Thứ Ba, 25 tháng 4, 2017

Banks’ listing enthusiasm simmers down

Banks are hesitant to go public over the persistent challenging business environment.

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In early 2014, Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), a leading state-owned bank, offloaded its shares onto the HCM City Stock Exchange (HoSE).
Since then, both the northern and southern bourses were yet to see a new bank listing until the end of 2016, though in the last two months of the year many banks were racing to complete listing procedures in conjunction with requirements set by the Ministry of Finance’s Circular 180/2015.
Under the circular, public companies are required to fulfil listing procedures either on the official markets (HoSE and HNX) or on UPCoM, the unlisted public company market.
“As banks are a sort of public companies, they must also adhere to the regulation,” said senior financial expert Nguyen Tri Hieu.
Privately-owned Kien Long Bank, based in the southern Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang, was reported to have received the stock registration certificate as well as its share code in December 2016.
Similarly, Ho Chi Minh City-based Orient Commercial Bank (OCB) and Hanoi-based Maritime Bank have closed the shareholder lists to become ready for stock registration.
Most recently, on January 9, privately-owned Vietnam International Bank (VIB) listed its more than 564 million shares on the UPCoM platform under the VIB ticker.
The remaining banks all have their own reasons why they still cannot go on the bourse or register for transactions on the UPCoM.
At the recent 2017 general shareholders’ meeting of Techcombank, chairman Ho Hung Anh told shareholders that they have submitted the listing dossiers to authorised management agencies and are currently waiting for approval to be able to list on the southern bourse.
Similarly, at their 2017 general shareholders’ meeting early last week, VPBank chairman Ngo Chi Dung said they had secured the shareholders’ approval to go on bourse in late 2016, but have encountered several problems in stock registration with Vietnam Securities Depository (VSD).
They have hired a securities company for listing consultation.
“VPBank committed to going on bourse, but progress depends heavily on management agencies. We will try our best to debut on the HoSE right in this second quarter,” Dung said.
According to economic expert Le Xuan Nghia, some banks face difficulties related to their capital size or bad debts, triggering the urgent need to raise chartered capital.
In the current context, they could hardly enrich their capital sources through support from local investors, as firms are also facing a multitude of difficulties.
“Going on bourse is a viable option for them to raise capital. Banks have missed their listing promises several times. 
Therefore, a deadline must be considered to force banks to press on with listing, and this must be done immediately,” Nghia said.
Healthcare sector attracts more investments

Vietnam has been witnessing a new wave of investments in hospitals since 2015 after the government called for different sources of funding in the healthcare sector.

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According to the HCMC Healthcare Department, in the 2016-2020 period, the city received 80 investment projects in the healthcare sector with total investment capital of VND14 trillion. These included 30 projects on upgrading existing hospitals and building new ones, of which 19 hospitals will be built from now to the end of 2018.

According to the Vietnam Private Medical Practice Association, many foreign investors have shown interest in the healthcare sector. In 2016, Bumrungrad Hospital from Thailand and Lippo Group from Indonesia expressed their intention to develop hospital chains in Vietnam.

Ravindran Govindan, president of Singaporean Mercatus, which has an investment fund in healthcare, also commented it is now the right time to invest in the healthcare sector in Vietnam.

In early 2016, VOF, managed by VinaCapital, announced it had acquired a 75 percent stake in Thai Hoa International Hospital in Dong Thap province with an investment deal worth $10 million. The fund is still seeking opportunities in the healthcare sector, including equitized hospitals.
Vietnam has been witnessing a new wave of investments in hospitals since 2015 after the government called for different sources of funding in the healthcare sector.
In January 2014, Shangrila from Malaysia built the 320-bed Thanh Do International Hospital in Binh Tan district, HCMC, which was renamed City International Hospital (CIH).

Zakirul Karim, a medical quality consultant at Hanh Phuc Hospital in Binh Duong province, said that Vietnam is a magnet for investors, noting that the total spending of all Vietnamese on healthcare services accounts for 5.8 percent of GDP, the highest level in ASEAN.

Singaporean Temasek, at a meeting with the government, expressed its willingness to increase investments in Vietnam, including in private hospitals.

Meanwhile, the government of Vietnam welcomes investments from all sources into the healthcare sector, admitting that spending on public healthcare services is a burden on the state budget.

The government of Vietnam also wants to develop private healthcare, planning to have privately run hospitals account for 20 percent of total hospitals in the country by 2020.

Pham The Dong, president of Saigon ITO Hospital, said the demand for high-quality healthcare services in Vietnam has been increasing rapidly. Vietnamese spends $2-3 billion every year for healthcare services abroad.

Fat profit

In HCMC and Hanoi, the standard minimum floor area for one bed is 50 square meters. The state-owned hospitals in HCMC have become overloaded, so there is a growing tendency of relocating hospitals to the suburbs.

According to Dong, it takes four to five years on average to put one hospital into operation. The investment rate depends on the number of beds, about VND1.5-2 billion for one bed.

It takes five to seven years to take back the investment capital and if hospitals are managed well, the average profit would be 7-8 percent.
Thanh Lich, VNN

Thứ Hai, 24 tháng 4, 2017

 NA may strip deputy title over Formosa
The National Assembly’s Standing Committee will ask the National Assembly to consider stripping Võ Kim Cự of his NA deputy title for his wrongdoings in the Formosa environmental disaster. - VNA/VNS Photo 
HÀ NỘI – The National Assembly’s Standing Committee will ask the National Assembly to consider stripping Võ Kim Cự of his NA deputy title for his wrongdoings in the Formosa environmental disaster, said the NA Secretary General Nguyễn Hạnh Phúc on Saturday.
Cự, the former leader of Hà Tĩnh Province where the Formosa factory is based, was elected as a NA deputy by a majority of 75 per cent during national elections in April last year.  
After learning the causes of the environmental disaster that affected four coastal central provinces, there were some asking the NA to review Cự’s position in the first meeting since he was elected.
At the time, Phúc said that any reconsideration of Cự’s title had to await the official reports of the Party’s Central Inspection Commission and the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat on his wrongdoings in the Formosa case.
With the two agencies this month both concluding that the 60-year-old leader committed several violations leading to the Formosa incident, Phúc said that Cự no longer had “enough credibility to be a NA deputy”.
“Now the NASC has legal basis to ask the NA to reconsider Võ Kim Cự’s deputy title. The final decision will be in the NA’s hands during the upcoming NA meeting in May,” Phúc said.
The Party Central Committee’s Secretariat on April 21 reached a conclusion on wrongdoings related to the Formosa environmental incident of the Party Affairs Section of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) and several officials under the management of the Party Central Committee Secretariat.
Võ Kim Cự, Secretary of the Party Delegation and President of the Vietnam Cooperatives Alliance, former Hà Tĩnh Party Committee Secretary and People’s Committee Chairman, was found to have signed many documents against the law to aid Formosa.
The secretariat also concluded that MoNRE’s Party Affairs Section of the 2011-2016 tenure, its former Minister Nguyễn Minh Quang and other two former deputy ministers Bùi Cách Tuyến and Nguyễn Thái Lai were responsible for MoNRE’s violations in the Formosa case.
The Secretariat voted unanimously to dismiss Cự from his post as member of the provincial Party Committee in two tenures of 2005-2010 and 2010-2015.
Tuyến and Lai were stripped their titles as members of the MoNRE’s Party Affairs Section of the 2011-2016 tenure.
The Secretariat, meanwhile, gave a warning to MoNRE’s Party Affairs Section of 2011-2016 tenure, and to ex-minister Quang. – VNS
Private investors in infrastructure suffer disadvantages

According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), emerging economies in Asia, including in Vietnam, will need $26 trillion from now to 2030 to develop infrastructure. 

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The figure is similar to recent estimates by the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) that Vietnam needs $480 billion more for infrastructure projects, including 11 power plants with total capacity of 13,200 MW and 1,380 kilometers of highway.

Vietnam has received invitations from ADB, the World Bank (WB) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the new lender, to borrow capital to develop the projects. However, analysts warned that Vietnam will have to pay the price for the loans.

Nguyen Tri Hieu, a renowned finance and banking expert, said in 2016, both Standard & Poor’s and Fitch gave a BB-/B credit rating to Vietnam, while Moody’s gave B1.

With the ratings, Vietnam will have to pay relatively high interest rates for loans from international institutions.
In 2016, both Standard & Poor’s and Fitch gave a BB-/B credit rating to Vietnam, while Moody’s gave B1. With the ratings, Vietnam will have to pay relatively high interest rates for loans from international institutions.
Meanwhile, the exchange rate fluctuations will increase Vietnam’s public debt burden. To date, the public debt has nearly hit the ceiling as per Vietnam’s calculation method and has exceeded the ceiling as per international practice.

Therefore, the government will have to think carefully before borrowing foreign money, even for infrastructure development.

Seeking capital

While it is more difficult to look for capital from international institutions, mobilizing domestic sources proves to be a good solution.

In Vietnam, private investment in infrastructure projects just accounts for 10 percent of total investment, while the figure is 30 percent in India.

This is because investment in infrastructure, in private investors’ eyes, is unattractive with high risks, high site clearance and a long time needed to take back the capital.

Pham Tat Thang from the Trade Research Institute, pointed out that private investors are not interested in the infrastructure sector because they have few opportunities to develop foreign funded projects, while state-owned enterprises have better opportunities to access the projects.

Analysts cited official reports as saying that the investment rate in infrastructure in Vietnam is the highest in the world – VND215 billion per kilometer, or $10 million.

It is not an easy task for private investors to call for capital to develop infrastructure projects. Powerful commercial banks, mostly banks in which the state holds controlling stakes, won’t provide loans if they don’t receive guarantees in policies. 
“The meat is not reserved for private investors, while no one is foolish to get bones,” an analyst commented.

Kim Chi, VNN
Activists dedicated to conserving endangered doucs in Da Nang

Over the past few years, a group of veterinary engineers and volunteers have been devoted to the rescue and care of animals, particularly the endangered red-shanked doucs, found on Son Tra Peninsula in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang.
Red-shanked doucs are pictured on Son Tra Peninsula in the central city of Da Nang.Courtesy of Bui Van Tuan
GreenViet, a Vietnamese animal rights group founded in 2012, has been conducting research and raising people’s awareness of the biodiversity in the central region and the Central Highlands, particularly in conserving the red-shanked douc population on Son Tra.
The peninsula, known for its pristine beauty and vast expanses of natural forest, used to shield the city from typhoons, sustain eco-tourism and provide shelter for national defense.   
Considered the ‘queen’ of the primate world, the red-shanked douc, orvooc ngu sac in Vietnamese, boasts a distinctive coat of five different colors.
The animal usually sports maroon-red ‘stockings’ from its knees to its ankles, and appears to wear white forearm length gloves. Its look is accentuated by black hands and feet.
The primate is listed in Vietnam’s Red Book and is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
Spurred by nagging questions as to why Vietnam has perennially fallen back on support from international organizations in conserving its forests and wildlife, several young experts and volunteers have teamed up to form the GreenViet Biological Diversity Conservation Center.  
Members have worked in a small, two-story house at the foot of Son Tra Mountain for more than five years now.
Bui Van Tuan, 31, head of GreenViet’s research department, revealed that the office is also his home.
The residence has become more and more cramped as it houses a growing number of animal conservation activities.
“We scientists wish to have our voices heard for the common sake, and hopefully our efforts will help turn Da Nang into a livable city conducive to sustainable tourism development,” Tuan said. 
Red-shanked doucs are pictured on Son Tra Peninsula in the central city of Da Nang. Courtesy of Bui Van Tuan
Though the GreenViet founders have doted on the doucs as the main beneficiary of their conservation drive, they still focus attention on how to cushion the peninsula’s entire ecosystem and wildlife from harm.
According to the center’s statistics, Son Tra features one of the country’s most diverse and unique tropical ecosystems, with currently up to 985 species of plant, 287 types of mammal and 115 varieties of bird, along with a rich marine life.
GreenViet was founded in late 2012, and is managed by the Da Nang Union of Scientific and Technical Associations.
The center began with just five members, led by Tran Huu Vy, now its director; and Dr. Ha Thang Long, representative of the Frankfurt Zoological Society, an international conservation organization established in 1858 with headquarters in Frankfurt and Main, Germany.
“We are all dedicated to the job out of our love for animals. We sometimes work elsewhere to cover the center’s expenses in times of no funding,” Vy said. 
The team tried hard to popularize the image of the red-shanked doucs to the owners of local hotels, restaurants and cafés, many of whom bluntly drove them away with excuses that the visual presentation of a monkey brings nothing but bad luck.
They also pitched tents on mountains for six months in order to keep close track of the primates.
The team’s hard-earned successes have exceeded their expectations, as residents and agencies have been increasingly aware of the doucs’ presence after only five years, whereas their original goal was the year 2020.
The municipal Party Committee has also decided to use the endangered red-shanked douc as the symbol for the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum it is hosting later this year.
The image of the cuddly primate has made its way to the city’s other major events, and was featured in interesting souvenirs for athletes after the 5th Asian Beach Games was hosted in Da Nang last year.
It was also seen on 25 bus stops and on 100,000 lucky money packs during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday.
Tuan, an active, long-standing member, is currently reviewing for a scholarship to Germany, where he will delve into the world of animal sounds.
The young scientist made a hard decision not to take up an internship program on doucs’ DNA in Germany in February 2016, when he and his colleagues ventured into forests to snap photos and meticulously record illegally felled patches of forest on Son Tra Peninsula, which he published in a series of revealing posts on Facebook.
The revelations caught local authorities’ attention and prompted them to take action.
Following a Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper article revealing the illegal tree-felling, several officials involved were removed from their posts while implicated staff were transferred to other locations.
Right after gaining the exposure, Tuan was constantly intimidated via text messages on his phone.
Two GreenViet specialists are seen keeping records of red-shanked doucs' activity on Son Tra Peninsula. Courtesy of Bui Van Tuan
Tuan and other volunteers also went to great lengths to pick up doucs’ droppings in the forests for months.
“Some mischievous, frisky langurs even defecate and urinate on our heads and then quickly take flight,” Tuan said.
He has also painstakingly frozen the excrements at minus 190 degrees Celsius and completed complicated procedures to send them to the U.S. for detailed analysis. 
After months of long hard work, the GreenViet researchers had an article published in a U.S. scientific journal.
Le Trang, a fresh graduate in waste treatment from a local university, is in charge of community education activities on wildlife protection.
She regularly screens documentaries featuring the doucs to school students and residents at the center.
The young engineer recently got the nod from the municipal Department of Education and Training to screen the documentary at local schools.
“Following recent incidents, we now have new partners, including the government, who are ready to take the necessary action, and of course many nature lovers,” Vy, GreenViet’s director, added.
According to the conservationists, the zoning plan for 2025-30 for Son Tra, which earmarks space for tourism projects and economic growth, will take a heavy toll on the peninsula’s wildlife.
“If project developers, local authorities, residents and scientists are willing to sit down and discuss, I’m positive they will come up with the best decision for Son Tra and the animals will survive,” he noted.
Late last month, the municipal Party Committee required a local firm to dismantle a resort project that had been built without proper permits on Son Tra Peninsula.

Chủ Nhật, 23 tháng 4, 2017

Volunteers fight fire in wake of karaoke disaster

After a fire in a karaoke bar in Hanoi's Cau Giay district killed 13 people last November, local officials knew they had to do something to prevent such nightmarish scenes.

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Volunteer fire fighters prepare to tour around Cau Giay District to remind local residents of fire prevention steps.

Dich Vong Hau Ward’s People’s Committee decided to set up a team of cyclists to travel through the area spreading information on fire prevention, so that the tragic incident on Tran Thai Tong Street wouldn’t be repeated.
Now, between 6.30am and 7pm every day, a group of young people ride bicycles around the district to remind locals of the importance of fire prevention.
With bicycles equipped with loudspeakers, they broadcast essential information on fire prevention to residents in every corner of the district.
They are also equipped with fire extinguishers to be ready to fight fires around the clock.
Since its establishment last December, the team has helped local firefighting police raise public awareness of fire prevention and control.
According to Chairman of Dich Vong Hau Ward People’s Committee Nguyen Quang Thang, the deadly karaoke bar fire taught a painful lesson about the consequences of fire to authorities and local residents.
The volunteer firefighting team was established to strengthen local capacity in fire protection, he said.
Phan Thu Ha, chief administrator of Cau Giay District’s People’s Committee, told Economy and Urban Affairs newspaper that everyday members of the team rode bicycles with loudspeakers to remind people to turn off electronic devices and close the valve of gas canisters for safety.
Their works has helped minimise the risk of fire, she said.                         
During Tet (Lunar New Year) festival, a fire occurred at a house in Nghia Do District at about 7pm when its owner was away from home. After being informed of the fire, the team went to the house and forced open the door to get into the house and extinguish the fire.
A recent fire at a shop selling blankets and pillow on Xuan Thuy street was put out in quickly by the team. A representative from the Hanoi Fire Prevention and Fighting Police said if the team had arrived five minutes later, the fire would have been catastrophic.
Head of the team, Dao Duy Vuong, told An ninh TV (Public Security Television) that they had received a positive response from locals.
People were glad to be reminded of fire prevention tasks every day, he said.
Nguyen Thi Xuan Hong from Dich Vong Hau Ward said this way of spreading information was very effective.
“It’s like an alarm. Whatever we are doing, we will stop and check fire safety when hearing the reminder from their loudspeaker,” she said.
“Prevention is better than cure. I think it is really good to regularly remind residents of fire prevention,” she added.
According to the Hanoi Fire Prevention and Fighting Police, Hanoi recorded 831 cases of fire in 2016, with 19 people dieing. 
Is Vietnam’s agriculture suffering from "Dutch disease"?

Nguyen Duc Thanh from the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR) believes that Vietnam’s agriculture is suffering from so-called Dutch disease. It is still fumbling for ways to develop, though it leads the world in the output of some products. 

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In 1959, the Netherlands discovered a natural gas mine with large reserves. The country’s exports soared after it decided to sell the natural resource, earning big money after the first export consignments.

However, the export made the Guilder, the then local currency, appreciate continuously. The other sectors of the economy became less competitive in the world market, while investments decreased dramatically.

The Netherlands had to maintain low interest rates in an effort to curb the rapid appreciation of the local currency. The Dutch government had to increase investments in many different fields to recover production.

However, it could not use money effectively. Some unprofitable business fields still received capital. As a result, the manufacturing sector suffered from serious decline. Many investors left the country.
The term ‘Dutch disease’ appeared in 1977. This is the name for a risk which occurs when the boost of export of natural resources leads to a decline in the manufacturing industry, a phenomenon that reduces industrialization. 
The term ‘Dutch disease’ appeared in 1977. This is the name for a risk which occurs when the boost of export of natural resources leads to a decline in the manufacturing industry, a phenomenon that reduces industrialization.

It is used to indicate a risk that occurs when the dependence on external resources leads to a decline in domestic resources.

The concern about Dutch disease has been raised in the context of the national economy encountering difficulties after the 2008 global economic crisis.

In an article published on Thoi Bao Kinh Te Viet Nam in 2013, Huynh The Du, lecturer of the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program (FETP), commented that Vietnam suffered from Dutch disease.

While foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to Vietnam are massive, the domestic economic sector did not focus on production and business based on their advantages and shifted to property speculation.

Du said that Dutch disease seriously affected the competitiveness of the production sector and led to the bankruptcy of 50,000 businesses in 2012.

Le Xuan Nghia, former deputy chair of the National Finance Supervision Commission, said that Vietnam should give up the dream of becoming an industrial power, but it should gather strength to develop into a power in tourism and farm produce, because beautiful landscapes and tropical farm produce are the biggest advantages of Vietnam.

Thanh from VEPR said Vietnam’s agriculture is also suffering from Dutch disease.

"The fertility of the Mekong Delta for hundreds of years has saved our people from hunger. But it is also a curse for countries rich in natural resources,” he said.

“The places with too many favorable natural conditions seem to be unable to develop other qualities in terms of skills and different ways of thinking, " Thanh said.

Chi Mai, VNN