Thứ Tư, 30 tháng 4, 2014

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Russia to begin construction on 6th submarine for Vietnam
St Petersburg-based Admiralty Verfi shipyard will commence work on its 6th submarine for Vietnam on May 28, according to Russian media sources.
This is the final submarine the Russian shipbuilder is providing to Vietnam pursuant to a contract signed in 2009.
The first submarine, dubbed HQ-182 Hanoi successfully made its first maiden voyage on January 8, 2014.
The second vessel named HQ-183 Ho Chi Minh City docked at Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay on March 19, 2014.  
Vietnam received the third named HQ 184-Haiphong in March. The fourth was floated out and the fifth was handed over last summer.
Collectively, the six submarines have been nicknamed "black holes" for their ability to remain undetected underwater.
Nationwide activities mark 60th anniversary of Dien Bien Phu Victory
A number of activities were organised across the country to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Dien Bien Phu Victory over the French colonialists (May 7, 1954 - May 7, 2014).
On behalf of the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defence, Senior Lieutenant General Ngo Xuan Lich, Secretary of the Party Central Committee and Chief of the General Department of Politics under the Vietnam People’s Army, visited and presented a gift to General Le Duc Anh, former President, former Minister of National Defense; and General Nguyen Quyet, former Chief of the General Department of Politics under the Vietnam People’s Army.
On April 29, two photogragphy exhibitions opened in the northern province of Hai Duong to mark the 60th anniversary of Dien Bien Phu Victory.
The exhibition displays over 90 documents and photos of great historical value, featuring the whole process of the national struggle against the French colonists, under the leadership of the Party and President Ho Chi Minh, as well as highlighting the Dien Bien Phu Victory.
Also the same day, the Da Nang city Youth Union, in co-ordination with the municipal Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, kicked off a film week entitled 'The Memory of Dien Bien'.
The film week, which runs until May 7, is expected to help the younger generation learn more about the resounding Dien Bien Phu victory.
The Quang Ngai provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Vietnam Association of Historical Sciences on April 29 jointly organised a photography exhibition featuring the life and career of Lieutenant General Pham Kiet, a brilliant military official of Vietnam People’s Army, and his great contribution to the national struggle for liberation and revolutionary cause.
Also on April 29, a propaganda painting exhibition on Dien Bien Phu Victory opened in the northern port city of Hai Phong.
More than 200 posters and paintings provide visitors with insight into the Vietnamese people’s resistance war against the French, as well as the history of the glorious Dien Bien Phu victory. The exhibits also honour President Ho Chi Minh and General Vo Nguyen Giap, whose names are strongly associated with the Dien Bien Phu victory.
Hanoi paroles prisoners on National Liberation Day
The Hanoi Police on April 29 announced an amnesty and commutation for 145 inmates from its three detention camps on the occasion of National Liberation Day (April 30).
Among the total, 25 will be released on parole, and 119 will have their prison terms commuted by one to nine months.
At Detention Camp No1, Lieutenant General Dinh Van Toan, deputy director of the Hanoi Police, congratulated prisoners eligible for the amnesty and commutation and asked others to perform well to be considered in the next phase of amnesty.
He also asked the camp to take more care of the prisoners so that they would soon enjoy the State’s leniency and tolerance and reunite with their family.
The same day, the southern province of Tay Ninh also decided to release 51 inmates and reduce prison sentences for 379 others.
Man fined for illegally trading cobras
A 40-year-old man from Nam Truc district in the northern province of Nam Dinh has been fined 150 million VND (1,740 VND) for illegally transporting forest animals.
He was caught a month ago transporting 26 cobras from the central province of Quang Tri to the northern province of Quang Ninh.
The fine was issued following a Decision signed on April 28 by Nguyen Duc Cuong, chairman of the Quang Tri People's Committee.
The 26 cobras, which are known as Ophiophagus Hannah and specified by the Government as a rare species, have been released into their natural habitat.-
Traffic accidents down in first four months
More than 8,600 traffic accidents occurred nationwide in the first four months of 2014, killing 3,173 people and injuring another 8,512.
According to the National Committee for Traffic Safety, declines were seen in the number of cases (13.4 percent), fatalities (4.8 percent) and injuries (16.6 percent) against the same period last year.
In April alone, the nation saw 2,056 traffic accidents, resulting in 746 deaths and leaving 2,050 people injured. These figures showed declines of 294 cases, nine deaths and 275 injuries from one year ago.
During the month, traffic police have handled nearly 1.4 million traffic law violation cases, collecting total administrative fines of 803 billion VND (37.7 million USD) and detaining 8,700 cars and 157 motorbikes.
Vietnamese war heroes commemorated in Germany
The Vietnamese community in Germany held requiems in Berlin and Nurnberg to commemorate war heroes who laid down their lives to safeguard the home country’s sovereignty.
The April 27 ceremony at Tu An pagoda in Berlin was attended by local Vietnamese community and Buddhist followers.
Monk Thich Tu Nhon said that the event was to express gratitude to those who devoted their lives to defending the country’s sea and island sovereignty and to remind Vietnamese nationals of the self-reliance spirit.
In Nurnberg, Buddhist monks and followers gathered at Vinh Nghiem pagoda to pray for the peace of the deceased.
The day-long requiem was also aimed to tell Vietnamese people to treasure the sacrifices made by soldiers and their compatriots.
Children encouraged to wear helmets
A programme encouraging primary school children to wear helmets on the road was launched on April 28-29 in the southern province of Dong Nai.
Tens of thousands of helmets will be donated to children and teachers in the central provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh and Dong Nai, which are prone to traffic accidents due to high flows of transport.
Campaigns to raise public awareness of the significance of wearing helmets for self-protection is essential, said the National Traffic Safety Committee.
Launched by the the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIP), the Helmets for Kids campaign aims to reduce the number of traffic crash injuries and fatalities.
More than 25,000 helmets have already been presented to first graders in the three provinces under the three-year-old project.
Sustainable living space nurtures innovative ideas
A sustainable living space at the Hanoi University of Science and Technology was opened on April 29, aiming to promote sustainable consumption practices in Vietnam.
Tran Van Nhan, Director of the Vietnam Cleaner Production Centre, said that the space is showcasing samples of 2,000 sustainable products that have been developed by Vietnamese and Dutch experts in cooperation with 500 businesses from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Businesses that want to expand their network and boost partnerships in the field can send their products to the space for display, he added.
The space will also offer a platform for people to practice sustainable consumption under the GetGreen Vietnam project.
Doctor Marcel Crul from the Dutch Delft University of Technology said that the space will open up opportunities for experts and businesspeople to share ideas, harbouring initiatives on sustainability and innovation.
Kon Tum team brings war hero remains home
Seventeen sets of remains of Vietnamese volunteer soldiers and experts have been retrieved from Laos and Cambodia where they laid down their lives during wars.
The retrieval was part of the search campaign during the 2013-24 dry season carried out by the K53 team of the Military Command of the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum.
On April 29, the provincial Military Command reported that the remains included 15 found in Cambodia’s Rattanakiri province and two in Lao provinces of Champassak and Attapeu.
They will be laid to rest in Vietnam as long as related procedures in Laos and Cambodia are completed.
Co To's facelift attributed to access to national grid
From a poor island district with poor infrastructure, Co To island in the northern province of Quang Ninh has strived to become a famous tourist destination. One of the biggest breakthroughs for the island came with its access to the national grid last year, reports the Communist Party of Vietnam online newspaper.
From October 16, 2013, backward, the district had to use generators to produce electricity. To cater to the power demand of over 6,000 islanders, each year Co To district had to spend over 30 billion VND (1.4 million USD), including 10 billion VND from the State and the rest paid by islanders.
This large expense partly held back the development of some spearhead economic industries, including tourism, fishing and the processing of fish.
For that reason, Quang Ninh province and the Northern Power Corporation (NPC) have decided to bring power to the district. A project worth over 1.1 trillion VND was officially launched on November 4, 2012, to build diverse works, including 23.226 kilometres of 110kV line, 25.064 kilometres of undersea cable, and 43.333 kilometres of 22kV overhead line.
The national grid has created a facelift to the district, remarkably improving locals' lives. Islanders do not hesitate to use power for economic development.
Ngo Van Tuat, in Co To town, said that earlier, as the power fee was very expensive, he had to pay at least 200,000 VND per month. When his family used the power from the national grid, he only had to pay 100,000 VND for several electronic devices.
“With the inexpensive electricity fee, I bought more fridges to keep seafood fresher and saved more money,” he said.
The electricity also brought the island greater opportunities for developing tourism – the sector that was set as a spearhead industry for the district.
According to Nguyen Duc Thanh, Secretary of the district Party Committee, over the past 30 years, some 1,300 houses worth 90 billion VND were built on Co To island. However, within six months of having access to the national grid, people built over 500 houses worth 100 billion VND for accommodation and to welcome visitors.
At present, many families are expanding their houses to provide accommodation with greater comfort for visitors.
During the 2014 tourism reason, the district invests more in express buses and trams to serve tourism.
“The district’s socio-economic development has seen a breakthrough thanks to the national grid,” said Thanh.
Home helpers to enjoy official labour rights
A Government resolution will take effect this May recognising home help as a career with special protections, reported Thanh Nien (Young people) newspaper.
Tong Thi Minh, head of the Ministry of Labour, War Invalid and Social Affairs’ Labour and Wages Department, said her office is drafting details of the resolution which takes effect on May 25.
The details will not provide a precise contract format but compel employers to provide new hires with a list of tasks their job requires. This list will effectively prohibit the employer from forcing an employee to do other tasks.
The resolution also bans employers from all kinds of abuse and sexual harassment, and requires them to include meals, lodging and travel support in the contract, as well as the helpers’ wages, Minh said.
She said the resolution does not require employers to pay social insurance for helpers as the payment is only obligatory for employers with at least 10 employees.
Ngo Thi Ngoc Anh, Director of the Hanoi-based Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development, said the resolution should specify the responsibility and power of local governments on the matter.
Her centre has been running a home helper protection project for two years in Hanoi, nearby northern Nam Dinh province, Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long, and central Khanh Hoa province.
Anh said officials in areas she encountered had no understanding of how to resolve a breach of contract dispute.
Questioned about Anh’s concerns, Minh said the contract can be filled with labour officials at the ward or commune level. Disputes will be dealt with by district government officials, and can be brought to court in the event that local officials fail to offer satisfying solutions.
She said leaflets and training courses will be provided at several localities to help officials know what they need to do.
Tin Tuc, a daily of the Vietnam News Agency, quoted Nelien Haspels, an expert on gender issues at the International Labor Organisation Asia-Pacifi,c as saying that ILO considers the resolution an important step toward protecting home helpers and recognising their contributions to socio-economic values.
An ILO survey noted that the number of home helpers in Vietnam has risen with the expansion of the middle-class: from 157,000 in 2008 to 246,000 in 2015.
The survey also said most helpers are required to work too many hours and are vulnerable to sexual harassment and different kinds of abuse.
Home helpers have expressed excitement over the new regulations which give them better control over their jobs, according to Tin Tuc, which noted that their employers are unhappy for the same reason.
Nguyen Thi Luyen from Nam Dinh province, who works at a luxury apartment building in Hanoi, said: “The thing that makes me happiest is that home help has been recognised as a career under the law and we can no longer be belittled as servants.”
Her colleague Diep said they have been working under verbal contracts or negotiations settled between brokerage companies and the families.
“Families try all they can to cut into our wages,” Diep said.
But Bich Hoa, an employer from Hanoi, said the helpers need to have training certificates to deserve the recognition.
Hoa said most helpers follow habit or their employers’ instructions, and few are professionally trained.
The ILO survey also said most of the helpers are poor women from rural areas and usually have only a ninth grade education at most.
Some employers objected to the new scheduling regulations, saying they do not suit the nature of the job.
The resolution requires overtime for working extra hours, or on official holidays; it also grants home helpers 12 vacation days a year.
Nguyen Thanh Truyen from Hanoi said it’s hard to define a time frame for the job while Bich Trang, also from the capital city, said one hires a helper to reduce one's workload and it isn't possible to give them so many days off.
Inland people send support for Truong Sa
Representatives hailing from provinces and organisations have set sail for Truong Sa island district, the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa, on the occasion of the 39th anniversary of the liberation of southern Vietnam.
Ship HQ-996 with those people on board left Khanh Hoa’s Cam Ranh port on April 28.
During the trip til May 7, the delegation will deliver gifts, totalling some 2 billion VND (95,200 USD), to soldiers and residents on Song Tu Tay, Son Ca, Nam Yet, Sinh Ton, Co Lin and Truong Sa Lon islands and Platform DK1.
A ceremony will also be held to commemorate the soldiers who dedicated their lives to protecting Truong Sa archipelago and the country’s southwestern waters.
Secretary of the Khanh Hoa provincial Party Committee Le Thanh Quang said that the visit delivers the support of inland people for the construction of an economically and militarily strong Truong Sa district.-
Vietnam grateful to Russian embalmers of late leader
Russian scientists and medical experts joining in preserving the embalmed body of the late President Ho Chi Minh, the founder of modern Vietnam, converged at a gathering in Moscow on April 28.
Speaking at the event, Political Commissar of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Safeguarding High Command, Maj. Gen. Pham Van Lap recalled the memories in September 1967 when Russia assisted Vietnam in training three doctors with embalming techniques.
During 1969-1975 fierce wartime, Russian medical specialists and officers and soldiers of the Vietnam People’s Army successfully moved the remains of the President to far-flung areas to safety for six times, he said.
The embalmed President was later laid inside a mausoleum dedicated to him. Since the mausoleum inaugurated in late August 1975, it received over 50 million visitors, from both at home and abroad, to pay tribute to the late leader whose mummified body is always kept at the best state.
Since 2004, the Russian Institute of Biomedical Problems in coordination with the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Management Board have succeeded in making embalming fluids.
Vietnamese Ambassador Nguyen Xuan Son, in his speech, reiterated his gratitude to participants for their dedicated support and endeavours.
Dien Bien Phu victory spotlighted at Moscow seminar
On April 29, Moscow hosted a seminar on Vietnam’s Dien Bien Phu victory and the victory by the Red Army of the Soviet Union in the Great Patriotic War.
The event was held by the Moscow Academy of Economics and Law (MAEL) and the Russian Veterans Association in Vietnam in collaboration with the Russia-Vietnam Friendship Association.
Speaking at the seminar, Russian military experts emphasized that the Dien Bien Phu victory was the result of the hardship struggle of Vietnamese soldiers and people against French colonialists in the context that the country had gained independence but still faced numerous difficulties.
This was the victory of the ingenious combination between a modern military strategy with Vietnam’s classic guerrilla that showed that an army with rudimentary weapons smashed a powerful military machine to make ​​a global shaking Dien Bien Phu victory.
The resounding victory not only brought peace to Vietnam, but also contributed to restoring peace in Indochina, forcing France to sign the Geneva Agreement.
Delegates said that today’s young generations should be educated about the historic victories of Vietnam and the Soviet Union with the great sacrifice of millions of outstanding people so as to make them better understand the value of peace.
Vietnamese ambassador to Russia Pham Xuan Son said despite happening in different timelines, the victories of the Vietnamese and Soviet Union people had a very close link that is a continuation of the history of the heroism of the two peoples.  
Moreover, the victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War was also a positive factor in encouraging revolutionary movements in the world in general as well as in Vietnam.
“The Vietnamese people are always grateful to the Soviet Union for its tremendous support in Vietnam’s past struggle for national independence and the current national construction.” Son noted.
Measles on the rise in Binh Duong
The southern province of Binh Duong has recorded nearly 100 cases of measles of which approximately 70% are children and the rest are adults.
Measles cases in adults and children in Binh Duong are still showing signs of increasing.
Over the past two weeks, the provincial general hospital has received a steady stream of patients suffering from the bacterial infection typhus, commonly associated as the cause of the measles virus.
Adult patients are classified for examination and treatment at the ​​infectious disease area while children patients are monitored for health condition at the paediatrics department.
Despite the increasing number of patients admitted to the hospital for inpatient treatment in recent days, the hospital has received a large number of severe cases that required the support of respiratory machine or intensive treatment.
Dr. Nguyen Van Tinh, the hospital’s Deputy Director said, "The number of measles patients has increased sharply, including two separate paediatric critical cases and two severe adult cases have begun to recover.”
The local health sector also suggested the people should bring their children for vaccination against measles and take preventive measures to limit the spread in the community.
Vietnam pledges continued assistance for disabled people
Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Trong Dam and US Special Advisor for International Disability Rights Judith E.Heumann co-chaired an April 29 roundtable in Hanoi to share experience in supporting people with disabilities.
The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs reported at the event that Vietnam now has almost 6.7 million disabled people, accounting for 7.8% of the population. Of the total, more than 5 million are living in rural areas and only around 1.6 million are capable of working.
Participants agreed that the country has always prioritised conducting policies to ensure the rights of the disabled and boost their participation in social affairs.
With the aim of providing vocational training and generating jobs for 250,000 people with disabilities by 2015, the Vietnamese Government has been improving its legal system relating to the issue.
The country also signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability in 2007 and is expected to ratify it this year.
Besides receiving social and legal support, disabled people in Vietnam have gained better access to infrastructure in transport, culture, sports and information technology.
The MoLISA he Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs will continue programmes to raise people’s awareness of the disabled, and intensify activities to help them better integrate into the community.
Vietnam attends Going Global 2014
Vietnamese officials are joining more than 1,000 delegates at the 2014 Going Global - one of the greatest international conferences of higher education organised by the British Council – in Miami Beach from 29 April to 1 May.
Bui Van Ga, Vice Minister of Education and Training, is scheduled to chair a breakfast session on higher education partnerships in Vietnam and join Brazilian and Turkish education leaders to talk about the role of internationalisation in driving the world’s fastest growing economies.
The ‘Vietnam-UK: Partnership for Mutual Development’ breakfast session will be held on May 1, bringing together 40 vice-chancellors and international leads from UK and US leading higher education institutions.
Participants will be introduced to unique and innovative partnerships with employers and researchers that have been enabling the UK and Vietnam to develop and grow steadily, offering postgraduate qualifications and sponsorship from industry.
This will be presented through a project on establishing a Vietnam-UK research led international standards university, initiated by Aston University (UK) and the University of Danang (Vietnam), with strong support from the British Council.
To date the Vietnam – UK Institute for Research and Executive Education has been founded, laying the foundations for the future Vietnam – UK University.
Tran Ngoc Ca, Head of the US-based Science and Technology Office under the Ministry of Science and Technology, will talk about 10 prioritised areas within Vietnam's science and technology development strategy until 2020 and share his expertise in developing public - private - community partnerships to facilitate innovation in science and technology and forming collaboration work with US partners in key areas such as biotechnology and agriculture, STEM education and research exchange, amongst others.
Vice Minister Ga will join the president of the Education Council of Turkey and the president of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development of Brazil to discuss the role and impact of internationalisation in emerging economies.
The delegation from Vietnam's Ministry of Education and Training led by Vice Minister Ga will also have a bilateral meeting with Sir Martin Davidson, Chief Executive of the British Council and Martin Williams, Director, Higher Education, Department of Business, Skills and Innovation.
Dien Bien Phu victory to be spotlighted at int’l seminar
Around 200 domestic and foreign scientists from Russia, the US, France, China, Laos and Vietnam will attend a seminar in Hanoi on May 5 to examine the significance and magnitude of the 1954 Dien Bien Phu victory over French colonialism.
The historic Dien Bien Phu victory – the climax of the 1953-1954 Winter-Spring Strategic Offensive – was the greatest victory recorded by the Vietnam People’s Army and Vietnamese people in their protracted war of resistance against the French colonialists.
The victory is a glorious landmark and forever pride of Vietnamese people. It sent shockwaves reverberating around the world signaling the end of French colonialism while concurrently giving rise to the national liberation movement around the world.
Dr Nguyen Van Nhat, Director of the Vietnam Institute of History, emphasises that the seminar aims to affirm the clear-sighted and wise leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam and President Ho Chi Minh in selecting the most appropriate war strategy and mobilising forces for the historic campaign.
The May 7, 1954 victory demonstrated the heroic sacrifice and great contribution of armed forces, conscripted labourers and people nationwide, especially those in north-west and liberated zone IV.
It heightened revolutionary vigilance, upheld revolutionary will, and strengthened military potential to be ready to defend national sovereignty and the socialist regime amidst hostile forces’ insidious schemes.
The historic victory helped foster international relations and cooperation in the fields of politics, diplomacy, military, security and economics to raise Vietnam’s prestige on international arena.
The seminar will be held by the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS).
Japan awards Sunrise Order to VJFA President
Japan has presented its distinction Sunrise Order to Nguyen Vu Khai, Chairman of the Vietnam-Japan Friendship Association, for his significant contribution to the development of Japan-Vietnam cooperation.
The information was released by the Japanese Embassy in Hanoi on April 29.
Khai has received a Japanese scholarship for a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) course in Japan.
In 1995, as Secretary of the Japan-Vietnam Friendship Parliamentary Alliance (JVFPA), Khai actively contributed to maintaining and expanding the alliance’s activities with the aim of strengthening parliamentary exchange between the two countries.
In 2002, after being elected to the Diet (Parliament), he became an official member of JVFPA and the first President of the Vietnamese Students' Association in Japan. He usually shared experience in studying in Japan, helping increase the number of Vietnamese students in the country.
Since he was appointed as VJFA Chairman, he has initiated a series of cultural exchanges between Japan and Vietnam and assisted in establishing 18 VJFA chapters in many Vietnamese provinces.
He is currently introducing Japanese culture through translating Japanese poems into Vietnamese.
Brunei navy patrol ship visits Vietnam
KDB Darulehsan of the Royal Brunei Navy with 70 officers and crewmen on board docked at Haiphong port city on April 29, beginning an official four-day visit to Vietnam.
During their stay, the Brunei officers and crewmen will pay a courtesy visit to Haiphong authorities, call on the Navy Command, and play volleyball with Vietnam People’s Navy officers.
This is the first visit to Vietnam by a Royal Brunei Navy ship to help strengthen friendship, cooperation, mutual trust and understanding between the two countries’ armies and peoples.
PM approves Lang-Hoa Lac water project
The Prime Minister has approved a US$254.45 million water improvement project for the Hanoi outskirt districts of Hoai Duc, Thach That, Quoc Oai and Son Tay town.
The total investment in the project will be sourced with US$230.39 from Asian Development Bank (ADB) loans, with the remainder coming from Vietnamese counterpart funds.
The project, using water sources from Da River, aims to solve social welfare problems and improve the living environment for the people in the outskirt areas, creating favourable conditions for the capital city’s economic development.
Work on the project is expected to begin later this year and be completed prior to 2020.
Major drug trafficking ring busted in HCM City
Ten people were arrested on April 28 in an alleged narcotic trafficking conspiracy operating out of Ho Chi Minh City that police say operated throughout the metropolitan area.
Police forces in Binh Thanh district HCM City, following up on tips provided by local residents, arrested the ringleader 24 year-old Nguyen Khac Hieu from Binh Thanh district along with his suppliers and couriers.
Hieu declared that his ring has been operating on a fairly large scale, specializing in synthetic drugs involving many coconspirators in numerous districts of HCM City, including Go Vap, Tan Phu, Phu Nhuan, and Thu Duc.
He purchased synthetic drugs from three main suppliers, namely 38 year-old Nguyen Trong Thien Thu from district three, 29 year-old Nguyen Viet Son from Go Vap district, and 34 year-old Vong Chi Vinh from Tan Phu district.
Police also seized 150 gram of synthetic drugs and 75 ecstasy pills. Detainees reportedly confessed they had already sold 500 grams of synthetic drugs and around 500 ecstasy pills in the preceding two months.
Further investigations are continuing.
UK Charity focuses on humanitarian work in three SEA nations
The Vietnamese Embassy to the UK on April 28 hosted an annual meeting of the Executive Board of the Medical and Scientific Aid for Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (MSAVLC).
(MSAVLC)- a British charitable organization- has closely linked with a half-century of humanitarian work in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
MSAVLC President and Secretary General Peter Lidgard said 2013 was a challenging year for his organization when half of the 8 executive board members had to quit because of health reasons.
However, the remaining members have spared no efforts to take on the mission of the organization to continue operations and medical assistance for the people from Vietnam Laos and Cambodia, especially women and children living in mountainous areas, victims of Agent Orange (AO) and the disabled and orphans.
During 2013 alone, the MSAVLC called for donations from kind-hearted people across the UK with a large amount of funding, wheelchairs and hearing aid equipment for the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin (VAVA)  in Hanoi and Ha Tinh.
It also sponsored training programs, medical equipment purchase and healthcare projects for Vietnam’s central and northern provinces and HCM City.
Also during the past year, Peter Lidgard and his wife Mary who is also a member of the executive board conducted a nearly four-month trip to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to assess the implementation of MSAVLC-funded humanitarian projects and to learn the practical needs of funding recipients to improve the organization’s operational efficiency.
At the meeting, ambassador Vu Quang Minh spoke highly of the MSAVLC’s long-term operation and practical assistance for the people of the three SEA nations as well as its enduring contributions it made for the past decades to developing stronger relations between Vietnam and the UK.
“The Vietnamese Embassy is ready to serve as a bridge for the MSAVLC to strengthen its connectivity with other organizations having relations with Vietnam under the "Vietnam-UK Network" umbrella. The Embassy is accelerating the implementation of a new fund-raising model to contribute to the association’s fund and hopes the scheme will also receive support from Cambodian and Lao embassies in the near future.
In addition, the Embassy proposed making a documentary about the MSAVLC’s charitable activities in the lead up to the 50th of anniversary of its establishment in 2015.” Minh concluded.
Prosecutions to come in the Chu Va bridge collapse case
Police in Lai Chau Province have decided to charge individuals they say were responsible for the collapse of Chu Va 6 suspension bridge.
Police in Lai Chau said they have gathered evidence and sent it to the Institute of Criminal Sciences under the Ministry of Public Security.
Major-General Tran Duan, head of police force in Lai Chau Province, said the manufacturer of the anchor screws used did not make them according to the standards required by the bridge design. The faulty screws reduced the bridge's load-bearing capacity and led to the collapse, according to police.
Police in Lai Chau Province announced their decision to prosecute the case on April 29. The decision was based on the conclusions of the Institute of Criminal Sciences. Meanwhile, the investigation is still expanding to include all related individuals and agencies.
On February 24, the bridge collapsed while a funeral procession was crossing. About 20 people fell into the rocky gorge underneath. The accident killed eight and left 38 injured. After the Ministry of Transport confirmed in their report that overload was not the cause, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked the Ministry of Public Security to quickly investigate the case and submit the results in April.
Nguyen Khac Chu, Chairman of Lai Chau Province People's Committee, said they were plans for building a temporary bridge.
Hand, foot and mouth disease spreads in Vietnam
Hand, foot and mouth disease has affected more than 17,400 people in 62 out of 63 cities and provinces nationwide this year, while Vietnam still struggles with measles.
The information was given by the Preventive Medicine Department under the Ministry of Health.
According to the department, despite seeing a 20% reduction in the number of new patients compared to last year overall, a number of localities have recorded increases. Among those, HCM City saw 2,700 patients so far this year, up 29% from last, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province had 1,100 cases, up 34%, Ca Mau treated 940 cases, up 15%.
The disease is mainly transmitted through the digestive track, mostly affecting children. It also poses a high risk of becoming an epidemic. In serious cases patients can suffer from complications such as meningitis, pneumonia and heart problems, causing deaths if they do not receive proper treatment in a timely manner.
Dr. Tran Dac Phu, Head of the Preventive Medicine Department, said the Ministry of Health has taken measures to control the disease in affected areas to prevent it from spreading.
He added that Hanoi and HCM City face a higher risk of being hit by the disease. However, the biggest difficulty is that there is no vaccine for the disease.
Vietnam has between 100,000 and 150,000 hand, foot and mouth patients per year, including 30-40 fatalities. The number of patients has been increasing since 2011.
Source: VNA/VNN/VOV/Dantri/VNS
Market rallies but liquidity falls

Blue chips gain ground, helping shares closed on higher on April 29. – Photo
HA NOI (VNS) – Shares closed higher on Tuesday on both the national stock exchanges as the blue chips gained ground, but the liquidity continued to decrease due to rising investor caution.
On the HCM Stock Exchange, the VN-Index rose 0.85 per cent over Monday to end at 578 points yesterday.
The gainers outnumbered the losers by 105-89, while 75 shares closed unchanged.
Ten of the top 30 shares by market value and liquidity rallied, while eight slumped and 12 closed flat. The VN30 index inched up 0.51 per cent to end at 632.10 points.
However, the liquidity on the market continued to fall with the market volume falling by 10 per cent from the previous session, totalling over 50 million shares, and the market value reducing by 30 per cent to reach just VND917 billion, or US$43.4 million.
"The investors continued to maintain a careful approach towards equity assets during a time of uncertain outlook," analysts of FPT Securities wrote in a note.
Some blue chips gained, leading the market's rebound. PV Gas (GAS) and Masan Group (MSN) climbed nearly 3 per cent and Vietcombank (VCB) grew over 1 per cent.
Real estate developer FLC Group (FLC) was again the most active stock on the trading of 7 million shares, but the price slipped 4.5 per cent to end at VND10,600 a share.
On the Ha Noi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index increased 0.29 per cent to close at 79.88 points. The HNX30, tracking the top 30 shares on the bourse, was also up 0.5 per cent to close at 160.46 points.
The trading continued to fall, however, as the market volume and value decreased another 10 per cent, totalling 31 million shares, worth VND371 billion, or $17.6 million, respectively.
PetroVietnam Construction Corp (PVX) was the most active code with 4.1 million shares being exchanged at VND5,100 a share.
The market is closed today. It will reopen on Monday after the commemoration of the National Reunification Day and May Day. – VNS
Vietnam, RoK to boost agricultural cooperation
Korean agriculture, an extraordinarily efficient and good mix of traditional farming methods mixed with modern technology, was the topic of discussion at a meeting in Hanoi on April 29.
At the event, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh told Chairman of the Coordinating Committee of Vietnam-RoK development partnership programme Jun Kwang Woo Vietnam is always receptive to agricultural investment and cooperation opportunities with the RoK, he said.
The Vietnamese Government always looks forward to exploring  new and novel cooperation ideas, creating favorable condition for both nations to boost their economies, he said.
The RoK has become one of the most important trade partners of Vietnam in terms of labour force exports, tourism, foreign investment and trade, he added.
Jun Kwang Woo said in turn that the RoK is more than willing to share experiences and strengthening cooperation in agriculture and rural development, particularly in new rural construction.
He also expressed his strong desire that Vietnam will provide the best possible conditions for Korean financial institutions to invest in Vietnam in the coming time.
Vietnam aims for strong agricultural growth
The decline in agriculture, mirrored by the rural exodus, as the nation moves to a more industrialised society is undermining the nation’s economy as a whole, as many parts of the country are left behind.
Although agriculture continues to play an important part in the national economy, official statistics reflect the sector’s growth has slowed in 2014, a little bit lower than the figure of 2.67% in 2013 and 2.68% in 2012 and 4% in 2011.
In context, the demand and prices for farm produce and commodities began to taper off sharply in 2013 compared to prior years and the trend is continuing in 2014.
As prime examples, in 2013 the price of rice, coffee and rubber commodities decreased by 18.7%, 26.6% and 11.7% respectively.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung attributes the slow growth of the agricultural sector to an overabundance of  small-scale family farms combined with an insufficient number of large scale production farms, lack of coordination within the sector to work for the common good, and low productivity and poor quality.
Given the backdrop of low demand, low prices and the context of fierce international competition, industry experts predict the growth of the agricultural sector to remain stagnant in line with a slow pace in the development of production methods and competitive edge of farm produce.
Nguyen Do Anh Tuan from the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, said that shortcomings in infrastructure, service, and technical standards have significantly weakened the competitive capacity of the agricultural sector, leading to a trade shortfall in the sector dragging down the overall national trade surplus.
These shortcomings have directly led to the hesitancy of domestic and foreign businesses to invest in the agricultural sector, he said.
The World Bank (WB) in turn points to the lackluster labour productivity growth in the  agricultural sector, which is significantly lower than comparable figures from China and Cambodia, as a cause for alarm.
The productivity growth in the agricultural sector only increased from US$200 per capita per year to nearly US$400 per capita per year from 1985 to 2011, the World Bank reports, the lowest level in the ASEAN region.
Factually, Vietnam has devised a scheme of synchronized solutions aimed at improving the added value of farm produce by selecting produce for production based on added value and maximising profits by marketing  products made from unsellable and left over produce.
However, without huge investments from the business community, these solutions lack practicality and cannot help the agricultural sector develop effectively.
Richard F. Doner, from the Political Department of the Emory University emphasises  that upgrading the value chain is extremely  difficult as implementing new technology is much easier said than done, requiring not only huge investment of money but significant training and development of human resources.
Therefore, the government needs to concentrate on devising a more practical and proper mechanism to solve these difficulties, he said adding that the formulation of policies should be initiated in a highly coordinated manner by government agencies, research units, business associations, and public-private consulting companies.
Meanwhile, Tuan said that restructuring the agricultural sector should focus on renovating management by clearly delineating those fields and services which will be administered by the state, leaving the remainder to the private sector.
Additionally, there should be carefully thought out and crafted policies to facilitate the privatisation of the agriculture sector and the establishment of associations to coordinate activities of the sector, he concluded.
Last but not least, Ms Jayati Ghosh, an Economics Professor from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India underscores that a fundamental perquisite for the future development and prosperity of the Vietnamese agricultural sector is the establishment of a legal corridor and support policies for the private sector to get actively involved in production.
Private sector production is the key to agricultural success, and capitalizing on that, a stable farm produce value chain can be constructed, bringing a practical sustainable and stable production model  to agriculture, she concluded.
Economic forum develops practical solutions for 2014
Experts attending the Spring Economic Forum have examined the status of the economy and come up with a number of practical solutions for buoying up the economy which has already bottomed out and is on track to recover.
Participants at the April 28-29 forum in Quang Ninh province shared the view that the economy has weathered the storm and begun to see positive improvements.
The GDP growth rate increased in a quarterly basis; inflation was kept at a low level; Quarter 1 ended with a US$1 billion trade surplus; and the foreign currency market remained stable.
Industrial production began to pick up, with an increasing number of businesses resuming operation and new businesses registering for the first time. Thanks to low interest rates, more businesses are now accessible to bank loans to maintain production.
All the same, many experts were quick to caution that many challenges are still lying ahead. They cited low aggregate demand as a key factor that affects the health of the economy, especially private businesses.
Nguyen Van Giau, Chairman of the National Assembly Committee for Economic Affairs, pointed out that State employee incomes have stagnated and have not increased over the past two years, showing the aggregate demand of the society is rather low.
Experts at the forum also discussed market difficulties, including a lack of adequate policies for implementing a VND30,000 billion stimulate package for the real estate market and the thorny problem of not adequately dealing with non-performing loans.
They agreed that economic restructuring that began a year ago has not met expectations, especially for State-owned enterprises and big economic groups.
Although the public debt is within safe limit approved by the National Assembly, it still remains high. It is important for the State to balance budget to pay debts and ensure expenditure structure to promote economic development.
The State has issued a large amount of bonds, 80% of which have been bought by credit organisations, slowing down capital for production and trading.
The forum also dealt with many other social issues, including labour, employment, education reform, epidemics, and unemployment
Experts proposed that the government mobilise all resources to address pending issues, with a primary focus on economic restructuring, especially in agriculture.
They underlined the need to put FDI allocation under the microscope, giving priority to essential areas and products of higher added value.
Some experts proposed introducing a more flexible exchange rate policy to fuel economic growth, supporting businesses in accessing market, and evaluating the comprehensive impact of the new integration process, taking into account Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement negotiations, the establishment of the ASEAN community in 2015 and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement negotiations.
Many participants also agreed that institutional reform costs less but faces the most difficulty as it must be carried out in all fields and levels.
Meeting realizes Vietnam–Singapore connectivity agreement
Vietnam and Singapore have resolved problems arising from implementing their 2005 agreement on economic connectivity (VSAEC) at a ministerial meeting in Singapore on April 29.
At the meeting, co-chaired by Vietnamese Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh and Singaporean Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang, both sides reviewed their achievements in the six cooperation areas of finance, education and training, transportation, information and communication technology, investment, trade and services.
They also discussed new measures to expand economic cooperation in line with each country’s potential and strengths, including the development of Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam’s Kien Giang province.
Under VSAEC signed in 2005, Vietnam has pledged to work closely together with Singapore to undertake initiatives within the agreement and encourage Singaporean businesses to invest in Vietnam to boost mutually beneficial cooperation
The 11th ministerial meeting on economic connectivity will be held in Vietnam in April 2015.
Lang Son, Chinese localities strengthen cooperation
Businesses from Lang Son province are attending the 9th Exhibition on Cultural Products in Yiwu City, Zhejiang province, China from April 27-30.
They are displaying a wide variety of high quality Made in Vietnam products including office supplies, educational aids, souvenirs and a large assortment of traditional cultural products at the event.
They partook in a number of seminars and activities that helped increase their understanding of their Chinese counterparts, and get updated on new products and recent developments in the marketplace.
Yiwu is considered the world’s biggest retail market by the United Nations and the World Bank.
Yiwu International Trade Zone, which covers 5.5 million sq.m, has a special zone for 10 ASEAN countries, including Vietnam.
Vietnamese products, including handicrafts and food, are favoured by Chinese and international wholesalers.
During their stay, Chairman of the Lang Son City People’s Committee Bui Van Coi and Chairman of Yiwu City He Mei Hua signed a framework agreement to promote bilateral cooperation in agriculture, forestry and consumer goods manufacturing.
Attracting more Korean investment into Can Tho
The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho and the Korean Institute of Industrial Technology jointly held a conference on investment promotion in the city on April 29.
Speakers highlighted investment advantages in the City’s industrial zones and high-tech parks in addition to the Tan Loc and Con Son eco-tourism sites.
They specifically identified manufacturing, agriculture, and civil construction as key areas of ideal investment matching the strengths of both the city and the Korean business community.  
A Vietnam-RoK technology nursery project launched in late 2013 at Tra Noc Industrial Zone with total investment capital of US$21.13 million was touted as a prime example of the successes that Korean businesses have experienced.
Once completed, the project will help regional aquaculture, and agricultural and seafood processing businesses access advanced technologies to raise the quality and value of products.
With the project, Can Tho will have a research and development centre for agricultural and seafood processing and mechanical engineering to promote its agricultural advantages and potential.
Japan pulls out of Vietnamese shrimp market
Japanese investors are pulling out of the Vietnamese shrimp market due to excessively high levels of oxytetracycline (OTC), according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
The decision was made due to the continuing detection of unacceptably high levels of OTC in shrimp shipments, despite prior warnings and the fact that it is public knowledge that virtually all Vietnamese shrimp exports are inspected for the antibiotic.
VASEP said that the Japanese importers are considering importing shrimp from India and Indonesia.
VASEP warns that unless local shrimp businesses strengthen self-regulation of OTC they will fail to penetrate the Japanese market.
Still tough to access home loan program
The Ministry of Construction has proposed adding more beneficiaries to the VND30-trillion low-interest home loan program initiated by the Government, but real estate enterprises still find lending requirements complex and attribute this to a slow pace of disbursement.
Deputy Minister of Construction Nguyen Tran Nam has suggested the Government allow households and individual customers of commercial budget housing projects to take out loans from the program. Moreover, the requirements for size and price per square meter should be scrapped and instead the cost of each home or lot apartment should be capped at VND1.05 billion.
The suggestion is not new, however, as some enterprises are doing what he proposed but homebuyers have to shoulder normal interest rates.
Le Ngoc Giau, general director of Tan Hung Investment Joint Stock Company, said homebuyers had signed up to buy many of over 600 apartment units launched by the firm recently. However, they have had to take out normal loans from banks rather than low-interest credit from the stimulus program.
As each condo is measured at 84 square meters, exceeding the 70-square-meter limit set by the VND30-trillion program, homebuyers cannot apply for loans at interest rates lower than commercial ones. Nonetheless, each unit is priced at less than VND1 billion, so the investor is ready to give homebuyers 14 square meters for free, meaning customers have to pay for 70 square meters only, Giau said.
Nguyen Van Duc, deputy director of the Dat Lanh Real Estate Company, told the Daily that that there should be just a single price requirement of below VND1.05 billion instead of the size and unit price requirements as currently applied.
However, Duc said, this should have been put in place last July or August.
The conditions applicable to the stimulus program, if relaxed, will help solve part of people’s housing demand.
The Government should have policies to encourage enterprises develop small units of 40-50 square meters each. HCMC is now coping with a limited supply of small-sized homes due to the rising population, Duc added.
Le Hoang Chau, chairman of the HCMC Real Estate Association, said the new suggestion was only suitable to housing products in HCMC, Hanoi or big cities. This will not work in other parts of the country.
For instance, residents in the Mekong Delta can buy a high-end apartment or even a villa for just VND1.05 billion. If one owns a villa, they are not considered low-income earners, so they are not eligible for the home loan program.
Nguyen Vinh Tran, general director of Nam Long Investment Joint Stock Company, said the requirements are still far from reality.
The firm’s Ehome4-Saigon North project in Binh Duong Province meets requirements of the stimulus program but it has found few customers. While the loans are only extended to Binh Duong residents, potential clients of the project are those from outlying districts in HCMC and migrant workers of industrial parks.
Therefore, Tran suggested the ministry lift the regulation on citizenship status to assist home investors.
Figures of the ministry showed participating banks in the VND30-trillion program had disbursed nearly VND1.7 trillion as of mid-April.
Vietnam’s oldest casino in the red
Haiphong’s Do Son casino saw profits for nearly a decade, but in 2008 started incurring consistent losses totalling VND169 billion ($8 million) by 2012.
The news was released at a recent meeting on reviewing the five-year implementation of the Resolution of the tenth Central Party Committee meeting on continuing to perfect a socialist-oriented market-based economy.
The report states that Do Son casino, licensed in 1992 as Vietnam’s pilot casino model, has slipped into hardship, as reported by The casino achieved profitability in 1998, which lasted until 2007.
But in 2008 it started seeing losses that amounted to $8 million as of 2012. The casino has paid an average of VND23.5 billion ($1.1 million) in taxes each year.
As of 2013, it employed 417 workers, 394 of whom were Vietnamese and the rest foreigners.
Despite its poor performance in recent years, the casino’s employees still enjoy quite a high rate of pay. Vietnamese managers earn an average of $800 per month while the foreign managers take down around $2,300.
Haiphong management authorities have said that since the casino was opened, it has helped drive tourist numbers.
Do Son beach and Cat Ba are Haiphong’s tourism centres and have seen hundreds of millions of dollars go toward making them tourist hubs of national significance.
According to a National Assembly Finance and Budget Commission report released in February, Ho Tram casino - a major gambling venue in the country in southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau province – reported revenues of $5.5 million with 35,877 visitors in just seven months operating. In that time, Ho Tram has already paid more than $2.8 million to the state budget.
The Ministry of Finance's figures show that the now five trial casinos, based in Haiphong, Lao Cai, Danang and Quang Ninh, have posted total revenue of VND930 billion ($44 million).
SMEs struggling to borrow while banks sitting on huge cash piles
Banks are sitting on huge cash piles at the moment but gaining access to loans is no easy task for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), according to the 2030 Businessmen Club under the Saigon Times Club.
SMEs said at a seminar at the Saigon Times Group office in HCMC last week that they had found it extremely tough to ask banks for a loan though banks said they had ample cash to lend.
Nguyen Ngoc Ha, director of HD Bank’s Nguyen Trai branch, said many SMEs had failed to meet banks’ lending requirements. Banks often have a different approach to working with SMEs, he said, noting a good business plan and a good financial statement would not suffice.
Banks, he said, know enterprises always have at least two financial reports with one for lenders and one for the taxman. Some enterprises even have more than two reports, Ha said.
Before deciding on a loan, banks should look into the fields where the borrower is active and how the management of the borrowing firm behaves, he said.
Banks also look at the way the borrower manages their cash flows, deals with unforeseen circumstances, and uses their long-term and short-term capital, he added.
Ha Xuan Anh, chairman of Son Viet Garment JSC based in HCMC, said lender banks always asked his firm whether it had assets for collateral to take out loans.
Vung Ro refinery developer refuses land
The UK’s Technostar Management Limited – developer of the $3.18 billion oil refinery and petrochemical project in the central Phu Yen province last week refused the cleared land handed over by provincial authorities.
According to local newspaper Vnexpress, the investor said the land which the local authorities tried to turn over to them was not fully cleared.
They explained that many fisheries were still active on the site.
The chairman of the Phu Yen Provincial People’s Committee Pham Dinh Cu, confirmed the news, saying that the land to be handed over to the investor was around 134 hectares in the province’s Dong Hoa district.
“We [the province] have finished land clearance and compensation procedures and so far have paid VND100 billion ($4.76 million) for the first phase of the project. But there are still 15 households and around 20 shrimp ponds that have not yet been moved,” Cu said.
Cu confirmed that the investor had reason to refuse the land, as local authorities have been slow in dealing with the issue. Cu also blamed farmers for continuing to farm shrimp at the location, despite already receiving compensation.
“The province is committed to forcing them off the site and giving the land as agreed to the investor by the beginning of May,” he added.
He continued by saying that committee would support the investor in its plans to start the project by July.
Vung Ro refinery’s EPC contract was signed in October last year between the investor and Japan’s JGC Corporation. The plan states that by the end of June the committee would finalise disbursement of VND300 billion ($14.28 million) for compensation of another 404 hectares of land for the second phase of the refinery.
Vung Ro Petroleum’s original investment certificate had a planned output of four million tonnes of crude oil, but the investor revised this to eight million tonnes to enhance efficiency.
The complex is slated to start commercial operations by 2016 and will produce a wide range of products including gasoline, polypropylene, benzene, toluene, xylene and diesel. The products will be distributed domestically and exported.
With a total investment of $3.18 billion, Vung Ro would be the biggest FDI project thus far in Phu Yen. The investor claimed that once operational the refinery would contribute more than $110 million per year to the local budget and create more than 1,300 jobs.
Phenikaa builds $87 million compound quarzt slab factory in Hoa Lac
Vietnam's A & A Green Phenix Company (PHENIKAA) will build an $87 million plant for manufacturing quartz slabz made by bonding together quartz grits and powder with unsaturated  polyester resin, using vacuum-vibro press technology that is exclusive technology transferred from Italy’s Breton.
Located in Hanoi’s Hoa Lac Hi-tech Park, the project will include two phase. In the first phase, Phenikaa will invest $59 million for a production line with the total capacity of 600,000 square metres of high class stone a year. The second phase, planned for 2017-2018 period, will have the total investment cost of $28 million that will expand the total production capacity up one million square metres of high class a year.
Phenikaa announced that it signed a technology transfer contract with Italy’s Breton for applying the latest technology in the production line, manufacturing quartz slabs with 90 per cent made from pure natural quartz. The production line is designed with the optimised layout and process allowing making the superior products that no company in the country has ever applied before and that others may have much difficult in copying. The line will also help Phenikaa improve quality and capacity under the tough weather (tropical-high humidity) condition in Vietnam, .
According to the signed contract, the Vietnamese company has got the exclusivity in buying machine and transferring this exclusive technology from Breton company in Vietnam within six years from 2014. This means, no company in Vietnam can by production technology from Italy’s Breton, a well-know stone manufacturing technology provider in the world, from now to 2020.
With the optimised designed production line and, Phenikaa expects it would provide the best quality and luxury quartz products to Vietnamese and the world market. Right now, the first phase of the manufacturing facility is under the construction. The manufacturer expects to start its mass production in June 2015.
Vingroup announced incentives on office leasing
Vincom Office Company, an arm of Vingroup has announced its special lease programme named “Golden Opportunity 2014” to woo tenants for its office projects for lease.
Under this programme, from April 15 to July 15, new tenants will benefit from special incentives and preferential lease conditions when leasing an office space in the flagship developments of Vingroup being Royal City and Times City in Hanoi and the Vincom Center Dong Khoi in Ho Chi Minh City
During this three month period, new office tenants will be offered special lease incentives including VIP staff privileges at the building’s facilities and complementary services, with specific terms and conditions applying to each project.
Accordingly Vincom Office Company provides flexible office solutions, accommodates demand from 100m2 to 4,000 m2 on a single floor area, in addition to impressive ceiling heights, spacious floor layouts, efficient vertical transportation and amenities at international standards, combined with a smart underground parking system covering a total area of over three hundred thousand square meters.
These office components are all integrated within multi-purpose developments that provide banking, healthcare, modern residential living, shopping, leisure and dining outlets. This unique all-in-one offering, combined with prime locations ensures that Royal City, Times City and Vincom Center Dong Khoi are the most exciting working environments in their respective cities.
This incentive is applied for a range projects including the whole floor area of the second floor of Royal City, Times City; a part of R6 (Royal City); 5-storey building - Tower 1 (Times City) and office space at Vincom Center Dong Khoi, all are in prime locations.
Vincom Office Company is a member of Vingroup - a leading commercial property company that provides international standard office management and marketing; established in 2013. Vincom Office currently manages office space in three major developments: Royal City and Times City (Hanoi) and Vincom Center Dong Khoi (Ho Chi Minh City).
Lotte gets nod to build $2 billion Smart Complex
Lotte Consortium – a joint venture between Korea’s Lotte and Japanese investors – was recently granted in-principal approval to develop the company’s proposed Smart Complex.
The $2 billion complex is planned for 2A area in the Thu Thiem New Urban Area in Ho Chi Minh City’s district 2. Lotte has said it plans for the complex to be a landmark of the city and greater South East Asia.
According to Kim Min Geun, vice president, head of Overseas Mixed Used Development Division of Lotte Asset Development, Lotte Centre Hanoi and the Smart Complex are key in the company’s Vietnam development plans and Lotte aims to lead international development in the future with its expertise in mixed-used development.
The Thu Thiem New Urban Area is being developed by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee to match up with Hong Kong’s International Finance Centre and Shanghai’s Pudong. City authorities have been pushing the urban area as a priority since 2002.
The Smart Complex is planned as a commercial and residential centre with multiple shopping complexes, hotels, serviced residences, offices and apartments.
Lotte Consortium plans to complete the master plan this year and carry out phased developments as infrastructure construction allows.
The complex will be pioneered in Vietnam with the aim of expanding the model to many other countries in the coming time.
This is Lotte’s second property development planned for Vietnam, following the now under-construction Lotte Centre Hanoi, slated to open later this year and which will be the second tallest building in Vietnam with 65-storeys.
Lotte Centre Hanoi, once open, will feature a 5-star hotel, offices, luxury serviced residences and an observation deck on the 65th floor, which it hopes will be one of the most visited attractions in Hanoi.
Rise in Vietnam’s real estate revenue
The property market has begun to show positive signs, with a recent increase in capital inflows.
Construction Minister Trinh Dinh Dung reported that by mid-April, the number of transactions in the real estate market in Hanoi doubled compared with last year’s final quarter.
Meanwhile, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) said that by the end of March, investment credit and real estate business increased by 3.95%, much higher than last years’ figure of 1.09%, for the first quarter.
Foreign capital inflows into Vietnam’s real estate are higher than other fields.
According to the Foreign Investment Agency, up until April 20, 2014, the property market ranked second in attracting FDI with additionally increased and newly-registered capital hitting US$392.3 million, accounting for 8.1% of total investment. In particular, an apartment project in HCM City’s Binh Thanh district has been licensed with investment capital totaling more than US$200 million.
Earlier, in the first quarter of the year, the real estate market also ranked second in attracting FDI with additionally increased and newly-registered capital reaching US$288.3 million, making up 8.6% of total investment.
Nha Trang Bay luxury resort project still faces delay
Nearly a year after getting its new investment certificate, the multi-million dollar Nha Trang Bay luxury resort project has yet to restart construction, though the new developer committed to starting operations within two years.
In May 2013, after a new investment certificate was signed for the VND1.2 trillion ($57 million) resort project, formerly named Rusalka and now named Champarama Resort and Spa, the developer – Focus Travel Nha Trang JSC – committed to opening the project two years later.
In actuality, the project was first suspended nine years ago in 2005, and still it faces the same problems it did then and has even added a few to the list.
One of the main reasons behind the delay was its conflict with Nha Trang Bay plans, currently in development by the Khanh Hoa province People’s Committee, said Vo Tan Thai, director of the province’s Department of Planning and Investment.
There have been different opinions on plans for the bay, particularly a great deal of opposition from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, as well as scientists and architects, as several investment projects are not correlative with the Law on Cultural Heritage.
According to Thai, at present there is no word on as to when the project will restart construction.
“The planning issues have been resolved, but many procedures have yet to be completed. At present, the developer is still working on getting a building permit to restart the project,” he added.
Another pending issue is a debt from the old developer – investment and tourism development company Rus-Inves-Tur (RIT).
To take up the project, the new developer Focus Travel agreed to inherit all of the rights and responsibilities but also debts of their predecessor.
Some of the debts have been resolved, but one with the BMC Building Materials Co Ltd. under the Ministry of Industry and Trade remains outstanding.
The initial debt was for VND51.6 billion ($2.4 million), but BMC now lists it as VND275.5 billion ($13.1 million).
After the province granted the project it’s new investment certificate last year, BMC filed petitions requesting unsettled problems be resolved, particularly debt obligations, before handing the project to a new developer.
BMC’s complaints even reached the desk of the prime minister.
Last Thursday, Khanh Hoa People’s Committee hosted a meeting to settle these issues.
It is expected that the province will soon issue a document detailing resolutions.
The erstwhile Rusalka project received the investment certificate in 2000 and was set to set up a tourism complex spanning 43.5 hectares that cost some $15 million.
It was invested by RIT, chaired by Nguyen Duc Chi. In 2005 Chi was arrested under charge of “frauds and appropriation of others’ assets.” The project thus came to a halt, had its assets frozen and the licence revoked in 2006, and ended up being liquidated in mid-August 2011, under an order by the prime minister.
In April, 2010, however, the Supreme Court overturned the accusations against Chi, and all assets were returned to Chi. Six months later, the prime minister assigned Khanh Hoa’s authorities to establish new legal entity to continue the project to ensure the investor’s benefits and reduce financial damages.
RIT’s former chairman Chi then proposed to have Focus Travel Nha Trang take over the project, a request that was green-lighted by the coastal province’s authorities. Focus Travel Nha Trang was chaired by Nguyen Duc Tan, who is Chi’s brother.
Buying rental property trends in HCM City
Many in HCM City have turned to buying homes to rent in the context of a sharp fall of deposit interest rates and the frozen real estate and stock market.
A recent study by CBRE Vietnam indicated that the leasing out is an important factor in the decision to buy a home for Vietnamese people, particularly in HCM City, and this trend has become more popular in this city.
According to CBRE, the Vietnamese real estate market is facing a continued slump, which makes for an opportune time to buy houses with an intention to rent them out. Rental properties can bring investors a stable source of income, and when the property market recovers, they can sell the houses at a profit.
Truong An Duong, Savills Vietnam’s Associate Director of Advisory & Residential Services, said that only around 4,000 apartments are rented foreigners in HCM City, while the number of foreigners in HCM City is quite high, creating a potential market for rental property owners.
The trend is not new, but has grown stronger in HCM City recently because of its low risk and high potential returns.
According to Mr. Truong Nam Duong, apartment projects in Binh Tan District, District No. 2 and Nam Sai Gon area have attracted the most customers.
The Phu My Hung urban area located, at Nam Sai Gon, is one of the most desirable apartment projects in HCM City among foreigners. A 70-square metre room there is leased for around USD800 per month.
Policies to revive property market
The state has offered credit packages for the local real estate market and will amend more regulations and policies to promote further recovery in the local market, noted experts.
During an online dialogue on the property market 2014: opportunities from policies held by the, the online Dien dan Doanh nghiep newspaper yesterday in Ha Noi, Phan Thanh Mai, the general director of the Bank of Construction, stated that the local property market has shown positive development over the past few months, including financial solutions from banks – VND30 trillion and VND50 trillion stimulus packages.
The VND30 trillion package, one of the government programmes, is aimed at providing credit for social housing projects. The package will help investors develop the social housing segment to meet the people's demands and help to push down the prices of housing apartments, thereby creating conducive factors to remove stagnation in the local property market, Mai added.
Meanwhile, the VND50 trillion package, which was recently released, is a commercial credit package for contractors, investors, and building material producers in the property sector, he remarked.
Banks will manage credit to use the money for the right purposes. The state expects that with the introduction of the package, investors will have more investment capital and the prices of building material products will also drop. Thus, the prices of houses and apartments will have a chance to fall against the current prices.
The state expected that the package would provide needed capital for unfinished property projects, Mai reported.
The two credit packages were aimed to achieve different purposes and expected to boost the market, he added.
However, according to Nguyen Huu Cuong, the chairman of the Ha Noi Real Estate Club, experts and even members of the National Assembly are of the viewpoint that disbursement of the VND30 trillion package is slow.
The slow disbursement might not mean that is unsuccessful, Cuong pointed out.
The package for social apartment projects, including buyers and investors with low interest rates, was issued at the right time when the market had fallen into serious crisis, he claimed.
The slow disbursement of the package was partly due to slow reaction by the people and enterprises towards the package, while on the other hand, procedures on appraising and approving the projects had been carefully implemented, he noted.
The package, a financial tool by the Government, had positive effects on the securities market to push the VN Index from 397.6 points at the end of 2012 to 569.87 points on Tuesday and lured US$21.6 billion investment into the property sector, he emphasised.
This support from the Government helped the local property market to cover losses and aided the development of the apartment segment having a selling price of around VND20 million per square metre. The package had saved 61,000 enterprises having thousands of property projects to avoid closure and bankruptcy, he explained.
Therefore, the package is expected to prove its efficiency in the future, as the package is effective until 2020.
Additionally, according to Nguyen Manh Ha, the director of the House Management Department, under the Ministry of Construction, the ministry and related ministries and sectors will amend the laws on trading property, construction, and housing to deliver more houses for the people and encourage all the economic sectors to invest into property products for the people.
Those laws will help people of the low-income group to own apartments and help the property market to have transparent development.
Cuong remarked that the amendment of the laws would abolish the administrative barriers for site clearance, create transparency in the market, and increase the prices of property products.