Thứ Sáu, ngày 26 tháng 8 năm 2016

Vietnamese keen on traveling abroad

 Vietnam, with increasingly high income per capita, has become an attractive market targeted by foreign travel firms.
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Nguyen Thi Thanh, an office worker in Hanoi, who recently returned from a tour to South Korea, said he was surprised when meeting so many Vietnamese travelers in the country.

Thanh said the tour was good. “I bought a lot of clothes and cosmetics,” she said.

“The prices of the goods were not much cheaper than the ones in Vietnam. But I can be sure the products are not counterfeit and they are really made in South Korea,” she explained, adding that traveling abroad to go shopping is now in fashion among Vietnamese.

According to the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), in 2015, the country received 167,000 Vietnamese travelers, while the figure reached 138,000 in the first seven months of the year. South Korea has become one of the favorite choices for high-income Vietnamese travelers.
Vietnam, with increasingly high income per capita, has become an attractive market targeted by foreign travel firms.
Nguyen Phi Van in Phu Nhuan district in HCM City said travel firms now offer tours to South Korea with fees of VND12-12 million per traveler, a ‘very reasonable price’ for Van.

“You would have to pay VND25-30 million if you wanted to travel to South Korea several years ago. But tours are getting cheaper,” she commented.

The Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) also reported the considerable increase in the number of Vietnamese travelers to country in 2015 to 185,000 (up by 49 percent over the year before).

In the first five months of the year alone, 106,000 Vietnamese travelers went to the country. The number of Vietnamese travelers to Japan has increased by 50 percent per annum in the last three consecutive years.

Not only traveling to South Korea and Japan, Vietnamese also like tours to countries such as Dubai in UAE, Russia, Australia and Europe. Travel firms in HCM City all have reported two-digit growth rates in recent years.

According to Tran Thi Viet Huong from Vietravel, the travel firm organized overseas tours for 98,000 travelers in the first six months of the year alone, which represented the sharp increase of 107 percent in comparison with the same period last year.

As Vietnam has become an attractive market, it has been ‘pampered’ by foreign travel firms which offer many preferences. Some governments have applied policies to attract Vietnamese travelers, from visa to marketing policies.

“South Korea and Japan carry out tourism promotion campaigns in Vietnam to stimulate  demand. Vietnamese travel firms can receive big support from them,” Huong said.

Tran Thi Bao Thu from Fiditour said that foreign tourism agencies follow very professional marketing campaigns in Vietnam. They constantly launch promotion programs and reduce tour fees. Singapore renews products once every six months, while Malaysia and Thailand run sales programs with sharp discount rates.
NLD
Social News 26/8

Compulsory drug detox facilities to be replaced by voluntary treatment

 
Drug addicted people at a rehabilitation centre in Hanoi

Compulsory drug detoxification facilities will be gradually closed, to be replaced by voluntary treatment under a plan freshly approved by the Prime Minister.

According to the plan, the number of compulsory detox centres will be reduced to 71 as of 2020 with a total capacity of 20,000 patients. Meanwhile, 52 facilities will be converted to offer voluntary detox treatment.

At least 30 more detox centres will be set up using private funding, with the aim of raising the combined treatment capacity of all detox centres to 200,000, or 80 percent of the drug addicts on record.

The plan also sets the goal of providing 100 percent of staff at detox centres with professional training.

In the long term, the plan hopes to reduce by half the capacity of compulsory detox centre by 2030.

Committee to help victims of environmental incident in central region

The Prime Minister has signed a decision on the establishment of a steering committee on measures to stabilise lives and production in four central provinces affected by the serious environment incident.

The committee, led by Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh, will have 19 members representing ministries, the Government Office, the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, and Chairpersons of the People’s Committees of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoNRE) is assigned to serve as the committee’s standing office.

The MoNRE is to establish a working group to assess the damages, calculate compensation and offer support to victims in restoring production or switching to other livelihoods.

Headed by a MoNRE senior official, the group will comprise representatives from ministries, agencies and authorities from the four provinces.

The incident occurred in April when a large number of dead fish along the coast were first discovered in Ky Anh township, Ha Tinh province on April 6, then spread to Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue provinces.

It is estimated that some 15 tonnes of natural fish and 2 tonnes of farmed fish died in Ha Tinh province. Meanwhile in Thua Thien-Hue, some 30 tonnes of natural fish died and were washed up on beaches.

In late June, Formosa Ha Tinh accepted responsibility for the mass fish deaths. The pollution damaged about 400 hectares of coral and affected over 260,000 people who earn their living by working in sea-related activities.

The company pledged to compensate over 11.5 trillion VND (500 million USD), which will be used to support local fishermen in changing their jobs and recover the polluted maritime environment. It also vowed to deal with shortcomings and limitations in waste and wastewater treatment.

Former revolutionary base region showcases tourism potential

The Viet Bac region, the seat of the revolutionary government during the anti-French war, will showcase its tourism potential through a programme named “Travelling through heritage areas of Viet Bac” and the 2016 Tuyen Quang City festival from September 9-12.

The region, which spreads over Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Cao Bang, Bac Kan, Thai Nguyen and Lang Song provinces, boasts great tourism potential with well known destinations like Ba Be Lake, one of the world’s largest fresh water lakes, in Bac Kan province, Dong Van Karst Plateau in Ha Giang province, Ban Gioc Waterfall in Cao Bang province, and Na Hang hydropower reservoir, dubbed a Ha Long Bay in the forest, in Tuyen Quang province.

A festival on folklore culture and art will be organized with unique performances performed by artists and mass actors from the six provinces in the region.

Tourists will have the chance to enjoy the Then singing, an ancient music form of Tay ethnic group which is looking for UNESCO recognition as part of the world intangible cultural heritage.

As part of tourism promotion activities on the occasion, a food fair featuring traditional dishes of ethnic groups in the region will be held alongside a photo exhibition on the northern mountainous region.

One highlight will be the Tuyen Quang City Festival Night with a parade of characters in folklore tales, historic characters and animals associated with Vietnamese culture such as mice and buffalo.-

Kon Tum: Illegal gold mining rampant in Đắk Long Commune

Illegal gold mining has become rampant in Đắk Glei District’s Đắk Long Commune over recent years, causing serious environmental pollution and damage to local residents’ life, online newspaper zing reported.

A resident of Đắk Long Commune in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum told a zing reporter that illegal gold miners have publicly operated for many years in various places in Đắk Ôn hamlet.

“Because the main gold reserve of the commune exists here. Local authorities have come and seized miners’ machinery many times, but then the activity recurs,” the resident said.

This person also said hazardous chemicals used in gold mining had polluted the environment. Water in Đắk Plok stream, which local residents use for watering crops and daily life’s activities, was so polluted that it can no longer be used.  Trees were also chopped down, resulting in floods and landslides in the rainy season which caused huge losses to local residents, this person said.

According to the reporter’s observations, gold is exploited manually with three groups of miners working round the clock.

A Hiêng, chairman of Đắk Long Commune People’s Committee said the local authority often co-operated with border soldiers to crack down on illegal miners, however their force was too small to maintain regular inspections.

“People often do the mining on weekends while our force is too small to prevent it. The miners may have someone behind them, because whenever we seized their machines, they would have new machines right afterwards,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nguyễn Văn Diệu, a spokesperson for Đắk Glei District People’s Committee told the reporter that an inter-section team of the district had recently carried out an inspection at Đắk Bloc Lake in Đắk Ôn hamlet and seized four batches of machines.

He said people kept doing the job despite knowing it was illegal due to very high profits available from gold mining.

“The district’s People’s Committee has asked Đắk Long Commune authority to carry out an inspection once every two days and impose punishments for any violations found,” he said.

Tuition fee hike not coincide with medical fee soar: Ministry

In its dispatch to departments and vocational training facilities upon tuition fee adjustment, the Ministry of Education and Training ordered not to raise tuition fee at the same time with medical fee soar.

The Ministry asked to raise tuition fee in a set road map as per the Circular No.86, noting that schools should not increase tuition fee at the same time with medical hike in a bid to limit effects on consumer index.

The Ministry proposed schools to base on ceiling tuition fee of the circular and on forms of schools to set a detailed tuition fee for each academic year and terms. School managers must publicize in bulletin in schools.

Moreover, the Ministry ordered schools not to collect fee exceed the ceiling for each vocational training form as per regulation.

Concert to mark Pop star Dam Vinh Hung's 20 year career

A musical performance marking the 20-year career of Pop star Dam Vinh Hung will be held in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in October.

Pop star Dam Vinh Hung, also known as “Mr. Dam”, will perform major hits and popular love songs in the 80s and 90s.

Hung is one of the famous pop singers in Viet Nam. His many popular songs have been ranked high on various music charts in the country.

The concert titled “Diamond Show” will see the participation of director Tran Vi My; musicians, Viet Anh, Anh Khoa, Bao Lu, Hoang Anh and Tam Vinh; singers Ho Ngoc Ha, Duong Trieu Vu, Noo Phuoc Thinh, Thanh Thao, Hong Ngoc and Bao Anh.

The event will take place at Hoa Binh Theater in Ho Chi Minh City on October 1-2; and at the National Convention Center in Hanoi on October 15.

Local artist unveils women-themed paintings

Feminine, a women-themed paintings exhibition by artist Phuong Binh, is on display until August 31 at ā Gallery in downtown HCMC.

Binh, a 42-year-old artist based in Hanoi, has been known for her women-themed paintings made from traditional materials of do (rhamnoneuron) paper and Chinese ink. Viewers are familiar with the fancifulness and softness of her artworks.

However, the ongoing show is expected to leave new impressions on viewers through 19 oil-on-canvas and acrylic artworks characterized by her new creative touches. Using the same free-style strokes, Binh can evoke people’s imagination of women’s sexiness and charm.

Cafe owner highlights continued vendetta by officials

Nguyen Van Tan, owner of the Xin Chao Cafe in Ho Chi Minh City, said he feared a continued vendetta by the local police after several officers were fired for filing wrongful criminal charges against him.

On August 8, 2015, Tan opened a cafe in Binh Chanh District opposite of the district police building. His business licence was scheduled to be granted on August 19 and a food safety certificate on September 29. However, on August 18, he was fined over VND17m (USD772) for not having the licences. Then on March 11, Tan faced a criminal charge for illegally conducting business.
After the case was exposed and brought to HCM City Party Secretary Dinh La Thang and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the officers were punished. Nguyen Van Quy, head of the district police, Le Thanh Tong, former deputy head of the district people's procuracy and Huynh Van Son, an official at the people's procuracy were fired.
While that should have resolved the problem, his tangles with officialdom have continued.
In order to find a place to wash the dishes, Tan bought an old container, cut it into four parts and renovated it for the cafe. He even asked for permit from the local authorities and promised to remove it immediately if needed. However, the local authorities asked him to remove the containers, Tan removed three parts and asked to keep the last part next to his cafe to wash the dishes.
On August 16, Chairman of Tan Tuc Town Nguyen Thanh Vu demanded him to stop using the container and went as far as cutting electricity and water at the cafe. According to Vu, any construction is banned from the land and they also blocked vehicles carrying construction materials from entering. Tan was told that he must remove everything within three days.
Several lawyers have voiced their oppositions, saying that the violation was unfounded as Tan's container is not a construction 'tied to the land' like a building. The chairman is also wrong for ordering utilities companies to cut electricity and water at the cafe because this is a civil contract.
"I didn't dare to build a permanent building because I was afraid this sort of thing would happen. I borrowed money to buy a really small container for VND15m (USD681) just so I could have a place to store dishes, pots and pans. Now they are forcing me to remove it and I heard that I might be fined some twenty million of VND. I probably have to sell this cafe and leave. I just don't understand, this small container fits on the land that I rented. I'm really scared," Tan said.
District Party Secretary Nguyen Van Phung said, "The town chairman said it was standard. I told him whatever standard it is, it must be reasonable. And demanding companies to cut electricity and water is not the chairman's job. Don't get involved in such petty things, it's not worth it."
There's a folk story about a family living with dangerous tigers in the forest. They said they'd rather live with the dangerous tigers than under the control of cruel rulers.

OVs children having no birth registration go to school

The Binh Phuoc provincial Department of Education and Training (DoET) will offer free tuition fees, clothes, books and learning facilities to 78 Cambodia-born Vietnamese children who have no birth registration in the 2016-2017 academic year, said Nguyen Van Hung, director of DoET.

This is the first time these children have a chance to get regular training at primary schools in the province.

Currently, the OVs returning from Cambodia have no land to cultivate and make their living by fishing on Saigon and Be rivers or working for hire. Until now, their children have not been able to go to school as they have no identity papers.

Early in July, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked localities to help Vietnamese people returning home from Tonlé Sap Lake in Cambodia stabilize their lives to enable their children to attend school. Most of these OVs are now living in Tay Ninh, Binh Phuoc and Long An provinces.

Quang Nam hosts conference on urban development

It was standing room only at a conference in Quang Nam as scholars, government officials and local residents gathered to discuss a broad set of topics during an urban development conference.

The main goal of the conference was to share best strategies and practices as well as review some of the most ambitious ways to provide decent homes and communities for citizens.
 
In a keynote address, Professor Donyun Kim from Sung Kyun Kwan University in the Republic of Korea spoke about the current movement of Vietnam to a more industrialized society and the related migration of citizens from rural settings to urban centres.

Now more than ever action is needed at the local level, Professor Kim emphasized, adding that it would take the creativity and actions of the local government working in concert with local residents to build the communities of the future.

Programs and policies, he said, would need to incorporate an interrelated mix of issues, from place-based development to transportation, from climate change to arts and culture.

Most importantly, he asserted, action plans must be individualized for each urban centre. He said Vietnam currently has nearly 800 urban areas and the figure will continue to grow in the time ahead.

At the event, there was a panel discussion on securing housing options for all, and experts discussed the interplay between homelessness, public housing, the impact of manufacturing, regional planning and more.

Nguyen Quang, director of the UN-Habitat program in turn spoke about the fast pace of urbanization noting that 40% of the nation’s population would live in urban areas by 2020 according to some projections.

Therefore, said Mr Quang its critically important for the public, private and civil society sectors to join forces to share, develop and implement best practices in sustainable urban development and environmental planning.

Vietnam steps up efforts to bring overseas experts home

Around 300,000 overseas Vietnamese are active in the fields of science and technology.

Vietnam plans to build an information database of Vietnamese scientists living overseas so that the country can tap into their potentials, according to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vu Hong Nam.

Vietnam has compiled a list of thousands of Vietnamese scientists currently active in a variety of scientific, technological and economic fields, the government's online portal quoted Nam, who is also the chairman of the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs, as saying.

Of the five million overseas Vietnamese, about 300,000 are directly involved in scientific and technological development, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, highlighting the fact that Vietnam needs their expertise back in the country.

As part of the government’s efforts, the Ministry of Education and Training has offered overseas Vietnamese intellectuals employment at local universities so that they can provide training as lecturers and researchers.

Vietnamese universities currently employ about 600 foreign experts on short-term contracts, of whom just 52 are overseas Vietnamese, according to a survey of 49 local universities and colleges.

Local governments have also seen the potential of luring these individuals home.

For instance, the Overseas Vietnamese Club for Science and Technology, set up by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee around 10 years ago, has helped connect overseas Vietnamese scientists with local institutions and individuals who need their skills and abilities.

Last year Ho Chi Minh City failed to hit its recruitment targets, hiring only half the number of foreign experts, including overseas Vietnamese that it needed, according to the city’s Department of Science and Technology, due mainly to a lack of financial incentives.

Vietnam received US$12.3 billion in overseas remittances last year, slightly up from US$12 billion in 2014, according to the central bank.

Remittances from overseas Vietnamese remain a key source of foreign currencies for the country's economy, in addition to foreign direct investment and official development assistance.

There are currently 4.5 million Vietnamese people living overseas who send home foreign currencies equivalent to about 8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

The Vietnamese government has tried to keep the link between those living outside the country and the homeland alive.

Last month, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc approved a Vietnamese-language online teaching program which targets younger generations of overseas Vietnamese.

Vietnamese province bans police from Pokemon Go amid security fears

A district police station in the central province of Ha Tinh has banned all officers from playing Pokemon Go following concerns that they could accidentally reveal sensitive data while playing the game.

The move took effect this week in Ha Tinh's Thanh Ha District. The district police force even suggested that their staff tell family members to refrain from playing the game or delete it.

The idea that game players may trespass on military bases using GPS on their smart phones to detect Pokémon has caused concern because when a mobile phone’s camera is activated it can collect information about the location of these restricted areas.

The virtual reality gane has taken the country by storm since its release just three weeks ago.

Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game in which players walk around in the real-life world to catch virtual creatures on their smart phone screens.

In doing so, the game engages the camera on mobile phones and activates GPS tracking.

Vietnamese authorities are concerned that game players could be tricked into downloading a copycat application and then unintentionally revealing sensitive information that creates security risks.

A senior police official in Thanh Ha District defended the decision to order all officers to stop playing the game and restrict game players from police property, saying: “For security concerns, some police stations throughout the country have banned the game.”

Acting on the same concern, a military base in the coastal province of Binh Dinh has also prohibited Pokemon Go.

Since last week, Vietnam has banned Pokemon Go players from the offices of its government, besides religious, historic and defense sites.

HCM City party chief encourages labor unions to stage strikes

The secretary of the Party Committee of Ho Chi Minh City wants labor unions of companies citywide to be more effective in staging legitimate strikes for workers, a request that sparked quite a debate on August 23.

As Dinh La Thang met with the municipal Labor Confederation chairwoman Tran Kim Yen this morning during his visit to the Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone in District 7, he challenged her with a surprise question.

“Have labor unions under your confederation ever organized any successful strike?” the municipal Party chief said.

Yen could not respond anything other than “Never.”

Thang went on saying that if there has yet to be any successful union-backed strike to take place, the Labor Confederation “should be brave in doing so.”

“I have been briefed at all of the previous job actions were done totally of workers’ own accord,” the Party chief said.

“What’s worth noticing is that most of the workers’ demands were met following the strikes, which indicates that their requests are legitimate.”

This leads to a bigger question, he added, as to why employers only accepted those requests when workers have resorted to walkout, while negotiations initiated by the labor unions usually fail.

“So why the unions do not stage lawful strikes for workers?” he questioned.

Even though left surprised by the audacious question, some attendants of the meeting with Thang voiced their disagreement with his view.

Tran Thanh Hong, deputy direct of the Tan Thuan Co. Ltd., made no secret of his view that it is better to have no strike than a successful walkout.

“I think the labor union should try to develop a mechanism so that workers have their demands met without having to go on strike,” Hong told the Party chief.

“Spontaneous strikes may be reasonable in some cases, but in other cases, it will bring in bad consequences, which is very dangerous,” he said.

To avoid these consequences, Hong added, there must be a capable union leader and a proper striking procedure.

“There are strikes that went on for seven days but in the end no one was found to be the leader,” he said.

Thang said the problem is that workers never consider the union officials their leaders. “We have to think about this issue seriously,” he said.

In the meantime, the city’s Labor Confederation chairwoman Yen said if workers can achieve what they want through illegitimate strikes, it will lead to bad precedent for more walkouts to come.

“The Labor Confederation will continue working on this issue to ensure that unions at companies can well protect the rights of workers there,” Yen promised.

Eye-training method to cure refractive error debunked in Vietnam

Multiple eye-training centers in Vietnam have recently boasted of a method of curing refractive errors in the eye without surgery, but the method is yet to be tested by research.

Many online sites and Facebook pages have advertised methods to cure refractive error without surgery.

Ha Vy, a trainer at one of the eye centers making the claims, said that her eyes, previously nearsighted, are now better than the average pair of healthy eyes thanks to the method.

Vy said that her method is a combination of meditation, yoga, and qigong, consisting of breathing and eye-strengthening exercises.

According to Vy, the center offers courses ranging from 12 sessions to 200 sessions, with a 50-session- course priced at VND15 million (US$672).

Pham Nguyen Huan, vice director of the general planning department at Ho Chi Minh City Eye Hospital, revealed that there had been no scientific research accepting eye-muscle training as a method of correcting refractive error.

According to Huan, the exercises in the method sould constrict the pupils due to rapid eye adjustments, allowing the eyes to see further over a short period of time.

This short-term effect is the “cure” boasted on by the eye-training centers.

Huan advised those with refractive error to seek treatment at professional eye care facilities and observe progress every six months. Furthermore, resting one’s eyes is recommended during periods of work or study.

Parents should also allow their children to participate in outdoor activities to prevent the aggravation of refractive error.

Lâm Đồng garbage dump reopens after a year

The Cam Ly garbage dump in Lâm Đồng Province has been reopened after more than a year, to reduce the load on a waste treatment plant in Đà Lạt City.

The amount of garbage currently accumulating in the Solid Waste Treatment Plant, the only one of its kind in Đà Lạt City in the Central Highlands province, is more than 20,000 tonnes.

“Garbage overflows onto the hill sides at the waste collection site in the plant and pollutes the water. The neighbourhood faces a great risk of environment pollution,” Lương Văn Ngự, deputy director of the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said.

To resolve the problem, Lâm Đồng People’s Committee has decided to reopen the Cam Ly garbage dump, which was closed more than a year ago for not meeting environment standards. Till September 30, 80 out of 180 tonnes of garbage collected daily from Đà Lạt City and Lạc Dương District will be transported to Cam Ly garbage dump for treatment, while the rest will go to the Solid Waste Treatment Plant, according to the order of the People’s Committee.

The plant, built at a cost of VNĐ400 billion (US$ 17.9 million) by Đà Lạt-based Green Energy Environment Company, became operational in July 2015 to replace the Cam Ly garbage dump. It is designed to handle 200 tonnes of garbage per day. But it soon showed many shortcomings as some facilities were yet to be built, causing chronic overloading, and forcing local people to repeatedly complain about the pollution the plant caused in their living environment.

Project teaches swimming to thousands of kids in Thua Thien – Hue

Over 4,300 children in t he central province of Thua Thien – Hue were taught swimming skills during this year’s summer under a project funded by the Nordic Assistance to Vietnam/ Norwegian Church Aids (NAV/NCA).

The children are students of 43 primary schools in the coastal and rural districts of Nam Dong, A Luoi, Phu Loc, Phu Vang, Quang Dien, and the towns of Huong Tra and Huong Thuy.

Over the past three years, the project has been carried out across 110 primary schools in the province, benefiting 11,000 students.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Dung said the project has helped reduce drowning accidents in thelocality.

He pledged that the province will continue teaching swimming skills for local primary pupils while enhancing communication work to raise the public awareness of preventing drowning accidents among children.

The provincial official urged the educational sector to mobilise resources for expanding the activity.

Besides the project, the NAV/NCA has provided assistance for the province in social issues, such as poverty reduction, gender equality, HIV/AIDS prevention and control, and climate change adaptation and natural calamity mitigation, according to Dung.

A UNICEF survey showed about 7,000 children die from drowning each year in Vietnam.

Debate rages over Sabeco nepotism accusations

The head of Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) Nguyen Dinh Cung has called the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) "shameless" after it claimed the promotion of former minister Vu Huy Hoang's son had followed all procedures.
The Vietnam Association of Financial Investors (VAFI) previously sent a letter to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, urging the ministry to inspect the appointment of Hoang’s son, Vu Quang Hai, as deputy CEO of Sabeco in early 2015. Before the promotion Hai was the general director of PetroVietnam Finance Investment JSC. Between 2011 and 2012, under Hai’s management, the company racked-up losses of VND220 billion (USD10 million) compared to registered capital of USD13.5 million.
Nguyen Hoang Hai, deputy head of VAFI said they decided to file complaints with the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Government Inspectorate.
Cung said he had seen the written response from MoIT to VAFI on newspaper which said that even though there might have been mistakes during the process, the promotions at Sabeco and PetroVietnam had followed all procedures and there were no legal grounds to hold Hai responsible for causing losses at PetroVietnam.
Cung said the ministry was trying to cover up evident problems in the process. "When I read the response, I can only say that it's shameless. I have nothing to say," he said.
According to Cung, Sabeco have been equitised so the ministry could only nominate people onto the board of directors, the board would then have to vote on other positions such as directors or vice directors. It was a violation if Sabeco 'begged' the ministry to promote someone as deputy CEO.
Secondly, he said that even though the private-sector investors only had a 20% stake, it's was still their money and they should have a voice in the company.
"This is not a government office, the employees don’t have to be state officials," he said. "It's wrong to use the excuse that Sabeco wanted Hai to be their deputy CEO. You must choose the best candidates with clear criteria and do it transparently."
Cung had previously also vocally criticised Sabeco when it claimed the promotion followed all procedures.
"Stop talking about following procedures. Procedures are a tool, not a goal. Procedures are only used to find the best leaders or employees, but if we can't find the best ones then we must re-check the procedures. Hai should resign from Sabeco. It's simply a matter of self-respect," he said.

Most advanced hospital operates in central Vietnam

Thien Nhan Infirmary opened yesterday is considered one of  the most advanced in the central Vietnam. It provides health consultation, examination, treatment for maternity, pediatric, mental health, ophthalmology, oral and Maxillo Facial Surgery.

It is the most advanced equipped hospital in the central Vietnam. It has Voluson E10 OB/GYN Ultrasound with World's First Curved Matrix Electronic 4D Probe; German’s 4D SIEMEN  ultrasound system visualizes entire blood flow during valve procedures; the U.S. LOGIC S7 EXPERT ultrasound scanner.

The infirmary can admit 200 - 300 patients a day. It works seven days a week

The hospital director Dr. Ngo Duc Hai said that the clinic aims to meet demand of high quality treatment and examination of residents in the central city of Da Nang and and the central-highlands provinces.

The hospital will provide the best services and proper price to patients.

The infirmary is located in 276-278 Dong Da Street in Hai Chau District in the central city of Da Nang on August 20.

New polyclinic in Can Tho to open in 2018

Residents living in Can Tho Province can look forward to a new polyclinic in their area in 2018, following approval of the project by the Can Tho City People’s Committee.

The US$90 million Vinmec Centre, proposed by Vingroup, will pilot a new model that will be equipped with state-of-the-art modern high-tech equipment.

The new 8-storey facility is looking into the concept of having patients cared for by a specific healthcare team comprising family physicians, care managers, care coordinators and allied health professionals.

The aim is to foster strong relationships between patients and their healthcare teams.

New rural building programme for 2016-2020 approved

The national target programme for building new-style rural areas has been approved by the Prime Minister in Decision No. 1600/QD-TTg.

The overall goal of the programme is building new-style rural areas with a view to lifting the material and spiritual living standards of people, developing proper social-economic infrastructure, and achieving proper economic restructure and production modes.

It also aims to combine agricultural development with that of urban areas, create a democratic, equal and stable rural society imbued with traditional cultural identities.

The programme’s specific goal is to have at least 50 percent of the number of communes throughout the country meeting the criteria of a new-style rural commune, and encourage each province and centrally-managed city to have at least one district completing the criteria of a new-style rural district.

The number of criteria completed by communes in the whole country on average must increase to 15 out of 19 and no commune should have completed less than five criteria.

Under the programme, necessary facilities like roads, electricity, clean water, schools and medical stations will be developed in order to meet the needs in the production and life of local people.

The quality of life of rural people will be improved with many production models providing stable jobs for people, and income will increase at least by 1.8-fold against 2015.

In order to achieve these goals, the first solution recommended is to continue wide communication campaigns on building new-style areas and organise emulation movements in building new-style areas from central to grassroots levels.

The next task is to continue perfecting the system of mechanisms and policies, review and perfect the set of criteria on building new-style areas, taking in all contents of the programme as well as reflecting the specific characteristics of each locality.

Policies for special areas will be built with priority given to indispensable infrastructure, directly serving production in the “Restructuring agricultural sector” project.

Delegating authority to communes will be promoted, as will creating favourable conditions for people and communities to be the real decision maker in the cause of building new-style areas, and transparency and accountability must be ensured during the implementation of the programme.

For the programme to be implemented successfully, it is necessary to diversify capital resources such as by combining the capital resources of the national target programme for sustainable poverty reduction and other projects in the locality.

Besides that, it is necessary to mobilise all available resources in localities for the implementation of the programme. Mobilising capital from enterprises for works with immediate turnover is one method, another would be allowing enterprises to borrow the State or province’s capital credit for investment and development.

Volunteer contributions from local people are also a source of capital mobilisation but the use of the donations should be approved by the communes’ people’s councils.

Total State investment capital for the programme is estimated to be at least 193,155.6 billion VND (8.66 billion USD), in which 63,155.6 billion VND will be from the central budget and 130,000 billion VND from local budgets.

Ambassador: New Zealand can help Mekong Delta with hi-tech farming

New Zealand, which exports 80 percent of its agricultural products, is willing to transfer its advanced farming technologies and machinery to the Mekong Delta, New Zealand Ambassador Haike Manning said in a recent trip to the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho.

Talking to Vietnam News Agency reporters during the trip, the ambassador spoke highly of Mekong Delta’s potential for agricultural development, adding that the region must make breakthrough steps in mechanisation and quality control in order to adapt to globalisation and cope with fierce competition on the world market.

He recommended that the government uses its coordinating role and financial assistance policy to help local farmers buy machinery and invest in modern processing technology, while farmers should join hand to improve their collective capacity.

The ambassador reviewed several effective agricultural projects funded by New Zealand in the Mekong Delta, including a 4.1 million USD scheme on cultivating dragon fruit in Tien Giang province.

He revealed that another project will be rolled out in the near future in Can Tho City to help local farmers adopt a new pig-rearing model.

Looking back at the recent drought and salt water intrusion in the Mekong Delta, Ambassador Haike Manning said such natural disasters will come again in the future, so the key solution is to help the region find suitable plants and animals as well as farming and husbandry techniques in order to cope with the impacts of climate change.

New Zealand has been providing 4.13 million USD in emergency aid since 2012 to Ben Tre province to help local residents, particularly coastal communities and low-income groups, to improve their capacity to cope with climate change through changing their cultivation and husbandry habits.

Farmers are taught how to plant short-term and long-term crops alternately and raise animals on small scale to divide risks while ensuring regular income from different sources instead of only one.

According to the ambassador, New Zealand is also willing to share with Mekong Delta experiences in developing a system to ensure food safety and a modern distribution network.-

Central Highlands grants nearly 2.4 mln land-use rights certificates

Provinces in the Central Highlands – Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Dak Nong and Lam Dong – have granted 2.383 million first-time land-use rights certificates for ethnic households with a combined area of 4.156 million hectares.

The information was released by the Standing Board of the Steering Committee for the Central Highlands. Dak Lak has granted 730,674 certificates for 967,436 hectares, equal to 92.8 percent of the task.

Kon Tum, Dak Nong, and Lam Dong all have completed at least 90 percent of their work. Gia Lai is the only province with the rate falling short of 90 percent.

According to the standing committee, the reasons behind the provinces’ incomplete granting of certificates are prolonged land-clearance and compensation, ethnic households not coming to register or receive certificates and localities’ lack of consideration in changing land-use goals.

Provinces in the region continue reviewing and issuing regulations related to land, rectifying and overcoming limitations in land registration, granting certificates, building land databases in the region as well as promoting public communications campaigns to help ethnic minorities get a better understanding of their rights and responsibility to land.

Central Highlands provinces recommended the legitimacy of and the granting of certificates to households and individuals who reclaimed virgin land and illegally occupied forestry land that has been stably used prior to July 1, 2004; and then changed the land-using purpose to housing land or agricultural land in line with the land-use planning approved by authorised agencies.

Regional provinces will strive for completing the measurement and the granting of land-use certificates for agricultural land and forestry plantations in 2016 according to instructions by the Prime Minister.-

Party delegation inspects Thai Nguyen’s fight against corruption

A working delegation led by head of the Party Central Committee’s Inspection Commission Tran Quoc Vuong held a working session with authorities of northern Thai Nguyen province on August 22 to inspect the investigation and prosecution of corruption and economic cases of public concern.

Between now and October 20, the delegation will inspect 18 local units in terms of the discovery, investigation and trial of corruption and economic corruption cases, as well as the implementation of the Politburo’s Direction on strengthening the Party’s leadership over the settlement of corruption cases.

Speaking at the session, Vuong said the inspection aims to affirm the Party’s strong determination in the fight against corruption in line with the Resolution adopted by the 12 th National Party Congress, thereby spreading effective models and seeking measures to improve the efficiency of uncovering and dealing with corruption.

Overseas Vietnamese in Czech Republic pay tribute to heroic martyrs
A requiem has been held in Prague, the Czech Republic on the occasion of Vu Lan (Ullambana) – a major Buddhist festival, to commemorate soldiers who laid down their lives to defend Vietnam’s sea and island sovereignty.
Former Vice President Truong My Hoa took part in the event on her working visit to the country to raise funds for the Vu A Dinh Scholarship Fund and the “For beloved Hoang Sa and Truong Sa” club.
She said most Vietnamese expatriates in countries understood more about the significance of sea and island activities after watching documentary films from the club.
In his speech at the event, Most Venerable Thich Thien Bao from the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha Central Committee highlighted the significance of the Vu Lan festival, which falls on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month (August 17 this year).
He said it is an occasion to pay tribute to parents, teachers, and revolutionary martyrs who sacrificed their lives to safeguard national sovereignty, adding that Vietnamese communities abroad should educate young people to preserve the tradition.

Illegal fishing in Hon Mun to face big fines

Nha Trang Bay Management Board has proposed strict fines for people caught illegally fishing in Hon Mun Marine Protected Area.
A fine from VND 25-35 million (USD1,123-1,572) has just been proposed by the board for two local fishermen who were caught fishing in the area on August 21.
Nha Trang Bay Management Board detained a fishing boat for illegally fishing in Hon Mun Marine Protected Area on August 21.
Head of the board, Huynh Binh Thai, said that Hon Mun Marine Protected Area boasts a diversified marine life with many rare species which are under threat due to the rising number of illegal fishing activities by local people.
"Marine life has been seriously affected by the use of explosives and chemicals to catch fish by local fishermen," Thai said. "It's time we issued strict punishments to prevent further violations.
Hon Mun Marine Protected Area was established in 2001 with financial support from the World Bank, the Danish government, and the World Conservation Union. The area is home to 340 out of the total 800 coral species in the world. Since the project was initiated, it has sought to plan for the sustainable management of the Nha Trang Bay while undertaking community development activities to support local users of the bay’s resources.

VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/TT/TN/Dantri/VNE
BUSINESS IN BRIEF 26/8

Runway upgrade sought for major airports
The Ministry of Transport has requested Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV) to draw up plans to better manage and upgrade runways at Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat international airports to ensure safety and more operation efficiency at the country’s busiest airports.
The ministry made the request following a suggestion by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) to upgrade runways at Noi Bai in Hanoi and Tan Son Nhat in HCMC, the Vietnam News Agency reported.
In its proposal, CAAV said the runways at the two airports have been used since 1960s, so it is not good for them to accommodate the world’s most modern aircraft such as Airbus A350-900s and Boeing B787-9s.
CAAV said as there are signs of deterioration on Runway 11L/29R at Noi Bai and Runway 25R/07L at Tan Son Nhat, they should be facelifted soon to help increase the efficiency of the two airports.
Since 2015, the aviation watchdog has several times urged ACV to map out plans to revamp the runways to facilitate aircraft take-offs and landings at Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat airports. However, the corporation said it had no such plans in the offing.
Railway firm’s revenue plunges

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Vietnam Railway Corporation (VRC) remained profitable last year but its revenue fell by half compared to 2014, according to the corporation’s financial report released recently.
VRC’s financial report audited by AFC Vietnam Auditing Co Ltd showed the railway firm earned over VND2.6 trillion (US$119.1 million) in revenue last year, equivalent to 48% of the 2014 figure. Though the report does not explain the decline, it is widely known that the transport capacity of the railway sector stays low. 
According to data of the Ministry of Finance, the railway sector accounts for a mere 4.5% of total passenger transport and 1.8% of cargo transport.
VRC general director Vu Ta Tung said the railway sector holds less than 1% of the transport market but this market share is dropping now.
In contrast, airlines, especially low-cost carriers, have expanded with an annual growth rate of 15-20%.  
Despite tumbling revenue, VRC remained profitable thanks to other business operations such as maintenance of railway infrastructure facilities, warehouses and real estate.  
In 2015, VRC posted VND111 billion in profit, up 2-fold from the previous year, and its after-tax profit amounted to VND39.7 billion, up slightly from VND39.6 in 2014.
By end-2015, VRC had had total assets of some VND7.4 trillion and its debt had surpassed VND2.25 trillion with half of it short-term loans. The firm’s equity had exceeded VND5.16 trillion.  
Meanwhile, VRC had had deposits of VND3.32 trillion at banks, up from VND1.02 trillion at the beginning of last year. 
Notably, the enterprise cut its management costs to VND359 billion in 2015 from VND917 billion in 2014.
VALC earns big profit from aircraft leasing
Vietnam Aircraft Leasing Company (VALC) posted revenue of US$76.6 million and after-tax profit of US$19.5 million in fiscal 2015, with most of the revenue contributed by its leasing of commercial aircraft.
In fiscal 2014, the company obtained US$76.8 million in revenue and US$19.7 million in after-tax profit, according to the local news site VnExpress.
Leasing ATR and Airbus airplanes, helicopters and aircraft simulators accounted for a lion’s share of VALC’s revenue last year, including US$64.3 million from Airbus aircraft.
VALC also earned US$3.15 million in interest from its deposits at banks and spent US$1.5 million on interest payments for loans. Thanks to its good business results, the company pays an annual dividend at more than 20%.
For 2016, the firm targets revenue of US$68.5 million and after-tax profit of US$15 million, down 10.1% and 22.3% against the previous year, respectively.
To realize its goal, VALC will lease one or two wide-body Airbus A350s to Vietnam Airlines between 2016 and 2018, reduce the leasing costs for ten A321-200 aircraft, and end the leasing contract of five ATR72-500 aircraft with the national flag carrier before maturity.
VALC expects to ink agreements with Vietjet on leasing one Airbus A320 and two Airbus A321 aircraft in 2017-2018 and A320-321 cockpit simulators for pilot training.
The company also seeks to lease business aircraft, helicopters, engines and aeronautical items.
As of the end of 2015, VALC’s assets had totaled US$723 million and debts make up 87% of its assets, of which a majority were long-term loans from the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV).
VALC was founded in late 2007 to lease aircraft to local airlines. Vietnam Airlines owns 32.05% of the company, BIDV 32.8% and other investors the remainder.
After its debut, VALC has taken delivery of 18 Boeing and Airbus aircraft for leasing to Vietnam Airlines in 12 years.
Taxman to step up tax checks on foreign guest workers
Vietnamese tax agencies will increase checks, especially on foreign guest workers, said Thomas McClelland, deputy general director for tax consulting at Deloitte Vietnam.
He told a conference on tax services and manpower in Southeast Asia in HCMC on August 23 that due to the current budget deficit, the Government would find ways to raise tax revenues in the coming time. Tax agencies will speed up tax auditing and inspections to reduce lost revenue.
According to the prevailing regulations, fines of up to VND200 million (US$8,900) are imposed on individuals and enterprises if they are found to falsify tax documents and evade taxes. Notably, businesses may have to stop operation if they commit such violations.
McClelland said these sanctions are to make people more careful when preparing and filing for taxes. 
He said many more foreigners have come to Vietnam to work in sectors like petroleum and construction. Therefore, local tax agencies will thoroughly check tax papers of foreign guest workers. 
Currently, workers in multiple sectors including information technology can move freely among countries. Tax agencies did not pay much attention to them in the past but they will keep a close eye on them in the coming time, he said.
In addition, the local taxman will carefully examine some details that they used to ignore with a review period expected at up to 10 years. 
He advised laborers, including foreigners, to keep tax files carefully for possible future checks by tax agencies.
Tax agencies will not ignore wrong calculations by taxpayers. If they do not declare extra incomes, they would have to pay taxes on these incomes later, he said. 
According to Deloitte Vietnam, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) facilitates free movements of capital and skilled labor in the region, which will generate both opportunities and challenges for Vietnamese employers.
SSC halts Vien Dong Securities JSC operations
The State Securities Commission (SSC) has stopped the business operations of Vien Dong Securities JSC (VDSE) in the local market, according to Decision No 884/QD-SSC, dated August 23.
Based in HCM City, VDSE was registered with a charter capital of VND135 billion (US$6 million) in 2008. The firm had been facing losses since 2010. In 2012, it closed its branch in Ha Noi due to losses. At the same time, it shut down some businesses at the head office.
On January 12 this year, the SSC chairman issued Decision No 17/QD-SSC that suspended work at VDSE for six months as the firm's financial status failed to meet the financial safety condition for operations.
But VDSE could not rectify its financial problems even after the deadline expired.
The SSC had fined the firm VND60 million last August for failing to submit its financial report on time.
VN, Austrian firms seek co-operation opportunities
Vietnamese and Austrian enterprises attended at a business-to-business platform in Austria on Tuesday to seek partners in the fields of clean energy, banking, telecommunications and garments, besides food.
Representative of the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Nguyễn Hoàng Thắng described this event as a good opportunity for Vietnamese enterprises to get updated information about the European Union market and then draw up their business strategy to access the market more effectively.
Participants at the event said Austria would be a good gateway for Vietnamese businesses to penetrate the lucrative European Union market. Meanwhile, Việt Nam will help Austrian firms to enter potential markets in Southeast Asia.
In his speech, Georg Brunauer, CEO of Novapecc Co, which specialises in hi-tech industries, said his company planned to enter the Vietnamese market as soon as possible.
Currently, Austria ranks seventh among the 10 largest importers in the European Union of Vietnamese goods such as footwear, smart phones, electronics and garments, with a turnover of US$2.2 billion in 2015.
Việt Nam, meanwhile, is the largest trade partner of Austria in Southeast Asia. Austria’s total turnover from exports, including machinery, electronics, steel products and medicines, to Viet Nam hit $412 million in 2015.
The business exchange in Austria was organised as part of a Vietnamese business delegation’s trip led by the VCCI to the European Union from August 18 to 28.
VN firms should focus more on ASEAN market
Vietnamese businesses should focus more on ASEAN markets to make use of the advantages created by the establishment of the ASEAN Community, Vietnamese Ambassador to Thailand Nguyễn Tất Thành said. 
Speaking to Vietnam News Agency reporters on the sidelines of the 29th Diplomatic Conference now underway in Hà Nội, the ambassador said Vietnamese businesses had not paid proper attention to ASEAN markets in general and the Thai market in particular. 
On the contrary, Thai firms, from large to small- and medium-sized enterprises, are very interested in the ASEAN markets, especially Việt Nam. 
He said while several Vietnamese localities had established twinning arrangements or affiliations with their Thai counterparts, their relationships have focused on co-operation or investment while neglecting trading of goods. 
Several trade promotion events that the embassy helped to organise recently in Thailand have proved that there are many ways for Vietnamese goods to enter this market, which is a major one with 70 million people. 
Ambassador to Indonesia Hoàng Anh Tuấn said following the conclusion of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, Indonesian investors were very interested in the Vietnamese market, as through Việt Nam they could enter other markets of the TPP agreement. 
At the same time, the AEC framework facilitated trade and investment ties not only from Indonesia to Việt Nam, but also from Việt Nam to Indonesia, the ambassador said. 
According to head of the Vietnamese delegation to ASEAN Ambassador Nguyễn Hoành Năm, the formation of the ASEAN Community has brought about a new change for the ASEAN member countries. 
In order to make full use of the advantages created by the community, member countries should create better linkages in production and services, he said. 
The ambassador said the member countries must improve their investment environment to make ASEAN more attractive to outside investors. 
Ambassador to Malaysia Phạm Cao Phong said the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) held great potential, but it was formed at a time when the region’s economy was suffering from many negative impacts and faced numerous challenges. Therefore, the ASEAN countries should work together for development. 
Việt Nam and Malaysia should enhance economic ties on the basis of supplementing each other, in order to bring into play each country’s comparative advantages, he said.
RoK’s exports to Vietnam surge
Export turnover of t he Republic of Korea (RoK) in the first seven months of this year rose 10.1 percent on-year to 18.02 billion USD, according to the Korea International Trade Association (KITA).
The amount made it become the world’s third largest importer of the RoK after China with 68.52 billion US and the US with 39.63 billion USD.
During the January-July period, the RoK’s shipments to Vietnam accounted for 6.4 percent of the Northeast Asian country’s total export value, up three fold from 2 percent in 2009.
The sharp increase was attributed to the bilateral free trade agreement which became effective late last year, promoting trade exchanges between the two countries that were seen a strong rise following the FTA between the RoK and ASEAN, to which including Vietnam is a member in 2007.
The increasing trend was recorded amidst the continuous falling in RoK’s exports since early 2015.
In the reviewed period, the RoK’s export value to China and the US decreased by 5.4 and 13.5 percent, respectively.
German experts help Tien Giang develop cooperatives
German experts shared their experience in auditing cooperatives at a workshop in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang on August 25 to help develop the local cooperative network. 
This is an activity under a collaboration agreement between the German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation (DGRV) and the Vietnam Cooperative Confederation. 
Participants underlined audit as one of the key factors in effective operation of cooperatives. 
They also discussed ways to apply DGRV’s audit experience in a number of cooperatives in the province. 
According to Ulrich Werner from DGRV, auditing helps enhance transparency of cooperatives’ activities, thus building trust among their members, partners and clients. 
Meanwhile, Tran Dinh Tuan from Vietnam Cooperative Federation said the work creates impetus for the effective development of cooperatives through producing reliable information on the cooperatives’ situation, thus facilitating management work. 
President of Tien Giang provincial Cooperative Alliance Nguyen Van Hong said since 2014 audit has been annually conducted in 10 local cooperatives in agriculture and small-industry. 
The DGRV has helped the province organise training courses in auditing. 
Tien Giang is one of 20 provinces in Vietnam that have benefited from a DGRV consulting and assistance programme since 2004. 
From 2004 to 2013, the province’s collective economy posted a growth of 250.6 percent in revenue and 296.4 percent in profit. The sector’s per capita income also shot up 232.5 percent during this period. 
Tien Giang is also gaining from a programme to improve the economic efficiency of cooperatives in the 2013-2017 period run by Canadian non-profit international development organisation SOCODEVI.
Vietnam imports from ROK surge in first 7 months
Vietnam imports from the Republic of Korea (ROK) for the seven-month period leading up to August of 2016 surged 10.1% on-year to US$18.02 billion, lifted by a new free trade agreement between the two nations.
Vietnam is now the third largest market of the ROK, said the Korea International Trade Association on August 25 in announcing the trade statistics. China is the top trading partner followed by the US.
The top imports for the seven-month period consisted primarily of manufacturing raw materials and intermediary goods.
Implementation of the Vietnam-ROK free trade agreement on December 20, 2015 immediately removed import duties on many commercial goods, helping to keep Vietnam on a level playing field with the ROKs other foreign trading partners.
The balance of import tariffs is scheduled to phase in over a fifteen-year period.
German experts help Tien Giang develop cooperatives
German experts shared their experience in auditing cooperatives at a workshop in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang on August 25 to help develop the local cooperative network.
This is an activity under a collaboration agreement between the German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation (DGRV) and the Vietnam Cooperative Confederation. 
Participants underlined audit as one of the key factors in effective operation of cooperatives. 
They also discussed ways to apply DGRV’s audit experience in a number of cooperatives in the province. 
According to Ulrich Werner from DGRV, auditing helps enhance transparency of cooperatives’ activities, thus building trust among their members, partners and clients. 
Meanwhile, Tran Dinh Tuan from Vietnam Cooperative Federation said the work creates impetus for the effective development of cooperatives through producing reliable information on the cooperatives’ situation, thus facilitating management work. 
President of Tien Giang provincial Cooperative Alliance Nguyen Van Hong said since 2014 audit has been annually conducted in 10 local cooperatives in agriculture and small-industry. 
The DGRV has helped the province organise training courses in auditing. 
Tien Giang is one of 20 provinces in Vietnam that have benefited from a DGRV consulting and assistance programme since 2004. 
From 2004 to 2013, the province’s collective economy posted a growth of 250.6% in revenue and 296.4% in profit. The sector’s per capita income also shot up 232.5% during this period. 
Tien Giang is also gaining from a programme to improve the economic efficiency of cooperatives in the 2013-2017 period run by Canadian non-profit international development organisation SOCODEVI.
 More localities pledge to create favourable business climate
Another 32 cities and provinces nationwide have committed to creating optimal conditions for businesses, raising the total number of localities to more than 40.
The commitments were reached by representatives from the municipal and provincial People’s Committees and leaders of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in Ho Chi Minh City on August 24, in accordance with the Government’s Resolution No. 35 on supporting and developing enterprises by 2020.
Addressing the event, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue said the resolution spells out five major tasks – streamlining administrative procedures, creating optimal conditions for start-ups, ensuring business opportunities for enterprises, cutting business costs, and protecting legitimate rights and interests of firms.
Deputy PM Hue, who is also head of the Steering Committee for Business Innovation and Development, urged the municipal and provincial People’s Committees to work harder to lure more foreign direct investments in the context of international integration, and untangle “bottleneck” in markets, services, capital, science-technology and real estate.
VCCI Chairman Vu Tien Loc said the commitments reflect the localities’ long-term vision for business development while affirming the important role played by private firms in national industrialisation and modernisation, contributing to raising the national economy’s competitiveness.
Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang city, Quang Binh and Quang Tri provinces in the central region, and the southern provinces of Dong Nai, Dong Thap and Kien Giang are among the localities committing to improving their business climate.-
Food safety issues continue to haunt produce exports
How to supply large volumes of produce in compliance with strict Global GAP safety standards is problematic for the nation’s growers and exporters, says the Vietnam Fruit & Vegetables Association.
Though the industry has shipped produce to many promising markets, the overarching goal is to produce large quantities profitably – while meeting importers' food safety and plant quarantine standards, said Dr Nguyen Huu Dat.
Speaking at a recent business forum, Dr Dat, who sets on the executive committee of the Association, said the importance of growers getting control of chemical abuse is of paramount importance.
It is particularly relevant to the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) that involves the 12 countries of the US, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru and Vietnam.
Currently, Dr Dat said, the produce industry has made some promising inroads abroad shipping dragon fruit, mango, lychee and longan to the TPP member states of Japan, Australia and the US.
But they, as of yet, haven’t done so profitably, and in actuality, recent shipments to Australia were sold at a loss.
Though the TPP is bogged down in the ratification process and may never materialize, Dr Dat noted that even if it were to pass, the benefits of tariff reductions to these markets would not be all that crucial.
The import tariffs levied by Japan over recent years on produce have averaged 4.8%, while Australia doesn’t impose an import tax and the US rate has averaged right at 8%.
The other TPP member states of Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, New Zealand and Chile also do not impose any tariffs on produce imports while Peru’s tax has averaged 6% and Canada’s 20%. 
In the overall scheme of things, the tariffs are simply not as important as food safety, as the future of the industry doesn’t hinge on lower tariffs but on higher food safety, Dr Dat underscored. 
The industry, as a whole, has been caught up in a vicious cycle for which it has continued to lower its quality standards and then has reduced its sales prices in hopes of increasing the volume of exports.
This unprofitable cycle of chasing volume needs to be broken and growers need to adopt a motto of selling quality produce at a fair price (in lieu of low quality at a cheap price).
In order to produce large volumes of quality product profitably the industry must tighten control over the use of pesticides and other chemicals, upscale the size of farms and modernize it practices with the use of advanced technology.
He said eliminating the use of pesticides and other chemicals will help minimize production expenses, in addition to bosting food safety and— in the final analysis set the stage for Vietnam grown produce to develop a positive global image and profitably increase its global market share.
Food safety and hygiene issues have been and will continue to haunt Vietnam produce in all major markets around the globe, said Dr Dat, until it is produced consistently on a large scale in compliance with VIETGAP and Global GAP standards.
6th installment of power sector technology exhibition promises to be larger than ever
Electric and Power Vietnam 2016 - the 6th international power engineering (generation, transmission and distribution) technology exhibition - will return to Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre (SECC) in Ho Chi Minh City from September 14 to 16.
The 6th edition exhibits a wide range of power engineering solutions and technologies, including electrical control and distribution systems, backup power generation, manufacturing and process automation, transmission and distribution, wireless security, instrumentation and control, power station hardware and equipment, renewable energy, and other related equipment to name only a few.
To date, close to 200 companies from Germany, South Korea, India, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam have confirmed their participation. Notable exhibitors at the show include ABB, AKSAPower Generation, Anh Thy, Honeywell International India, Lim Kim Hai Electric, Rittal, and Thai Son Nam Trading, and the list goes on.
This year’s show also expects large international presence from key technology associations and group pavilions, namely the Korea Electrical Manufacturers’ Cooperative (KEMC), the Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association (TEEMA), and many more. The event is expected to attract 4,500 visitors from major power companies as well as industrial production and manufacturing facilities across the nation.
Industrial Automation Vietnam 2016, the international factory, plant automation, and process control technology exhibition, will take place alongside Electric and Power Vietnam 2016. The event aims to be a sourcing centre for factory and process automation equipment, as well as software needed to effectively run modern factories and processing plants.
AIA Group bullish on Vietnam operations
AIA Group CEO Mark Edward Tucker on August 24 said he sees the AIA Vietnam Life Insurance Company Limited based out of Ho Chi Minh City among its top subsidiaries over the next few years.
aia group bullish on vietnam operations hinh 0 Speaking at a meeting in Hanoi with Phung Quoc Hien, vice chairman of the National Assembly, Mr Tucker said AIA is committed to supporting the Vietnam growth momentum by continuously providing innovative products and quality services to the market.
In the near term, Vietnam Life has outlined its growth targets, which include offering a complete suite of financial solutions ranging from retirement, health, protection, savings, investments, and education.
Another short to medium term target, is to provide the nation’s customers with an easier way of doing business through multiple payment facilities, e-billing, and other innovations.
That would mean investing in new technology platforms.
Mr Tucker said the AIA Group and Vietnam Life are looking at a wide range of financial technologies, digital, genetics genomics and other leading edge technologies— an area of expertise AIA excels at.
Medicine, healthcare services see strongest price hike in August
Medicine and healthcare services prices this August post the sharpest monthly hike, 6.18%, compared to five other goods and services categories that share the same upward trend, said the General Statistics Office (GSO) on August 24.
The five other categories with rising price are education (up 0.47%); garment, hats and footwear (0.14%); beverage and cigarette (0.05%); household appliances and goods (0.05%); and other goods and services (0.11%). 
Meanwhile, consumers spent lesser money on traffic (down 1.97%); food and catering services (0.14%); culture, entertainment and tourism (0.12%); postal services and communications (0.03%); and housing and construction materials (0.02%). 
As a result, consumer price index (CPI) in August rose by 0.1% from July, 2.57% from the same period last year and 2.58% from last December. The eight-month CPI climbed 1.91% year on year. 
Do Thi Ngoc, Deputy Director of the GSO’s Price Statistics Department, said costlier healthcare services prices are the biggest contributor, 0.28%, to the CPI growth. Their 8.12-percent increase in 16 provinces was scheduled in a joint circular between the health and finance ministries. 
Nine provinces and cities also augmented tuition fees as stipulated in a Government decree last year. Higher demand for educational tools like textbooks, notebooks and pens to prepare for the new school year also boosted education prices, she added. 
While food supply abundance made food prices fall slightly, lower construction demand and global steel prices dragged prices of construction materials down 0.47% from the previous month. 
The traffic category experienced the biggest price decrease, 1.97%, mostly due to two petrol price cuts which in turn led to cheaper coach and ship tickets. Additionally, August’s coincidence with the seventh lunar month, traditionally called the Ghost Month, resulted in less demand for automobile and motorbike purchases, making vehicle prices drop 0.12%. 
In August, gold prices rose by 1.72% from last month while the VND/USD exchange rate was relatively stable, with one US dollar exchanged for 22,330 VND. 
The GSO said the core inflation (the CPI excluding food items; energy products and commodities under the State management including medical and educational services ) this month inched up 0.09% from July and 1.83% from a year before. The eight-month core inflation climbed 1.81% from the same period of 2015. 
The almost similar eight-month inflation (1.91%) and core inflation (1.81%) compared to the same period last year proved that the current monetary policy is effective, helping to stabilise the macro-economy, the office noted. 
The GSO forecasts September will register a faster CPI growth rate than that of August because of higher educational services and petrol prices.
Vietjet offers promotional tickets on domestic routes
Low-cost airline Vietjet Air has officially launched a promotional programme from August 24-26 offering 300,000 tickets, starting at zero dong, on some domestic routes.
The promotional tickets will be available for routes linking Hanoi and Hue with Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, Da Lat, Pleiku, Tuy Hoa, Can Tho, Buon Ma Thuot, Quy Nhon and Chu Lai.
The programme applies to passengers travelling from September 1 to December 31, excluding holidays.
Tickets can be booked between noon and 2pm at www.vietjetair.com (also compatible with smartphones at https://m.vietjetair.com) or at www.facebook.com/vietjetvietnam (just click the ‘Booking’ tab).
Payment can be easily made with debit and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, JCB, and American Express) and ATM cards issued by selected Vietnamese banks which have Internet banking services.
The promotional programme aims to celebrate the upcoming launch of the new Hanoi – Hue route on November 1. The route will have a total flight duration of one hour and ten minutes. Flights are to depart Hanoi at 12.35pm and reach the destination at 13.45am, while the return flights depart at 2.20pm and arrive in Hanoi at 3.30pm.
Currently, Vietjet possesses a fleet of 40 A320 and A321 aircrafts conducting around 300 flights per day. With nearly 53 domestic and international routes, the airline has carried approximately 25 million passengers to date.
Egyptian chicken eggs disguised as home-raised eggs
Many Vietnamese chicken eggs sold on the market here are in fact Egyptian, which are similar to Vietnamese chicken eggs in appearance but different in nutritional content.
Recently, a type of chicken egg with very similar size and color to Vietnamese chicken eggs have been offered for sale at markets in Hanoi at the discount  price of VND3,500 (15 cents) each.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese chicken eggs sold in rural markets are usually priced from VND4,500 (20 cents) to VND6,000 (27 cents) per egg.
According to Nguyen Duc Trong, vice director of the Hanoi department of livestock production, the chicken eggs sold in the city’s markets are in fact eggs from Egyptian chickens or crossbred chickens.
The foreign hens can produce 180 to 220 eggs a year, compared to an output of 120 eggs per year for carefully selected Vietnamese hens and 80 eggs per year for normal Vietnamese hens.
Many farmers in the Southeast region said that there are not usually enough eggs from free-range Vietnamese chickens to sell, since chickens raised in this way often grow very slowly, give birth to very few offspring, and have an extended period of hatching.
Furthermore, most farmers who raise Vietnamese chickens for eggs are doing so on a very small scale, so eggs from domestic chickens are often very expensive.
Even in areas where Vietnamese chickens are raised, the number of eggs hatched are normally only enough to provide for one’s own family and neighbors, with prices ranging from VND4,000 (20 cents) to VND5,000 (23 cents) per egg.
It’s therefore not unreasonable for Vietnamese chicken eggs to be sold at between VND3,000 (13 cents) and VND3500 (16 cents) in supermarkets.
“Vietnamese chicken eggs sold in supermarkets are actually from industrially-raised Egyptian chickens in many cases. Due to their similarities in size and color, many are able to trick consumers,” Nguyen Van Khoa, a farmer from Dong Nai Province said.
According to Kim, a farmer and a wholesale egg supplier at Cho Gao market in Tien Giang Province, Vietnamese chicken eggs sold at supermarkets in the north are actually from industrially-raised Vietnamese chickens from the south, often bought at a price of VND1500 (7 cents) to VND2,000 (9 cents) per egg.
Meanwhile, a large quantity of Egyptian chicken eggs from the north are being sold in the south under the name “Vietnamese chicken eggs.”
Trong said that even though the two types of eggs are similar in appearance and even in taste, Vietnamese chickens are nutritionally better.
RoK group eyes larger involvement in HCM City’s infrastructure
The Republic of Korea’s GS Engineering & Construction (GS E&C) is eyeing bigger role in infrastructure development in Ho Chi Minh City.
The announcement came after a meeting between city officials and Vice Chairman of GS E&C Huh Myung Soo in the locality on August 23. 
Speaking at the meeting, Soo praised the city’s administrative reforms, creating favourable conditions for investors, adding that the group expects to take greater part in projects to develop the locality’s infrastructure, including transportation projects, such as building metro routes. 
He said besides the Tan Son Nhat- Binh Loi Ring Road project which is expected to be handed over to the city by end of August, the group is carrying out several projects in Thu Thiem and Nha Be.
The GS E&C representative revealed the group is studying investing in the No 2 metro route (Ben Thanh –Tham Luong) and No 5 metro route (new Can Giuoc bus station – Sai Gon bridge).
Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong lauded the contribution from the foreign company to the city’s infrastructure, and pledged to create the best possible conditions for investments in the city’s transport infrastructure.
KDC to complete sale of snack business
Food and flavour producer KIDO Group (KDC) earlier this week said it had finalised the sale of its snack business for VND2 trillion (US$91 million).
The sale took place one year after the company sold 80 per cent of its snack business to Mondelez International Company, the US-based maker of snacks, Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers.
KDC has received more than VND1.55 trillion ($70 million) from the investors and the remainder of the money will be sent after procedures are completed.
With the money, the company said that it had fulfilled the 2016 annual profit target of  VND1.5 trillion before tax.
KDC said that in the coming time, they would continue merger and acquisition activities in order to expand their new businesses, including instant noodles and cooking oil.
The company also plans to focus on developing trademarks for its new products.
Last year, KDC, a giant confectionery producer in Viet Nam, sold 80 per cent of its snack business at a price of $370 million.
Frozen products, cooking oil and instant noodles are the core business of the company. 
Japanese firms to seek partners in VN
Thirty Japanese firms involved in seafood and food industries will gather at two business matching conferences, in the capital on August 30 and in HCM City on September 1.
Viet Nam has become a promising market for Japanese food products and the Japanese firms come to the forthcoming events to seek new trade partners, the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) in Viet Nam, the events' organiser, said in its statement.
The number of Japanese restaurants in Ha Noi and HCM City would increase in the time to come, and this could lead to rising consumption demand for food products, according to JETRO.
In 2015, Việt Nam ranked seventh among leading importers of Japanese agricultural, seafood and food products in term of turnover.
Global brand Regent Hotels and Resorts eyes expansion to VN
Global luxury hospitality brand Regent Hotels and Resorts is looking for partners to develop world-class resorts in Viet Nam and turn them into lifestyle destinations.
As a member of Taiwan-listed multi-sector FIH Regent Group, with its foothold in Beijing, Berlin, Porto Montenegro, Taipei and Singapore, the brand has been eyeing ways to expand in Asia, especially Viet Nam.
"With its pleasant climate, rich culture, wonderful food, fascinating natural sights and improved transport infrastructure, Southeast Asia is considered a popular tourist destination," Ralf Ohletz, the group's president of design and concepts, said in a speech at Vietnamese property developer BIM's media briefing on August 17 in Ha Noi.
Ohletz said rapid economic growth was transforming the region from a budget travelers' must-visit hotspot to one of the top choices for luxury travelers, where Viet Nam is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.
Ohletz said there was a shortage in hospitality products that were exclusive and classy in Phu Quoc and Ha Long, the country's popular tourist destinations, however.
 "We are now looking for partners sharing the same vision and capable of providing top-notch equipment and devices to work closely with us and bring unique luxury accommodation experiences for all the guest traveling to Viet Nam," Ohletz said.
The participation of global brands in Viet Nam's hospitality market will boost competition and set new market benchmarks, according to Ohletz, who added that quality would become the decisive factor for the success.
Founded in the 70s by legendary hotelier Robert H. Burns, Regent became the first truly Asian-based global hospitality group. Besides five existing Regents in Bejing, Berlin, Porto Montenegro, Singapore and Taipei, the brand will open new hotels in Chongqing, Harbin and Jakarta. "Our concept embraces the harmony of opposites: global yet local, simple yet elegant and modern yet timeless," Ohletz said.
Le Minh Dung, executive director of BIM Group's property business, said at the briefing that BIM Group was working with Regent Hotels and Resorts on the development of a luxury resort in Ha Long and in Phu Quoc.
BIM Group has partnered with many leading global hospitality brands, such as the InterContinental and Fusion Suites, on many of its developments.
Quang Ninh Province–based BIM Group's flagship projects include 155ha mixed-use Phu Quoc Marina on Phu Quoc Island and the 248ha Ha Long Marina Urban in the northern province, which consists of a line-up of high-profile component projects. 
Trade pact with RoK to bring economic benefits for Vietnam
The free trade agreement between Vietnam and the Republic of Korea (RoK) will bring enormous economic benefits for the Southeast Asian country, Vietnamese Ambassador to the RoK Pham Huu Chi said in an interview with the Vietnam News Agency on the sidelines of the 29th Diplomatic Conference in Hanoi on August 22-26.
He said the pact will help Vietnam improve its business environment and accelerate economic restructuring towards increasing added value and competitiveness in the global value chain.
It is also expected to attract investment from the RoK into Vietnam , he said, adding that the RoK is one of the leading nations in technology, especially energy, mechanics and electronics.
The efforts to draw RoK investment will help Vietnam develop technological skills and production capacity, he said.
Tax reductions under the deal will create new opportunities for Vietnamese farm produce and seafood as well as garment-textile, timber and mechanical products to enter the RoK.
Vietnam is the RoK’s first trade partner that can export high-tax-rate products like garlic, ginger, honey, and sweet potatos to the RoK, he noted.
The free trade agreement between ASEAN and the RoK will generate more opportunities for Vietnamese export commodities than that of other rivals like China , Indonesia , Malaysia , and Thailand .
The RoK agreed to an annual import quota of 10,000 tonnes of Vietnamese shrimp at zẻo tariff, which will be raised to 15,000 tonnes by 2020.
As an ASEAN member, Vietnam also benefits from the ASEAN-RoK free trade agreement which has enabled the bloc to export 5,000 tonnes of untaxed shrimp to the RoK. But currently, Vietnam only ships 2,500 tonnes of without tax shrimp to the market.
The Ambassador, however, also pointed to challenges that Vietnam is facing, including the RoK’s tariff reductions – which will create more pressure for domestic businesses. The difference between import-export structure of the two countries is likely to make Vietnam run a trade deficit with the RoK.
Vietnam and the RoK set up diplomatic ties in 1992 and since then bilateral relations have grown rapidly. The establishment of the strategic cooperative partnership in 2009 has helped deepen the bilateral rapport.
The RoK is now the biggest investor in Vietnam with nearly 5,000 projects worth about 50 billion USD and the third largest trade partner, after China and the US, with two-way trade reaching 37 billion USD in 2015 and likely to hit 70 billion USD by 2020.
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