appointment wrongdoings discovered by inspectors have raised public concern and eroded people’s trust in State public services, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said during a press conference on Tuesday, the Vietnam News Agency’s bnews.vn reported.
Following news reports by local media, the ministry inspected public services in 11 localities nationwide, including Ha Giang, Ha Son Commune in Nghe An Province, A Luoi District in Thua Thien-Hue Province, Buon Don District in Dak Lak Province, Binh Dinh Province, Phong Dien District in Can Tho City, Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province’s Tax Department under the Ministry of Finance’s Tax General Department, Yen Bai Province, Centre of Forensic Science under Da Nang City’s health department, An Duong District in Hai Phong City and Kim Thanh District in Hai Duong Province.
MHA spokesperson Nguyen Tien Thanh said MHA inspectors detected wrongdoings in the recruitment and appointment of State officials, adding that the number of deputies in some agencies and units exceeded the number required.
“For example, Thanh Hoa Province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment has eight deputies; the Binh Dinh Province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment has six deputies; 44 out of 46 officials in the Hai Duong Province’s Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs work as deputies whereas the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Thai Nguyen Province has an extra of 23 deputies,” he said.
“The ministry has reported to competent authorities and recommended ways to overcome and deal with shortcomings and bad practices involving the recruitment and appointment of State employees and officials,” said Thanh
Following these developments, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has required localities to readjust cadre work to ensure a precise number of deputies as regulated. He also called for proper, by-the-book handling of organisations and individuals that commit wrongdoings.
To increase the number of inspections, the Government Inspectorate has agreed with MHA’s proposals to jointly inspect the cadre work including the recruitment and appointment of officials.
Accordingly, the two agencies will strengthen inspections in 63 provinces and Central cities and assign ministries and localities to carry out inspections in at least 30 per cent of bodies under their management in 2017 and beyond.
Truong Hai Long, Deputy Head of MHA’s Department of Civil Servants, said that the Prime Minister requested that there should be no agencies having an excessive number of deputies as stipulated by Friday.
MHA deputy minister Nguyen Duy Thang said the ministry would work with ministries and localities to fix the shortcomings. Violations would be dealt with in line with the law.
In response to a question by the media concerning the appointment of the Director of Yen Bai Province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment Pham Sy Quy, MHA’s Deputy Chief Inspector said “inspectors discovered out that Quy did not hold a certificate required for department-level leadership.”
“However, later on he attended a State management training programme as assigned by local competent authorities and got a certificate of ’main professional’, which means he was already qualified.”
Mystery company may continue gobbling up failing steel giant
Over the last few months, Thai Hung Trading Joint Stock Company (Thai Hung) repeatedly purchased huge numbers of Thai Nguyen Iron and Steel Corporation’s stocks (Tisco—Ticker TIS on HoSE, HNX, and UPCoM), and it is rumoured that it will continue expanding its ownership in Tisco.
Vietnam Steel Corporation (VnSteel) is now the biggest shareholder of Tisco, with 42.11 per cent. The second biggest one is Thai Hung, with 20 per cent. However, over the last few months, Thai Hung repeatedly raised its stakes in Tisco.
In particular, at the end of April 2017, Thai Hung completed the purchase of 17,817,900 TIS shares from State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) at the price of VND11,216 ($0.5) per share, and an additional 290,000 shares from the stock exchange. Thus, Thai Hung’s stake in Tisco increased from 14.2 million shares (7.72 per cent) to 32.3 million shares (17.55 per cent).
A few days ago, at the beginning of May 2017, Thai Hung purchased 4.5 million more shares, increasing its holdings to 36.8 million shares, an equivalent of 20 per cent stake in Tisco.
However, it seems that Thai Hung is not satisfied with its current position. Thai Hung is planning to purchase more stocks from the number one giant of the Vietnamese steel industry, VnSteel.
Nguyen Tong Thang, marketing director of Thai Hung, said that currently, the company cannot give a definitive answer to whether it would purchase TIS shares from VnSteel. Regarding VnSteel, a representative said that it is waiting for guidance from the government agency in charge of this matter.
Previously, at the 2017 annual shareholders’ meeting, Tisco passed an important document that gives investors the right to not publicise their purchases of TIS shares from shareholders who own at least 25 per cent and have voting rights. Therefore, any investor can raise its ownership in Tisco without the complex procedures of public purchase, which attracted heavy attention. Notably, as a representative of the state capital in Tisco and also the biggest shareholder, VnSteel voted in favour of this document.
Tisco also had some changes in human resources recently.
Particularly, at the beginning of May 2017, Tran Anh Dung was elected for the position of control chief to replace Tran Man Huu. At the middle of May 2017, Thai Hung dismissed three board members, including Nguyen Quoc Huy (former board chairman), Vu Hoang Long, and Nguyen Tien Dung (former deputy general director).
Thai Hung, an emerging giant in the steel industry
Thai Hung is an emerging name in the Vietnamese steel industry. It used to be a private enterprise in Thai Nguyen province. The company’s main activities are manufacturing construction steel and other products related to steel and iron, forestry business, transport, hotel, restaurant services, and so on.
At present, this enterprise has VND1 trillion ($44 million) of chartered capital and its annual revenue is about VND15-18 trillion ($600-720 million). In 2017, Thai Hung targets to generate about VND15.5-16 trillion ($620-640 million) in revenue, and VND320 billion ($12.8 million) in after-tax profit.
Before purchasing TIS, in November 2016, Thai Hung came to control another steel giant called Vietnam-Italy Steel Joint Stock Company (VIS—ticker VIS on HoSE). In August 2016, when Song Da Corporation divested from VIS, Thai Hung purchased the entire divested amount, as well as a huge number of VIS stocks from the market at the same time.
In particular, in November 2016, Thai Hung purchased an additional 12.8 million VIS stocks, an equivalent of 25.99 per cent stake, thus increasing its total stakes in VIS to 50.98 per cent. In April 2017, Thai Hung released its plan of purchasing 14.22 per cent more of VIS. If this plan is implemented, Thai Hung will hold more than 75 per cent of VIS.
About ten years ago, Tisco signed a contract with Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC), making MCC the main EPC (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction) contractor for the second phase of Thai Nguyen Iron and Steel plant, with a total investment of over VND3.8 trillion ($152 million).
The project was implemented in 2007, but it was delayed due to the financial crisis. In 2009, it was resumed, but the total capital needed has increased to over VND8.1 trillion ($324 million), making it difficult for Tisco to collect the funds.
In July 2012, the project was delayed again, because MCC withdrew to China, leaving behind the unfinished project. Since then the project has been left abandoned for five years now.
According to a report, the main reasons behind the capital shortage was the increased costs for part C (construction and installation), which was assigned to Vietnamese contractor Vietnam Industrial Construction Corporation (Vinaincon), while the capital of parts E and P (electro and mechanics), assigned to MCC, stayed in line with the contract.
The second phase of the expansion of Thai Nguyen Iron and Steel plant is one of the twelve heavy loss-making projects of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Local officials use dead people to scam state money
Local authorities in Ha Ninh Commune, Thanh Hoa Province have been denounced for including dead people in their list of participants to receive state funds.
The locals said there were signatures of dead people
According to the locals, it was ịn June that some communal officials and people from the Agriculture Services Cooperative created a fake list and documents of over 100 residents in Village 3 to funnel more state funding in for fertilisers, pesticides and training for new harvester model.
They even included dead people in the list.
50-year-old Nguyen Thi Loi, said her mother had died in 2015 but was still included in the list with a fake signature.
Loi said her family wasn't given the allowance. Tran Thi Net also said her husband died in 2013 but his name was still on the list.
The locals then reported the case to the authorities of Ha Ninh Commune and Ha Trung District but nothing was done. They continued to report to higher authorities and the media for an investigation.
Nguyen Xuan Quy, chairman of Ha Ninh Commune said the commune was selected for the large field model system and was given VND140m (USD6,100).
About VND75m of which was allocated to buy combine harvesters and VND9.3m was for building a management system. VND55.7m was to support the farmers with fertilisers, pesticides and the training to use new harvesters.
Quy said he had failed to properly oversee the Agriculture Services Co-operative list and had it approved. He said they had reported the information to the district authorities and were waiting for directives.
Phung Thi Hien, an accountant of the Agriculture Services Co-operative admitted she was ordered to create the list of 120 households in Village 3 and then asked neighbours to give fake signatures for the dead.
Hien said the VND55.7m (USD2,400) fund had been transferred to the co-operative's account.
However, Le Van Thanh, head of the co-operative said it was the accountant that made the list and asked other people to fake the signatures.
Locals team up against sand thieves in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta
Residents on Doi Islet, located in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, approach a boat of sand thieves.
The illegal exploitation of sand along the Tien (Front) River has been the main cause of subsidence and house collapse in Con Doi (Doi Islet) in Tan Phu Commune, Chau Thanh District, but locals have finally had enough.
Residents of the area have begun patrolling it to protect their home, despite threats from sand thieves.
Thanks to their bravery, and the aid of patrol units from the Tan Phu People’s Committee, the situation has gradually started to improve.
The effort first started when Nguyen Van Lai and his neighbor decided to confront a group of sand thieves last year, following several failed attempts to stop them with words.
Lai and his friend rowed a raft toward the exploitation site and managed to board the looters' vessel before being forced overboard by water hoses.
“Luckily we both knew how to swim, otherwise it could have been fatal,” Lai stated.
After the confrontation, Lai and other residents on the islet agreed that stern measures must be used to deal with the outlaws.
The residents quickly established a team of ‘sand protectors’ and installed Lai as the leader.
Ho Thi Be, a 67-year-old local, recounted an incident of a few months ago when she used a slingshot to shoot down lights on a sand thef boat, scaring the group away.
Despite being the eldest member of the team, Be does not hesitate when it is time to hop on a boat to battle the thieves.
“The thieves are very stubborn and aggressive. I can’t just stand and watch my teammates risk their safety to fight,” Be said.
When local boat owners were threatened by the bandits for lending their rafts to the patrollers, the team members put their earnings together to buy their own boat for VND16 million (US$707).
“Each time they carry out the illegal exploitation, a piece of land on the islet is at a high risk of subsidence. We will fight till the end to stop the crime,” Lai asserted.
Sitting in a new house about 50 meters from the riverbank, Dao Thi Hong Thu, 53, pointed to a section of the Tien River, stating that it was previously a plot passed down to her by her father.
The excessive sand exploitation in recent years has caused the land to subside, Thu said, adding that she had to build a new house further ashore to prevent it from collapsing into the water.
Nguyen Van Phong, another resident, stated he, his wife, and their children had to leave their house after part of it fell into the river.
According to Lai, most people living along the riverbank in Con Doi have lost their land to subsidence in the past five years.
“I have also lost several thousands of square meters of land to the water,” Lai added.
“That is why our patrol team has been supported by residents on the islet,” he explained.
According to Be, the possible revenge from the sand thieves is no longer a fear.
“It is us who they should be afraid of,” she stressed.
TUOI TRE NEWS
Hanoians support proposal to limit personal vehicles on roads
HÀ NỘI - Around 84 per cent of residents of the capital city approve of the proposal to limit the use of personal vehicles so as to ease traffic jams, according to a recent survey
A traffic jam at the Ô Đông Mác-Nguyễn Khoái intersection near Ring Road 1 in the capital city’s Hai Bà Trưng District. - VNA/VNS Photo Quang Quyết
Vietnamese consumers among most demanding on e-commerce
Viet Nam’s e-commerce may be one of the world’s fastest-growing markets, but the country’s customers are also among the most demanding.
Nielsen has forecast that the Vietnamese e-commerce market will grow 22 per cent this year and 13.2 per cent by 2020.
According to the Vietnam E-commerce Association (VECOM), the local e-commerce sector will become a 10-billion-dollar business in the next five years.
However, local consumers are also demanding, with many complaints about price, product information and authorisation, which should be addressed by merchants to improve customers’ trust.
A research conducted by iPrice and Trusted Company based on more than 30,000 reviews on 5,000 websites in Viet Nam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines found that Vietnamese customers have the lowest trust on e-commerce and spend less money on shopping online.
Vietnamese customers complain the most about “fake products”, 15 per cent higher than Thailand, the country with the second maximum complaints, given that fact that Thailand ranked 4th worldwide in the fake goods trade.
The second maximum complaints on e-commerce sites by Vietnamese customers are about the price of products. Despite being an aggressive promotion hunter, the Vietnamese still think products listed by e-commerce merchants are overpriced.
Given that 80 per cent of consumers prefer cash on delivery (COD) payment, the country also has the highest order cancellation rate, with 30 per cent of products not being accepted due to product failure, the research said.
Unlike consumers in other Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore and Indonesia that have shared concerns on buying products, the most common queries of the Vietnamese are on product authorisation (store address) and availability. They are revealed to often use feedback forms to ask about products.
Of all Southeast Asian countries, Viet Nam has an average rating of 3.7 out of five stars, the research has revealed. This is due to the fact that only large merchants have developed a rating scheme for a better shopping experience for consumers.
BUSINESS IN BRIEF 1/7
Siemens & EVN open new main control center for south
Siemens and the State-run energy company, Electricity of Vietnam Southern Power Corporation (EVN SPC), have opened a new main control center in Ho Chi Minh City.
The energy provider had Siemens develop, design, and build the facilities in the main control center in order to be able to remotely monitor and control the medium- and low-voltage grids in 21 cities and provinces in the southern region.
“EVN’s new network control center enables it to respond flexibly and cost-efficiently to the current and future challenges of ensuring reliable network operation,” said Mr. Thomas Zimmermann, CEO of the Business Unit Digital Grid, Siemens Energy Management Division. “For EVN, that means an improvement in both its operational efficiency and quality of service.”
The project will significantly improve the availability and efficiency of distribution grids in the region and reduce power outages, thus contributing to economic development.
“We are very excited with the opening of the main control center, SCADA DMS, in Ho Chi Minh City,” said Mr. Nguyen Van Hop, President and CEO of EVN SPC. “Equipped with Siemens’ most advanced technology in the power distribution industry, the center will help us remarkably improve the efficiency and reliability of the distribution network in 21 cities and provinces in the southern region. We will be able to create sustainable values not only to the region but also to our company through higher productivity and significant cost savings.”
The control center’s technology is based on the Siemens Spectrum Power system platform for network control centers, which will be used in Vietnam as a Supervisor Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and distribution management system (DMS). The control center will not only be used for remote monitoring and control of distribution grids with capacities of 110 kV and below but can also work with transmission grids of 220 kV and above in order to minimize losses and down time. With the aid of the Siemens grid control technology, the State-run energy company will also prepare 110 kV transformer substations for unmanned operations in the future.
SCADA systems are used to operate and observe, control, and monitor power grids, while the DMS with which they are combined optimizes distribution grid management. The Spectrum Power SCADA/DMS system from Siemens enables grid operators to control the grid management system and the energy flow. The system can be operated locally or remotely thanks to its web-based architecture. In addition, it helps to reduce grid maintenance costs and eliminate faults faster.
Vietnam HR Awards Forum 2017 back with more disruption
The Vietnam HR Awards Forum 2017 will be held on August 11 in Ho Chi Minh City with the theme “Agile Talent - Disruptive Technology for Growth”.
Hosted by the Talentnet Corporation since 2015, the full-day event promises to be the most senior gathering of CEOs, business leaders, and human resources (HR) experts in Vietnam.
Aiming to offer high level views of an agile workforce in the digital age, the executive forum will feature leading keynote speakers in the industry, such as Ms. Nguyen Thi Bich Van, Chairwoman of Unilever Vietnam, Mr. Marco Breu, CEO of McKinsey Vietnam, Mr. Hoang Nam Tien, Chairman of FPT Software, and the Head of the SMU Academy from Singapore.
“Not only providing a wide range of insights about business strategy, these highly-appreciated speakers will also introduce innovative approaches in the people agenda, especially talent and leadership management as well as success stories of technology’s impact in business transformation and disruption,” said Ms. Tieu Yen Trinh, CEO of the Talentnet Corporation.
First held by Talentnet in 2014, this is third time the Vietnam HR Awards have been held to honor and recognize organizations with the best HR Strategy and People Investment. The awards resonated in Vietnam for its methodology from the Singapore HR Awards. This is the third year the awards have been held and it promises to be an exciting event for enterprises operating in Vietnam.
The Vietnam HR Awards are endorsed by the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs and uses international methodology from the Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI), along with a professional and transparent judging process, to recognize the most outstanding enterprises in five human resources categories.
Organized by Talentnet and the Labor and Social Affairs newspaper, the 2016 awards recognized ten companies for their superior HR practices and policies: BAT Vietnam, CSC Vietnam, FPT, HSBC Vietnam, IBM Vietnam, Mobile World, Nestlé Vietnam, Novaland, Techcombank, and Unilever Vietnam.
With dedication and commitment to lift the local HR community, the Vietnam HR Awards 2017 is expected to feature valuable strategic HR insights from top business leaders and HR managers to light up a new future for the HR industry.
Processing & manufacturing leads in FDI
Processing and manufacturing had attracted more than $180 billion in total foreign direct investment (FDI) capital as at June.
Foreign investors have invested in 19 of the 21 economic sectors in the country, with processing and manufacturing securing 59 per cent.
Following is real estate, with $50.99 billion, or 16.6 per cent of the total, then electricity, water and gas with $18.83 billion, or 6.1 per cent.
As at June, 120 countries and territories had invested in Vietnam, led by South Korea with $54.5 billion, or 17.7 per cent of the total, followed by Japan with $46.19 billion, or 15 per cent, then Singapore, Taiwan, the British Virgin Islands, and Hong Kong.
Ho Chi Minh City attracted the most FDI, with $41.67 billion, or 13.6 per cent of the total. Southern Binh Duong province followed, with $28.66 billion, or 9.3 per cent, then southern Ba Ria Vung Tau province with $26.72 billion, or 8.7 per cent, and Hanoi with $26.3 billion, or 8.5 per cent.
Total registered and additional capital reached $19.22 billion in the first half of the year, up 54.8 per cent year-on-year, while $7.72 billion was disbursed, up 6.5 per cent.
There were 1,183 new projects granted investment licenses in the first half, with capital of $11.8 billion, up 57.9 per cent year-on-year, while 549 projects added $5.14 billion in capital, up 35.8 per cent.
There are now 3,272 FDI projects from ASEAN in Vietnam, with total capital of $63.49 billion. In the first half there were 127 newly-licensed projects from the region, with capital of $2.95 billion. Fifty-eight existing ASEAN projects added 587.5 million in capital.
1H agri export turnover up 13.1%
Export turnover of agriculture, forestry and fishery products in June was estimated at $2.97 billion, bringing the figure for the first half of the year to $17.1 billion, up 13.1 per cent year-on-year, according to Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development.
The export value of major agricultural commodities was estimated at $9.1 billion, an increase of 15.4 per cent year-on-year, key forestry products $3.8 billion, up 12.8 per cent, and fishery products $3.5 billion, up 14.1 per cent.
Most segments recorded strong increases in both volume and value, such as rice, seafood, vegetables, tea, rubber, and wood and wooden products.
The largest increase was in the vegetable segment, of 44.6 per cent year-on-year. The export value of fruit and vegetables in June was estimated at $283 million, for a first-half estimate of $1.7 billion.
China, the US, Japan, and South Korea were the top four importers of Vietnamese fruit and vegetables in the first six months, accounting for 84.7 per cent of all fruit and vegetable exports.
The rubber segment also saw a sharp increase, of 5 per cent in volume and 58.6 per cent in value year-on-year. Volumes in June reached 100,000 tons with a value of $158 million, for first-half estimates of 462,000 tons and $867 million.
The rice sector maintained growth in the first half, increasing 6.3 per cent in volume and 4.9 per cent in value year-on-year. Rice exports were estimated at 413,000 tons valued at $182 million, bringing the first-half figures to an estimated 2.8 million tons and $1.2 billion.
The seafood segment contributed about $3.5 billion to export turnover in the first half, up 14.1 per cent year-on-year. Export value in June was estimated at $653 million.
Wood made the biggest contribution to export turnover in the first half. Wooden product exports were estimated at $3.6 billion, an increase of 13.2 per cent year-on-year, and reached $609 million in June.
Conversely, some products saw significant declines, such as cassava and cassava products, which were down 7.6 per cent in volume and 11.8 per cent in value, and pepper, up 18.3 per cent in volume but down 16.8 per cent in value.
Thailand top supplier of fruits to VN
Việt Nam imported US$376 million worth of fruits from Thailand in the first half of this year, which was double the figures of the same period last year.
With the turnover, Thailand has become the leading supplier of fruits to Việt Nam, accounting for over half of Việt Nam’s six-month fruit imports at $507 million, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
During the reviewed period, Việt Nam’s fruit imports from other markets such as India and South Korea maintained positive upward growth of more than 85 per cent.
Meanwhile, Việt Nam’s fruit and vegetable exports in the period between January and June experienced a yearly increase of 44 per cent to $1.7 billion. China, Japan and South Korea remained the top importers of Vietnamese fruit and vegetables, making up nearly 85 per cent of the country’s export turnover.
Mekong regions urged to develop agriculture
Provinces and cities of the Mekong Delta region need to focus on speeding up agricultural production, tourism and services to tap the region’s potential, said Deputy Prime Minister Vương Đình Huệ.
The industry and construction sectors recorded high growth in the first six months of the year while agriculture and services development failed to match their potential, said Huệ, who doubles as head of the Steering Committee for the Southwestern Region.
Huệ was speaking at the committee’s conference held in the Mekong Delta city of Cần Thơ on Thursday to review tasks in the first half of 2017 and discuss tasks for the rest of the year.
Agricultural growth reached only 2.07 per cent in the first half of the year, lower than the average national growth of 2.65 per cent. The services sector reaped grew 6.67 per cent, slightly higher than the national average rate of 6.65 per cent, according to a report presented by deputy head of the Committee Sơn Minh Thắng.
The whole region reported economic growth of 6.45 per cent during the period. The poverty rate remained high, accounting for 7.97 per cent of total households in the region.
The region’s total budget collection reached 51.7 per cent of the estimated target, social investment increased 13.5 per cent in comparison with the same period last year and the number of newly-established enterprises rose 10.2 per cent.
The growth picture of the region was in general higher than that of the whole country but localities in the region must study measures to boost the development of the agricultural, tourism and services sectors, Huệ said.
The localities should also attract more foreign direct investment, particularly in agriculture and rural areas, he said.
Regarding the steering committee’s tasks, the deputy PM said the committee had hit many goals such as setting up a management board to implement the Government decision on piloting a Mekong Delta regional connectivity project and working with local authorities to deal with issues relating to education and employment.
The committee organised several trade promotion, infrastructure and logistics development conferences in some localities in the region, worked with the Government to assess landslides in the region and worked with ministries and agencies to speed up transport projects in the region.
In the remaining months of the year, the committee will continue implementing the Government decision on the project to connect the Mekong Delta region, hold a conference of international donors for Mekong Delta region development and host a scientific conference on landslides in the region to discuss measures to deal with them.
Vietnam – EAEU joint FTA committee commences first session
A joint committee on the Vietnam – Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) Free Trade Agreement convened its first meeting at the Moscow headquarters of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) on June 29.
Taking place in conjunction with President Tran Dai Quang’s official visit to Russia, the session was co-chaired by Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh and EEC Minister for Trade Veronika Nikishina, with the participation of delegates from Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
The meeting, held 7 months after the FTA took effect, looked back at the implementation of the pact, scrutinized its impacts on bilateral trade and envisioned next steps in bilateral economic-trade cooperation.
Minister Tran Tuan Anh told the press after the meeting that the sides agreed the pact has brought about positive outcomes, particularly a remarkable increase of trade between Vietnam and the Eurasian Customs Union (EACU), which consists of all EAEU member states.
Minister Veronika Nikishina said after 7 months, Vietnam-EAEU bilateral trade has grown approximately 30 percent, with mutual benefits recorded for both sides. Improved performance has been posted for not only commodities subject by the FTA but also those not targeted by the pact.
The meeting also considered measures to harmonise measures of member countries in such areas as animal-plant quarantine and goods origin certification, in order to create smooth coordination in implementing the FTA.
It was agreed that assessment units will be set up to advise the joint committee in how to deal with issues of difference, such as health impacts of construction materials and safety standards for plants and animals.
The EAEU, which comprises Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, signed the FTA with Vietnam in May 2015. This was the first FTA signed between the EAEU and an external partner, which came into force on October 5, 2016.
The agreement will abolish 90 percent of tax lines, equivalent to 90 percent of bilateral trade turnover.
The deal is expected to increase trade revenue between Vietnam and the EAEU to 10 billion USD in 2020 from the current yearly average of 4 billion USD.
Viet Nam’s fertiliser imports surge in H1
Viet Nam spent US$628 million on importing 2.34 million tonnes of fertiliser in the first half of this year, surging 24 per cent in volume and 18 per cent in value compared with the same period last year.
In June alone, the country imported 324,000 tonnes of fertiliser, worth $82 million, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
During the six-month period, urea imports reached 228,000 tonnes, valued at $60 million, a year-on-year decrease of 9.5 per cent in volume and 1.4 per cent in value. On the other hand, imports of Ammonium Sulfate (SA) fertiliser saw yearly growths of 9.4 per cent in volume and 6.2 per cent in value to 533,000 tonnes, worth $63 million.
In 2016, the nation imported 4.16 million tonnes of fertiliser, valued at $1.1 billion, down nearly 8 per cent in volume and 22 per cent in value compared with 2015.
Southern VN attracts major FDI
Besides HCM City, its next-door provinces Binh Duong and Dong Nai have also attracted large amounts of foreign direct investment in the first half of this year.
According to a report from the Binh Duong People’s Committee, FDI in the first six months was worth around US$1.62 billion.
Its major foreign projects are the $284.75 million Viet Nam – Singapore Industrial Park III being developed by the Viet Nam-Singpore Industrial Park Joint Venture Co Ltd and a $220 million factory to manufacture airbags and industrial fabric for automobile tyres by Kolon Industries Inc of South Korea.
According to VSIP, its industrial parks in Binh Duong have attracted around $652 million in FDI this year, an increase of 60 per cent year-on-year and 80 per cent above its whole-year target.
Polytex Far Eastern Ltd, a Taiwanese polyester fibre and cotton manufacturer, has got approval to increase its registered capital by $485.8 million in the period, taking its total investment in the Bau Bang Industrial Park to $760 million.
Dong Nai Province attracted $640 million in 37 new projects and 51 existing projects in the first half.
Powerknit Viet Nam Co Ltd is the largest new foreign project with $60 million coming from the British Virgin Islands.
Fabric producer Long Thai Tu of South Korea added $50 million to its ongoing project in the province.
Many industrial parks in Binh Duong and Dong Nai have attracted large investments mainly from Asian countries and territories such as Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan thanks to their highly developed infrastructure and transportation network.
They have also signed several MOUs with regions in South Korea and Japan following investment promotion efforts over the last few years.
Over 980 million USD worth of G-bond mobilised in June
The Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) raised 22.3 trillion VND (980.8 million USD), down 6.3 percent from the previous month, during 16 auctions in June.
The five-year bonds have an annual interest rate between 4.90 and 5.05 percent, down 0.15 percent from May, while the seven-year bonds were auctioned at an interest rate of 5.18-5.33 percent per annum, down 0.14 percent.
The annual interest rates for 10-year and 15-year bonds were 5.65-5.79 percent and 6.3 percent respectively.
Meanwhile, the bonds with 20 years and 30 years have respective coupon rates of 6.67-7 percent and 7.1-7.5 percent, respectively.
On the secondary market, the total volume of outright trading reached 912.5 million bonds, or over 97.8 trillion VND (4.30 billion USD), up 5.9 percent in value over the last month.
The trading volume through repurchase agreement (repo) was more than 917.8 million bonds, or 90.3 trillion VND (3.97 billion USD), up 0.3 percent in value against last month.
Dong Nai’s registered capital hits record
The total registered capital and added capital of businesses in the southern province of Dong Nai amounted to 24 trillion VND (1 trillion USD) in the first half of 2017, a year-on-year increase of 115 percent, according to the provincial People’s Committee.
Of the sum, 17 trillion VND (747.7 million USD) came from 1,500 newly established enterprises, while the remaining capital was added by 275 existing businesses.
About 40 branches and representative offices also registered operation in the province in the reviewed period.
Dong Nai province has promoted administrative reforms to provide best possible support for the business community, said the department.
From January to June, some 3,000 firms submitted applications through the department’s public service portal and the national business registration portal.
Also in the first six months of this year, about 76 businesses with a combined capital of 538 billion VND (23.6 million USD) as well as 74 branches and representative offices were dissolved due to poor performance.
Vietnamese firms promote trade in South Africa
A Vietnamese business delegation held a number of trade promotion events with South African businesses on June 27-28 as part of their activities at the 24thSouth African International Trade Exhibition (SAITEX), aiming to seek stronger partnership with local firms.
At the events, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Trade Office of the Vietnam Embassy in South Africa and the Vietnamese firms introduced major products of Vietnam, mostly farm produce,and peppercorn, household commodities andinterior wooden products.
Many local enterprises in Johannesburg and Cape Town showed their special interest in the price, quality, production process and import-export capacity of Vietnam.
Vietnamese Ambassador in South Africa Vu Van Dung said that the trade promotion events are a good chance for Vietnamese businesses to introduce strong products to Africa and South Africa in particular.
Currently, trade between Vietnam and South Africa has reachedover 1 billion USD, which is a bright spot in Vietnam’s trade activities in the region, he noted.
The ambassador also stressed the need to further foster economic and trade ties between South Africa, the largest economy in African region, and Vietnam -a dynamic economy with abundant potential.
Besides, the two sides should strengthen connection among business communities, while promoting investment and tourism cooperation in the future, he said.
South African firms pointed out that a lack of information and exchange channels are among obstacles hindering products of each country to penetrate each other market. They proposed that authorised agencies of both sides create more favourableconditions for business communities of both sides to boost connectivity in the future.
HCM City to help firms join Samsung’s global supply chain
Ho Chi Minh City is ready to work with Samsung in boosting local enterprises’ capacity in support industry, helping them qualify for the Korean group’s global supply chain, said Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan.
He made the remark while receiving Samsung Vietnam General Director Shim Won Hwan on June 29.
The official commended the company’s significant contributions to Vietnam’s export value.
He said the company has responded well to Vietnamese leaders’ request on increasing the localization rate in its products, thus creating opportunities for local small- and medium-sized firms to produce spare parts and components for Samsung.
Nhan asked Samsung Vietnam to continue working with Vietnamese universities and public agencies in the implementation of various education and construction projects.
On behalf of his company’s executive board, Shim Won Hwan thanked the Vietnamese Government for its assistance, which helped Samsung Vietnam grow substantially and contribute to Vietnam – Republic of Korea ties.
The director underscored the firm’s intention to expand investment in HCM City and help local enterprises improve management skills and technical competency.
He said Samsung Vietnam wants to see more local companies join its supply chain, which will lead to higher localization rate in the company’s products.
Shim Won Hwan pledged to connect with Vietnamese students by holding tours for students to visit Samsung’s factories and research centres, while working to boost capacity of Vietnamese workers at Samsung Vietnam.-
Son La mangoes irradiated for export to Australia
The first batch of 3.5 tonnes of mangoes from the northern mountainous province of Son La underwent irradiation treatment on June 28 before being shipped to Australia.
The mangoes, weighing 450-650 grammes each, were purchased by Agricare Vietnam Co., Ltd. at the price of 22,000 VND (0.9 USD) per kilogramme.
The fruits are sold at 16,000 VND (0.7 USD) per kilogramme on the free market.
The Post-Import Plant Quarantine Centre under the Plant Protection Department worked with the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to providing training for local farmers and help them set up dossiers on granting codes for two mango cultivating areas in Van Lung village, Chieng Hac commune (Yen Chau district) and Noong Xom village, Hat Lot commune (Mai Son district).
The move is part of efforts to make local mangoes qualified for shipment to the Australian market.
Son La is home to more than 4,000 hectares of mangoes, hundreds of which are grown in line with Vietnam Good Agricultural Practice (VietGAP).
First co-working space for all startup activities opens
The Vuon - Luxury Garden Office, a co-working space belonging to the Vietnam Agency Group (VAG), opened on June 29 in Hanoi.
All startup activities are fully catered for at the co-working space, said Mr. Ha Anh Tuan, CEO of VAG, making it the first in the country to do so.
“When presenting projects, startups can meet investors at Vuon,” he explained. “Not only startups working at Vuon can access our support. Any startup seeking investment can forward documents to us and we will help them find investors.”
The co-working space also helps investors manage finance when investing in startups.
The space will also host meetings of VAG, which comprises 108 agencies in marketing and communications in the north of Vietnam. “About 50 VAG events will be held each year at Vuon, providing opportunities for startups to develop their projects,” he said.
Besides areas for startups, Vuon also has public rooms and private rooms for freelancers and foreigners, which can seat up to 150 people.
The co-working space received VND120 billion ($5.2 million) in investment and is located at the D2 Giang Vo building, Giang Vo ward, Ba Dinh district, Hanoi, on 1,300 sq m.
“Vuon” not only means growth, with an expectation that startups will develop strongly, but also means garden, as it is a green space in the city, where people will feel comfortable and fresh innovations can be nurtured, Mr. Tuan said.
VAG is a cooperative effort between local marketing and communications agents and aims to allow them to be strong enough to compete with international branding companies.
HCMC, Vietnam Airlines sign tourist cooperation agreement
Chairman of the HCMC People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong and director general of Vietnam Airlines Duong Tri Thanh signed a cooperation agreement on tourist development from now until 2021, yesterday afternoon.
According to the cooperation program, the committee and the national flag carrier will work together to boost investment, trade, tourism and aviation activities promotion by organizing workshops, conferences and seminars.
The two sides will coordinate to publish advertising news and display media publications at communication channels of Vietnam Airlines and the city People’s Committee.
In addition, they will organize tourist fairs and international tourist events in key potential markets of the city’s tourist industry; study and develop domestically and abroad tourist products and routes, air travel packages to and from HCMC; and exploit air routes.
Annually, they will host at least one national or international air travel event to advertise HCMC as an attractive, friendly and safe destination for visitors. Vietnam Airlines provides preferential air fares for HCMC teams of athletes and students to attend international exams and tournaments, and assist business trips of city leaders.
After the signing ceremony, the HCMC Department of Tourism will work with the airline and relevant agencies to implement the agreement, contributing to boost economic, social and cultural development as well as attract visitors and investors to HCMC.
Stating at the ceremony, chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong stressed that the city’s tourist potential is very large so relevant agencies should study how to develop tourism into the city’s spearhead industry.
At present, meeting incentive conference event and other types of tourism have not been well exploited. So the city should develop unique tourist products to lure visitors back after their first visits to the city.
HCMC adopts measures against construction sand speculation
In his document to related agencies, Deputy Chairman of HCMC People’s Committee Le Van Khoa ordered relevant agencies to supervise construction sand price to have measures against speculation.
As per the document, Mr. Khoa assigned the Department of Finance to liaise with related agencies to keep an eye on sand-related factors to control abnormal hike of price.
The Department of Industry and Trade was assigned to put forward measures against speculation in construction sand.
Additionally, the People’s Committee asked the Department of Construction to liaise with related agencies and people’s committees in districts to have plan of supervise sand quality in the city.
Inspectors will transfer the price list to the Department of Finance which will work with relevant agencies to assess sand price as per the regulation.
The Department of Construction was assigned to spread information of replacing materials in construction to encourage researches and utilize new material in a bid to limit bad impacts on environment due to over-exploitation of sand in nature leading to the destruction of resource.
Similarly, the People’s Committee asked the Department of Science and Technology to place the order of researches of replacing materials for natural sand in construction.
Along with inspection, district people’s committees and the Department of Construction will pay visits to companies to check sand quality and prices of major construction materials.
Lately, because of inadequate supply of sand, there has been a hike in sand price in the Mekong delta region and the south eastern provinces; even some place the sand price skyrocketed by 200 – 300 percent .
Sand price escalated nonstop leading to hiccups in construction sites especially major traffic construction such as Cao Lanh Bridge and Vam Cong in Dong Thap province at the heart of the Mekong Delta and highway Ben Luc - Long Thanh.
Nearly 59 percent of inl’t visitors to Vietnam from Northeast Asia
During the first half this year, the number of international visitors to Vietnam saw a year on year increase of 30.2 percent to reach 6.2 million, of which 58.5 percent come from Northeast Asia, reported the General Statistics Office of Vietnam.
Of the number, 1.88 million visitors are from China, 1.06 million from South Korea, 378,844 from Japan and 297,852 from Taiwan (China).
Visa exemption program has raised the number of visitors from the European market to Vietnam by 15.8 percent.
The number of visitors from China increased most by 56.7 percent, Russia 53.4 percent, South Korea 43.9 percent and Cambodia 35.5 percent.
Hong Kong (China) surged 29.9 percent, Spain 28.6 percent, the Philippines 24.3 percent, Taiwan (China) 22.9 percent, Laos 22.4 percent, New Zealand 19 percent and Australia 10 percent.
Domestic visitors reached 40.7 million in the first half this year.
Tourist revenue totaled VND254.7 trillion (US$11.2 billion), a year on year increase of 27.1 percent.
Policy credits for Mekong Delta remain modest
Credits from the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies for the Mekong Delta are quite disproportionate to the national average, although this region should be a key beneficiary from the bank’s preferential credits, heard a seminar held in Can Tho City on July 28.
Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue stressed at the seminar that of the bank’s total outstanding loans of VND157 trillion as of December 31, 2016, credits for the Mekong Delta made up less than VND28 trillion, or only 17.5%. The seminar reviewed a scheme to improve the quality of policy lending for the Mekong Delta region.
As many as 30 million policy loans had been extended to families countrywide, but the number for the Mekong Delta was only 2.4 million, the deputy prime minister noted.
Speaking at the seminar, Duong Tat Thang, general director of the bank, remarked that the quality of policy credits for the region has improved, evidenced by a sharp fall in bad debts.
As of December 31, 2016, the total amount of overdue debts in the Mekong Delta was a mere VND224.5 billion, accounting for only 0.81% of total outstanding loans, he said.
“Overdue debts in all 13 localities in the Mekong Delta have fallen,” Thang said.
The ratio of overdue debts in Hau Giang as of the end of last year had fallen by 7.86 percentage points to 0.43%, that in An Giang had shrunk by 7.39 percentage points to 0.98%, while the ratio in Ca Mau had also been reduced by 5.04 percentage points to 0.73%, Thang gave examples.
However, Deputy PM Hue said the average ratio of overdue debts at 0.81% owed to the policy bank was still higher than the national average of 0.6%.
He urged the bank and local leaders to make greater efforts to increase policy credits for the people in the Mekong Delta, especially the poor.
The goal for the bank in the next three to five years is that all poor families must have access to policy credits so that poor people there do not fall victim to black-market lenders or loan sharks. Credit lines for the people in the region must also be further increased, Hue said.
He said that between now and 2020, the Government will set aside VND23 trillion for policy lending, comprised of VND15 trillion as interest rate subsidies, VND5 trillion to spur the bank’s chartered capital, and VND3 trillion to partially cover interest for borrowers to purchase budget homes.
Deputy PM Hue at the seminar asked the State Bank of Vietnam to increase the amount of deposits from other commercial banks into the network of the Social Policy Bank. In addition, all provinces in the Mekong Delta must also increase their contributions to the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies, each with at least VND100 billion a year in the next three years, he said.
Vietnam’s foreign trade surges
The nation’s foreign trade in the first half of the year has shot up to US$200 billion, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
January-June exports are put at US$97.78 billion, an 18.9% rise against the same period last year. The foreign direct investment (FDI) sector has reported total non-oil export revenue of about US$69.26 billion, increasing by 20.6% year-on-year and accounting for 70.8% of the country’s total.
Domestic enterprises have exported US$26.96 billion worth of goods in the period, a year-on-year increase of 13.8%.
The upsurge of export revenue is ascribed to the price rises of key products including fuels, crude oil, cashew nuts, iron, steel, rubber and coal.
Shipments to China have picked up 42.5%, much higher than the import growth of 16.8%, narrowing Vietnam’s trade deficit with the world’s second biggest economy.
The country’s import bill in the first six months is about US$100.47 billion, increasing by 24.1% versus to the same period last year. The FDI sector has imported US$60.6 billion worth of goods, picking up 28.3% and accounting for 60.3% of the country’s total, while the domestic sector’s imports have reached nearly US$40 billion, up 18.2% year-on-year.
The trade deficit in the first half is about US$2.7 billion, 2.75% of total exports.
Put resources to good use to attain 8-9% growth - expert
Vietnam can achieve economic growth of 8-9% if resources are effectively used, said the head of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM).
Nguyen Dinh Cung told the Vietnam Economic Forum in Hanoi on Tuesday that the economy could potentially expand 8% to 9% a year, instead of 6.7% as targeted for this year by the Government.
The State corporate sector should be comprehensively restructured, he said, adding State-owned enterprises are sitting on US$300 billion worth of assets. Therefore, if those assets increase 1%, the economy would have an extra US$3 billion, equivalent to 1.5% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Meanwhile, the private economic sector has total assets of US$200 billion, so the economy would have an additional US$2 billion if this sector expands 1%.
Moreover, if US$180 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) pledges and US$15 billion in official development assistance (ODA) loans are timely disbursed, the country could significantly boost GDP growth.
Cung also proposed reducing unnecessary costs for enterprises. Logistic costs accounted for 21% of GDP, so enterprises could save US$4 billion if logistic costs fall 1%. Moreover, 66% of enterprises pay informal fees and inspection charges.
48% of enterprises do not plan to expand business, way below 70-80% in the 2000-2006 period.
According to Cung, the Government should offer more incentives for Hanoi and HCMC, the nation’s two largest economic centers which contribute 50% of GDP, 70% of FDI and over two-thirds of budget revenues.
Measures should be taken to improve the business environment, stabilize the macro economy and reduce regular expenditures. Cung suggested the Government focus on developing infrastructure for HCMC to improve connectivity between the city and other localities, increase the capacity of Cai Mep – Thi Vai port by 70-80% and upgrade waterways in the Mekong Delta and the Red River Delta.
At the forum, many experts showed disagreement with the Government’s plan to increase oil pumping and coal mining to fuel GDP growth.
Nguyen Hong Son, vice president of the Vietnam National University, Hanoi said extracting more oil and coal is risky due to unstable prices of these commodities. According to Son, Vietnam’s economic growth still depends much on natural resources.
In addition, public investment has not been effectively managed, putting great pressure on the State budget.
Son said assigning higher targets for agriculture could lead to an oversupply while the global market remains uncertain.
Son said inappropriate administrative interference into the market would affect long-term growth. “The Government should not stick with its growth target at all costs. Short-term solutions can never guarantee sustainable development.”
Can Van Luc at the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), said exploiting more natural resources is not a good solution. The Government should instead stimulate domestic consumption, promote tourism and build a more favorable business environment.
VAMA optimistic about auto sales
The Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association (VAMA) has forecast a 10% increase in auto sales this year, allaying concerns among some manufacturers and traders that consumption might falter.
Speaking at a press conference in HCMC on July 28, Toyota Vietnam president and VAMA chairman Toru Kinoshita said the auto market will continue posting positive growth this year.
The domestic auto market saw slower sales in the first months of the year as many consumers are waiting until early 2018 when import tariffs on autos from ASEAN countries fall to zero from the current 30%.
However, Vietnam’s higher economic growth has fueled demand for cars. Auto sales in the country in January-May slightly picked up against the same period last year with 102,700 cars sold, said Kinoshita.
He expected sales of locally assembled and completely built-up (CBU) autos would grow well when the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) is cut to 0%.
The auto industry could achieve sales growth of a strong 20-30% if there is no market volatility, he noted.
In order to boost auto sales, local auto manufacturers and assemblers have launched many promotion programs with attractive discounts.
Auto buyers can find good prices at the 13th Vietnam Motor Show 2017 and take a close look at different models of cars.
HCMC to review master infrastructure plans
The HCMC government will review all its master infrastructure development plans and make adjustments if need be, heard the 10th meeting of the city’s 10th Party Committee on July 28.
Nguyen Thien Nhan, secretary of the HCMC Party Committee, said, “Most of the master infrastructure development plans in HCMC were approved more than 15 years ago.”
It is necessary to review these master plans to see whether or not they still fit the current circumstances, he noted. Traffic infrastructure plans, including for Ring Road No. 2, Ring Road No. 3, and metro lines, should be adjusted to match the vision towards 2025-2030.
Road upgrades, he stressed, should be factored into the master plans for upgrading and developing drainage and irrigation systems to effectively cope with urban flooding. Water supply plans should also be reviewed and revised to guarantee their effectiveness.
Decades ago, the burial of solid waste was seen as a viable solution for the city’s master waste management plan. However, he urged competent agencies to consider adopting modern treatment methods.
He told the municipal government to prioritize those projects addressing the needs of the local population, instead of merely chasing economic growth targets.
In regard to capital, he noted, public-private partnership is a long-term solution, with the private sector able to contribute up to 63% of all funding needs. In addition, the local government should select highly competent and skilled investors who are able to finish their projects ahead of schedule.
The city Party chief urged the city government to organize conferences to look into pressing issues like traffic infrastructure and waste treatment and find ways to lure investors.
The city will focus on infrastructure, canal cleanup and water environment improvement projects, said city vice chairman Le Thanh Liem said on day one of the Party Committee meeting on Tuesday.
He added the city will rebuild aging residential blocks which were built before 1975, and transfer some unused resettlement apartments to social housing projects in a bid to address the housing demand of low-income people.
Vietnam-Laos Trade Fair opens to mark bilateral diplomatic ties
The 2017 Vietnam-Laos Trade Fair began at the Lao International Trade Exhibition and Convention Centre in Vientiane, Laos on June 29 to mark 55 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Ths year also marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between Laos and Vietnam.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Defence Tran Don said the trade fair is a significant socio-economic and political activity in Vietnam’s trade promotion programme.
The event aims to strengthen friendship and cooperation between the people of Vietnam and Laos and help Vietnamese enterprises seek partnerships and expand trade with their peers from Laos, Don noted.
The fair features 320 booths set up by exhibitors from Vietnam and Laos. Some 120 of them are run by 90 Vietnamese firms, showcasing high-quality goods in the fields of textiles and garments, footwear, agroforestry products, seafood, handicrafts, processed food, electricity-electronics, mechanics, chemicals, construction and building materials, agriculture, fertilisers, pesticides, livestock feed, plant seeds and more.
Photos are on display to showcase the long-standing relations between the people of the two nations. Some show Vietnam’s military working to develop the country’s economy.
A website for trade between Vietnam and Laos was also launched during the fair, aiming to provide information on the two countries’ regulations and policies on economics, trade and industry as well as trade promotion activities.
Additionally, there will be a workshop to provide information on the Vietnam – Laos Free Trade Agreement and border trade agreement and a meeting between businesses from Hanoi and Vientiane.
This event is organised by the Lao Ministries of Industry and Commerce and National Defence and Vietnamese Ministries of Industry and Commerce and National Defence.
Do Son fest stopped as buffalo kills owner
Authorities in the northern port city of Hai Phong halted the Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival on Saturday after a man was gored to death by his buffalo.
Dinh Xuan Huong, 47, a Do Son District native, was thrown into the air by his buffalo. He succumbed to his injuries late Saturday afternoon.
They also ordered Do Son District, the festival organisers, to have all buffaloes in the competition undergo doping tests and to review security and safety measures.
On Saturday morning, soon after the festival opened in the city’s Do Son Stadium, buffalo number 18, while fighting a fellow creature, turned on its owner, gored him in the thigh, chest and neck, and then threw him into the air.
The victim dinh Xuan Huong, 47, a Do Son District native, was rushed unconscious to the hospital and succumbed to his injuries late Saturday afternoon.
This is the first time such an incident has happened at the Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival, which is recognised as a national intangible cultural heritage by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Vietnam works to realise export target of $188 billion
The industry and trade sector expects to make a beeline for realising its export turnover target of 188 billion USD in 2017, or 6.9 percent higher than last year.
Products are packaged after being processed. Vietnam is working to realise its export turnover target of 188 billion USD in 2017.
A core solution to that is enhancing export enterprises’ competiveness through renovating technology and management, experts said, stressing that local businesses have expanded their production scale, but not the added value of their products.
The signing of free trade agreements (FTAs) is significant to making Vietnamese products more competitive, but long-term strategies for trade brand, product quality and market development are needed.
According to Tran Thanh Hai, Deputy General Director of the Foreign Trade Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), a line-up of businesses have yet to get updated with tariff commitments under the inked FTAs with Vietnam’s partners like Australia, Japan and the Republic of Korea.
Risks would likely come due to their failure to thoroughly grasp the FTAs’ contents of technical barriers and animal and plant quarantine measures, as well as the principle of origin, tariff reduction levels before making production and business plans, he noted.
As part of the effort to help local enterprises take full advantages of the FTAs, the MoIT has implemented a project to enhance the management of Certificate of Origin (C/O) to simplify administrative procedures, shorten time of C/O granting as well as complete electronic C/O granting.
Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said the ministry will inspect all export projects to address difficulties while joining hands with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to shake up the agricultural sector towards improving added value of export products and branching out goods with high quality to meet demand of export markets.
In addition, the ministry will ask Vietnamese trade offices in foreign countries to study challenges that hamper Vietnam’s exports, choose specific staples for shipments as well as expand market share in traditional markets and markets of partners involved in FTAs.
The ministry will join in national single door mechanism and pilot the ASEAN self-certification of origin project, the Minister said.
Statistics from the General Department of Vietnam Customs showed that Vietnam pocketed 97.8 billion USD from exports in the first half of the years, a year on-year rise of 18.9 percent. It included 27 billion USD from the domestic sector, up 13.8 percent, 70.8 billion USD from the foreign-invested sector, up 21 percent.
Meanwhile, the country splashed out 100.5 billion USD on purchasing products from foreign countries in the period.
Director of the MoIT’s Department of Planning Duong Duy Hung said that exports of agricultural and aquatic products will reach its peak by yearend. Meanwhile, key exports like garments, footwear and wood products are having a good time.
Imports will taper off, spurred by price reduction of steel, fertiliser and petrol, Hung added.
24 exposed to HIV after helping road crash victims in Vietnam
The scene of the accident in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum on June 30, 2017.
The accident killed four victims, one of whom was later discovered to be infected with HIV.
The provincial Department of Health said on Sunday that a total of 17 health workers and doctors as well seven local residents had assisted in giving first-aid treatment and transporting the victims to the hospital.
All of them had direct contact with the patients’ blood without proper protection, leaving them exposed to the virus, said Dao Duy Khanh, director of the health department.
The agency has provided free consultation, screening tests, and ARV medicine for all 24 people at risk, Khanh said, adding that their conditions would be monitored over the next three months.
Thorough procedures have also been carried out to sterilize the body of the deceased victim who had HIV along with his belongings.
Local authorities praised those who risked their safety to save the victims.
According to reports, the accident happened at around 1:00 pm on Friday last week along a section of the Ho Chi Minh Highway in Dak H’ring Commune, Dak Ha District, Kon Tum.
A 16-seater coach, operated by Dong Tien Transport Cooperative, was traveling from the central city of Da Nang to Kon Tum when it rammed another managed by the Tay Nguyen Cooperative running in the opposite direction.
In the crash, Tran Thi Mo, 51, and Le Van Duc, 28, were killed instantly. Two other victims succumbed to their injuries at the Kon Tum Province General Hospital on Saturday morning.
Nearly 10 other passengers suffered minor wounds.
Local authorities have provided over VND7 million (US$308) in support of the family of each deceased victim and VND2 million ($88) for each injured passenger.
TUOI TRE NEWS
The American ‘Doctor Strange’ of Vietnam
Virginia Mary Lockett helps a patient exercise at the Da Nang Hospital of Traditional Medicine in Da Nang City.
At 2:00 pm on a Tuesday afternoon, a young woman was admitted to the Da Nang Hospital of Traditional Medicine in Da Nang City.
The 22-year-old patient had been unable to move her legs since a traffic accident that nearly killed her three months earlier.
Doctors at the hospital conducted an examination of her condition, despite the patient’s emotional distress and lack of cooperation throughout the process.
Then a tall foreign woman dressed in a white coat sat down beside the weeping patient, held her hand, looked straight into her eyes and asked in Vietnamese: “Does it hurt?”
After a long conversation through an interpreter, the young woman eventually calmed down and was handed a jar of lotion to be applied to her legs where it hurt.
“It’s psychotherapy,” said Ha Thi Nhung, a technician at the hospital. “She always gets to know her patients before learning about their conditions. She gives them trust and hope through her eyes and gestures.”
For the past seven years, Nhung and her colleagues at the Da Nang Hospital of Traditional Medicine have become used to the expert bedside manner of 64-year-old U.S. physiotherapist Virginia Mary Lockett, who has been a volunteer to provide professional support for patients in Vietnam for nearly a decade.
First arriving in Vietnam in 1995, her first reason for coming was to adopt a child with her husband.
It was by chance that the couple’s interpreter at the time learned of Lockett’s profession and invited her to his home in order to recommend some therapeutic exercise for his paralyzed father.
According to Lockett, the interpreter’s father had had his femur broken in a traffic accident, but had suffered complications that led to paralysis in his arms and legs, something which was put down to the lack of appropriate training for local doctors at the time.
She recalled telling the interpreter that his father would not have been in a situation like that had he been treated in the U.S.
Both the interpreter and his father burst into tears on hearing her words, the tears that haunted Lockett well after she returned to the U.S.
It was those very tears that prompted her to go back to Vietnam ten years later as a volunteer of Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO), a Washington DC-based non-profit dedicated to improving the availability and quality of healthcare in resource-scarce countries.
As an expert in physiotherapy, Lockett spent three weeks working with doctors at a functional rehabilitation center in Da Nang, where she helped train the technicians.
However, the brief volunteer program was far from enough to deliver what the devoted Lockett needed to make real changes.
Lockett went back to the U.S. after those three weeks with the belief that her expertise was needed more in Vietnam than in America, and that her being in Vietnam would mean so much more to those patients.
After traveling back and forth between the two countries, the exhaustion and expense eventually gave way to the idea of settling down permanently in Vietnam, a decision that received the full support of her husband.
Her firstborn and first adopted child were already old enough to take care of themselves, while she thought it would do no harm for her other Vietnamese adoptee to live in his home country.
It took no time at all for the couple to go follow-through on their decision, and in the summer of 2006, Lockett and her husband sold their house and traveled across the ocean to Vietnam on a travel visa.
Prior to selling their home, Lockett had written a letter to the ambassador of Vietnam in Washington D.C., asking whether she could work long-term as a medical expert in Vietnam.
When she received the ambassador’s response that advised her to go and work for a non-governmental organization, she decided to found her own.
Steady Footsteps was founded with the goal of providing assistance to the disabled in Vietnam, with the three founding members being the couple and their Vietnamese interpreter Nguyen Huu Huy.
“They have great hearts, a frugal lifestyle and an unconditional willingness to do their best for the benefit of the patients,” Huy said. “They find joy in seeing their patients being treated free of charge.”
According to Nguyen Van Anh, the director of the Da Nang Hospital of Traditional Medicine, Lockett has brought new life to the hospital’s physiotherapy unit since she started working there as a volunteer.
The number of patients seeking physiotherapeutic treatment has increased to the point that expansions have had to be made, Anh said.
“For many years Virginia has worked the hours of any other employee without taking any days off despite her being a volunteer,” he added. “I even heard that she had once been warned of having her pension terminated for staying outside of the U.S. for too long. We have also offered to provide financial support by paying for her interpreter, but she rejected the idea right away.”
For Lockett, what she has done in Vietnam over the past ten years has been what she had wanted to do since graduating from medical school.
TUOI TRE NEWS
Vietnam’s exports forecast to hit 195 billion USD in 2017
Vietnam’s export turnover is likely to hit 195 billion USD this year, up 10-11 percent compared with 2016 and 6-7 percent higher than the target set by the Prime Minister, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s Export-Import Department.
Traffic jams cause Hanoi loss of USD600 million annually
Traffic jam on a street in Hanoi