Thứ Năm, 26 tháng 1, 2017

Social News 26/1

Farmers struggle to access loans to develop production

 Farmers struggle to access loans to develop production, Telecom firm to compensate child, Thái Nguyên-Bắc Kạn road opens to traffic, EVN HCM City ensures power supply during Tết

Difficulties in borrowing money from banks have made it difficult for farmers to develop agricultural production in Hà Nội.
Trần Đình Thành, head of the Farmers Association of Ba Vì District’s Cẩm Lĩnh Commune said the association includes 61 households raising a total of 270,000 chickens, reported by Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.
It needs VNĐ17 billion (US$748,000) to maintain their breeding activities, he said.
This meant each household was required to contribute about VNĐ300 million ($13,200).
However, most of them could only borrow VNĐ100 million ($4,400) from banks because to borrow more, banks required farmers to use their land-use right certificate as collateral, he said.
Most co-operatives households rent land for breeding farms, so they have no land-use right certificates.
Ngô Thanh Tùng, head of a group of animal breeders in Đông Anh District’s Việt Hùng Commune in Hà Nội said the group was raising more than 50 sows and hundreds of pigs.
The group provided jobs for more than 20 local labourers with regular income of VNĐ3-5 million ($132-220) each month, he said.
Yet he and other breeders could only access 12 month loans from the State Bank of Việt Nam (SBV). The short-term loans affected the breeders’ mindsets as they had to pay their loans back quickly, he said.
Thành said he hoped the Government would help farmers could borrow middle and long-term loans in the future.
In June 2015, the Government issued Decree 55/NĐ-CP, aiming to create favourable conditions for farmers to borrow money with preferential treatment. Under the decree, farmers can get a loan from VNĐ50 million – 3 billion ($2,200 - $1.3 million) but were required to give banks their land-use right certificates before receiving money.
A representative from the SBV admitted to shortcomings in providing loans for farmers.
Nguyễn Tiến Đông, head of the SVB’s Credit Department said he knew many famers failed to borrow money due to the need to provide land-use right certificates as collateral.
Đông said the SVB would ask the Government to amend regulations on mortgages to fix the shortcomings.
Economist Cấn Văn Lực said lending money without collateral should be carefully considered because banks would risks borrowers failing to pay back their loans.
It was easy to see why banks had to carefully calculate the feasibility of a project before lending money, he said.
Lực said authorised agencies were advised to provide training for farmers so that they used the money they borrowed from banks effectively. When they presented a feasible plan, they could borrow money from banks easier.
Telecom firm to compensate child
A branch of the Việt Nam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) in central Hà Tĩnh Province’s Lộc Hà District yesterday publicly apologised and offered compensation of VNĐ450 million (US$19,800) to a child whose leg was amputated after being crushed in a pole collapse.
On August 2, 2016, five-year old Nguyễn Đức Trần Sang had his leg amputated after being crushed by an electric pole that collapsed while being removed by workers hired by VNPT.
Previously, the branch only offered compensation of VNĐ30 million ($1,300) and kept silent. Local media followed the case and reported on it and authorities at the province and district level asked the company to assume proper responsibility for the accident. — VNS 
Thái Nguyên-Bắc Kạn road opens to traffic
A new road linking the northern province of Thái Nguyên and the mountain province of Bắc Kạn has been opened to traffic, shortening the trip from Hà Nội northward to Bắc Kạn from four to two hours using National Highway 3.
Construction of the new road lasted over two years and it runs through complicated terrain, some mountainous. More than one million cubic metres of soil and rock were dug up and over 700,000 cu.m of soil were embanked to build the road.
According to Việt Nam’s highway development plan to 2020, the Hà Nội–Thái Nguyên–Bắc Kạn highway, stretching 90 kms, is one of seven major highways leading to the country’s capital.
EVN HCM City ensures power supply during Tết
Electricity of Việt Nam (EVN) in HCM City is planning specific measures to ensure enough power for the upcoming Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday, which begins this week.
Under the plan, it will not operate anything that requires an electricity cut on the national grid from January 26 to February 1, 2017.
It will also check and resolve any problems on the grid and electrical stations to ensure the grid operates smoothly and safely during the holiday.
EVN Việt Nam and its branches will also ensure there will always be staff available on duty 24/24 to fix any electrical problem during the holiday.
In addition, it will ensure enough power supply for locations where a range of political and cultural activities will be held to welcome the Lunar New Year.
EVN HCM City will also work with local authorities to enhance security of electricity works in the city and ensure fire safety at residential areas, recreational areas and public places.
It has committed to fixing any electricity-related problems immediately to ensure that all the citizens will have a safe and prosperous holiday.
Tết is the most important celebration in Việt Nam. The holiday takes place from the first day of the first lunar month (around late January or early February) until at least the third day.
Gov’t hopes new model will bear fruit
The Mekong Delta is looking for a new model to increase the efficiency of its agricultural production and distribution.
Early last year the Government approved a pilot co-operative model for the delta for 2016 -20.
It seeks to have 10 – 15 new co-operatives with a focus on developing infrastructure for cultivation, improving governance, mobilising capital for stronger connectivity and expanding markets.
“Members of the new co-operatives will contribute money and get quality service, savings and good, steady prices,” Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Trần Thanh Nam was quoted as saying in Thời báo Kinh doanh (Business Times) newspaper.
According to the chairman of the Việt Nam Co-operatives Union, Võ Kim Cự, the most important task for the region is drafting a master plan for co-operatives based on the strengths of each province.
“Developing a new co-operative model is imperative but output and quality should be improved to compete in the domestic and international markets.
“High-quality human resources and high technology are two very important things to ensure the success of the new model.”
According to statistics from the Crop Production Department, the delta now has over 307,000 hectares of orchards, accounting for 37.5 per cent of the nation’s total area, which produce 3.5 million tonnes of fruits each year.
The provinces of Tiền Giang, Vĩnh Long, Hậu Giang, Sóc Trăng and Bến Tre account for the largest areas of high-value produce like banana, mango, orange, coconut, pomelo, and blue dragon fruit.
Vietnamese fruit exports have been increasing. In 2015 the country exported US$1.8 billion worth to 60 nations and territories, eight times the 2005 figure.
In the first seven months of last year exports surged to $1.4 billion, a 135.5 per cent increase year-on-year.
However, the links between production and distribution remain loose, and farmers are ready to sell their produce to the highest bidder and to move to more lucrative fruits without any long-term strategy.
Authorities have not been competent at market forecast and sale and seed and quality management.
“The biggest challenge for our farmers is selling,” Nguyễn Văn Chiến, director of Thạnh Phước Co-operative in Châu Thành District, Hậu Giang Province, said.
“Our sales mostly depend on private dealers, and so prices are very volatile.”
“We wish to have a strong intermediary organisation that links farmers and enterprises for transfer of green technologies based on VietGap standards to achieve steady sales,” Thái Thùy Linh, owner of a dragon fruit farm in Lương Hòa Lạc Commune in Tiền Giang’s Chợ Gạo District, said.
Kids with HIV/AIDS celebrate Tet
The city’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Centre and the Việt Nam Health Improvement Project (VNHIP) hosted a pre-Tết (Lunar New Year) celebration for children with HIV in Đà Nẵng and Quảng Nam Province yesterday.
The event was one in a series of activities that the centre and donors often organise to encourage the children and their families in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The teen-age children, born with HIV/AIDS, receive medical treatment, nutrition guidance and financial support, as well as scholarships and school facilities from the centre.
Earlier this year, VNHIP, an NGO from the US, and Betula Asian Aid Foundation, signed a new agreement on improving health care for 50 kids and young people under 25 in Đà Nẵng from 2017-21. The project will aim to provide scholarships, school facilities, health care, and life-skills training for those with HIV/AIDS, and to support the children’s families.
According to the centre, some 100 kids in the central city have HIV/AIDS.
The city has been a leader in efforts to control the number of new HIV cases, maintaining a ratio of 0.15 per cent of HIV cases among the population since 2008. 
Also yesterday, the Đà Nẵng Association for Victims of Agent Orange (DAVA) organised Tet celebration for Agent Orange (AO) victims in the city, which is home to more than 5,000 AO victims, 1,400 of them children. Over VND54 billion ($2.4 million) was raised from domestic and foreign donors for AO victims in the city.
Donors also presented gifts to nearly 5,000 poor households living in Đà Nẵng and Quảng Nam Province on Saturday.
Semi-trailer rams bus in HCM City, several injured
A semi-trailer and a passenger bus collided yesterday in HCM City’s District 4, leaving the bus driver with a broken leg and 14 passengers slightly injured.
At around 5.30am on Khánh Hội Street near Kênh Tẻ Bridge, the semi-trailer with 6.1m containers suddenly ploughed into the road divider and rammed the bus which was travelling in the opposite direction, according to the District 4 Traffic Police.
Though there were many passengers in the bus, miraculously no one was killed or seriously injured.
Both vehicles were damaged.
On receiving a call, police and firefighting and prevention police officers arrived at the scene to remove the passengers from the bus and take the injured people to People’s Hospital 115 in District 10.
The accident blocked the road until a salvage truck arrived and took them away.  
Investigators are examining the cause of the accident.
Two men sentenced to jail for cheating labourers
The Hà Nội People’s Court  sentenced two men to jail for cheating labourers of over VNĐ4 billion (US$180,000) with promises of finding them jobs abroad.
Vũ Xuân Thành, 30, a resident of Hoàng Mai District’s Hoàng Văn Thụ Ward in Hà Nội, was handed a 20-year sentence, while Lý Văn Minh, 28, a resident of Thiệu Hóa District’s Thiệu Hợp Commune in Thanh Hóa Province, will spend four years in jail. 
As per the indictment, in 2010, Petro Vietnam Machinery-Technology Joint Stock Company (PVMachino) set up an overseas manpower supply and services centre, PVManning, whose main job was to send labourers abroad. In 2013, PVManning opened a labourer training centre in Hà Nội’s Văn Khê new urban area. The centre, however, was not registered so it did not have its own account or stamp. Thành was invited to work at  the centre and his job was to find and introduce local labourers to the centre so that they could enrol in its vocational training and foreign language courses.
In May 2014, PVManning’s officials instructed the Văn Khê labourer training centre to stop all activities after figuring out that it was violating rules. However, Thành and Minh continued to approach labourers as Văn Khê centre officials who could help them find jobs abroad.
From May 2014 to May 2015, Thành collected VNĐ3.7 billion from 32 labourers. He would issue receipts himself and also get money from labourers via brokers. From April 2014 to July 2016, Minh collected VNĐ380 million from five labourers whom he promised jobs abroad.
At the trial, Minh returned VNĐ320 million to the victims he had defrauded.
Bus ticket prices increase during Tết
Sixteen transport companies have announced increases in bus ticket prices of between 10 and 60 per cent, depending on the route, during the upcoming Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday.
The main reasons given for the increase at peak times one week before Tết was rising petrol prices and a large number of passengers travelling one-way. Transport companies must therefore adjust ticket prices to offset costs incurred, an official from Tuấn Việt Transport Ltd Co said.
Director of Giáp Bát Bus Station, Nguyễn Tất Thành said the increase in prices would mainly affect journeys over 500km.
At Giáp Bát Bus Station, four transport companies registered to increase bus ticket prices by between 20 to 61 per cent, depending on the period of travel.
From January 31 to February 15, for those traveling from Hà Nội’s Giáp Bát Bus Station to the central city of Đà Nẵng, fares will jump from VNĐ380,000 (US$17) to VNĐ610,000 ($27).
Since January 18 to 23, for those travelling from Hà Nội to HCM City’s Miền Đông Bus Station, prices will rise from VNĐ860,000 to VNĐ1.2 million.
The companies were Thuận Phát Transport and Tourism Joint Stock Company, Vinamotor Investment Joint Stock Company, Trường Khoa Tourism Joint Stock Company and Hải Vân Tourism Service and Transport Ltd Co.     
At Nước Ngầm Bus Station, ticket prices for longer routes increased by between 30 and 60 per cent.
Hoàng Long transport company announced that tickets on the route from Hà Nội to HCM City increased from VNĐ950,000 to VNĐ1,330,000.
For short routes, from Hà Nội to northern provinces, the ticket prices remain unchanged.
At Mỹ Đình Bus Station, nine companies confirmed that fare prices would increase by a maximum of 18 per cent during Tết.
Tuấn Việt Ltd Co, providing buses for Mỹ Đình-Nghệ An Province’s Đô Lương route, said the price on this route would rise from VNĐ170,000 to 200,000.     
Other transport suppliers confirmed fare increase of 12-13 per cent.
Director of Nước Ngầm Bus Station’s management board, Nguyễn Văn Lập said the increase in fare prices must be controlled by stations’ management boards and be allowed by State’s relevant agencies. A MTV-Hà Nội Bus Station Ltd Co official warned transport enterprises to consider the increase of fare prices, and not to set them too high so as to avoid negative reactions from passengers.
Parks of embankment broken in Hà Tĩnh
The embankment built to prevent landslides, which belongs to the Ngàn Trươi-Cẩm Trang Irrigation Project in the central province of Hà Tĩnh, is seriously damaged.
The embankment is in the lower reaches of the Vũ Quang Dam. The management board of the Ngàn Trươi-Cẩm Trang Irrigation Project is the investor of the dam, while the Sơn Hải Group in the central province of Quảng Bình built it.
According to a Voice of Việt Nam (VOV) correspondent, the part of the embankment that is broken is dozens of metres in length and depth, in addition to being close to the residential quarter, hence locals were worried.
According to initial research of the Sơn Hải Group, the damaged part is some 90m.
Technological experts from the group said the embankment’s technological design is reasonably strong and solid. However, water was discharged via the embankment with great pressure, which had damaged some parts.
VOV’s correspondent tried to meet Nguyễn Bá Đức, deputy director of the Hà Tình Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and also director of the project management board, but Đức said he was busy with conferences.
Health Ministry warn residents to prevent diphtheria
The Ministry of Health (MoH) on Wednesday urged residents to give children the complete four doses of the diphtheria vaccine.
The request was released after two students from a high school in the central province of Quảng Nam died of diphtheria.
Associate professor Trần Đắc Phu, director of the Preventive Medicines Department under the MoH, said that the two students were among 24 sick patients under isolation in the Tây Giang mountainous district.
One of the students died after receiving the wrong diagnosis at first, he said.
"Diphtheria is a viral and dangerous disease with high risk of fatality and no proven medicinal cure," said Phu.
Phu added that Tây Giang District was close to a district of Laos which had seen a diphtheria epidemic killing 600 people in the beginning of 2015. Most of the patients were adults who might not have received the vaccine.
The disease can spread quickly, so the department warned that residents should strictly implement preventive methods.
Children must receive enough vaccination. People must keep personal and environmental hygiene. Residents living in the affected areas must be isolated and receive proper treatment. 
Free blood-pressure tests offered in HCM City
More than 280 blood-pressure screening spots have been set up in HCM City under the Communities for Healthy Hearts programme.
Launched in June last year with a pilot programme, the community-based project aims to raise patient awareness of hypertension.
By the end of last year, more than 2,700 people in the four pilot districts of 8, 12, Gò Vấp and Thủ Đức had received blood-pressure screening.
A total of 554 people at the 289 screening spots were diagnosed with high blood pressure and referred to healthcare facilities for treatment.
Nearly 25 per cent of the adult population in Việt Nam has high blood pressure, but less than half are aware of their condition, according to Nguyễn Hữu Hưng, deputy director of the city’s Department of Health.
The programme is part of the Novartis Foundation’s larger effort to combat the rise of chronic disease in urban areas of developing countries.
Two Laotians caught smuggling 41,000 pills
Two Laotians were arrested on Wednesday for smuggling some 41,000 pills of synthetic drugs into Việt Nam, according to the border force of the central province of Quảng Bình.
The local border guards, in collaboration with Laos’ Public Security Department of Khammouane Province, stopped two men in a car at around 11am on Wednesday, about 120km away from the Vietnamese border. Several parcels containing 41,000 pills were found on the car and later tested positive for synthetic drugs.
The two men, aged 40 and 42 years old, admitted to buying the drugs in Laos and were attempting to smuggle them into Việt Nam. 
City asks Chợ Rẫy Hospital to build new satellite hospitals
HCM City authorities have asked Chợ Rẫy Hospital, the major hospital in the southern region, to build new medical facilities and satellite hospitals to reduce severe patient overloading at city hospitals.
City Party Committee Secretary Đinh La Thăng said the hospital should be the pioneer in adopting new medical technologies and improve the quality of examinations and treatment.
He spoke on Wednesday during a visit to the hospital on the occasion of Tết (Lunar New Year).
Thăng asked the hospital to apply public-private partnerships to upgrade infrastructure and buy advanced medical equipment and technologies.
The top-tier hospital, he said, should also provide favorable conditions for medical students to practise as well as transfer advanced medical techniques to doctors at provincial hospitals.
He praised the hospital’s achievements and its support for disadvantaged patients over the last year.
Last year, the hospital provided health check-ups and treatment for 1.4 million patients, including many patients with rare and serious diseases, said Nguyễn Trường Sơn, director of the hospital.
The hospital performed its 500th kidney transplant operation last year.
Doctors at the hospitals conducted hundreds of scientific research studies over the period.
The hospital earmarked more than VNĐ11 billion (US$490,000) to assist poor patients and families covered under the Government’s preferential policies, Sơn added.
Traffic inspectors to be prosecuted for receiving bribes
The Cần Thơ City Police on Wednesday asked the municipal People’s Procuracy to prosecute nine traffic inspectors for receiving bribes.
Seven out of the nine people are former leaders and members of traffic inspection teams in different districts in the city, such as the Thốt Nốt, Cái Răng, Phong Điền and Ninh Kiều Districts. The remaining two people worked as intermediaries between traffic inspectors and bribe givers.
The nine people received bribes from 135 organisations and individuals; 260 people are related to the case.
The municipal police has evidence that the inspectors took advantage of their position to receive money from organisations and individuals for looking the other way.
The total bribes reached VNĐ4 billion (US$177,700). The people giving the bribes are from different provinces and cities such as Đồng Nai, HCM City, Long An, Tiền Giang and Vĩnh Long. 
Poor students, workers gifted bus tickets to return home for Tết
The Việt Nam Fatherland Front Committee, Youth Union and Student Support Centre have gifted bus tickets to 5,000 disadvantaged students and workers for returning home for Tết (Lunar New Year).
Of them, 4,000 are from central provinces while the rest are from Đà Nẵng and Hà Nội.
This is the 14th year of the charity programme, and the organisers spent VNĐ3.5 billion (US$1.56 million).
Đinh La Thăng, the city Party Committee Secretary, and other city leaders met with the students, who returned home on Tuesday, and gave them gifts and Tết ‘lucky money’.
The workers will leave later.
For the Sài Gòn Railway Station, the peak Tết season has begun.
Đỗ Văn Quang, director of the Sài Gòn Railway Transport Joint Stock Company, said there would be 18 - 20 trains and 12,000 - 16,000 passengers every day between January 17 and 26.
There would also be an increase in the number of trains to Quảng Ngãi, and fares would remain unchanged until January 26, he said.
However, at the Eastern Bus Station, fares to Huế and northern provinces began rising on Tueday.
From January 21 fares to the central provinces of Phú Yên, Quảng Nam and Bình Thuận and Đà Nẵng will increase by a whopping 60 per cent.
The inspectorates of the Departments of Transport and Finance will check fares to prevent illegal hikes, deputy chief inspector of the transport department, Lê Hồng Việt, said.
It would also inspect all buses leaving bus stations to ensure they do not have more passengers than permitted and have all safety equipment, he said.
The bus station has promised to provide good seats and collect only permitted fares.
Health inspectors found 244 cases of unsafe dietary supplements and medicine in 2016
Inspectors from the Ministry of Health discovered 244 cases related to the trade and manufacture of unsafe dietary supplements and pharmaceutical products last year.
The statistics were released at the Ministry’s 398 Steering Committee held on Tuesday afternoon in Hà Nội to review last year’s activities of the fight against smuggling, trade fraud and the trade of fake medical products.  
Health inspectors issued fines totalling VNĐ21.7 billion (US$943,000).
Last year, health inspectors found 111 violations out of 137 examined pharmaceutical trading workshops, an increase of 16 per cent against 2015, and fined VNĐ9.2 billion ($400,000), an increase of 57 per cent against 2015.
Meanwhile, health inspectors discovered 133 food safety violation cases. VNĐ12.5 billion ($543,000) was added to the State budget through fines, an increase of 172 per cent against 2015.
Over one tonne of dietary supplements was destroyed due to having unknown origins.  
The ministry’s inspectors co-ordinated with relevant offices to examine medical material stores of individuals and companies and trucks carrying medicine, seizing 45.9 tonnes of unlicensed medical materials of 374 different kinds.
Deputy minister of health, Phạm Lê Tuấn said “now is the peak of shopping for Tết holidays, counterfeit goods, poor-quality products trading is increasing, especially foodstuffs, cosmetics and supplemental foods”.
He asked relevant offices to continue inspections at key areas and across the border. Police, customs and market management officials need close co-ordination in the fight against trade fraud and fake medicine.
The deputy minister also asked mass media to help disseminate information on counterfeit and poor quality goods, and goods of unknown origin, that can have a negative effect on people’s health.
Goods included foodstuffs, pharmaceutical products, cosmetics, supplemental food, and banned substances used for food production and poultry breeding.
Famous composer Ca Lê Thuần passes away
Professor-composer Ca Lê Thuần, who helped develop classical music in the country, passed away last Friday (January 20) at Thống Nhất Hospital in HCM City after a period of time of being treated at the hospital for a stroke.
Thuần, from the Mekong Delta province of Bến Tre, was born in 1938. His parents were teachers and his siblings worked in culture and art fields.
He was one of the famous composers in the country, composing opera and music for ballet, which expressed love for the country and people.
His famous music works  include the opera of Người Giữ Cồn (The Island’s Watchman), which won a prize at the first HCM City Literature and Art Awards in 2010, Dáng Đứng Việt Nam (Việt Nam’s Standing Posture) written in 1974, and music for the ballet Võ Thị Sáu-Người Con Gái Đất Đỏ (Võ Thị Sáu-The Woman from Đất Đỏ District).
Thuần also was a music researcher and teacher.
In 1989, he was head of the city Department of Culture and Information. He also was deputy chairman of Việt Nam Musician’s Association and chairman of HCM City Musician’s Association.
He was one of two founders of the HCM City Ballet, Symphony, Orchestra and Opera. He contributed to training the city’s talented artists.
He was presented many medals from the government for his contributions. 
Korea Corner opens at Hanoi University
The Korea Corner, a small-scale cultural centre funded by the Republic of Korea (ROK) government, has opened to the public from January 19 at Room 302, Building C at the Hanoi University.
Given the high popularity of ROK TV dramas and increasing demands for Korean language lessons in Vietnam, the opening of the Korea Corner will likely draw much attention, said ROK Ambassador to Vietnam Lee Hyuk, in a speech at the opening ceremony.
He expressed his hope that the Korea Corner improve access to information and resource on the ROK, noting it accommodates hundreds of books, movies, TV dramas, music CDs and multimedia equipment to enjoy K-pop music and dramas. 
Tet of the old days to be reproduced in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Visitors to Hanoi’s Old Quarter will have an opportunity to enjoy a taste of Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) along with a wide variety of activities being held from January 19 to February 12.
At the Kim Ngan communal temple is an exhibition of three famous genres of folk paintings in the northern region, namely Dong Ho, Hang Trong and Kim Hoang.
Kim Hoang paintings have been re-established recently and will be showcased for the first time after decades of discontinuation due to most of the woodblocks being lost in a flood in the early 20th century.
The highlight of Kim Hoang is a painting titled “Than Ke” (Divine Rooster), measuring 2.2 x 0.6 metres.
The Tet celebration of a typical Hanoian family in the past will be recreated at the Heritage House at 87 Ma May Street while that of a rural family in northern Vietnam will be reproduced at the Old Quarter Cultural Exchange Centre at 50 Dao Duy Tu Street.
There visitors can compare the similarities and differences of how the Lunar New Year was celebrated between an urban and rural family in the northern delta region.
Calligraphy and folk painting performances in addition to an exhibition of traditional handicraft products will take place at the Old Quarter Heritage Information Centre at 28 Hang Buom Street.
In addition, traditional musical shows will be put on from January 29 to February 1, or from the second day to the fifth day of the Lunar New Year.
Hanoi will not ask churches, temples to ring out to mark Tet: official
Hanoi authorities are not intending to ask churches and temples in the city to ring their bells on Lunar New Year’s Eve, a senior official said on January 21.
“The city does not have any rules about ringing bells on Lunar New Year’s Eve,” Vice Chairman of Hanoi Ngo Van Quy said on January 21.
He added that the city should not ask churches and temples to do so. Instead, they should be able to decide by themselves.
Quy’s statements came after Hanoi's Department of Culture earlier this month asked churches and temples to ring their bells to mark the Lunar New Year as there will be no fireworks shows for the upcoming Tet holiday. All fireworks displays, which used to be a feature of Vietnam's biggest holiday, will be replaced by other cultural events and free performances.
The Year of the Rooster will start on January 28. The country will celebrate with a seven-day break from January 26 to February 1.
Hanoi and other major cities are following the government's call for austerity. The capital city said by scrapping fireworks shows for both New Year's Eve and Lunar New Year's Eve, it would save around VND10 billion (US$440,000), which could then be donated to disaster-hit provinces.
Film on Vietnamese workers in wartime screened in France
A documentary film on Vietnamese workers conscripted to work in war-torn France, directed by Yse Tran, was screened at the French Parliament in Paris recently.
This is the second time a film on conscripted Vietnamese workers has been shown at the French Parliament. The first one was a film on Vietnamese farmers in Carmague of southern France by director Alain Lewkowicz. 
Besides the Parliament, the film Forgotten history was screened in various cities of France including Nancy, Thaon-Les-Vosges and Metz from January 16 to 20, with the aim of raising awareness of French people about the plight of 20,000 workers from Indochina, mostly Vietnamese, who were forced to go to France before the World War II to work in weapon workshops, mines and fields. The film is scheduled to be screened on France 3 channel on January 23.
The film was based on a book of French scholar-journalist Pierre Daum, along with historical documents from many sources, including the archives of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development.
Addressing the event, President of the France-Vietnam Friendship Parliamentarians’ Group Pascal Deguilhem said after various ups and downs of history, the two nations treasure their present friendly and cooperative ties. Both nations have the responsibility to further promote their close relations, he said.
Prime Minister visits heroic mothers in Quang Nam
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc visited several heroic mothers in the central province of Quang Nam on January 22 ahead of the traditional Lunar New Year.
He met and presented gifts to Le Thi Tri, 92, and Nguyen Thi Han, 103, in Dien Ban town.
The Prime Minister also offered incense at the memorial site dedicated to Heroic Mother Nguyen Thi Thu, whose nine sons, one son-in-law and two grandchildren sacrificed their lives to the country during the two wars for national independence between 1948 and 1975.
He asked Quang Nam authorities to continue improving the living standards of those who made contribution to the country, their families as well as social welfare beneficiaries.
Binh Duong-based enterprises need 20,000 labourers in early 2017
More than 30 enterprises in the Binh Duong southern industrial hub participated at a job fair on January 22, seeking 20,000 workers.
According to Nguyen Thanh Phuong, deputy director of the provincial job placement centre, participating enterprises needed around 5,000 labourers for the period during the Tet (Lunar New Year) festival, to serve surging demand in the holiday.
Other firms wanted to recruit workers to fill the gaps after Tet because a considerable number of labourers often change jobs after the holiday.
However, as the fair was held just several days before Tet, few workers came to the fair to seek employment.
Located in the southern key economic region, Binh Duong is a leading industrial hub in the country. 
Currently, industry makes up 63 percent of the locality’s economic structure, while that of service is 23.5 percent and agriculture only 4.3 percent.
Over the past five years, the industrial production index of Binh Duong increased 11 percent annually. So far, the province has built 28 industrial parks and 10 industrial clusters.
Thanks to its improved investment environment, Binh Duong has attracted 25.7 billion USD in foreign investment, with 2.4 billion USD in 2016 alone.
Good care should be given to patients during Tet: Party official
Devotion from doctors and hospital staff is good medicine for patients, who have to spend their Lunar New Year festival (Tet) in hospital, said Vo Van Thuong, head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Information and Education.
Thuong made the statement on January 22 during a visit to Ho Chi Minh City’s Cho Ray hospital, which will accommodate up to 1,700 people during Tet. 
He said he expects Cho Ray to boost research activities, create more favourable conditons for patients and improve infrastructure.
The same day, Thuong extended his New Year greetings at the headquarters of Ho Chi Minh Television (HTV).
He said HTV has grown from municipal scale to become a broadcaster for the whole southern region.
He urged the media agency to invest in new technologies and broadcast content to meet audience’s demand.
Also on January 22, a delegation from the Steering Committee for Northwest Region, led by its deputy head Hau A Lenh, visited Sapa district in Lao Cai.
The delegation presented 675 gifts, worth 400,000 VND (17.7 USD) each, to poor households, as well as 75 blankets and 20 boxes of confectionery and clothes to pupils of Suoi Thau secondary school.
The gifts were donated through a charity programme ran by the committee. 
Vietnam set to send first workers to Australia, Thailand in 2017
The country is focusing more on improving its workers’ skills to meet high demands from developed markets.
Vietnam plans to send workers to Australia, Laos and Thailand for the first time this year in a bid to expand and improve its overseas labor force.

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