Thứ Bảy, 21 tháng 1, 2017

Competition in farm-material growing areas heats up

Many foreign conglomerates have jumped into the Vietnamese farm produce market after Vietnam signed a series of FTAs.

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Phan Huu Thang, a respected foreign investment expert, said that Vietnam attracted more foreign direct investment (FDI) into the agriculture sector since 2015.

Many Japanese enterprises have shown their intention to invest in the farm produce processing sector or set up businesses to collect farm produce for export in the Central Highlands.

South Korean and Taiwanese have also eyed Vietnam’s agriculture. CJ Group from South Korea has invested $2.1 million in a chili project in Ninh Thuan province. In the third quarter of 2016, it announced a plan to pour $500 million into Vietnam’s agriculture.

Lotte in April 2016 revealed the plan to set up a logistics company with the emphasis on farm produce collection in Vietnam to export to South Korea.

Huynh Ngoc Phien, who was an advisor to a Thai company in Vietnam, said 4-5 years ago, many Thai companies set up their representative offices in Vietnam which organized the networks of local agents to collect farm produce to export to Thailand.
Many foreign conglomerates have jumped into the Vietnamese farm produce market after Vietnam signed a series of FTAs.
Since the mid-1990s, many big conglomerates from Japan, the US and Europe have come to Vietnam to collect farm produce for export, especially coffee, tea, cocoa and rice.

A report from the General Department of Customs (GDC) showed that 14 out of 30 leading roasted coffee exporters in the 2013/2014 crop were foreign invested enterprises, including Armajaro, Olam, Louis Dreyfus Commodities (LDC), Sunwah Commodities and Neumann Gruppe.

LDC, to serve its trade, cooperates with 6,000 farming households, 30 agents and 110 heads of farmers’ teams in the Central Highlands to implement a program on developing coffee plants with 4C and UTZ certificates.

To date, LDC has set up its agents to collect Robusta coffee in Lam Dong and Dak Lak, the biggest coffee growing areas in Vietnam, and has built an Arabica production plant in Lam Dong and one Robusta plant in Pleiku.

In 2013, LDC joined forces with Vietnamese Vinafood 1 to set up a joint venture which runs a rice miller in Dong Thap province.

Vietnam’s cocoa farming, despite modest output, also attracts foreign investors because the area has suitable climate and soil conditions to grow materials to make chocolate.

Instead of collecting, preliminarily treating and exporting cocoa beans to chocolate manufacturers in the world, Vietnamese enterprises can only grow and provide fermented cocoa beans to international traders such as Cargill, ED&F Man and Mitsubishi.

However, there are only two existing companies - Puratos Grand-Place Vietnam and Mars.

These enterprises support cocoa growers and run closed production chains, from farms to finished products.

Le Ha, VNN

Thứ Sáu, 20 tháng 1, 2017

Most impressive real estate projects among top three developers

 Pham Nhat Vuong, president of Vingroup, Trinh Van Quyet, president of FLC and Bui Van Nhon, president of Novaland are developers of the most luxurious projects in Vietnam. They have now jumped into the low-cost apartment market segment.
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The list of the richest stock billionaires released by Vietnamese press agencies has shown a big change: Trinh Van Quyet, 42, has replaced Pham Nhat Vuong at the top of  the list. However, Vuong still is the richest Vietnamese person on Forbes’ list with assets worth $2.2 billion. Forbes not only considers stock assets of billionaires, but also unlisted assets.

Quyet is the richest billionaire who owns FLC, one of the largest real estate firms, and Faros, one of the fastest growing firms in Vietnam. Just within two years, Faros’ charter capital has increased to VND4.3 trillion.

FLC has been developing a lot of large-scale high-end real estate projects throughout the country.

These include FLC Samson beach & Golf Resort in Thanh Hoa province (VND5.5 trillion), FLC Quy Nhon Beach & Golf Resort (Binh Dinh) VND7.5 trillion, FLC Vinh Phuc Resort, FLC Ha Long in Quang Ninh, FLC Vinh Thinh Resort, FLC Quang Binh and FLC Do Son.

Most recently, in late December 2016, with the witness of PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc, FLC committed to invest $1.1 billion to implement the second phase of FLC Vinh Thinh.

The group owned by the young businessman also possesses a series of other projects, including FLC 36 Pham Hung, FLC Star Tower and FLC Twin Towers in Hanoi. In Thanh Hoa, it has FLC Hoang Long IZ, while in Quy Nhon, it has Tam Duong II IZ, FLC Landmar Tower. 
Pham Nhat Vuong, president of Vingroup, Trinh Van Quyet, president of FLC and Bui Van Nhon, president of Novaland are developers of the most luxurious projects in Vietnam. They have now jumped into the low-cost apartment market segment.
Following success in the high-end market, the big players have jumped into the low-cost market segment, previously dominated by less powerful conglomerates.

The presence of VIngroup, which owns a huge number of apartments, in the low-cost market is believed to remap the market.

With record high transactions in 2016, Vingroup earned VND70 trillion, or four times higher than 2014.

Vinhomes Central Park alone brought VND30 trillion, the beachfront villas complex VND20 trillion and Vinhomes Times City VND15 trillion. The remaining came from Vinhomes Royal City and VInhomes Nguyen Chi Thanh. Also in 2016, the giant also began selling Vinhomes Metropolis, Vinhomes Golden River and Vinhomes Thang Long.

Novaland is a well known name among real estate developers with acquiring golden land plots in the inner city of HCMC and central business districts. But it became even better known on December 28, 2016 when it began listing shares on the bourse.

It now owns 40 real estate projects, including 30 under construction.

VietNamNet Bridge, Ha Vi

Thứ Năm, 19 tháng 1, 2017

What did China do to Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracels) on Jan 19, 1974?

This satellite photo shows Duncan Island, part of the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago in the East Vietnam Sea, where the January 19, 1974 battle took place.

Today marks the 43rd anniversary of China’s forceful seizure of Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago.
Bui Thanh, a senior Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper journalist, has penned a brief, yet sharp, reflection on the events of January 19, 1974 and why he believes the day should not be remembered as when Vietnam lost Hoang Sa.
Winter, 1946. Vietnam, a young nation, entered a nationwide resistance battle to protect her independence. Off at sea, Chinese troops began to take action against the country’s sovereignty.
China, in the name of an Allied power, dispatched a naval fleet to its southern seas, mapping an 11-dotted line on the waters and claiming Chinese sovereignty over them. They ran fieldtrips and destroyed constructions, temples, and all other traces of the Vietnamese, French, and Japanese. They named the four biggest islands in Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratlys) after their warships.
It was an intrusion without a single gunshot that took advantage of an Allied power disarming the Japanese.
And then the world changed.
The Chinese troops under Republic of China leader Chiang Kai-shek were defeated by the Chinese Red Army, and were eventually forced to leave the Chinese mainland for Taiwan.
The world changed, but Beijing’s ambition to exclusively occupy the East Vietnam Sea did not.
In 1956, the Chinese army sent troops from Hainan Island to occupy Phu Lam (Woody) and other islands east of Hoang Sa. Three years later, they continued to make landfall on the western islands, but were swept away by reinforced naval and marine units from the Republic of Vietnam.
By 1974, things had become much different.
The U.S. shook hands with China through agreements reached in the Shanghai Communiqué 1972. And then the U.S. started to withdraw from Vietnam through the 1973 Paris Peace Accords and the Chinese seized the opportunity to wrest Vietnam’s Hoang Sa by force.
The Republic of Vietnam’s navy force failed in their first battle at sea against Chinese troops on January 19, 1974. More than 70 soldiers died and were given a funeral in the heart of Saigon, on the 27th day of the last lunar month, before Tet (Lunar New Year).
That day has gone down in Vietnam’s history as a painful memory, when a part of the country, which ancestors had spent generations protecting, was separated from the motherland.
It has been 43 years since.
Vietnamese do not consider January 19 as the day when we lost Hoang Sa - the beloved islands that had been protected by generation after generation of men on Ly Son Island and the brave Quang region. They will forever be the natural blood and flesh of Vietnam.
It has been 43 years but we will always look to Hoang Sa in remembrance, whenever Tet is near.
Vietnam severely behind on public transport usage

A report by property consultants Savills Vietnam said that the rate of people that use public transport in urban is the lowest in Southeast Asia.
According to the report, which assesses the impacts of transport infrastructure on real estate markets, the rate of Hanoi and HCM City land allocated for transport infrastructure development is lower than that for other cities in the region.

Traffic jam on a street in Hanoi (Photo by VietnamNet) 

Car sales in Vietnam have experienced an annual rise of 35% over the past five years and the rate is forecasted to be much higher by 2025 in Hanoi and HCM City. This is attributed to the country's economic growth and higher per capita income. Meanwhile, more people continue flocking to Hanoi and HCM City to live, while the transport infrastructure development remains limited, which has added more pressure to traffic problems in the two cities.
Savills also indicated that parking fees in many central areas in Hanoi and HCM City Mức surpass regional cities like Bangkok, Manila or Jakarta. The overly-high costs are because of the limited parking spaces available in Hanoi and HCM City in contrast to the development of high-rise buildings.
The rate of people who use means of public transport in Hanoi and HCM City is the lowest in the region as these two cities are now only in the first stages developing their urban metro rail links, a similar situation to which Bangkok went through in the 1990s.
Savills also suggested that Vietnam should learn from Bangkok’s experiences in dealing with traffic problems, particularly metro development and air pollution. 
The company added that public transport development, especially urban railway systems, would have positive impacts on the real estate market in cities.
By Phuong Dung, 
Vietnam's economic challenges in 2017

Vietnam economy will encounter more difficulties in 2017 than in 2016 amid global geopolitical changes and financial uncertainties, experts say.
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Many economists have said that the 6.7 percent GDP growth rate target set by the government for 2017 was too ambitious as Vietnam only obtained 6.21 percent growth in 2016.

In the context of the increased budget deficit, fiscal policy would not help support growth. Therefore, it is highly possible that monetary policy loosening will be maintained.

However, some forecasts say it would be difficult to maintain the current stable interest rates. Some commercial banks have raised interest rates again, while bad debt, the exchange rate and higher requirements on capital adequacy ratio will affect the interest rate.

If interest rates go up, this will affect businesses’ demand for lending. This means the credit growth plan may be unattainable and loose monetary policy will not bring desired effects, affecting the GDP growth plan.
Some forecasts say it would be difficult to maintain the current stable interest rates. Some commercial banks have raised interest rates again, while bad debt, the exchange rate and higher requirements on capital adequacy ratio will affect the interest rate.
In the last three years, credit has been growing, nearly reaching 20 percent. Some international institutions have warned that rapid monetary policy loosening would bring high risks to the economy.

Regarding the dong/dollar exchange, Governor of the State Bank Le Minh Hung said the dong lost only 1.2 percent of its value in 2016. However, analysts do not believe that modest depreciation will continue in 2017.

If US President Donald Trump expands fiscal policy, the US dollar would continue appreciating in the world market and capital flow would head for the US, thus putting pressure on new emerging economies like Vietnam.

Meanwhile, the zero percent ceiling interest rate on dollar deposits has made it less attractive to bring dollars to Vietnam.

The overseas remittances (kieu hoi) to Vietnam decreased sharply in 2016, but the foreign currency supply was still plentiful thanks to increased disbursement in FDI, the trade surplus and foreign portfolio investment.

In 2017, the capital flow to Vietnam may change direction as a result of the FED decision on raising the prime interest rate, the US policy on attracting enterprises to invest in the US and the failure of the TPP trade agreement.

Vietnam gained the trade surplus of $2.7 billion in 2016 thanks to the increase in exports and the decrease in imports caused by the domestic weak demand. Meanwhile, in 2017, Vietnam’s export would bear the impacts from the devaluation of many currencies in the world against the dollar. The stronger Vietnam dong would encourage imports, which means that the trade deficit may return.

From July 2017, Vietnam may have to borrow ODA capital at market interest rates, while higher interest rates and shorter-term loans would affect Vietnam’s foreign currency supply source. 
Kim Chi, VNN
Social News 19/1

Ministries asked to speed up online public service delivery


Deputy PM Vu Duc Dam urged ministries and agencies on January 18 to accelerate the delivery of online public services, first focusing on those that help to reduce budget expenditure.

He noted that Vietnam should learn from countries with a high availability of online public services, such as France and Japan.

The deputy PM said that Vietnam’s e-government ranking could further improve if ministries and agencies increase the number of public services provided on the web.

According to the 2016 UN E-Government Survey, Vietnam ranked 89 among 193 countries overall, but ranked 74 on the scope and quality of online services, 110 on telecommunications infrastructure and 127 on human capacity.

The UN report shows there are more and more countries providing online public services through a single portal.

New technologies such as big data and the internet of things are becoming effective tools in enhancing the effectiveness of public services while social media has played a greater role in communication between the people and the government.

Representatives of ministries and agencies said much of the data used by the UN to calculate Vietnam’s ranking had not been updated or even provided, such as the expected number of years of schooling and average number of years of schooling, which were not provided by the Ministry of Education and Training.

Similarly, actual data on such indicators as the number of internet users, the number of fixed telephone lines, the number of mobile subscribers, the number of wireless broadband subscriptions and the number of fixed broadband subscriptions were all higher than suggested in the data used by the UN survey.

Deputy PM Dam said those rankings affected the competitiveness of the nation and its appeal to foreign investors.

Therefore he asked the Ministry of Education and Training to quickly provide the missing information and asked the Ministry of Information and Communications to work to improve e-government indicators.

Workers, students receive 5,000 free bus tickets for Tet

Ho Chi Minh City authorities held a ceremony offering 5,000 bus tickets for workers and students to return home for Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays in the municipal Youth’s Cultural House on January 17.

The program entitled “Spring buses-Gathering in Tet holiday” aiming to support disadvantaged students and workers to their homeland on Tet is co-organized by the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee in Ho Chi Minh City, the HCM Communist Youth Union, the Ho Chi Minh City Students Support Center in association with Thanh Nien Newspaper and PepsiCo.

Launched in 2002, the annual event has provided chances for more than 42,000 poor students, and workers to receive free bus tickets for Tet over the past 15 years.

Media works on anti-smoking awarded

Thirty six outstanding works by professional and non-professional journalists on the harmful impacts of cigarettes were awarded prizes in Hà Nội on Wednesday.

The writing competition to combat smoking, held by the Ministry of Information and Communications and Health Ministry, is among the activities to mark World No Tobacco Day (May 31), an annual World Health Organisation event to inform people of the dangers of smoking and the tobacco industry.
Started in May last year, the contest received 205 works under four categories - printed newspapers, online newspapers, TV broadcasting and radio broadcasting – in eight months.
The first prizes of the four categories were presented to Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper, Đồng Nai Province’s online newspaper, Hải Phòng City’s Television and Hà Nội Television., Việt Nam News Agency’s e-newspaper, received the second prize with its work “Joining hands to build a non-smoking family.”
At the award ceremony, Nguyễn Minh Hồng, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications and head of the contest’s organising committee, said the entries this year were submitted by reporters, editors of media agencies, media officers of education and communication centres nationwide, and non-professional writers, such as those who are retired, people from ethnic minority groups and students.
The submissions vary from documentaries, interviews, opinions to poems and songs.
“The works from professional journalists show multi-faceted and sharp views on aspects of smoking prevention and fight. The highlights are implementation of laws, regulations, cigarette smuggling prevention and specific statistics, as well as documents and witnesses to prove harmful effects of smoking and passive smoking,” he said.
He hoped the contest would motivate journalists to have better media works to change awareness and behaviour of the whole society towards the harmful habit.
Lương Ngọc Khuê, head of the Administration of Medical Examination and Treatment and director of Fund for Tobacco Harms Prevention under the Health Ministry, said non-infectious illnesses, such as blood-pressure related diseases, heart failure, diabetes and cancer, are all caused by smoking andbecomean epidemic. Smoking not only has consequences on one’s health, but also has significant socio-economic impact. Preventing and combating smoking are hard work, he noted.
 “The works submitted to the contest lead to trust and encouragement for officials, who implement smoking prevention activities, and have a powerful dissemination effect,” he said, lauding and thanking journalists for their efforts in the fight against smoking. — VNS

Four sentenced for illegally taking people abroad

The Hà Nội People’s Court on Monday sentenced four people to 15-24 months imprisonment for illegally taking people abroad.
Trịnh Quang Trung, 57, from Hoàng Mai District, Vũ Bích Hà, 47, from Ba Đình District, and Nguyễn Thị Thêu, 30, from Thanh Trì District, were sentenced to 24, 20 and 16 months imprisonment, respectively. Nguyễn Hoàng Yến, 25, from Hoàng Mai District, received 15 months’ probation.
According to the investigation, at the beginning of 2014, three people from the central provinces wanted to work in Germany, but their files did not meet the requirements to enter Europe.
They asked Hà to help them complete their files.
Hà asked one of her acquaintances, Hoàng Thế Khanh, from Đống Đa District, to help. Khanh agreed at the price of US$13,500 per person.
Khanh then persuaded Trung, Thêu and Yến to assist.
On September 15, 2014, they completed procedures to take the three people to Bulgaria and provided them fake identity cards with Bulgarian nationality, from where they were to proceed to Germany. However, they were caught while crossing Greece and were deported to Việt Nam three months later.
Khanh died before court proceedings were initiated against him.

Motorbikes allowed on slip road at southern expressway

Motorbikes will have access to the 4-km slip road connecting the HCM City – Long Thành – Dầu Giây (HLD) expressway beginning next Friday, according to the city’s Department of Transport.

Motorbikes will travel in an emergency parking lane starting from the junction of An Phú in HCM City’s District 2 to the junction of a second ring road in HCM City’s District 9.

The department, in cooperation with Việt Nam Expressway Corporation (VEC), is also installing a barrier between the motorbike lane and automobile lane, and is adjusting signboards and signal lights at the dividing lanes near the entrance lanes of the expressway.

Cars will operate at a maximum speed of 70km per hour on the lanes closest to the median of the slip road.

Cars, coaches and lorries weighing less than 3.5 tonnes will be allowed to run at the same speed in the middle lane, and motorbikes at a maximum speed of 50 km per hour in the right lane.

The arrangement allows for more efficient use of other parts of the expressway and reduces vehicle overload on Mai Chí Thọ, Nguyễn Duy Trinh, Đỗ Xuân Hợp and Võ Chí Công streets during the Tết (Lunar New Year) festival.

The 55-km long expressway opened in early 2015, costing more than VNĐ20.6 trillion (US$936 million). It passes through HCM City and Đồng Nai Province.

Tết gifts presented to Chăm people in HCM City

Deputy Prime Minister Trương Hòa Bình on Sunday visited and presented Tết (Lunar New Year) gifts to ethnic Chăm who live in HCM City.

At the office of District 8 People’s Committee, Bình offered 210 scholarships worth VNĐ1 million (US$44.3) each to poor Chăm students with good study results.

Tết presents were also gifted to 200 poor Chăm households.

Chăm people’s lives have seen positive changes, with more well-off households and children attending schools, according to recent reports.

Bình praised the authorities’ efforts in improving the social welfare of the Chăm last year, and said that more financial benefits should be given, especially to poor families, to help them thrive while maintaining their cultural values.

On behalf of the Party and State, he sent the warmest wishes to the Chăm people in HCM City as well as those who live in other provinces.

On the same day, he visited heroic Vietnamese mothers, impoverished families and others in Long An Province’s Cần Giuộc District, who each received a Tết gift.

He urged local authorities to look after them, ensuring that welfare beneficiaries in the area have a happy Lunar New Year.

Two students die of diphtheria in Quảng Nam

Two students died of diphtheria at a boarding school in the mountainous Tây Giang district of Quảng Nam province, director of the provincial health department, Nguyễn Văn Hai, confirmed to the Việt Nam News on Tuesday.

Hai said the two students – Bhling Boong, 17, from A Vương commune, and his schoolmate ZơRâm Sáo, 17, from A Xan commune – died on January 4 and 9, respectively.

He said 11 other students, kitchen staff and teachers, suspected of being infected with the disease, had tested negative for diphtheria and were well and 21 students have been quarantined for further monitoring at local medical centres and at home.

According to the provincial health department report on Monday, Bhling Boong displayed signs of illness on December 24, when he had difficulty breathing and a high fever. He died on the way to hospital on January 4. Local medical staff did not conduct any tests on his excrement.

ZơRâm Sáo, 17, was found ill on January 2 before going to hospital on January 7, where he died two days later. Sáo’s stool tested positive for diphtheria.

Three cases of fever and sore throat, symptoms of the bacterial infection, are being treated at Đà Nẵng pediatrics and obstetrics hospital and Tây Giang district’s health centre. They tested negative for the disease.

The department, in collaboration with the Nha Trang Pasteur Institute, carried out chemical spraying and cleaning of houses and schools in 10 communes of Tây Giang district over 10 consecutive days, as well as vaccinating residents.

The district has a population of 16,000, of which 90 per cent are members of ethnic groups. Many live in poor households and some were not immunised against the disease.

The school, 50km west of Quảng Nam Province’s Tam Kỳ City, is home to 789 students, 71 teachers and kitchen staff.

In 2015, three people in the province’s Phước Lộc Commune also died of diphtheria.

Two sentenced for murder

The Hà Nội People’s Court on Tuesday sentenced two men to eight years and 10 years imprisonment for murder.
Nguyễn Văn Chiến, now 17, from Mê Linh District, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. He committed the crime when he was 15 years old. Nguyễn Đức Tuấn, 17, from Đông Anh District, committed the crime when he was 16 years old and was sentenced to eight years imprisonment.
Chiến befriended an 18-year-old girl on Facebook and fell in love with her. Subsequently, Chiến discovered several emotional messages between the girl and another man on her mobile phone. Overcome by jealousy, Chiến wanted to harm the girl.
He asked Tuấn, a friend, to help him.
On February 28 last year, Chiến and Tuấn took the girl to the latter’s house. Seeing the girl standing at the balcony on the second floor, Chiến and Tuấn came near and pushed her to the ground.
The two men then took the girl to hospital, and told her mother that she slipped. She was treated at the Saint Paul Hospital but died on March 2 last year due to serious injuries.
The two men were ordered to VNĐ100 million (US$4,400) as compensation to the girl’s family.

Traditional Vietnamese products on display ahead of Tet

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism launched an exhibition cum trade fair honouring traditional crafts in Hanoi on January 18 on the occasion of upcoming Lunar New Year (Tet) festival.

The “Tet Viet 2017” Exhibition also aims to welcome important events in 2017, including the 87th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (February 3).

As many as 80 booths showcase nearly 100 traditional handicraft products such as sculptured, rattan and bamboo, silk and pottery items; and agricultural products, among others.

Visitors can try making folk Dong Ho paintings with craftsmen from Thuan Thanh district, the northern province of Bac Ninh, and enjoy traditional art performances, cockfighting, and traditional food.

Other activities include a painting exhibition, calligraphy writing, among others. It will take place until January 23 at the Vietnam Exhibition Centre for Culture and Arts at No 2, Hoa Lu street, Hanoi.

The same day, the Vietnam Trade Promotion Center for Agriculture under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development opened a one-week trade fair with the participation of 200 pavilions from nearly 200 enterprises across the country.

The event aims to accelerate the consumption of special agro-forestry-fishery products nationwide, such as Nhat Tan peach and kumquat trees, yellow apricot trees from the south, chung cake, Moc Chau tea, Dien Bien rice, and fruits.

Director of the centre Da Van Ho, who is also head of the organising board, said the event introduces high-quality agricultural products. It aims to raise public awareness of producing and consuming clean agricultural products to develop sustainable agricultural production chain.

WB lends Vietnam US$77 million to help poor students

Disadvantaged kids and their teachers will receive dual-ethnic language textbooks as part of the plan.

The World Bank has granted Vietnam a credit line of US$77 million for a project to help reform the general education system in Vietnam.

Vietnam will also contribute US$3 million to raise the total funding for the project to US$80 million.

A ceremony to kick off the project was held by the Ministry of Education and Training and the World Bank in Hanoi on January 17.

The project, which will run until 2020, aims to improve education for primary and secondary school students.

It will also provide textbooks aligned with the revised curriculum and assessment system.

Students from poor families will be able to borrow new textbooks under the project.

New bilingual textbooks in Vietnamese and other ethnic languages will also be made available online to train teachers.

Japanese firms offer technology and training to reduce traffic accidents

One person is killed every hour by accidents on Vietnam's roads at present.

Japanese companies are looking to help reduce the number of road accidents in Vietnam by introducing surveillance technology and driving safety courses.

Logistics company Nippon Express will pay to install digital tachographs to 150 trucks in Vietnam this month to record the vehicles’ movements and provide necessary training to drivers, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.

If the system proves effective, Vietnam's Transport Ministry will make the devices mandatory on all trucks across the country. Logistics firms will be required to pay for the new technology.

The devices will be connected to a server at the company’s office in Ho Chi Minh City and record data such as engine revolutions, acceleration and tilt, while detecting sudden movements like starting, braking and steering. The data will be logged every 30 seconds, allowing the company to rank drivers and provide training to improve their driving skills.

In Malaysia, the company’s system has cut the number of traffic accidents by a tenth and increased the fuel efficiency by nearly 10%, the report said.

Traffic accidents kill one person every hour in Vietnam, according to official figures. The rate is three times higher than in Japan.

Automakers Honda and Toyota also plan to provide more driver training courses in Vietnam.

Toyota Motor in March last year awarded its first specialist qualifications to eight people, including a police officer and a car dealer.

The company plans to extend the program and train a few dozen more auto safety instructors this year.

Deputy Minister of Public Security Bui Van Thanh was quoted by the Nikkei as saying that taking advantage of the global automakers' know-how could help reduce the number of accidents in Vietnam significantly.

Honda is also expected to open a driving safety training center in the northern province of Vinh Phuc this summer. The center, covering 32,000 square meters, is similar to those Honda runs in Japan and Singapore, and will receive 12,000 trainees every year.

Traffic accidents in Vietnam surged significantly from 10,000 in 2012 to more than 30,000 in 2013. The number has been reduced slightly in recent years, to around 21,600 in 2016.

Vietnam raised fines for traffic violations by 20-60 percent to a maximum of VND18 million ($800) in August last year.

But experts said there are still high risks of traffic crashes given the rising number of smart phones and vehicles.

Vietnam’s car sales in 2016 hit a 20-year high of 304,427, up a staggering 24% from the previous year. Around 3.1 million new motorbikes also hit the street last year, up 9.5% from 2015.

Ho Chi Minh City steps up administrative reform

Administrative reform is one of the seven key tasks of Ho Chi Minh City. This year, the city will apply e-planning and provide better public utility services to its citizens and businesses.

Ho Chi Minh City is running 1,700 online public services, enabling citizens to get business licenses, house construction permits, and birth or ownership certificates via the Internet.

Nguyen Thao Loan, a resident of Binh Tan district, said “I strongly support the use of IT in administrative procedures. Online registration is fast and convenient. It makes district officials more organized and helpful to the public.”

A one-stop-shop system applying e-governance has become available at the district and communal level. Power delegation combined with administrative reform has been carried out aggressively.

This year, Ho Chi Minh City will focus on e-governance, making at least 50% of public services online. Paper invitations to meetings are a thing of the past.

Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong said administrative reforms will lead to Ho Chi Minh City becoming a smart city.

“We are continuing administrative reform and empowering state management. Cumbersome procedures do harm to our development and business environment. We should create the best possible conditions for businesses and the people,” noted Mr Phong.

Increase in drug-resistant TB in southwest

An increase in the number of resistant-TB cases has occurred in the southwestern region of Vietnam, according to the head of the region’s national TB prevention and control office.

At a conference on TB prevention held last week in Can Tho, Dr Nguyen Thi Thanh Nhan said that nearly 1,300 patients with resistant TB were diagnosed every year in the southwestern region, accounting for 25% of the total number of resistant-TB patients in the country.

The provinces of An Giang (220), Dong Thap (150) and Kien Giang (130) have the highest number of resistant-TB cases in the southwestern region, while Ca Mau, Vinh Long, Can Tho, Tien Giang and Ben Tre provinces face a shortage of medicine and chemicals as well as funds.

Between 2011 and 2015, the prevalence of patients with TB per 100,000 people in the region was 141, according to the Ministry of Health. The figure was 1.3 times higher than the national rate of 112.

Nhan said besides the shortage of human resources, staff in charge of TB prevention and control in the region had received insufficient allowances (benefits beyond salary and bonuses).

Dr Nguyen Viet Nhung, head of the country’s national TB prevention and control programme, said that TB prevention should be considered the task of the entire community.

He said that more investment was needed for new technologies as well as medicine for treatment and prevention in order to reach the target of TB elimination.

In the 2017-2020 project on active intervention in TB prevention in the southwestern region, the Can Tho TB and Lung Disease Hospital is expected to become the leading specialised centre in the region.

The national TB programme aims to raise the rate of successful TB detection and treatment cases and reduce the number of resistant-TB cases from now to 2020.

Central Highlands provinces rearrange activities of plantations

State-owned plantations in the Central Highlands plan to restructure to boost business efficiency, according to the Steering Committee for the Central Highlands Region.

Thirty-one out of 38 plantations in the region are State-owned single member limited liability companies (LLC).

Dak Lak province has the most restructured forestry units but still uses the “State-owned single member LLC” model.

It has maintained production tasks, providing products, public services and other business activities for six partially State-owned single-member forestry companies – Kroong Bong, Ma D’rak, Ea Kar, Buon Wing, Chu Pha and Ea Wy.

Dak Lak plans to form a LLC of two-member or more for eight single-member forestry LLCs – Chu Ma Lanh, Rung Xanh, Ya Lop, Ea H’Mo, Thuan Man, Ea H’leo, Phuoc An, Buon Ja Wam to connect material areas with the processing industry and the market.

According to the Steering Committee, rearranging forestry companies in the region has been slow and some State-owned single-member forestry LLCs have not been effective.

Deforestation, land occupation and illegal logging were reported to occur at some enterprises while linkages between some units are ineffective.

According to the steering committee, forestry companies in the Central Highlands mainly manage natural forest and buffer forest with a combined area of 651,685 hectares. The planted forest is just 31,783 hectares.

Commune planning key to national goals

Experiences of social economic development programme (SEDP) highlight that successful community-based planning using the SEDP process will not only create opportunities to improve the effectiveness of public investment.

The policy dialogue, organised in Hanoi on January 17 by Oxfam, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank, aimed to promote discussions on opportunities, feasibilities, challenges and ways to integrate National Target Programmes (NTPs) into SEDP at a commune level.

There are currently two NTPs focusing on sustainable poverty reduction and new rural development.

Local planning reforms at commune level increase opportunities for citizens and stakeholders to participate in planning meetings, Hoang Xuan Thanh, leader of the Oxfam advisory team, said.

A programme named “Commune Planning Reform” under the framework of “Pro-poor policy monitoring and analysis” of 2014-16 funded by Irish Aid and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation shows that commune-level planning reforms gradually improve the quality of annual planning and implementation.

The reforms have been conducted in seven provinces, namely Lao Cai, Hoa Binh, Nghe An, Quang Tri, Dak Nong, Ninh Thuan and Tra Vinh.

“Integrating NTPs into SEDP helps mobilising, distributing and using better sources, contributing to sustainable poverty reduction in Vietnam,” he said.

Thanks to the SEDP planning reform at all province, district, and commune levels in some provinces, proposals by lower levels are consolidated into plans by higher levels, he said.

However, the integration faces several challenges, for example, the risks of deterioration of planning quality after funded projects end.

Nguyen Minh Tien, chief of secretariat of the Central Co-ordinating Office for New-style Rural Areas, said that Vietnam had enough legal foundations to expand local planning reforms to commune level.

"What the communes are waiting for is an official instruction circular from the Ministry of Planning and Investment," Tien said.

"Without the instruction, each locality has three plans - one on social economic development, one on national target programmes on sustainable poverty reduction, and another on national target programmes on new-style rural area development, and will not be able to implement the integration.

“The National Assembly has approved mid-term public investment resolutions, which facilitate localities in the implementation and integration of NTPs into SEDP,” he said.

However, he said, at the commune level, making plans rarely meets requirements on quality. The biggest challenge is localities’ capacity, in particular, their consultation and training capacity. Expenses on improving capacity and consultation are very limited.

The meeting agreed that it is necessary to have a legal framework from the central level on planning and integrating NTPs, SEDP, and other projects.

HCM City to launch vegetable origin QR scan

After pork, vegetables have become the second food in Ho Chi Minh City to have their origin made traceable via a simple QR scan.

The first batch of traceable greens will hit selected Ho Chi Minh City supermarkets on January 18, with a full-scale rollout expected in April.

The program is the second of its kind launched by the municipal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), with the origin of pork sold in the city’s markets and supermarkets made traceable since January.

Since January 1, city residents have been able to check the origin and journey of their pork by installing a free mobile application able to scan a QR-coded label on the pork’s package.

Similar origin traceability will be made available for vegetables starting on January 19, according to Huynh Thi Kim Cuc, deputy director of DARD.

Cuc said customers could use any QR code scanner available on their smartphones to scan the one-time label on any package of vegetables under the program, which will provide them with all the necessary information regarding the produce.

This information includes the vegetables' name; where and when they were grown, when they were packaged and distributed; as well as a list of any pesticides and fertilizers used.

The program will be piloted at selected supermarkets until the end of March, before a full-scale rollout to all VietGAP-certified cooperatives in the city, Cuc said.

VietGAP, or Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practice, is a local agricultural production safety program aimed at setting standards for the production of clean and safe farm produce.

As many as one million metric tons of vegetables are consumed in Ho Chi Minh City per annum, around 24% of which is produced locally with the rest provided by farms in other provinces, according to DARD director Nguyen Phuoc Trung.

The introduction of a food origin tracing program is the inevitable result of the need to improve customers’ trust in the city’s food safety, Trung said.

HCM City sees fruitful cooperation year with int’l partners

The year 2016 saw effective collaboration between Ho Chi Minh City and international partners, an official has said.

Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong made the remark at a meeting with representatives from foreign missions, international and non-governmental organisations, and overseas business associations in the city on January 17 on the threshold of the Lunar New Year (Tet).

He highlighted the city’s socio-economic accomplishments last year and its plans for the future.

External activities were carried out effectively in politics and diplomacy, economics, culture, and work relating to overseas Vietnamese, he said.

He hoped consul generals along with representatives from foreign organisations and businesses will continue forging cooperation between the city and countries around the world to develop HCM City into a major centre of finance, trade, science and technology in Southeast Asia.

Consul General of the Netherlands and head of consul generals delegation of countries in HCM City Simon Van Den Burg said the city is a model of successful economic development.

He expressed his desire to work with municipal authorities to support the city’s development.

HCM City’s health insurance balance records surplus

Ho Chi Minh City’s health insurance fund recorded a surplus of 680 billion VND (over 30 million USD) in its balance last year.

Cao Van Sang, Director of the municipal Social Insurance Agency, said more than 6.4 million local people bought health insurance in 2016, accounting for 78 percent of the city’s population. The figure is one percent higher than the city’s target but lower than the country’s average level.

The agency will transfer 20 percent of the sum to the HCM City People’s Committee to buy health insurance for the poor and provide equipment for health establishments at district and commune-levels across the city.

Nguyen Thi Thu, Vice Chairwoman of the municipal People’s Committee, said the rise in the number of people buying social and health insurances last year was attributed to the concerted efforts of the city’s insurance sector and local administrations.

However, she noted, the local administrations, especially the Vietnam Fatherland Front’s chapters at all levels, should make greater endeavours to fulfill the target of increasing health insurance coverage to 80.7 percent of the city’s population in 2017 and 90 percent in 2020.

Vietnamese community in China gathers to celebrate Tet

The Vietnamese community in China on January 16 gathered at the Vietnamese Embassy in Beijing to celebrate the upcoming Lunar New Year (Tet), the year of the Rooster.

Addressing the event, Ambassador Dang Minh Khoi reviewed the socio-economic development of the country during the past year, as well as the Vietnam-China ties.

He stated that the Vietnam-China relations have been growing positively, stressing that the freshly-ended China visit of Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong has been fruitful with important orientations set forth for the bilateral relationship in the future.

He acknowledged efforts of the Vietnamese community in China over the past years, expressing his hope that they will help foster Vietnam-China ties.

Participants at the event also enjoyed traditional music, dance performances and food.

Earlier on January 14, the Vietnamese Embassy and the Vietnamese Association in Mozambique jointly held a get-together in Maputo to celebrate Tet, the most important festival of the year that falls in late January.

NA, State leaders pay Tet visits to disadvantaged people

National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan presented Tet gifts to poor households in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre on the threshold of the Lunar New Year (Tet) festival on January 17.

She also attended a ceremony to hand over four primary schools, two health care stations, nine rural transportation works to the local government of Giong Trom town in Ben Tre’s Giong Trom district.
At the ceremony, 100 newly-built houses were also presented to the poor in the locality. All facilities are worth over 33.7 billion VND (1.49 million USD) funded by the Vietnam Bank for Industry and Trade (Vietinbank).

The leader also paid a Tet visit to the Military Headquarters of Ben Tre where she expressed her hope that the headquarters will continue collaborating closely with the local Party Committee and government in fulfilling all socio-economic tasks and ensuring security and defence in the locality.

She made a Tet visit to Bishop of Vinh Long Diocese Huynh Van Hai and workers at Luong Quoi coconut processing factory in An Hiep commune, Chau Thanh district.

Meanwhile, Vice State President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh paid a Tet visit to Vietnamese Heroic Mothers, underprivileged children and poor households in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai the same day.

She handed over 100 scholarships of the Vietnamese Children Sponsoring Fund to children living in the province’s social sponsoring centre. She visited and presented scholarships and gifts to local ethnic minority people in Ia Phi commune, Chu Pah district..

HCMC to build two more water plants

Authorities of HCMC have mapped out a plan to build two more water plants and upgrade water pipelines in outlying districts between now and 2019 to ensure sufficient water supply for residents.

According to a plan for water supply development in 2017 and the coming years drafted by the HCMC Department of Transport, the two facilities would be Kenh Dong 2 and Thu Duc 4 water plants which are scheduled for completion in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

They are designed to supply an additional 550,000 cubic meters of clean water per day for the city and increase the city’s total water supply capacity from 2.4 million cubic meters currently to 2.95 million cubic meters per day in 2019.

So far, HCMC has achieved the goal of supplying clean water to all households in the city after Cu Chi District last week announced all families in the district have access to clean water.

The city would set aside VND3,450 billion (some US$152.8 million) to develop water pipes to supply 142,380 households, mainly in the outlying districts such as 12, Binh Chanh, Hoc Mon, and Cu Chi where people are using water from water tanks, general water meters and water purifying facilities for households.

The city’s rising population has put great pressure on the water supply network. Meanwhile, many houses fitted with water meters have still been using well water for daily activities in order to save on expenses.  

From this year, the city government would continue to call for local people to use clean water, restrict the exploitation of underground water and improve the quality of running water.

Mien Dong coach station will become parking lot

After HCMC’s Mien Dong Coach Station is moved to District 9, its existing premises in Binh Thanh District will be used to meet transport infrastructure needs like a parking building, not for commercial developments, said HCMC Party chief Dinh La Thang at a tour to the station on Sunday.

One of the city’s main tasks is to replace Mien Dong Coach Station by a new one in District 9 this year to ease traffic congestion around the station. Then the construction of a multi-level parking lot will commence on the land with an aim of serving public transport demands.

Thang said the city will not build any shopping mall in the area.

Under the detailed zoning plan approved by the HCMC government in 2014, the land at the current bus station would be divided into two parts for construction of a parking lot and a 20-to-25-storey commercial complex consisting of a commercial center, service, hotel, and office facilities for lease. The city authorities would then auction the location in order to help raise funds for the new Mien Dong Coach Station project.

Earlier, many people had expressed concerns over the scheme to establish the shopping mall and offices, saying such a scheme would worsen traffic congestion around the area.

Traffic around the station has been heavy as Tet is approaching, resulting in traffic congestion on nearby roads in the daytime.

Draft law puts external loans under strict control

Provinces and ministries would have to go through the Government to take out foreign loans, instead of directly accessing foreign lenders, to fund their socio-economic development projects, according to a draft law on control of public debt.

The draft law prepared by the Ministry of Finance states that local governments, ministries and agencies must submit their plans to use official development assistance (ODA) loans for their projects and programs to the Prime Minister for consideration and approval. The plans should clarify the need to use ODA loans, investment purpose and project scale, the efficiency and return on investment of the projects, and their repayment plan.

The draft law requires the Ministry of Planning and Investment, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and relevant agencies, to appraise the plans and report their viability to the Prime Minister for consideration.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment should work out a review report on the need of local governments and agencies to use ODA loans for their investment projects that have already got the PM’s nod and help look for finances for projects.

Local governments, ministries and agencies should carry out the feasibility studies for their projects and programs based on the ‘in principle’ approval of the PM for submission to competent agencies for approval. Then, the projects will be forwarded to authorities for approval in line with the prevailing regulations.

The Ministry of Finance will work with ministries and localities which have projects using ODA loans over borrowing terms before proceeding with borrowing agreements.

Ministries, agencies and localities should prepare lists of projects and programs subject to allocation of State money for submission to competent authorities to approve the use of the Government’s source of development investment.

The Ministry of Finance will check and sign on-lending agreements or authorize agencies to strike such deals for the eligible projects and programs, according to the draft law. The ministry should report budget estimates for the loans sourced from the State budget to competent agencies for approval.

The draft law also puts an emphasis on the efficient use of the ODA loans. Ministries and local governments will have to earmark their budgets to timely settle payments for on-lending of ODA loans.

Ministries and local governments will be required to get the PM’s nod for their plans to seek and use concessional loans for investment.

External commercial loans should be taken out for lending-on for the projects and programs with a high return on investment. The investors will have to submit to the PM their reports on how to use the capital source for their projects.


Thứ Tư, 18 tháng 1, 2017

Vietnam's gas industry targets doubling output by year 2035

The Vietnamese gas industry aims to double its exploitation output to reach as much as 21 billion cubic metres by 2035, according to a master plan approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc early this week.

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The current output of roughly 11 billion cubic metres will be maintained to 2020 and pushed up to 19 billion cubic metres by 2025 and 21 billion cubic metres by 2035.
Vietnam also plans to import 1-4 billion cubic metres of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from 2021-25 and 6-10 billion cubic metres from 2026-35.
The master plan estimates that the gas industry would need US$10.6 billion for 2025 and another $8.5 billion in the next 10-year period to develop gas pipelines, stations, compressed natural gas and LNG plants and LNG warehouses.
Vietnam will encourage investment in the gas industry while State capital will be used to build infrastructure.
International co-operation will also be promoted to attract investment from multinational oil and gas groups, according to the master plan. It also says that incentives will be developed to encourage investment in producing LNG overseas for distribution in Vietnam.
Under the plan, a database will also be built with regular updates, especially in gas reserves, together with the application of technology to improve exploitation efficiency and prevent waste of natural resources.
About 80% of the total gas output is expected to be used for electricity generation.
In addition, gas consumption is set to expand in industrial production and transport to protect the environment.