By staff writers – Translated by Uyen Phuong
HCM City to relocate water supply sources amid worsening water pollution
HCM City authorities plan to gradually relocate its water supply sources further upstream of the Sài Gòn and Đồng Nai rivers as part of its effort to ensure clean water for local use.
Experts have warned that the current main source of water has become seriously polluted due to the impact of socio-economic development along the Sài Gòn – Đồng Nai river system.
The city currently draws some 94 per cent of the water for treatment at a spot downstream of where the Sài Gòn River meets the Đồng Nai River, at the Hòa Phú pumping station in its Củ Chi District, and at Hóa An in Đồng Nai Province.
Under the city’s 2020-30 water supply plan, the city will relocate the Hòa Phú pumping station to a new location, about 20 km from the existing pumping station and 15 km upstream from the junction of Thị Tính and Sài Gòn rivers.
According to the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, water in downstream Sài Gòn River is suffering from severe microbiological pollution and slight oil contamination.
Pollution indicators like ammonia, microorganisms and manganese have all increased, exceeding the permitted standards of Việt Nam and the World Health Organization.
Dr. Hồ Long Phi, director of the Centre for Water Management and Climate Change under the National University of HCM City, said that pollution in the Saigon River remains ‘serious’.
He said it was vital to develop hi-tech water treatment plants if the city continues to draw this water for local use.
“The water upstream in the Sài Gòn and Đồng Nai rivers is in the safe zone, which is less impacted by climate change and sea level rise in the next 50-100 years,” he said.
He said the city would need a huge investment in building new pumping stations with extremely large capacity of millions of cubic metres a day, as well as investment in long and large-scale pipelines. This would also require site clearance compensation costs.
Dr Trần Đức Hà, director of the city Research Institute of Water Supply, Sewerage and Environment, said: “The core solution is to ensure water security management.”
Dr. Phùng Đức Tùng, director of the Mekong Economic Research and Development Institute, said that water for daily life has become increasingly rare. “Authorities should work on a plan to build reservoirs to store water for treating.”
Two projects, one on water supply in the 2020-2050 period, and the other on clean water supply and ending the exploitation of underground water in the 2020-2030 period, have recently been approved by the city People’s Committee.
By 2025 the city plans to ensure that every resident has access to tap water and increases the average supply to 165 litres. The municipal water supply capacity would reach 3.6 million cu.m per day, using only 100,000 cu.m of groundwater by 2025.
Royal rite held at Imperial Citadel of Thăng Long to welcome Tết
The Thăng Long – Hà Nội Heritage Conservation Centre held the ancient Thăng Long royal rite to celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Imperial Citadel of Thăng Long in Hà Nội yesterday.
For the first time, The Thăng Long – Hà Nội Heritage Conservation Centre worked with several organisations to practise the ritual of Tiến Xuân ngưu (The ceremony of offering an earthen buffalo in spring) of the Lê Trung Hưng Dynasty (16th to 18th centuries), a unique rite in the old court, taking place on the first day of spring.
The ritual featured a clay buffalo being offered to Heaven to ask to expel the cold winter and welcome a warm spring to the nation. The coming Lunar Year is the Year of The Buffalo.
Also yesterday, the centre held the Ông Công, Ông Táo (Land Genie and Kitchen Gods) ritual as well as the ceremony to set up a Cây Nêu (New Year’s tree).
People across the nation held their own ceremonies to send off the Land Genie and the Kitchen Gods of the household on their yearly visit to Heaven.
The Kitchen Gods, the guardian spirits of the kitchen, are believed to comprise two male gods and one female, who bless the household and maintain the kitchen fire, making every member of the family happy and well-off.
The ritual involves releasing a carp into a river or lake and the fish are often bought on the side of streets in plastic bags. In the past, many people threw the fish still in the plastic bag into the water, causing pollution.
In recent years, awareness-raising efforts have encouraged more and more people to dispose of the plastic waste properly instead of throwing it into the water.
Poor students and workers receive free tickets to travel home for Tết
The HCM City Communist Youth Union and its partners have launched a programme to offer free bus and flight tickets for poor students in HCM City to travel home for the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday, from January 31 to February 10.
The programme, called Mang Tết Về Nhà (Coming Home for Tết), is funded by the union, employers and organisations.
More than 3,000 return tickets, including 1,152 flight tickets, have been provided to outstanding students from colleges and universities around the city. Many of these students are from central provinces that were seriously affected by flooding and storms last year.
Several thousand gifts and 4,000 bánh chưng (square glutinous rice cake), a Vietnamese cake cooked with glutinous rice, mung bean and pork used during Tết, have also been offered.
Trần Thị Kim Oanh and Lý Thành Tâm from Hà Tĩnh Province, who study at HCM City National University in Thủ Đức District, were happy to receive bus tickets and New Year’s greetings from the programme’s organisers. They both began their trip home yesterday.
“I did not return home for Tết last year, so I’m very happy to participate in the programme Mang Tết Về Nhà this year,” said Oanh, a fourth-year student in trade & marketing.
“Today, my peers and I go back to our hometown to celebrate Tết with our family and nothing is happier. I hope there will be more and more bus trips like this every year for poor students and workers to return home.”
Oanh and other students have been asked to wear face masks, wash hands with sanitiser and keep a safe distance during their trips.
Under the programme, the first two flights and 15 buses transported 500 students, starting last Sunday.
Labour unions at industrial parks and export processing zones in the city have also presented nearly 7,000 airline tickets and train tickets to migrant workers this Tết. More than 13,000 gifts worth VNĐ500,000 each have also been provided to poor labourers.
Nguyễn Hồ Hải, Deputy Secretary of the city’s Party Committee, has sent New Year’s greetings to workers and their families and wished them a happy Tết.
Hải said that he hoped the workers would return to the city after Tết and continue to work and contribute to the city’s development.
Tao Dan Spring Flower Festival 2021 opened
Spring Flower Festival 2021 was officially opened at Tao Dan Park in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City in the afternoon of February 6.
The 11-day event displays ornamental fish and flowers, bonsai plants, more than 2,500 flower-related exhibits of domestic and foreign artisans, 40 specialties and souvenir booths.
Besides, the festival also comprises dragon dances, circus and magic performances, folk games, demonstrations of calligraphy.
On the occasion of the 45th anniversary of Ho Chi Minh City named after President Ho Chi Minh (1976-2021), the main road connecting the park’s entrance on Truong Dinh Street and King Hung Memorial Temple is decorated with flowers simulating the Truong Son mountain range.
The festival will close on February 17 (the sixth day of the lunar year).
Ethnology museum promotes traditional Tet’s values
The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi organised a programme on February 4 (the 23rd day of the last month of the lunar year) themed “Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tet) – a sacred space”, with the participation of researchers and folk artists.
Every year when spring arrives, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology organises many activities with bold national identity, rich in cultural values to welcome new year.
The programme features the participation of folk researchers and artisans with a variety of contents such as: Sharing the meaning of Lunar New Year’s Day, featuring the installation of ‘cay neu’ (a tall bamboo tree with decorations used to ward off evil spirits), introducing the meaning of a traditional tray altar on Tet holidays and the “Ong Cong – Ong Tao” (Land Genie and Kitchen Gods) ritual; writing calligraphy and printing Dong Ho paintings; and wrapping banh chung (square glutinous rice cake).
Coming to the programme, visitors also have the opportunity toenjoy the performance of water puppetry and play folk games of some ethnic groups, such as: fighting buffalo, catching trach in jars, tug of war, walking on stilts, and sack racing.
In recent years, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology’s activities have always attracted large numbers of not only tourists but also families living in Hanoi, increasing the deep understanding of the rituals and traditional cultural beauty of the Vietnamese people. The programme also contributes to preserving the Vietnam’s traditional values.
Through activities and programs to help tourists, especially children to understand more about the Vietnamese Tet’s rituals, especially the fine traditional cultural features of the national New Year holidays that should be preserved.
Minister officially orders classes to go online
Minister of Education and Training Phung Xuan Nha has asked local schools to start online classes amid the spreading of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ministry is working with the Education Union of Vietnam to visit and support students, teachers and parents who are being quarantined for Covid-19 prevention. As of February 4, 53 localities announced that they had allowed students to stay home.
According to the minister, statistics from the previous stay home order show that 20% of the children in remote and rural areas still couldn’t access online classes. Nha directed and asked the education sector to continue to expand and improve online education.
35,037 schools, or 83.6% of schools in Vietnam, have installed mobile apps to fill medical declarations online as well as to better implement preventive measures.
“We have experience this time, so we must do better,” he said. “Responsible agencies must quickly complete the regulations about managing online classes for education facilities. We’ll ask telecommunication firms to help with infrastructure and services for online classes.”
He went on to say that an online library of online courses would be built and shared publicly.
“We must be pro-active and calm and have plans for specific scenarios to ensure the health of both students and teachers as well as education progress,” he said.
On January 30, the Ministry of Education and Training sent an official document to departments of education across the country, asking them to prepare to move classes online in case students are asked to stay home.
Three more hotels in HCM City provide paid quarantine service
Three more hotels in HCM City have been allowed to offer paid quarantine services for Covid-19 prevention.
The figure has increased the total number of municipal hotels used as paid quarantine areas to 32 to date. These hotels have around 2,500 rooms in total.
The HCM City Department of Tourism has considered permitting 29 other hotels to offer paid quarantine services in case of a wider Covid-19 outbreak.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak in Hai Duong and Quang Ninh provinces, the HCM City tourism sector has tightened control over Covid-19 prevention, said Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, Director of the city’s Department of Tourisms.
Hoa added that the department has prepared scenarios in case of Covid-19 resurgence in the city.
According to the HCM City’s Covid-19 prevention and control steering board, the quarantine fees range between VND1.35-6 million per day, depending on their star ranking.
All paid quarantine hotels have to conform to the city’s Covid-19 prevention and control steering board as well as local authorities’ instructions.
Hotels also need to provide training courses for all of their staff to serve people during the quarantine time to ensure safety for Covid-19 prevention.
It is compulsory for hotels to co-operate with local health agencies to update people’s health condition during the quarantine period.
Hotels have to inform local authorities of quarantine violations.
Cải lương guru offers Tết gifts to poor artists
Poor artists and their children living in HCM City will receive Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday gifts this weekend thanks to a charity programme launched by People’s Artist Kim Cương, a guru of cải lương (reformed opera).
Cương and dozens of veteran and young theatre performers raise VNĐ1.5 billion (US$65,000) funds for her art programme called Nghệ Sĩ Tri Âm (Traditional Performers Together).
More than 150 actors, including elderly and backstage workers, will receive Tết gifts worth VNĐ6 milllion ($240) each.
Forty children from artists’ families with good study results will receive scholarships worth VNĐ3 million ($120) each.
Many food and clothes will also be offered.
“Our artists performed for free in the show Nghệ Sĩ Tri Âm in December to encourage organisations and individuals to contribute to charity,” said 83-year-old Cương, a member of the HCM City Association in Support of Disabled People and Orphan Children.
“We hope poor artists, who have devoted their life to Vietnamese art, will have a happy Tết.”
Last year, Cương’s annual charity show Nghệ Sĩ Tri Âm featured 120 theatre performers, including cải lương stars Út Bạch Lan and Kim Tiểu Long. The event received clothes, food, and VNĐ1 billion (US$45,000) in cash.
Born in 1937 to a traditional family in Sài Gòn (now HCM City), Cương began her love for cải lương through her parents, and the late talented performers Nguyễn Phước Cương and Bảy Nam, owners of Đại Phước Cương Troupe.
She started her career when she was 17, after training with her mother, Nam, and actresses Phùng Há and Năm Phỉ, who are recognised as some of the most talented cải lương performers in the country.
She played leading roles in famous plays, such as Giai Nhân Và Ác Quỷ (The Beauty and Beast) and Phụng Nghi Đình (Tragic Love Story).
In the 1960s, Cương became involved in drama, a modern imported genre of theatre, working to combine cải lương and drama.
She later opened Kim Cương Drama Troupe, the first and leading drama troupe in the south, managing a staff of more than 70 actors.
Cương worked as a scriptwriter and became a phenomenon in the industry in the 1960s and 1970s.
She wrote 50 plays during her career, most highlighting southern women and their characters. Her works have been staged many times by leading drama troupes across the country.
She had also performed in more than 30 films.
Baby girl saved from most severe type of immunodeficiency
|The child patient spent a whole year in hospitals to fight her serious illness of innate combined immunodeficiency and other diseases. — Photo from the Ministry of Health|
It’s always a bold decision to conduct a bone marrow transplant to save a baby who suffers from combined innate immunodeficiency and many other diseases.
The success rate of the stem cell transplant is just 10-20 per cent, but without the transplant, the baby would die before they turn a year old, said Associate Professor and Dr Trần Minh Điển, deputy director of the National Children’s Hospital.
According to health experts, immunodeficiency is a genetic defect that makes the child’s body unable to fight off pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. Therefore, children often get serious, persistent or recurrent infections. Depending on the type of immunodeficiency type, patients will develop different infections.
Thiên Ngọc, a baby girl born in late 2019 in the southern province of Đồng Nai was diagnosed with combined innate immunodeficiency when she was around three months old.
Doctors at HCM City-based Children’s Hospital No.2 came to that inclusion after treating her for repeated diarrhoea, sore throat and pneumonia.
At times, when the child recovered and was set to be discharged, she suffered a fever again, said Trần Quỳnh Hương, head of the Respiratory Department at the hospital – who examined and treated the baby.
In February 2020, Hương for the first time contacted doctor Nguyễn Ngọc Quỳnh Lê from the Department of Immunology-Allergy-Arthritis at Hà Nội-based National Children’s Hospital to discuss the case.
For the following three months, they called each other regularly to talk about the child’s conditions, discussing possible treatment and tests as well as seeking a healthcare unit that could offer a stem cell transplant for the baby.
At that time, a bone marrow transplant was identified as the only way to save the baby. With the advanced technique, stem cells from a healthy donor that are genetically suitable to the recipient would be taken and replace the dysfunctional stem cells.
Bone marrow transplant (hematopoietic stem cell transplant, or HPSCT) involves the administration of healthy hematopoietic stem cells in patients with dysfunctional or depleted bone marrow. This helps to augment bone marrow function and allows, depending on the disease being treated, to either destroy tumour cells with malignancy or to generate functional cells that can replace the dysfunctional ones in cases like immune deficiency syndromes, hemoglobinopathies, and other diseases.
“It was a challenge for both doctors and the patient’s family as in Việt Nam, only the National Children’s Hospital has sufficient equipment and experience to conduct the transplant,” Hương said.
Transferring a patient from HCM City to Hà Nội during the pandemic was not easy, while the medical cost would be far out of reach for the patient’s family.
“Seeing Lê’s enthusiasm and the chance to save the baby, we had the motivation to work with relevant parties to speed up the patient transfer and transplant,” doctor Hương said.
In late May 2020, the baby’s health condition worsened and doctors from the two hospitals – one in the south and the other in the north – had an online meeting.
Deputy director of National Children’s Hospital Điển said they were bold to receive the child with such serious health conditions.
“The success rate is only ten to 20 per cent while few such successful transplants were recorded in the world,” he said.
Doctor Hương from HCM City’s Children’s Hospital said that doctors not only completed insurance procedures for the baby but also called on donations for transferring her to Hà Nội and covering costs that health insurance did not cover. The patient’s family at that time could afford only VNĐ700 million (over US$30,000) while the medical cost for such a transplant could reach billions of Vietnamese đồng.
On May 29, 2020, Hương and a nurse escorted the child to Hà Nội on a Vietjet flight thanks to the airline operator ensuring proper medical and security conditions amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Hương said that when arriving at the National Children’s Hospital, the child was suffering from severe pneumonia that required supplemental oxygen, tuberculosis complications, diarrhoea caused by Rotavirus, rectal prolapse due to prolonged diarrhoea, and severe malnutrition.
It took two months to improve the baby’s health so that she would be healthy enough to undergo the first stem cell transplant.
Nguyễn Thanh Bình, vice head of the Blood Testing Department at the National Children’s Hospital said that the hospital took bone marrow from the baby’s mother for her transplant after finding no suitable bone marrow donor.
“Previously, the hospital succeeded in conducting such transplants,” Bình said, adding that the technique was complicated and costly in which only stem cells and good cells were kept while bad cells which cause harmful reactions would be removed.
As the baby was in poor health, using chemicals to kill marrow could put the baby at risk of many complications, even death, doctor Chi said.
After discussing with experts from Hong Kong and reviewing foreign medical records, doctors decided to conduct two bone marrow transplants for the baby.
The first transplant using no chemicals aimed to revive part of the baby’s immune system to help her fight against bacterial infections. The second transplant would use chemicals under treatment protocol to kill all the baby’s faulty hematopoietic stem cells and transfer the mother’s healthy stem cells to the baby.
The first transplant was conducted on July 22, 2020. After that, the baby got a high fever and diarrhoea for four straight weeks, Chi said, adding that they were thinking the transplant had failed.
However, continuing efforts were made to save the baby. She gradually recovered from the fifth week, with no fever and diarrhoea.
The second transplant was conducted on November 23, 2020 – three months after the first one.
Undergoing intensive care for a month after the second stem cell transplant, the child patient did not have any complications. Results showed that the mother’s stem cells are growing well inside the baby.
“All hardships, difficulties and stress we faced when treating her seemingly disappeared, the baby is healthy, has gained weight and is very active,” doctor Lê said.
Spring seemed to come early to the doctors and the baby’s family since the moment she was announced as not having the life-threatening illness – combined immunodeficiency – anymore.
“Facemask bus” comes into operation in HCMC
Residents in Ho Chi Minh City were surprised seeing a bus equipped with an automatic device deliver free facemasks to passengers at HCMC Youth Cultural House in District 1 on February 6.
This is Dony Mask antibacterial fabric facemask recognized in accordance with Germany’s REACH standard.
Passengers lined up, kept the safe distance of two meters from each other to receive two facemasks each and washed their hands with hand sanitizers.
From now until Tet Holiday onward, the bus is expected to deliver facemasks at Mien Dong (Eastern) and Mien Tay (Western) coach stations, Tan Binh Cultural Center, public places and industrial parks.
The bus is expected to provide 100,000 antibacterial fabric facemasks during Tet holiday.
HCMC to continue working on two key transport projects in Tet holiday
Ho Chi Minh City will continue working on the tunnel project at Nguyen Van Linh-Nguyen Huu Tho intersection and Nguyen Huu Canh Street upgrading project during Tet holiday, according to Director of the HCMC Management Board of Investment and Construction of Traffic Projects Mr. Luong Minh Phuc.
The number of vehicles travelling through the intersection is too high as the tunnel project plays an important role of linking to seaports and Hiep Phuoc Port Industrial Park.
Ho Chi Minh City decided to promptly construct the main items of the tunnel project on Tet holidays when travel and transport demand will reduce. It is expected that the tunnel project heading to Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone in Binh Chanh District will be put into exploitation by the end of the year.
After that, contractors will try their best constructing the vice-versa tunnel project which would be expected to put the whole project into operation in 2022.
Meanwhile, Nguyen Huu Canh Street upgrading project has reached around 80 percent of the work volume and it is expected to be put into operation on April 30, 2021.
Hai Phong controls all people coming into, out of city from 12 p.m. on January 6
In an effort to reduce the risk of Covid-19 exposure and to help prevent the spread of the virus, the northern coastal city of Hai Phong has controlled all people come into and out of the city starting from 12 p.m. on January 6, said the Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee.
Arrivals must present their official confirmation from commune-level People’s Committees, schedules and accommodations. Local residents who leave Hai Phong City for other localities must also display their certifications on travelling issued by the commune-level People’s Committees.
Transport operators and businesses have to arrange places for drivers of trans-provincial coaches and trucks to stay.
People returning from the northern provinces of Hai Duong, Quang Ninh and other affected areas will be sent to quarantine areas.
The municipal government allows travelers from localities not affected by the pandemic with the commune-level certifications of arrivals and departures granted by the local authorities.
Teams for Covid-19 Prevention and Control in communes must track the people’s travelling history and monitor the latest arrivals. The municipal Police Department has asked the Waterway Traffic Police to constantly inspect river routes sharing borders with Hai Duong, Quang Ninh and Thai Binh provinces.
Hai Phong has established eight Covid-19 monitoring and control checkpoints in districts of Thuy Nguyen, Hai An, Duong Kinh, An Lao, An Duong, Tu Ky and Vinh Bao.
Bac Giang sees fruitful results of personnel rotation
The rotation of senior State officials to key leadership positions at grassroots levels has proven effective in the northern province of Bắc Giang for years.
The activeness, creativeness and high responsibility of such officials had made a difference in the localities where they arrived.
Dương Văn Phong, vice chairman of Tiến Dũng Commune People’s Committee in the province’s Yên Dũng District, was rotated to the position in 2020.
Before that, he worked in the district People’s Committee including as the vice secretary of the district’s Youth Union Party Committee and vice head of the district’s agriculture department.
A graduate of Thái Nguyên Agriculture and Forestry University, Phong has a passion for farming.
Leading a commune where locals heavily rely on farming, he had the opportunity to make use of what he studied and what he was good at, Phong said.
The young vice-chairman introduced safe vegetable models and modern farming technologies to local farmers including Israeli automatic watering and fertilising systems.
As a result, clean vegetables from local co-operatives were accepted by major distributors like BigC, Vinmart and Saigon Co.op supermarkets.
Phong said many local co-operatives were increasing investment and expanding production to better meet market demand.
Another young official of Yên Dũng District, Nguyễn Mạnh Chiến, was rotated to Trí Yên Commune and has worked as chairman of the commune People’s Committee and secretary of the commune’s Party Committee since 2018.
Before the rotation, Chiến was the chairman of the Yên Dũng District’s Farmer’s Association and a top leader of the district’s Youth Union.
With experience from frequently working with farmers and young people, Chiến made decisive moves in Trí Yên Commune, which focused on improving local transport infrastructure and implementing high-tech agriculture.
In October last year, Trí Yên Commune was recognised a new rural area model, with all local roads being improved, expanded and concretised.
Agriculture production models in the commune are seen as good examples for other localities to follow.
Vice head of Personnel Organisation Department of Yên Dũng District Party Committee Trần Văn Quỳnh said that in the last five years, the district moved six district senior officials to the grassroots level, of them, two are a commune People’s Committee chairman cum secretary of commune Party Committee, two others hold the position of People’s Committee chairman while two work as the secretary of commune Party Committees and vice chairman of commune People’s Committee.
“The personnel rotation policy pushes every official to make efforts to show their ability and impress both leaders and people,” Quỳnh said.
Vice secretary of Yên Dũng District Party Committee Tạ Quang Khải said he highly appreciated the performance of rotated young officials as they had experience and responsibility.
“In any position, assigned any tasks, they have fulfilled excellently and more importantly, they have gained the trust of local people,” Khải said.
Before any rotation, district leaders must know about difficulties, desires and expectations of local people, then select suitable personnel for the localities, Khải said.
Enterprise and social responsibility efforts in the context of COVID-19
In 2020, facing COVID-19, the Vietnamese economy has been suffering from severe aftershocks. However, in that context, we also witnessed resilience in maintaining jobs for employees, vigorous recovery and restructuring efforts of enterprises to overcome the crisis and work to repel the pandemic. Especially, many businesses showed their social responsibility and solidarity.
The same goes for Samsung Vietnam. An unprecedented challenge from the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of the values of co-prosperity and development. Continuing to implement social responsibility activities is one of the ways Samsung reveals these values.
Samsung Vietnam donated VNĐ10 billion, including cash and protective clothing, to the Vietnamese Government for the prevention and control of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this period, more than VNĐ1.6 billion donated by employees’ through CSR kiosks and factory grassroots labor union contributions was also presented for COVID-19 prevention and control in Việt Nam.
To assist the Government in accelerating the deployment of technology applications in preventing the pandemic, Samsung Vietnam also presented the group’s most advanced smartphone products to serve testing and developing the application for COVID-19 in Việt Nam. At the same time, Samsung Vietnam also provided large-screen displays and televisions to assist authorities in monitoring the pandemic.
Strive to maintain community activities
Besides supporting Việt Nam’s pandemic prevention, various community activities of Samsung have continued to grow despite the pandemic.
Most recently, factories and employees of Samsung Vietnam donated VNĐ5 billion to support fellow Vietnamese in the central provinces affected by floods. The donation was given through the Fatherland Front Committees of Bắc Ninh, Thái Nguyên and partly transferred directly to people in flooded areas.
Previously, to share the heavy losses caused by flooding in the Central region, Samsung Vietnam factories simultaneously launched a fundraising programme. The total amount came from the employees’ donations along with contributions from the trade union fund and the factory’s social responsibility fund.
In addition, Samsung Vina Electronics, the sales and marketing units of Samsung in Việt Nam, have carried out the program “Joining hands with people in the Central region to overcome the effects of floods and storms” in six affected provinces. The most affected areas are Hà Tĩnh, Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị, Thừa Thiên Huế, Quảng Nam and Quảng Ngãi. Accordingly, Samsung will repair and maintain all Electronics-Refrigeration products for free, support 50 per cent of the price to replace new genuine components; do laundry for free, to ensure the hygiene and well-being of residents in the floodplain, and donate Samsung washing machines to the locality after the programme ends.
“Blood for Vietnamese 2020” is also a programme that Samsung continued to implement in 2020 in the conditions of ensuring safety against the pandemic. Since 2010, Samsung has implemented the “Blood for Vietnamese 2020” programme, so far it has contributed more than 87,000 blood units for emergency and disease treatment and is expected to contribute an additional 10,000 units of blood this year.
As part of a series of activities that light up the aspirations to reach the young generation’s science dreams, Samsung has built Hope School for the poor in Bắc Ninh and Thái Nguyên provinces. In 2020, Hope School in Bắc Giang has officially started construction in Đinh Hương Village, Thắng Town, Hiệp Hòa District, Bắc Giang Province. At the same time, Samsung also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the implementation of the Samsung Hope School project in Mai Pha Commune, Lạng Sơn City. It is the fourth school in the Samsung Hope School project.
In addition, amid the pandemic, many meaningful activities, and humane programmes of the Samsung Vietnam community have brought happiness, hope and motivation to many people such as: donating wheelchairs, awarding scholarships, along with many other programmes.
Families in Nghệ An still waiting for houses after three years
Tết (Lunar New Year) is approaching and more than 60 households in Lượng Minh Commune of the central province of Nghệ An will be forced to spend the holiday in makeshift huts because two projects to resettle the people in proper houses lack capital.
Along road 543B passing Lương Minh Commune of Tương Dương District, dozens of makeshift tents made of bamboo are home to the local people of ethnic minority hamlets Minh Phương, Lả and Xốp Mạt.
This is the third year hundreds of people will spend Tết in the temporary houses, still awaiting resettlement.
Lô Văn Thành, a resident of Minh Phương Hamlet, said: “In August 2018, the Bản Vẽ Hydro-Power Plant discharged water with a record flow which washed away dozens of houses along the Nậm Nơn River in Lương Minh Commune.”
“Fortunately, 34 households in the villages were promptly evacuated,” he said.
However, since then Thành’s family and other households have lived in makeshift tents waiting to move into resettlement areas in Lả Hamlet.
“My whole family of 10 people has lived in a temporary house about 30sq.m wide, built from wooden panels, roofed with leaves for the past three years,” Thành said.
“When the rain was heavy, the whole family could not sleep because of the water leaking and strong wind,” he said.
“The hard work of adults was clear, but the poor children. This is the third Tết we don’t have a real home to celebrate like other people,” he said.
Not far away from Thành’s family, the situation of Lô Thị Lan’s family in Minh Phương Hamlet is not much better.
During the floods in August 2018, the homes of Lan’s family and 30 other households in the hamlet were swept away.
Many families had to build shelters on the mountainside or road 543B.
Some other families still have to live in their relatives’ homes to wait for moving to the resettlement area.
Lan said: “When setting up temporary camps on the side of the road, the local government said it would take about six months to move to the resettlement area.”
“But we have lived here for three years. My family had to fix the ‘house’ three times because whenever it was raining, water flowed into the tent, causing furniture in the house to be damaged,” Lan said.
“The biggest desire of the people is that the authorities soon complete the resettlement sites for people to move to new places,” she said.
According to Vi Văn Phúc, chairman of Lượng Minh Commune, there were 63 households of the commune in Lả and Xốp Mai hamlets who were supposed to move to the two resettlement areas.
But the two resettlement projects had been paused for years because of a lack of capital, Phúc said.
The families were living in bad conditions without electricity and clean water, he said.
Meanwhile, Nguyễn Trung Sơn, vice director of the project management board of Tương Dương District, said in 2018, the People’s Committee of Nghệ An Province issued a decision to set up an investment project to construct a resettlement area in Lả Hamlet to evacuate 34 households out of landslide-prone areas.
In August 2020, 12 households who were severely affected by the flood in 2018 were added to the list of the project’s beneficiaries, bringing the total number of households to be resettled to 46, Sơn said.
The project was estimated to cost VNĐ14.8 billion (US$641,000).
After two years of implementation, the project had completed ground clearance with total capital disbursement of VNĐ7.4 billion (US$320,500) from the province.
Currently, the remaining capital for implementing other items had not been allocated for the contractor to complete the project, Sơn said.
The other project is the construction of resettlement area for 17 households in Minh Phương Hamlet and Xốp Mạt Hamlet which regularly flood.
The project planned to be invested with VNĐ7.3 billion (US$320,000) but so far only a third of the total capital from the Tương Dương District fund has been allocated.
To implement this project, the contractor had to spend its money to carry out 90 per cent of the project volume.
However, when the project was about to be completed, natural disasters caused damage to the construction so work was to paused to fix the problem.
There were many difficulties in the process of implementing these two projects and they had their design adjusted twice because the number of reallocated households increased, said Sơn.
In addition, the appraisal process for the adjustment took a long time which led to the construction delay, he said.
In October last year, many communes of the district were seriously affected by three big storms and heavy rains.
At present, the two projects reportedly are short of over VNĐ12 billion (US$520,000) to finish the electric network and provide clean water and communal houses, Sơn said.
The construction of two resettlement projects in Lương Minh Commune was extremely urgent, so all concerned authorities should pay attention to finding capital to complete the projects to soon stabilise the lives of the 63 families, Sơn said.
Deputy Minister of Health calls for pandemic prevention alongside economic development
All close contacts with COVID-19 patients, designated F1, must be put in centralised quarantine, while people designated F2 should be quarantined at home under Ministry of Health (MoH) regulations, a senior health official has said.
Deputy Minister of Health Đỗ Xuân Tuyên said on Friday after much speculation about quarantine for COVID-19 prevention over the upcoming Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday.
For those who are F3 and are allowed to home quarantine, they are required to declare and monitor their health, and quarantine at home so that if any problems arise, they must immediately handle them, he said.
“In areas which are not affected with the pandemic and are not locked down, activities should still be carried out normally following the Prime Minister’s direction to ensure both economic development and pandemic prevention,” said Tuyên.
He said, in recent times, some localities have not fully envisioned an outbreak and have not fully understood when a lockdown would be placed.
“For a ward with many streets, if a COVID-19 case appears in a street, it would be locked down whereas streets with no cases are free,” he said.
The MoH has assigned the General Department of Preventive Medicine to urgently compile guidance documents about when and how lockdowns will be imposed for nationwide implementation.
“We are not subjective and are ready to have a response whenever an outbreak occurs. Reality has proved that when a new COVID-19 case occurs, like in Quảng Ninh and Hải Dương provinces, we all have a very quick response,” said Tuyên.
Due to the work of the National Steering Committee, localities are doing relatively well and the two outbreaks of Hải Dương and Quảng Ninh are still under very strict control.
When a new infection is detected, the patient must be quarantined, he said.
“Only then can we manage to prevent the pandemic from spreading to the community,” he said.
In areas where there are no cases and activities are normal, people still have to fully comply with anti-pandemic measures under the direction of the MoH and the National Steering Committee, Tuyên added.
Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu tightens forest-fire prevention measures
The southeastern province of Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu is taking urgent measures to prevent forest fires as the area enters the peak period of the dry season.
Agencies have to identify major forests at a high risk of fire and spread, and localities must be prepared to prevent and control fires.
The province has 33,600 ha of forests, accounting for nearly 17 per cent of the province’s total land area.
Forest fire-prevention drills have been held at district and provincial levels, while firebreaks, reservoirs and canals that would help prevent forest fires were completed before January 20.
The province’s Forest Protection Sub-department has inspected high-risk forests around the clock since last December.
The sub-department has temporarily stopped all activities that clean vegetation in forests during the peak dry season.
Trần Giang Nam, deputy head of the sub-department’s Nature Conservation and Forest Management and Protection Division, said: “Forest owners have established plans for reservoirs, firebreaks and controlled forest burning to prevent and control fires.”
The sub-department has also increased public awareness about forest fire prevention and control.
One forest fire, at the Trương Phi Mountain in Đất Đỏ District’s Phước Hải Town, has occurred in the province in the dry season, destroying 1ha of bushes and grasses.
Đất Đỏ and the neighbouring district of Long Điền typically have forest fires every year.
Nguyễn Văn Lời, deputy head of the Long Điền – Đất Đỏ Forest Protection Bureau, said the two districts have mountainous terrains and no fences surround the forests, which allows people to enter forests to harvest honey and burn incense, causing forest fires.
Xuyên Mộc District, which has the largest forest area in the province, is also a hotspot for forest fires in the dry season because of alternating residential and forested areas.
Phạm Hữu Phương, deputy head of the Xuyên Mộc Forest Protection Bureau, said the bureau would establish measures to prevent and control forest fires this dry season.
The district has completed the preparation of facilities and human forces for fire prevention and control, he said.
The district will pay more attention to prevent and control forest fires from now to after Tết (Lunar New Year), which falls on February 12, he said.
In the 2019 – 20 dry season, the province had eight forest fire cases, causing damage to 2.1ha of forest, down two cases against the 2018 – 19 dry season.
AstraZeneca vaccines prove safe, effective, will be delivered to Viet Nam by mid-year
The Ministry of Health has approved the use of COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca following the primary analysis of Phase III clinical trials from the UK, Brazil and South Africa, which confirmed that it is safe and effective at preventing COVID-19, with no severe cases and no hospitalisations, more than 22 days after the first dose, according to a press release from AstraZeneca Vietnam issued on February 4.
AstraZeneca Vietnam and the Vietnam Vaccine Joint Stock Company will work together to supply 30 million doses in the country, starting mid-year.
A representative from VNVC told the Sài Gòn Giải Phóng (Liberated Sài Gòn) that the company has completed negotiations on the deal with AstraZeneca – a global biopharmaceutical business from the UK.
Supply Director of VNVC Vũ Thị Thu Hà said her company has made the best preparations to receive the vaccines and give injections to residents.
The analysis result of the vaccine was published as a preprint in The Lancet.
Results demonstrated vaccine efficacy of 76 per cent after the first dose, with protection maintained to the second dose. With an inter-dose interval of 12 weeks or more, vaccine efficacy increased to 82 per cent.
The analysis also showed the potential for the vaccine to reduce asymptomatic transmission of the virus, based on weekly swabs obtained from volunteers in the UK trial. The data showed that PCR positive readings were reduced by 67 per cent after a single dose, and 50 per cent after the two dose regimen, supporting a substantial impact on transmission of the virus.
The primary analysis for efficacy was based on 17,177 participants with 332 symptomatic cases from the Phase III UK, Brazil and South Africa trials led by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, a further 201 cases than previously reported.
Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca, said: “This primary analysis reconfirms that our vaccine prevents severe disease and keeps people out of hospital. In addition, extending the dosing interval not only boosts the vaccine’s efficacy, but also enables more people to be vaccinated upfront.”
Professor Andrew Pollard, chief investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial, and co-author of the paper, said: “These new data provide an important verification of the interim data that has helped regulators such as the MHRA in the UK and elsewhere around the world to grant the vaccine emergency use authorisation. It also helps to support the policy recommendation made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation for a 12-week prime-boost interval, as they look for the optimal approach to roll out, and reassures us that people are protected 22 days after a single dose of the vaccine.”
Data will continue to be analysed and shared with regulators around the world to support their ongoing rolling reviews for emergency supply or conditional approval during the health crisis.
AstraZeneca is also seeking Emergency Use Listing from the World Health Organization for an accelerated pathway to vaccine availability in low-income countries.
Efforts made to promote sale of crops in virus-hit provinces
Efforts are being made to promote the sale of crops, fruits and meat of farmers in coronavirus-hit provinces, including the two hardest-hit Hai Duong and Quang Ninh, as the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday nears.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the total winter crop area which had not been harvested was more than 7,830 ha, or 35 per cent of the northern province’s total crop area. In Kinh Mon District, there was about 3,500 ha of onion, 350 ha of carrot in Nam Sach and 400 ha in Cam Giang, 200 ha of vegetables in Gia Loc, 200 ha in Tu Ky and 400 ha in Kim Thanh.
In Quang Ninh, the total unharvested crop area was more than 2,000 ha, mainly potato, corn and vegetables with a total yield of about 30,000 tonnes.
The ministry said that it was important to raise solutions to promote the sale of farm produce for farmers in locked-down areas.
The ministry said that prices of farm produce in Hai Duong had decreased by around 10-20 per cent since the outbreak of virus clusters late last month.
Nguyen Nhu Cuong, Director of the ministry’s Department of Crop Production, the sale of carrot and potato was the most difficult at the moment because these two products had high output volume while domestic consumption accounted for just 10 per cent and the rest must be exported.
The capacity of cold storage in Hai Duong was limited, which would be a problem if the virus was not put under control before Tet, he said.
He added that the transportation of goods to/from locked-down areas was very difficult. Local markets were also tightening disease control measures.
Ha Noi, Hai Phong and Quang Ninh were the major markets for the consumption of Hai Duong’s farm produce. However, these provinces were banning all vehicles and people from Hai Duong, which affected the consumption. Wholesalers from other provinces did not want to come to Hai Duong to collect farm produce with hesitation over the virus and worries that they must practice social distancing.
According to Hai Duong Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, around 128,000 tonnes of vegetables, meat and fish in the province were waiting for consumption.
In that context, it was important to promote consumption in the province, increase storage and implement processing for longer preservation, the ministry said.
It was a must to apply prevention measures following the guidance of the Ministry of Finance when transporting products out of the virus-hit areas, the agriculture ministry said.
At the same time, preparations must be made for the next cultivation season.
Recently, Quang Ninh Province Department of Industry and Trade helped connect for the sale and 17 million potatoes, worth VND153 million (US$6,600).
Six enterprises also bought more than 10,000 chickens for farmers in Chi Linh City.
Passenger bus fares hike as Tet nears
Passengers bus tickets have increased by up to 50% as travel demand has increased near Tet.
Because of Covid-19, the number of passengers at Giap Bat Bus Station on February 1 was more like a normal weekend than the seasonal rush expected before Tet. Some short-trip buses to Ninh Binh, Thai Binh and Nam Dinh only have five to seven passengers. Hoang, an employee of Thien Truong Company, said in previous years, they had to work full capacity and even used back-up buses.
Nguyen Anh Toan, director of Transerco, said they had started the transportation plan for Tet with 2,200 back-up buses at major bus stations like My Dinh, Giap Bat, My Dinh, and Gia Lam. The number of passengers is expected to increase by 130%-150%. However, they haven’t had to use back-up buses yet.
Despite the slight increase in the number of passengers, fares have increased by 30%-50%. The fares for buses to Thanh Hoa Province increased from VND120,000-VND150,000 to VND180,000-VND200,000.
Nguyen Tat Thanh, director of Giap Bat Bus Station, confirmed that many transportation firms had applied for a price hike. During Tet, most buses only run with passengers one-way and have to return empty so they have raised prices to pay for extra costs.
Procedures for the price hikes were already completed with the departments of finances and departments of transport before the new Covid-19 outbreak.
Third Covid-19 field hospital to be handed over to Hai Duong
More than 200 workers and soldiers on February 6 completed renovating 5,000 square meters of floor area at the Sao Do University in the northern province of Hai Duong into a third Covid-19 field hospital, which is ready to be handed over for the province to treat coronavirus patients.
It took just a week to complete the renovation work. The three-story field hospital is located far away from residential areas. Its ground floor was equipped with testing and treatment facilities as well as is a place for receiving coronavirus patients. The remaining floors accommodate patient rooms and a number of functional units.
The hospital has 239 beds, which will be extended to 300 if necessary.
Early this month, the equipment used at a similar hospital at Da Nang city’s Tien Son sports center was transported to the Sao Do University to set up the field hospital.
All of the engineers and workers involved in the construction of the field hospital had their health monitored regularly by the Hai Duong Province Center for Disease Control and Prevention during the construction.
Launched at a time when demand is very high, Vietnam’s video conferencing software products still cannot compete with foreign products in the home market.
Teachers and students have become used to video conferencing software, but they still face problems during study. Students complain they sometimes are thrown out of class because of unstable internet connections.
Most schools still use Zoom for online teaching, though experts have warned of security problems and limitations in free versions.
Many online conferencing solutions have been developed by Vietnamese firms, including Zavi by VNG, CoMeet by CMC TS, NetNam, iWay, FDS and DQN, and TranS by Nam Viet.
CoMeet is a made-in-Vietnam software product with no interruption during conferences thanks to 100 percent use of domestic bandwidth with high customization features, tailored to every business.
However, despite the appearance of a series of Vietnam’s video conferencing platforms, many schools and businesses still use Zoom, while others prefer Microsoft Teams or Google Meet to Vietnamese products.
The Zoom app ranks No 1 among the free apps on Play Store and App Store. Google Meet ranks second.
Zoom remains the top choice, though Vietnam’s software products have outstanding features, high competitiveness and provide support in the Vietnamese language.
Zoom faced criticism when it was found leaking personal information of hundreds of thousand of users, transferring data to Facebook. It has been prohibited by the US and UK government agencies because of security vulnerabilities.
However, Zoom has been growing steadily with a record number of 300 million users daily compared with 10 million users before the pandemic.
Explaining this, experts said other software products either have too many barriers or are too difficult to use and are less known than Zoom.
For individual users, there are problems even more concerning than the security problem. The troubles students most complain about are the low-quality sound, blurred images and network lag. It is difficult to find out if these are caused by the computer/smartphone configuration, app/software or the transmission line.
As for businesses, if a company decides not to use Zoom, it has to persuade its partners not to use Zoom as well and re-install machines that serve video conferences.
Nguyen Hong Phuc, a security expert in HCM City, said that is why his firm still uses Skype when working with foreign partners.
Foreign platforms are still preferred in Vietnam thanks to certain advantages, including the high number of features integrated in platforms and the large ecosystem.
A healthcare worker infected with SARS-CoV-2 in Vietnam
An orderly working for Transport Hospital in Hai Phong city, northern Vietnam, has been confirmed as a COVID-19 patient in Vietnam.
The female worker, 26, has been diagnosed with the SARS-CoV-2 virus after a COVID-19 screening campaign for all healthcare workers at Hai Phong Transport Hospital.
She has tested positive for the virus twice, said the Hai Phong Preventive Medicine Centre on February 22, adding the remaining 88 workers have tested negative.
The patient was said to have stayed in Hai Phong for the past 14 days. She showed no flu-symptoms.
She was transferred to Vietnam-Czech Republic Hospital for medical surveillance and treatment.
Relevant agencies scrambled to cordon off Transport Hospital and Lo village in Thuy Nguyen district, her hometown, for chemical disinfection and epidemiological investigations.
They also tracked down people who had come into contact with the patient for immediate quarantine and testing.
Earlier Hai Phong recorded just one case at its Children’s Hospital who was then transferred back to Hai Duong province, the country’s biggest coronavirus hotspot at present.
As many as 795 cases have been confirmed in Vietnam since the virus recurred in Hai Duong late last month. The outbreak has spread to 13 cities and provinces across the country, with Hai Duong, a gateway to Hanoi capital, reporting 615 cases alone.
Haiphong locks down commune due to new Covid-19 case
Haiphong City locked down Hoang Dong Commune after a 26-year-old woman living there tested positive for Covid-19 today, February 22.
Haiphong Transport Hospital at No. 40, Street 5, Hong Bang District, where the patient works, has also been locked down and disinfected.
The woman, residing in Hamlet 4, Hoang Dong Commune, Thuy Nguyen District, has neither left Haiphong City nor developed Covid-19 symptoms over the past 14 days.
Pham Thu Xanh, head of the Covid-19 quick response team of Haiphong City, said the local authorities are identifying venues the patient visited and people who came into contact with her. The citizens are not allowed to enter or leave Hoang Dong Commune until further notice.
The steering committee for Covid-19 infection prevention and control of Haiphong City asked people who had close contact with the patient to immediately contact the nearest medical center for health declarations, an epidemiological investigation and quarantine procedures.
Local residents were encouraged to strictly comply with preventive measures such as wearing masks while stepping out, using hand sanitizers, keeping a safe physical distance from each other and avoiding large gatherings. They should immediately contact the health authorities if they develop symptoms such as a fever, a cough or shortness of breath.
Nearly 35,000 returnees from Covid-19 regions to Hanoi tested negative for coronavirus
Hanoi has recorded 36 cases, with health authorities saying that the outbreak could last longer if drastic measures to control the disease are not taken.
The Hanoi Department of Health on February 21 reported 34,600 returnees from the northern epicenter of Hai Duong province and other pandemic-hit areas have tested negative for the novel coronavirus.
As of February 21, the number of returnees from Cam Giang district, a Covid-19 hotspot in Hai Duong province, stands at 2,388, of which 2,368 have been tested in Hanoi. More than 1,900 people have tested negative while the results of the rest are pending, the municipal health department reported.
The number of returnees from other parts of Hai Duong province and 11 high risk provinces and cities from February 2 is 46,460 people, of them, 44,355 people have taken Covid-19 test and 32,692 people tested negative. The results of the rest are still pending, the department added.
Hanoi has gone five days without confirming any new cases of Covid-19. At the time of writing, Hanoi has recorded 36 cases, with health authorities saying that the outbreak could last longer if drastic measures to control the disease are not taken.
There have been 791 cases confirmed across Vietnam since the pandemic resurgence late January. Quang Ninh is the country’s second latest Covid-19 outbreak with its first case being detected on January 28. The infection has since then spread to 13 other cities and provinces.
Vietnam has so far had 2,383 cases, 627 of them active.
Capital “rescues” unsellable produce from pandemic-stricken province
Volunteer groups and authorities from Hanoi over the weekend after Lunar New Year successfully distributed and sold tons of unsellable agricultural produce from Hai Duong Province, which has been in Covid-19 lockdown for weeks.
A whopping 15 tons of fresh produce from Hai Duong were sold on February 21 alone at makeshift vegetables stalls at 38 Giai Phong Street in Hanoi, which received 30 tons more the following day.
The produce and transporting vehicles were disinfected at least thrice – at the source, when going through quarantine posts in Hai Duong, and before entering the capital city.
According to the Deputy Director of the Domestic Market Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade Le Viet Nga, some major domestic distributors have reached out to Hai Duong authorities with offers to help distribute slow-selling products.
Meanwhile, the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade transported and distributed 300 tons of agricultural produce from Hai Duong and Quang Ninh province over the course of last week.
Hai Duong Province during the Lunar New Year holiday locked down multiple localities for 14 to 21 days, including the major Hai Duong Province, making regular citizens as well as retail distributors refrain from entering these regions.
Hanoi Mayor urges enterprises to put health, safety as utmost priority
The Hanoi Mayor expected local firms to accelerate the digital transformation process, which remains the city’s priority for development in the next five years.
Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Chu Ngoc Anh urged local firms to put health and safety as utmost priority to prevent a potential Covid-19 spread, which in turn leads to disruption of production chain.
The Hanoi’s Mayor gave the remarks during his visit to TOTO Vietnam, INTERSERCO Vietnam International Trade My Dinh, and CMC Technology & Solution last week.
Business Manager of TOTO Vietnam (located at Thang Long industrial park, Dong Anh district) Takashi Yokoyama expressed his thanks to local authorities’ efforts in effectively containing the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As the pandemic continues to cause severe impacts to the global economy, many subsidiaries and affiliates of the corporation were forced to close, but TOTO Vietnam remains operational and records positive growth,” said Yokoyama.
In 2020, TOTO Vietnam posted revenue of nearly VND4 trillion (US$173.5 million), in which export turnover contributed VND2 trillion (US$86.75 million).
Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Anh highlighted TOTO Vietnam’s creativity and flexibility in timely adjusting its business strategy to cope with Covid-19 impacts.
“Hanoi is committed to accompanying TOTO Vietnam and other FDI enterprises during their operations in the city,” he noted.
Meanwhile, INTERSERCO My Dinh during the recent Covid-19 outbreak gave permission for employees from Hai Duong province, the country’s pandemic hotspot, to stay at home but still get paid their full salary until the situation is under control.
Anh expected INTERSERCO My Dinh to continue focusing on logistics as its core business activity in 2021 with greater application of modern technologies and higher level of automation.
At CMC Technology & Solution, the Hanoi’s Mayor was briefed on the firm’s advanced technologies application in real-time monitoring, analyzing and warning in the fields of traffic and environment.
Anh requested CMC to accelerate the digital transformation process and enhance its competitiveness.
“Hanoi gives priority to innovation and digital transformation in the next five years,” stated Anh, adding the city expects digitalization to make up 30% of the total gross regional domestic product by 2025.
NA Standing Committee examines preparations for general election
The National Assembly Standing Committee is to convene its 53rd session in Hanoi on February 22 to discuss preparations for the upcoming general election.
The NA Standing Committee is scheduled to approve the report following in-depth discussions.
Vietnamese people will cast their ballots to elect deputies to the 15th National Assembly and local People’s Councils in May this year.
The following legislature is expected to be comprised of 500 deputies, including 207 deputies working at central agencies. 95 deputies are members of the Party Central Committee.
The Standing Committee will also examine preparations for the 11th session of the 14th National Assembly, the last in its 2016-2021 tenure.
No new COVID-19 infections recorded on early February 22
Vietnam posted no new locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases in the past 12 hours until 6am on February 22, keeping the national tally at 2,383, according to the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.
Of total, 791 cases have been found since January 27 when a new COVID-19 wave broke out.
The number of recoveries and fatalities remains at 1,717 and 35, respectively.
Among patients still undergoing treatment, 69 have tested negative for the virus once, 39 twice and 55 thrice.
At present, a total of 120,827 people who had close contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients or entered Vietnam from pandemic-hit regions are being under quarantine nationwide, including 588 in hospitals, 12,984 in state-designated establishments and 107,255 others at their residences./.
Vessels need to proactively respond to storm Dujuan
The National Center for Hydro-meteorology Forecasting and warning centers in the Asia-Pacific region predicted that storm Dujuan will quickly downgrade to a tropical low pressure system and dissipate at sea when it enters the East Sea this week.
Amidst the warnings, the Standing Office of the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control asked provinces and cities from Quang Ninh to Ca Mau to regularly keep in touch with captains, ship owners and timely provide information related to big waves and blustery winds at sea under the impact of an ongoing cold air mass and storm Dujuan.
The General Department of Natural Disaster Prevention and Control informed that the number of fishing vessels in the East Sea would be numerous as it has been in the fishing season.
Accordingly, storm Dujuan yesterday made landfall in the Philippines.
Hai Duong province sees 90 new recoveries from COVID-19
Ninety patients were discharged from the temporary hospital for COVID-19 treatment No 1 of northern Hai Duong province on February 21 after making a full recovery.
This is the largest number of COVID-19 patients discharged at a time in Hai Duong, the largest hotspot of the coronavirus transmission at present, in the latest outbreak.
They will have to conduct self-quarantine and health monitoring at home for another 14 days, after which they will undergo testing again.
The COVID-19 hospital No 1 of Hai Duong, based at the healthcare centre of Chi Linh city, has provided treatment for 293 patients, including nine children and four pregnant woman, since the new outbreak began on January 27.
As of February 21 morning, this province had recorded 603 infections, including five new cases linked with a previously confirmed patient in Kim Thanh district, according to the provincial steering committee for COVID-19 prevention and control.
Pham Quang Hung, Chairman of the Kim Thanh People’s Committee, said authorities have sealed off the entire Kim Lien commune, where the new patients live, sent persons in close contact with them to concentrated quarantine sites, and speeded up taking samples from local residents to carry out testing. They look to complete sample collection on February 21./.
HCM City Writers’ Association honours best literary works in 2020
The HCM City Writers’ Association has honoured publicly acclaimed literary works created in 2020 at an awards ceremony held in HCM City.
The memoir Gánh Gánh… Gồng Gồng… (Burden of Life) by female documentary filmmaker Nguyễn Thị Xuân Phượng of HCM City was named the best literary work.
The 308-page book includes stories about the ups and downs of the life of the 92-year-old Phượng since 1945.
Phượng quit school to join the war of resistance against the French in Huế City in 1945.
She served as a dynamite maker and a doctor, before being assigned by President Hồ Chí Minh to become an interpreter and guide to foreign journalists and filmmakers in 1967.
In 1968, she became a documentary director and war correspondent for the Television Department (now Việt Nam Television).
She has made a series of documentaries about the country’s historical events such as Khi Tiếng Súng Vừa Tắt (When Gun Sound Ends), 1975; Khi Những Nụ Cười Trở Lại (When Smiles Return), 1976; and Hai Tiếng Quê Hương (My Homeland), 1978.
In 2011, she was conferred the Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur (National Order of the Legion of Honour), the highest French order of merit, both military and civil, for her contributions to developing Việt Nam – France relations.
Gánh Gánh…Gồng Gồng… was published by the Culture, Literature and Arts Publishing House.
The association also awarded a prize to the novel Đất K (Land K) by author Bùi Quang Lâm, and poetry book Bấm Chân Qua Tuổi Dại Khờ (Walking by Innocent Age) by poet Cao Xuân Sơn.
Both works were released by the Writers’ Association Publishing House.
According to the association’s managing board, the association will recruit 21 new members at the ceremony.
Author Trịnh Bích Ngân, chairwoman of the association’s managing board, said: “The association is working to build solidarity among members and create inspirations for each member to release more quality literary works in the future.”
Ca Mau launches tourism stimulus programme
The southernmost province of Ca Mau has launched a tourism stimulus programme for this year with the dual goal of fighting COVID-19 and developing a safe, efficient, and sustainable tourism sector.
The Ca Mau Cape national tourism area is offering free entry to teachers and students nationwide.
To promote the potential that local tourism holds, the province plans to hold the “Ca Mau Destination 2021” event, with activities including cultural-artistic activities, and famtrips to local tourism areas.
Nearly 70,000 people visited local landmarks from February 10 to 16, with revenue standing at over 2.21 million USD.
Tourist arrivals to Ca Mau last year slumped by more than 56 percent compared to 2019, leading to a decline of over 71 percent in revenue./.
Hanoi launches tree-planting festival on New Year of Ox
The launching ceremony of a tree-planting festival on the New Year of Ox was held in Hanoi on February 21 as part of this year’s efforts in response to the Government’s programme on planting 1 billion trees to 2025.
Addressing the launching event, Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Chu Ngoc Anh said tree planting has remained as the city’s annual programme. Planting a tree is just the beginning; it is more important to take good care of it and let them grow well, he said, adding that it is a responsibility of everybody.
He asked all districts and towns to accelerate public awareness campaigns on the meaning of the tree planting festival and the importance and benefits of growing and protecting trees.
Hanoi sets to plant more than 300,000 trees this year and strives for each Hanoian to plant at least one tree by 2030, he unveiled.
Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Tran Hong Ha said increasing natural disasters and extreme weather events have taken heavy toll on Vietnam for years. At the same time, pollution, especially air pollution, has been rising in an alarming rate, causing harmful effects on the quality of life in humans and social and economic activities in metropolises, while rapid urbanisation and industrialisation have put enormous pressure on the environment, he added.
He highlighted the significance of the five-year campaign of growing one billion trees, saying that various effective models, initiatives and actions have been put in place to scale up the tree planting campaign nationwide in response to President Ho Chi Minh’s teaching and the one-billion-tree-planting campaign.
Previously, the capital city has fulfilled its goal of planting one million trees two years ahead schedule. It has planted around 600,000 new trees along over 250 urban streets to not only expand urban tree canopy cover but also prevent dust and noise pollution.
On November 28, 1959, President Ho Chi Minh wrote an article published in the Nhan dan (People) newspaper stressing the significance of tree planting for each person, each family, and the entire nation. Since the first tree planting festival was held in the spring of 1960, the activity has become a common practice whenever a new year arrives./.
Vietnam attends int’l round-table on preserving linguistic diversity
Vietnam has been among countries attending an expert round table on “Topical Issues of Preserving Linguistic Diversity” held to mark International Mother Language Day (February 21).
The virtual event was organised on February 19 by the International Union of Non-Governmental Organisations “The Eurasian People’s Assembly” under the auspices of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO.
It gathered member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (SNG) and countries from other parts of the world.
The aim of the round table was to find ways to expand the linguistic and intercultural communications of peoples, to promote multilingualism in the interests of Eurasian integration.
Its discussion focused on a number of issues, for example, the role of the native language as a carrier of culture, traditions and history of each nation; increasing interest in languages and stimulating the study of native languages; the role of education in the preservation and development of the languages of the people of Eurasia; creation of an accessible communicative language environment in the context of Eurasian integration; and the role of public associations in the preservation and development of the languages of the people of Eurasia.
At the event, To Thi Tuyet Khanh, a representative of the Banking Academy of Vietnam in Russia and advisor to the union’s first vice secretary-general, delivered a report focusing on education of Vietnamese and Russian languages in both countries.
Vietnam and Russia have boasted a long-standing cooperation in education and training, particularly in linguistics, which has produced good results, she said.
Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese students have pursued education in Russia and with their acquired knowledge, they have made contributions to the national construction and development in Vietnam and strengthening the bilateral relations, Khanh noted.
She voiced her hope that the Vietnamese will be taught in Russia’s schools and universities as a foreign language, especially for Vietnamese children born in Russia.
PM asks for greater effort for Phu Yen to further prosper
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on February 20 urged Phu Yen to exert efforts so as to attract more investment into key projects, thus creating breakthroughs for the locality’s development.
In a working session with key officials of the central coastal province, PM Phuc stressed that the locality needs to give attention to developing the private economic sector, making the area’s growth stronger.
It should work hard to accelerate the implementation of investment projects, especially in agriculture, real estate and tourism, in order to fully tap its strengths and potential in these fields.
Phu Yen’s tourism is like a rare and raw gem that needs the hands of skilled and qualified workers to make it shine, the leader said.
He also emphasised the importance of proper planning and vision in attracting investment and prompting sustainable development in the locality.
PM Phuc praised local authorities’ strong determination to promote socio-economic development, saying that the province has concentrated on the planning work, applying information technology, proposing mechanisms, and improving its business and investment environment.
Phu Yen has done well in implementing core strategies, including developing economic and industrial zones, tourism areas, transport, airport and seaport infrastructure, he noted.
Despite difficulties facing the locality amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Phu Yen still completed and even exceeded important socio-economic development goals, particularly in poverty reduction, the PM noted.
However, he also pointed out weak points the province needs to overcome in the coming time, especially in improving the investment and business environment and speeding up the progress of projects./.
Quang Ninh has no COVID-19 cases in community in 12 days
The northern province of Quang Ninh has gone through 12 straight days with no COVID-19 infections in the community, and four consecutive days without any new cases.
As of February 19, only 20 COVID-19 cases out of the 43 infections in Quang Ninh had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus.
From February 14 -18, 15 cases were cured in the locality.
Since the first case of COVID-19 in the community confirmed on January 27, the locality has recorded 60 infections, of which two cases are being quarantined and treated at the Central Hospital of Tropical Diseases in Hanoi’s outlying district of Dong Anh, and the rest are treated in health facicalities in Quang Ninh.
Regarding testing, more than 136,000 locals have been tested from January 27 to February 19.
Provincial authorities on February 8 announced that the pandemic was kept under control in the locality.
OVs in Malaysia get support for COVID-19 prevention
The Vietnamese Embassy in Malaysia, on behalf of the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, presented medical equipment, antibacterial cloth face masks and sanitiser to the Vietnamese community in the country at a ceremony on February 20.
The activity is part of the programmes conducted by the committee to support overseas Vietnamese in preventing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing the event, Ambassador Tran Viet Thai touched upon difficulties and challenges facing the mankind amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, including the Vietnamese community in Malaysia.
The committee has made every effort to support the Vietnamese community in the fight against the pandemic, helping them overcoming difficulties posed by the health crisis, he stressed.
The ambassador also announced the COVID-19 vaccination programme for foreigners in Malaysia, which is expected to be held in May or June. He affirmed that the embassy will serve as a bridge to support Vietnamese citizens in this programme.
The Vietnamese Party and State always pay attention to the Vietnamese community abroad in general and Vietnamese expats living and working in Malaysia in particular, Ambassador Thai said.
He also highly appreciated contributions by overseas Vietnamese to the homeland’s development./.
Tree planting festival: Individual trees make a forest
The tree planting festival initiated by President Ho Chi Minh has beeen a tradition in Vietnam for more than 60 years, encouraging afforestation and forest protection and greatly contributing to national development.
On November 28, 1959, President Ho wrote an article in the Nhan dan (People) newspaper stressing the significance of tree planting for each person, each family, and the entire nation.
Since the first tree planting festival was held in the spring of 1960, following the late leader’s teachings, authorities and sectors from the central to grassroots levels, along with people nationwide, have joined hands in planting trees whenever a new year arrives.
To uphold this tradition and cope with global climate change, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on December 31, 2020, issued Directive No 45/CT-TTg on organising a tree planting festival and stepping up forest protection and development at the beginning of 2021.
Accordingly, Vietnam is to plant 1 billion trees from now to 2025, including about 182 million this year.
In response, many cities and provinces nationwide have been promoting tree planting this spring.
On February 17 (the sixth day of the Lunar New Year), Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong, together with leaders of central agencies and Hanoi, offered incense in commemoration of the country’s ancestors, heroes, and martyrs at the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. They also planted trees there on the occasion.
Apart from the tree planting festival, the Vietnam Environment Administration is also establishing a plan for the implementation of a 1 billion tree programme, with a view to protecting the environmental, adapting to climate change, preventing natural disasters, and moving towards sustainable development.
The country views its forests as important ecological resources for socio-economic development and community happiness.
About 25 million Vietnamese people earn 20-40 percent of their annual income from forests./.
Spring festivals suspended as part of COVID-19 prevention efforts
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has requested that localities nationwide cancel all spring festivals in order to prevent mass gatherings, therefore minimising the potential spread of the COVID-19 pandemic following the Lunar New Year (Tet).
With the country facing fast-spreading outbreaks, people nationwide are required to limit their attendance of cultural festivals, with local authorities suggesting that such events should be suspended to protect residents from SARS-CoV-2.
Following the Prime Minister’s guidelines, many localities have decided not to hold spring festivals, including the long-standing Huong Pagoda festival, the Hai Ba Trung Temple festival in Hanoi, the annual Hoa Ban, also known as Bauhinia variegate, festival in Dien Bien province, and a traditional boat race in Quang Ngai province.
Hanoi families faces shortage of home helpers after Tet
Many families in Hanoi are facing difficulties finding home helpers after Tet Holiday due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Duong Thu Huong from Thanh Xuan District said she has a two-year-old child and is in need of a home help before she returns to work. She already placed advertisements online but has not been able to find anyone suitable yet.
“I can’t contact our previous home helper after Tet. As schools are still closed for Covid-19 prevention, I need someone to take care of my child from 7 am to 7 pm nearly all week, except Sunday,” she said. “People I have interviewed either can’t work right away or only want to only work in the afternoon. I want to find someone healthy and who can work for us for a long time. The starting wage is VND5m (USD216) a month and will increase.”
Trinh Thi Linh from Nam Tu Liem District had a good relationship with a home help for two years. But after the Tet Holiday, their home help said she wanted to take leave for several months and has stayed in her hometown as Hanoi is still discovering new cases.
“We’re really busy, so we need someone to take care of our two children. We’ll pay VND7m (USD302) a month and a Tet bonus,” she said.
Nguyen Van Thuong from Cau Giay District also said he wanted to find a home help who could stay at their house and work for a long time. Thuong said he was willing to pay VND10m (USD432) a month if the house helper can take care of all housework.
“There are many three-generation families that have both old people and young children like us,” he said. “I want to find someone in their forties and fifties. I had the same difficulties last year too and I had to let my old parents look after the children at home.”
Quang Binh fishermen enjoy big post-Tet catches
Fishermen in Nhan Trach Commune, Quang Binh Province have enjoyed bountiful catches after Tet.
For the fishermen in Nhan Trach, the first fishing trip after Tet Holiday is meaningful and signifies their luck for the new year. Most fishing boats in Nhan Trach are small so they often have a quick trips overnight and return in the early morning. The beach was busy with all the boats and activity.
Pham Nguyen said his crew were able to bring back 700kg of anchovies. “We’re all really happy to have such a good trip after Tet. We’ll be able to earn about VND20m (USD866). We just hope for good weather and bountiful trips,” he said.
Another fisherman, Pham Tan, said they caught nearly a tonne of anchovies. As they reached the shore, they could see the traders already waiting along the beaches. Anchovies and baby shrimp can be sold for VND30,000 (USD1.30) or VND20,000 per kilo respectively. Both of them can be used to make fish sauce and shrimp paste.
According to the fishermen, if they have a bountiful trip with baby shrimp they will have good herring scad and cutlass fish trawls too.
Nguyen Van Nghi, chairman of Nhan Trach Commune People’s Committee said they have over 100 fishing boats. They are mostly nearshore fishing boats so they only work seasonally. Bountiful anchovies trips also mean local fish sauce manufacturing facilities will have good materials and an optimistic outlook.
Construction of My Thuan – Can Tho expressway and My Thuan 2 bridge commenced
The construction of the My Thuan – Can Tho expressway and the My Thuan 2 bridge recently commenced in the southern province of Vinh Long in the presence of Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The.
The My Thuan – Can Tho expressway and My Thuan 2 bridge are expected to be completed in 2022 and 2023, respectively.
The My Thuan – Can Tho expressway is nearly 23 km long, passing through Vinh Long province and Chau Thanh district in Dong Thap province while the My Thuan 2 bridge is 6.6 km long. The two projects are being funded by the State budget with a total investment of over VND10 trillion.
* The Management Authority for the Urban Railways of Ho Chi Minh City (MAUR) and contractors kicked off work on the power supply for the southern economic hub’s first metro line project on February 19, which now has 82 percent of work completed.
Consultation and construction are now underway to link the power sources from the 110kV Binh Thai and Tan Cang electricity stations to supply all power stations along the metro line.
According to the MAUR, if COVID-19 can be controlled, the work of cable pulling will be completed in the second quarter of this year, which would allow for trial runs and commercial operations to take place earlier.
* The Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) said that 150,000 workers from the Group’s units have returned to work after the week-long Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday.
Currently, Vietnamese textile and garment enterprises, including Vinatex have secured signed orders until the end of April. This is considered a good signal for the recovery of the Vietnamese textile and garment industry, especially as the country in a good position in a global supply chain redeployed after the COVID-19 pandemic crisis in 2020.
* The Trung Nam Construction Investment Joint Stock Company has launched the first phase of the Ca Na port project in Thuan Nam district in the south-central coastal province of Ninh Thuan.
The project covers an area of more than 108 hectares, including two ports of 70-100 thousand tonnes; a port of 20 thousand tonnes, a warehouse, and service infrastructure.
Nature-friendly farmers in the Delta
Over the years, the Mekong Delta has fallen victim to drought and salinity invasion which cause great damages for the local people. However, there are some rays of hope. During the past five years, facing the shortage of freshwater in the dry season, some farmers in Dong Thap—a province of the Mekong River—have taken regulatory measures in agricultural production to adapt to climate change in a “nature-friendly” approach.
Many models of water-saving agricultural practices have been underway, contributing partly to reducing the volume of water used, greenhouse gas emissions and production costs in unfavorable weather conditions. Local farmers also practice alternate wetting and drying techniques, the use of in-field concrete irrigation systems, smart fertilizers, IoT (Internet of things) in irrigation pump system management.
This model was pioneered by My Dong 2 Agricultural Service Cooperative in Thap Muoi District of Dong Thap Province. According to Ngo Phuoc Dung, director of My Dong 2 Cooperative, to cultivate rice, farmers had to use a significant amount of water for irrigation. However, rice paddies do not have to be submerged in water all the time of the growth process. There are times, rice paddies can develop very well in a dry field. Therefore, applying alternate wetting and drying techniques and watering by concrete troughs may help save the volume of water used.
“Compared to the technique of flooded fields using pumped water, the new farming practice helps reduce 30% of water and also 20-30% of electricity costs. These figures represent not only economic benefit but also a message to the community that we farmers are making a change to be more responsible to the environment,” said Mr. Dung.
Aside from rice, water-saving models are also integrated in the cases of vegetables, flowers and fruit trees across the localities in Dong Thap. By the end of last year, the total area with the new economical irrigation system had reached 24,299 hectares versus 21,506 hectares in 2019. In addition, other agricultural models have been applied, such as net houses and smart water-saving irrigation systems along with training programs for farmers. From these State-supported models, quite a few farming households have taken in the integrated fish-rice or lotus-fish systems, which yield a high economic efficiency, and, at the same time, use freshwater rationally.
During a recent meeting with leaders of Dong Thap Province discussing the impacts of climate change on agriculture in the region, Assoc. Prof. Le Anh Tuan, deputy director of the Institute for Climate Change of Can Tho University, stressed on the necessity of being “nature-friendly” in cultivation. “Climate change is inevitable and we need to come face to face with it,” said Mr. Tuan. “However, rather than seeing it as a confrontation, we should adapt ourselves to be more nature-friendly.”
According to Mr. Tuan, in the past, although climate change grew more extreme, the people in some provinces have come up with adaptive and effective agricultural practice models. For instance, the integrated rice-shrimp system in the coastal provinces, discharge dike system in Dong Thap to lure natural fish instead of building dikes for the third rice crop and the integrated lotus-fish or lotus-tourism systems. “To be harmonious with nature, people in the Mekong Delta have come up with new measures,” said Mr. Tuan. “The crucial point is we need to change our mindset about climate change to live in peace with nature.”
What’s more, experts say facing climate change which is ravaging the world, commodity production has to comply with environmental protection criteria, which is also one of the top binding regulations on imports under new-generation free trade agreements (FTA) singed by Vietnam.
That is how farmers in Dong Thap are going more “nature-friendly” to introduce their products to the world market.
HCMC proposes to exchange information of illegal immigrants
Ngo Minh Chau, Deputy Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee proposed to exchange information of illegal immigrants through trails along borderlines with neighboring countries.
In his urgent letter to provincial administrations in the southern provinces of Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh, Long An, Dong Thap, Kien Giang and An Giang which share a border with other neighboring countries, Mr. Chau stated clearly that for the past time, many immigrants have entered Vietnam through trails along borderlines violating the governmental regulations of Covid-19 prevention and control.
Deputy Chairman Chau said in the letter that illegal immigrants have traveled many places contacting with many people; as a result, they have been causing the widespread transmission in the community.
Subsequently, state competent forces must be mobilized to track down all contacts as well as adopted preventative measures and quarantine contacts for the safety of city dwellers.
Therefore, to proactively prevent Covid-19 locally-transmitted cases because of illegal immigrants, the municipal People’s Committee made proposal to administrations of six neighboring provinces to send the information of illicit immigrants who are permanent dwellers or temporary residents in HCMC so that the People’s Committee have timely tracking and preventative measures.
Vietnam to deploy 500 policemen to Covid-19 hotspot
Hai Duong, the fresh coronavirus outbreak, is home to dozens of industrial parks with hundreds of thousands of workers.
The Ministry of Public Security will send 500 policemen to support the fight against Covid-19 in Hai Duong, the fresh epidemic center in Vietnam since late January.
The deployment of police officers to the coronavirus hotspot is to respond to the call for support by the local government, according to Sen. Lt. Gen. Nguyen Van Son, deputy minister of Public Security.
So far, Hai Duong recorded nearly 600 infections after the locality was affected by the resurgence of SARS-CoV-2 in late January. Rising infections have brought some localities under lockdown while the entire province is observing shelter-in-place order.
Police will help local authorities check the enforcement of safety rules in residential areas and at industrial parks to ensure social distancing and economic activities.
They assist the local government in keeping social security, residency management and illegal immigration.
At present, there are 959 checkpoints deployed with policemen to tighten control over quarantine and stay-at-home order.
According to Associate Prof. Tran Nhu Duong, deputy head of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE), Hai Duong currently has nearly 18,000 people who made contact with confirmed cases (F1), nearly 67,000 made contact with suspected cases (F2), and nearly 50,000 F3.
More than 160,000 people have been tested for the virus.
As the situation remains complicated, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Truong Son said Hai Duong needs to prepare for the worse-case scenario in which the pandemic breaks out again.
As the Covid-19 outbreak remains uncertain, the local government has called for both financial and medical support by the central government. So far, some cities and provinces have committed money and face masks to the hotspot.
Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes
How do you think the Covid-19 pandemic has affected Vietnam as a destination for German businesses?
Although the pandemic has definitely had a dramatic impact on the world, overall, we are relieved to see that Vietnam is an exception to the global trend. It is remarkable to look at the numbers and see that despite the pandemic situation, the Vietnamese economy is still growing. The implementation of the EVFTA could not have come at a more important time. In a world where normal business operations have been suspended because of Covid-19 and global economic growth is under threat, the EVFTA will help to jumpstart trade and investment between our countries.
Experts have predicted a wave of factories moving from China to Vietnam. Do you see this happening with German investors, too? Yes, it is already happening with the China+1 strategy that manufacturing businesses in particular have chosen. As tech-giants have already started to shift their productions from China to Vietnam, it is very likely that this trend will continue and include more sectors.
In what areas do you see EVFTA making a marked difference for German companies’ interest and operations in Vietnam?
The EVFTA represents a strong vote of confidence in Vietnam by the European Union. The fact that this is just the second free trade agreement signed with an ASEAN member state (after Singapore) shows the high regard in which the EU holds Vietnam, its positive record of reform, and its strategic importance in Asia. The government of Vietnam has made strong progress in creating a more competitive, attractive, and business-friendly trade and investment environment. From the German side, the buyers of electronics and metal products will increase their operations in Vietnam. Vietnam’s emerging manufacturing industry will attract more machinery and appliance companies with sales and knowledge transfer activities. Finally, Vietnam will become an even more inviting destination for investments, e.g. in the fields of automotive and textile supplies as well as electronics manufacturing and IT development.
Now that the EVFTA has taken effect, what should policymakers do, in your opinion, to facilitate businesses of both countries overcoming challenges and taking advantage of opportunities?
This positive FDI (foreign direct investment) trend is a vote of confidence in Vietnam’s current investment climate as well as its future growth potential. In particular, with the EVFTA now in force, we anticipate European and in particular, German FDI, will continue to rise as more companies look to invest in this open and fast-growing market. The rules governing acquisition by foreign investors with equity interests in domestic Vietnamese entities have liberalized significantly in recent years. Of course, despite this significant progress, there are still areas for improvement, like the legal framework.
Could you share with us some of the steps the GBA has taken to help its members deal with the pandemic’s impacts and get going again?
We’ve organized online events and webinars for our members and worked closely with other German institutions, first and foremost the German Embassy in Hanoi to keep our members informed. As the travel ban hit many people unexpectedly, we faced the situation of numerous people, Germans and Vietnamese that are employed in our members’ organizations, getting stuck in Europe for months. Our biggest contribution here was joining forces with AHK Vietnam in jointly organizing two relocation flights to bring urgently needed experts and their family members into Vietnam.
After more than two decades, what is the GBA’s future orientation in Vietnam?
As of today, with more than 320 members, we are the biggest European business community. We hope to stay attractive and relevant to the German business community and to make a real difference with our work. We aim to merge with AHK Vietnam to become a Chamber of Commerce, as decided by our members in 2015 and stated in the Strategic Action Plan between Germany and Vietnam in 2019.
GBA celebrated its 25th anniversary on November 21, 2020 in Ho Chi Minh City. We are already looking forward to celebrating 30 years in Vietnam and are proud and grateful to have a ring-side seat to witness the great development strides being taken by Vietnam.
Exports expected to continue expanding in 2021
|EC allows Vietnamese exporters to extend deadline of REX applications|
In particular, the first month of 2021 reported export revenue of US$27.7 billion, up 0.2% compared to December 2020 and up 50.5% compared to the same month in 2020. Important markets such as the US, China, the EU, and Japan all maintained growth in their demand of between 15 to 111%, compared to the same period in 2020.
Deputy Director of the Import and Export Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade Tran Thanh Hai said that the lessons learnt from dealing with adverse situations in 2020 will continue to be applied this year. The disruption of the global supply chain due to the COVID-19 pandemic has motivated Vietnamese enterprises to develop solutions to help them survive including enhancing online trading or shifting to the production of goods designed for pandemic prevention and control.
The business community has also made efforts to maintain competitiveness, improve product quality, and seek export orders, particularly for key commodities such as phones and components, electronics, computers, footwear, textiles, mechanics, and rice.
Rice export, which was a bright spot in agricultural exports in 2020, is facing an opportunity to increase export turnover thanks to high demand around the world and improvements to the quality of Vietnamese rice.
Economist Pham Tat Thang commented that enterprises are taking advantage of traditional markets combined with rapid penetration into new markets through free trade agreements in order to take advantage of the new tax incentives therein.
With the efforts of authorities and enterprises, total export turnover in 2021 is expected to increase by 4-5% compared to 2020.
PV Power to divest subsidiaries and streamline operations
PetroVietnam Power (PV Power) has confirmed plans to divest from some of its subsidiaries.
PetroVietnam Power Corporation JSC (PV Power, HSX: POW) has just announced its plans for the period of 2021-2025 with several large sell-offs of its interest in subsidiaries.
Specifically, PVPower would reduce its majority ownership in four subsidiaries, including Hua Na Hydropower JSC (UPCoM: HNA), PetroVietnam Power Nhon Trach 2 JSC (HSX: NT2), PetroVietnam Power Technical Services Center (PV Power Services), and PetroVietnam Power Renewable Energy JSC (PV Power REC).
Besides, a number of new subsidiaries might be established to serve future activities.
PV Power will also take a different approach on Luang Prabang Co., Ltd., an associate, following the directions of the government and relevant authorities.
PVPower also plans to continue the full divestment of several other firms which it had plans to cut loose in 2016-2020. These include Nam Chien Hydropower JSC, Song Hong Energy JSC, PetroVietnam Urban Development JSC, Song Tranh 3 Hydropower JSC, EVN International JSC, PetroVietnam Mechanical and Electrical JSC, Viet Lao Power JSC, and PetroVietNam Machinery-Technology JSC.
At the same time, PetroVietnam will reduce its interest in DakDrinh Hydropower (PV Power DHC) below 65 per cent of the charter capital or the entire contributed capital. In case the corporation successfully equitises the company, it has to comply with regulations of the Vietnamese government, the Ministry of Finance, and credit contract with Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank – its foreign lender.
In addition, the firm is also implementing relevant procedures for the termination of the operation of Son Tra-Song Da Hydropower and Asia-Pacific Energy in accordance with the law.
As of September 2020, the company recorded a revenue of VND21.795 trillion ($947.6 million), down 17 per cent on-year. Its after-tax profit reached VND1.487 trillion ($64.65 million), down 40 per cent on-year.
VAMC bad debts exchange platform to soon receive approval
The Vietnam Asset Management Company (VAMC) bad debts exchange platform will be approved by the central bank at the beginning of 2021.
VAMC also handled and cooperated with credit institutions to handle the collection of non-performing loans (NPLs) with VND47.515 trillion ($2 billion) of principal balance (temporarily calculated), reaching 95.03 per cent of its plan for 2020.
As of December 31, 2020, VAMC bought bad debts with special bonds of around VND374.622 trillion ($16.3 billion). Moreover, the company’s debt recovery activities reached VND167.019 trillion ($7.26 billion). VAMC’s debt collection results accounted for 63 per cent of its total accumulated debt collection.
Furthermore, VAMC also coordinates with local authorities to assist customers in purchasing and completing relevant legal procedures to speed up debt collection. At the same time, VAMC also implements proper provisioning for better risk management.
Thang also revealed that the NPL exchange platform will soon be approved by the SBV soon in 2021. However, it will not be until early 2022 for the platform to be officially established.
Previously, the SBV issued the VAMC Development Strategy for 2021-2025 with a vision to 2030. The strategy clearly states that one of the major tasks for VAMC is to complete the establishment and put into operation the debt exchanging platform.
Nguyen Kim Anh, Deputy Governor of the SBV, suggested VAMC to continue to settle NPLs, according to the National Assembly’s Resolution No.42/2017/QH14 on the pilot settlement of bad debts of credit institutions dated June 21, 2017.
The Deputy Governor also requested VAMC to make great efforts to implement debt settlement and recovery plans, speed up the progress of handling bad debts, strengthen NPL trading activities as per the market mechanism, and soon put VAMC Debt Exchange into operation.
At the same time, VAMC needs to coordinate effectively with credit institutions in dealing with bad debts, actively implementing measures to control and limit arising bad debts in order to bring the NPL ratio on the balance sheet to a safe ratio (below 3 per cent), according to the SBV’s Directive on organising the implementation of key tasks of banking sector in 2021.
Authorities give long-awaited nod to huge property projects
Two long-delayed property ventures in the south and south-central regions of Vietnam have finally been given the go-ahead by authorities.
Meanwhile, ITC Spectrum last week also received the green light from Binh Dinh People’s Committee to continue its $250 million Vinh Hoi Hotel and Resort Complex, which initially received approval to be built back in 2006.
The 3-year delay in the Lotte venture was mainly due to overlapping of legal regulations. Lotte proposed to build the eco-smart city on a 5-hectare land plot in Thu Thiem New Urban Area in 2009.
“We have made a turnaround. Regarding how we proceed from now is up to discussion with the city people’s committee,” an official from Lotte Properties Ho Chi Minh City last week told VIR.
Resolution No.195/NQ-CP dated December 31 cited that the government approved the proposal from Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, the Government Inspectorate, and the Ministry of Planning and Investment to assign Lotte Properties Ho Chi Minh City to continue to be the investor of the eco-smart city project.
“The People’s Committee is permitted to follow all of the procedures the investor had given previously, and Lotte has to finish all tax obligations as regulated by the law,” the resolution stated.
Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee was also assigned to instruct and inspect the investor to implement this project according to commitments on investment scale, timelines, planning, and other legal issues with an aim to ensure the highest efficiency for the project, it added.
In 2013, a consortium of four of the group’s South Korean affiliates and three other partners from Japan was set up to implement the project.
In 2015, Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee suggested selecting this consortium to implement the project by granting it the investment appointment without an auction. This selection, according to the committee, was based on Article 4 of the Law on Bidding 2013, citing that a certain investor can be chosen if it is the only one registered for this project.
The following year, the Lotte consortium advanced VND120 billion ($5.2 million) to implement the project. Later in 2016, the three Japanese investors withdrew. From then, the group was managed by Lotte Properties Ho Chi Minh City and investment capital dropped to $900 million.
The project, however, was halted by the city authorities to review the process of choosing investment and resetting all procedures in accordance with the current laws on bidding and investment.
According to Conclusion No.1041/TB-TTCP dated June 2019 by the Government Inspectorate, Lotte’s appointment by Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee did not comply with the relevant provisions of the Law on Bidding and the Law on Land. In addition, no land lease fees and taxes had been collected from the investor, despite it already occupying the area.
At the end of 2019, the committee also released two official documents to report the obstacles which have been halting the project. According to the documents, two solutions were proposed. The city could either nullify and reorganise the auction to choose new investors or retain Lotte as the investor to implement the venture.
In 2020, the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) issued a document that analysed the advantages and disadvantages of both options. According to its assessment and opinions collected from related authorities, the latter option had more advantages.
In order to keep Lotte involved, the MPI suggested that the prime minister assign the Government Inspectorate to review all outstanding issues in order to establish a solid foundation for the final decision.
The inspectorate, meanwhile, cited that the permission for Lotte must be based on legal documents and suggested the MPI applies Article 26 of the Law on Bidding which regulates the “selection of investors in special cases”.
The government’s approval of this selection opens up the road for Lotte to go full steam ahead with the project, removing a gaping hole from the vista of Thu Thiem New Urban Area.
Meanwhile, the Vinh Hoi Hotel and Resort Complex may finally be able to lift off in Binh Dinh province.
After being licensed over a decade ago, the province last week ordered the prolonged preparatory work to be finished by April.
ICT Spectrum embarked on the project with great ambitions, signing with Marriott International to manage the project under two luxury hotel brands, Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott, with the expectation that the project would be operational in 2014.
The project would have included an oceanfront, fully-integrated, mixed-use development including three resorts, an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones II, the residential villas, a retail village, an arboretum, and other recreational amenities.
However, after handing over the first 130ha of the 325ha project in 2011 for a total consideration of VND37 billion ($1.6 million) in land lease fees by the developer, construction has been stalling ever since.
The main reason for the huge delay, according to the committee, was the vast expense of land clearance and compensation.
“In many other projects, developers mostly advance a sum for the local authorities to do the land clearance and compensation. This advancement will be deducted from the developers’ land tax. This is the most feasible way to process the project,” said an official from the local committee, adding that such an arrangement was not reached for the project as neither sides could gather the funds required for the scope of the work.
In 2012 the government agreed to extend the lifetime of the project from 50 to 55 years to partly compensate for the delay. Some main facilities such as the road system around the project were built, but actual construction was never started.
The deadlock lasted until 2015 when the committee decided to revoke the project but the developer threatened to take the case to court. The chairman therefore directed local authorities to collect opinions from the related authorities and draft a plan to solve the impasse.
The committee chairman also requested the developer to submit the detailed design of the project to the competent body for approval, which was followed by further immobility.
This was broken last week, when in a document Binh Dinh People’s Committee Chairman Nguyen Phi Long urged local authorities to accelerate land clearance to allow the developer to begin the project before April.
Binh Dinh is one of the second-tier provinces attracting renewed interest from domestic and foreign developers.
In 2020, despite the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the province has approved the choice of investors for 13 projects with a total investment capital of around VND28.5 trillion ($1.23 billion).
According to Nguyen Thanh Hai, director of Binh Dinh Department of Planning and Investment, in 2020 the province has attracted proposals for 155 investment projects with a total capital of VND51.6 trillion ($2.2 billion), up 28.63 per cent in the number of projects and up 4.03 per cent in total capital compared to 2019.
Foreign investors looking to develop wind farms in Lang Son
Foreign investors from the US and Singapore are interested in either surveying or implementing wind farms in Lang Son province.
“We realise that Vietnam is a country with abundant wind potential and Lang Son is one of the provinces with good potential for building wind farms in Vietnam. Research, survey, and development of wind power projects in Lang Son province,” stated the document.
The second one is the 253MW Ai Quoc project. Covering an area of 3,817ha in Loc Binh and Dinh Lap districts, the project would have a total investment capital of VND12.9 trillion ($560.86 million), expected to generate power in the period of 2024-2025.
Previously, the province approved Singapore-based BayWa r.e Wind Pte., Ltd. to study and survey three wind farms in Chi Lang, Loc Binh, Cao Long, and Van Quan since the third quarter of 2020.
In December, the company submitted a document to propose the province to approve its member company to handle the study and survey on these three projects once its member company is established in Vietnam.
According to BayWa r.e Wind Pte., Ltd., the company completed the procedure to establish BayWa r.e Wind Projects Vietnam Co., Ltd. in August 2020, which has chartered capital of VND232.9 million ($10,126), however, this member company has yet to be established due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
BayWa r.e Wind commits that when the member company is established, it will take over the work relating to these three projects.
EU supports Vietnam in adopting better management of packaging waste
The European Union cooperates with the Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) and other stakeholders to take steps towards efficient plastic waste management in Vietnam to reduce marine plastic litter.
The information was stressed at a consultation workshop on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Plastic Packaging co-hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), the EU and Expertise France on January 20 in Ho Chi Minh City. The principle of EPR mechanism is outlined in the revised Law on Environmental Protection (LEP) in Vietnam.
It requires companies to be responsible for recycling used packaging in accordance with the recycling rate and recycling standard set by MoNRE, in equivalent targeted amounts of what they put on the market.
Rui Ludovino, first counsellor of the Delegation of the EU to Vietnam told VIR that, “Plastic pollution is a global issue and affects all countries in the world. The EU is highly committed to sound waste management in our member states. We have been working on this topic for many years. In 2015, the first circular economy action plan was in place. Now, we have the second action plan on the circular economy, which is linked to a comprehensive European Strategy on Plastics in the Circular Economy.”
The plastic pollution around the world is dramatic. It affects the economy, the environment, and people’s health. If the rivers and the ocean are polluted in one country, this has also an impact on other countries. Therefore, this global issue needs international cooperation.
“The EU Plastics Strategy includes actions along different axes. The first one is to make recycling profitable for business. New rules on packaging aim to improve the recyclability of plastics used on the market and increase the demand for recycled plastic content. This will lead us to the second and third axes that is that plastic waste and pollution, particularly in the sea, should be substantially reduced. We need to manage packaging from products in a sustainable way by reducing, reusing, and recycling packaging. We have made efforts to improve waste management, sorting and recycling to create a market for secondary materials. For plastics being recycled and reused, there are a lot of economic gains in terms of materials, environment, and people’s health. With expertise in this field, the EU will work with Vietnam to support the implementation of the EPR policy,” he added.
In particular, this is provided in the framework of the project “Rethinking Plastics – Circular Economy Solutions to Marine Litter”, which supports the transition towards a circular economy for plastics in Vietnam and six other countries in East and Southeast Asia to contribute to a significant reduction of marine litter. It is co-funded by the EU and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and Expertise France.
Besides other activities, “Rethinking Plastics” is supporting a pilot project in Ho Chi Minh City, which was launched in November 2020 to increase the collection, sorting, and recycling of plastic packaging to reduce its environmental leakage. It is implemented jointly by the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) and the Hanoi Architectural University (HAU), who amongst others, work on a guideline to classify and measure plastic packaging collection and recycling in rural and urban areas, improve waste sorting at source, and define best practices.
According to Phan Tuan Hung, director of the Legal Affairs Department of the MoNRE, Vietnam is exploring international practices with existing EPR systems in Europe and around the world, as well as practical tools and guidelines to implement such EPR mechanisms. Most EPR systems in the world have the obligatory ratio and process of recycling. This is the first time Vietnam sets the specific ratio and process for recycling, which will be applied to six sectors including batteries and accumulators, tires, lubricants, vehicles, and packaging.
“EPR schemes help enhance financial flows and multi-stakeholder partnerships that are important to boost the collection and recycling rates of plastics. We are working closely with key stakeholders, especially the business sectors to identify practical and feasible regulations in drafting the EPR Chapter in the Decree guiding the LEP to achieve the better management of packaging waste in Vietnam,” he said.
Better management of Vietnam’s packaging waste is also in line with a chapter on trade and sustainable development under the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). In this chapter, the EU and Vietnam commit on both sides to cooperate on environmental issues like climate change response. If Vietnam can improve the management of plastic, it will improve the use of resources and reduce emissions.
Ludovino said that the EU is also enabling research and innovation for new plastics that can be better recycled and reused, as part of the Plastics Strategy. For Vietnam, it is important to identify the current practices to find solutions focusing on Vietnam reality with the involvement of different stakeholders. There is no one-solution fits all countries approach, even in the EU.
“I see a huge potential for a good economic model in Vietnam. Better management of plastic waste provides a lot of gains in terms of economic and environmental aspects, as well as resource efficiency. There is a lot of goodwill and commitment from the Vietnamese authorities, the government, MoNRE, and other ministries and provincial authorities and a lot of interests from the different producers and recyclers,” he said, noting that by adopting sound, efficient, and clean technology and practices, Vietnam can become more attractive to EU investors.
Representatives of the EPR National Platform – a national multi-stakeholder mechanism established by the MoNRE for exchange, dialogue, and synergy to facilitate the EPR implementation in Vietnam – and other academic associations and international organisations joined the workshop to lay the ground for the next steps for Vietnam’s packaging waste management.
For example, a dedicated handbook will be elaborated by the Rethinking Plastics project together with the EPR National Platform to provide a guiding reference to Vietnamese companies and other stakeholders on packaging waste management aspects.
HCMC collects VND40 trillion in tax revenue in January
In the first month of 2021, HCMC’s tax revenue reached VND40 trillion (US$1.7 billion), meeting 11% of the target for the whole year, said municipal vice chairman Vo Van Hoan.
At an online meeting of the Government with localities on the socioeconomic development in the month, Hoan said the revenue from local production and business activities was more than VND29.8 trillion and the earnings from import-export activities reached VND10 trillion, the local media reported.
On average, the city collected some VND2 trillion per working day, or 135% of the target. If the momentum is maintained, the city can meet the revenue collection target of nearly VND365 trillion in 2021.
Hoan said the city’s socioeconomic development indicators last month increased over the same period last year. Specifically, the total retail sales of goods and services picked up over 12%; export revenue, 16.4%; the export revenue from hi-tech products, 28.3% and the index of industrial production, 34.5%.
However, the tourism sector posted a plunge of 70% and catering services, 6.4%.
Enterprises in the city have increased the volume of goods to ensure sufficient supplies and prevent a price hike during the Lunar New Year holiday.
As for the fight against Covid-19, Hoan said since the first cases were detected in the northern provinces of Hai Duong and Quang Ninh, HCMC has detected the 1,660th patient. Those in direct contact with the patient have tested negative for the disease. Nearly 2,900 people are being quarantined in centralized quarantine centers and some 1,900 others at home and lodging facilities.
The city has yet to report locally-transmitted Covid-19 cases but faces a high risk of infection, so it has employed multiple measures to prevent the spread of the virus from outside, such as calling on residents to make health declarations, wear face masks and use hand sanitizers regularly, reducing the scale of events and festivals and allowing 1.7 million students to study online.
HCMC tourism association proposes solutions to support tour operators
The HCMC Tourism Association has proposed some solutions related to taxes and fees to support tourism firms that are facing a wave of tour cancellations due to the new coronavirus outbreaks.
Many tour operators are under stress as they have to refund their customers who have canceled tours, Tuoi Tre Online reported.
Meanwhile, they still have to make payments to service providers or negotiate with them to jointly share the risks since the new coronavirus wave emerged on January 28.
As such, the association proposed the competent agencies come up with suitable and flexible solutions to help tourism firms, lodging service providers and restaurants overcome the hardship, including reducing value-added tax by 50%.
Aside from the proposal to exempt them from land rent for the 2021-2022 period, the association proposed creating favorable conditions for tour operators to access preferential loans with a zero interest rate to help the firms retain workers and speed up recovery.
Also, the association proposed extending their debt payment deadline and re-issuing business licenses for free to tour operators and reducing electricity bills for restaurants and hotels this year.
Further, the association’s proposals include allowing tourism firms and employees active in the tourism sector to delay social insurance payments from 2021 to June 2022.
Nguyen Thi Khanh, chairwoman of the HCMC Tourism Association, said that the proposals were aimed at helping tourism firms overcome the hardships caused by the coronavirus.
Vietnam’s internet economy expected to hit US$43 billion by 2025
Vietnam’s internet economy is projected to reach US$43 billion in 2025 and new tech unicorns, which are technology startup companies with a valuation of US$1 billion or more, could appear in the country, according to a report of Do Ventures, a venture fund targeting startups in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
Do Ventures said that Vietnam was highly valued thanks to the rise of the middle class and the surging number of internet users. Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, more Vietnamese are opting for online platforms and services, including cashless payment methods.
In 2019, Vietnamese tech startups earned up to US$861 million in capital from 123 investment deals. In the first quarter of 2020, the amount of capital poured into the field totaled US$284 million.
In 2019, the country recorded 109 investors in the technology sector. In the first half of 2020, only a limited number of new investors joined the market, with investments mostly from domestic firms and foreign investors who had worked in Vietnam.
Do Ventures added that the Vietnamese market still remains highly attractive to tech investors. In the next 12 months, 50 investment funds operating in the six strongest economies in Southeast Asia will likely focus their attention on Vietnam and then on Indonesia, targeting the fields of education, healthcare and finance.
Tech investors have chosen Vietnam as their investment destination as they see better opportunities here than in other markets. In addition, they recognize the other favorable conditions such as macro factors, demographics and great growth potential owning to the rapid increase in consumption and undervaluation during the pandemic.
Among the Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam now ranks third in terms of the number of internet users, third in the mobile penetration rate and second by the average speed of mobile internet.
The Do Ventures report also praised Vietnam’s telecom industry as its three major telecom carriers—Viettel, VNPT and MobiFone—have piloted 5G services. The popularity of the internet helped raise the value of the local internet economy to US$12 billion in 2019.
Further, Do Ventures forecast that the online payment market in Vietnam would obtain further growth as the Mobile Money service will be launched in the upcoming time with the participation of various telecom carriers.
Quang Tri to start work on airport project this year
After receiving approval from the Ministry of Transport over its detailed plan for an airport project, Quang Tri Province is set to begin work on the airport in 2021.
Le Duc Tien, vice chairman of the provincial government, confirmed to the local media on January 26 that the Ministry of Transport had made a decision passing its detailed plan to build the Quang Tri airport.
Accordingly, the Quang Tri government asked the T &T Group to draw up a prefeasibility study report for the project.
The province will wait until many investors join in the construction in June and hold an auction, Tien said, asserting that the province will break ground on the airport, which is set to cost some VND8 trillion, this year.
The airport project is expected to contribute to the province’s socio-economic growth, Tien said.
The projected Quang Tri airport will be built on an area of over 316 hectares in Gio Linh District under the public private partnership format.
The Quang Tri airport will be constructed under the 4C standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization and handle one million passengers and 3,100 tons of cargo per year.
Vietnam cuts corporate income tax for science, tech firms
Companies active in the science and technology sectors in Vietnam will enjoy the exemption and reduction of corporate income tax for up to 13 years, beginning from March 1, 2021, according to Circular 03 issued by the Ministry of Finance.
Corporate income tax will be completely exempted in the first four years and reduced by half for the next nine years for new science and technology companies in accordance with Clause 12 of the Government’s Decree 13/2019/ND-CP and the Law on Science and Technology.
To be eligible for the tax reduction, the companies are required to have a Certificate of Science and Technology Enterprise issued by the relevant authorities.
Their annual revenue from producing and selling tech-based products must account for no less than 30% of their total revenue. Moreover, revenue from tech-based applications must come from new services, not services that already exist in the market.
Besides this, science and technology companies must comply with accounting and bookkeeping regulations and fulfill their tax liability in line with the law.
The corporate income tax reduction is expected to help boost the development of science and technology in Vietnam, the Ministry of Finance said.
HCMC to review property projects to prevent risks
The HCMC government has assigned the municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment to work with other relevant agencies and departments to check and review realty projects, mainly high-end buildings, which have been approved for investment, to prevent potential risks.
If such property projects are delayed, their land will possibly be revoked in line with the law.
Besides, the municipal government told the HCMC Department of Planning and Investment to collaborate with the central bank’s HCMC branch to tighten control over foreign investment in the real estate sector and the transfer of proceeds from property projects to foreign countries to prevent money laundering and tax evasion.
In addition, the city will review mortgaged projects and long-delayed ones facing obstacles over regulations on land or delays in land use fee payments or the slow handover of house use right certificates.
Moreover, the municipal Department of Construction was tasked with keeping a close watch on the property market to promptly stabilize it to avoid a price hike and real estate bubbles.
The municipal government’s directives were made following an imbalance in the housing market in the city with high-end apartments increasingly abundant and homes for low-income people falling short.
The shortage of social homes and mid- and low-end houses has caused many difficulties in ensuring social welfare for medium- and low-income residents, according to a recent report of the HCMC Real Estate Association.
As such, the association proposed realty firms increase their investment in the mid- and low-end segments to contribute to addressing the imbalance in the housing market.
Furthermore, the association also expected the firms to closely collaborate with each other to control the prices of houses to avoid a housing price surge in 2021.
Commercial banks warn against fraudulent messages, websites
Scammers during the Tet holiday shopping craze are finding new ways to launch spoofing attacks through social media messages, even posing as commercial banks’ representatives to extract consumers’ info.
Multiple clients of Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Sacombank) allegedly received phone messages from the bank’s SMS system, requesting password verification or offering transaction discounts. After filling out online forms as instructed, the clients found large sums of money had disappeared from their bank account.
According to Sacombank’s representatives, their SMS service provider had confirmed the messages were not sent from the bank’s phone system, and they are working with competent authorities to look into the matter.
Meanwhile, people have been baited into depositing money for low interest loans due to shopping demands in the Tet season. The Orient Commercial Joint Stock Bank (OCB) warns people against an elaborate scheme involving scammers impersonating loan agents of the bank using forged paperworks.
According to their representative, the bank does not require deposits, pre-payments or fees of any kind during loan review and analysis.
All commercial banks in face of the situation have advised against clicking on SMS links before verifying the domain, giving away their card security code and one-time password (OTP), or logging in to their bank accounts on public devices and networks. They also recommend clients to contact the official telephone hotline or the nearest branch for transactional support.
A number of found fraudulent websites include http://agribanks3.asia; http://agribanks.space, http://agribanks.edu.vn; http://agribanking.com.vn, http://agri2021.co, sacombank.net.vn, iisacombank.com; e-sacombank.com, among others.
The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has requested credit institutions and related units to ensure network safety and security during important events and holidays in 2021 by closely monitoring activities and logs on their core transaction systems like ATM and Internet Banking, and strengthening defense against malware and targeted attacks.
Dong Nai considers extending completion time of road BOT project
The People’s Committee of Dong Nai Province is considering the suggestion to extend the time to complete the prolonged Road 319 BOT project by six months.
The project connecting with Ho Chi Minh City- Long Thanh- Dau Giay expressway was designed with its length of 1.9 kilometer and four lanes for vehicles. Construction started in July 2017 and its completion time was expected on December 31, 2020.
However, the project currently reaches only 73 percent of total volume so BOT 319 Cuong Thuan CTI Corporation, the project investor, asks permission of extending the implementation period until June 30, 2021.
Liquidity soars to record high in Vietnam stock market in January
Compared to the same period of last year, liquidity surged a whooping of 291.04% in transaction volume and 334% in value.
In January, Vietnam stock market continued to remain an attractive investment channel with investors pouring in VND335.9 trillion (US$14.6 billion) and 14.78 billion shares changed hands, up 17.37% and 8.71% month-on-month, respectively.
This average transaction value of VND16.8 trillion (US$730 million) for 739 million shares per trading session, representing increases of 34.97% month-on-month in value and 25.01% in volume.
Compared to the same period of last year, liquidity surged a whooping of 291.04% in transaction volume and 334% in value.
In January, foreign investors were involved with transaction value of VND64.2 trillion (US$2.78 billion) accounting for 9.57% of the total in the stock market. While they remained net sellers with VND3.4 trillion (US$147.7 million), the figure was down 16.93% against last month.
This came as foreign investors went for bottom-fishing strategy during a strong volatile period of the market that witnessed the benchmark Vn-Index to suffer a historic slump of 73.23 points late January, or a decline of 6.67% from the previous session, to 1,023.94.
However, since then, the market has been on a strong recovery trend and ended at 1,111.29 at the close yesterday [February 3], up 35.76 points or 3.32% from a day earlier.
As the Vn-Index’s free-fall occurred on the same day of the Covid-19 resurgence in Vietnam, Lan Anh, a broker expert at SSI Securities Corporation, told Hanoitimes that the government’s drastic measures to keep the situation under control would help further boost the market.
“Stable economic outlook and positive business performance of public firms in 2020 would gradually stabilize the market and even help it rebound strongly after the Tet holiday,” said Mrs. Lan Anh.
As of late January, total number of shares listed on the stock market amounted to 101 billion with the market capitalization of over VND3,900 trillion (US$169.3 billion), up 3.32% month-on-month and equivalent to 62.69% of the GDP in 2020.
Recruitment demand of foreign manufacturers surges in 2021
Foreign investors will likely expand their scales in new industrial zones in the south this year.
The recruitment demand of foreign manufacturers at industrial zones in the southern provinces of Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Long An and Can Tho City will increase in 2021, according to the latest report conducted by Navigos Search.
A report on middle and senior recruitment demands in Vietnam market in Quarter 4, 2020 and outlook in 2021 recently showed that many manufacturing enterprises from Europe, the US, China and Japan are exploring the market to invest in building their factories and developing production and business activities in Vietnam. Due to the land shortage in Ho Chi Minh City, the investors will likely expand their scales in new industrial zones further south.
According to Navigos Search’s analysis, Japanese manufacturing enterprises in the electronic and automotive spare parts plan to expand in 2021. Despite being heavily affected by Covid-19, Japanese manufacturing companies in Vietnam have officially returned to production and recruitment since the fourth quarter of 2020. A number of electrical/electronic enterprises have increased their production capacity to meet the market demand, and some in the furniture industry have doubled their yield compared to the pre-pandemic time.
There are also significant changes in recruitment demands in Japanese companies. For candidates who can speak Japanese only, both job opportunities and salaries considerably drop, meanwhile those fluently both English and Japanese are almost a decisive factor in recruitment.
Huge recruitment demand in IT this year
Navigos Search observed a quick recovery of recruitment in the information technology (IT) industry in the fourth quarter of 2020. The enterprises continue to recruit, focusing on high-quality people who master the most up-to-date technologies to increase their products and services’ competitiveness. New entrants are quickly building their recruitment brands and having good salary and bonus policies to attract qualified personnel.
Although the pandemic delayed recruitment in the IT industry, businesses in the sector are studying and making plans to recruit 1,000 engineers in 2021.
The report also found that local banks are planning to recruit a large number of employees for credit sales (customer relations). In addition, hiring in the technology and data sectors will be boosted due to strong demand for digital transformation at commercial banks.
Regarding the insurance industry, as a number of life insurance companies have signed exclusive contracts with commercial banks in bancassurance, they are in need of hiring consultants to work full time.
Vietnam tourism develops unique, unusual tours to lure visitors in 2021
The tourism industry identifies domestic travelers as the key segment for its development this year.
Local enterprises have offered many new unique and unusual products to lure domestic visitors in 2021, along with traditional tours to adapt to the new normal context, according to Chairman of the Hanoi UNESCO Travel Club Truong Quoc Hung.
Mr. Hung told Ha Noi Moi Newspaper that in addition to traditional tours such as eco-tourism and hospitality, adventure tourism and wildlife discovery are forecast to be a new trend this year.
In 2021, many localities plan to organize running events, as well as other major sports tournaments to attract athletes and tourists, such as Tien Phong Gia Lai (in March), the Vietnam Jungle Marathon (slated for March), the VnExpress Marathon Amazing Halong (August), the Hanoi International Heritage Marathon (September).
International paragliding tournaments in the northern provinces of Lai Chau and Lao Cai are expected to take place this year.
Many adventure tours are expected to be held in 2021 such as mountain climbing and trekking for young people who love to explore nature. On January 14, the Hanoi UNESCO Travel Club organized a new caravan and trekking farmtrip to conquer the Puxailaileng Mount (the central province of Nghe An) with the aim of developing adventure and community tourism products for the province.
In 2020, a number of sport tournaments was suspended due to the impact of Covid-19, while some others still went on attracting thousands of athletes and visitors.
Quang Ngai, the central province of Vietnam, witnessed the participation of about 2,000 local and international runners at the 61st Tien Phong Marathon held last July in Ly Son Island. The event was successfully and safely organised thanks to good preparation of local authorities and relevant branches.
Director of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Quang Ngai province Nguyen Minh Tri said that the marathon held in Ly Son Island opened up great potential for local tourism, allowing Ly Son to organize other large-scale activities with the participation of thousands of people.
Other successful events included the Mekong Delta Marathon 2020 held last November in the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang with more than 7,000 athletes; the 2020 Open Putaleng Paragliding Tournament held last December in the northern province of Lai Chau; and another paragliding event was open in Mu Cong Chai district in the northwestern province of Yen Bai in June.
Forum looks to reduce energy consumption in transport
Experts gathered at a forum in Hanoi on February 5 to discuss measures to reduce energy consumption in the transport system towards effective use of energy for economic development in the sector.
Attributing traffic congestion and exhaust emissions from old and ragged vehicles to bad air quality that threatens local health, Associate Professor Nguyen Hong Thai, vice chairman of the Vietnam union of railway transport, suggested the transport sector integrate reduction of greenhouse gas emission into transport planning and investment projects.
It is necessary to raise public awareness of measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions such as using biofuels, and limiting personal vehicles with a view to building a green public transport system, he said.
According to deputy head of the Environment Department under the Ministry of Transport Nguyen Huu Tien, development of energy-saving transportation has been integrated in the sector’s development policies.
“In the past time, the sector has paid due heed to branching out energy-saving means of transportation, while issuing regulations on stamping fuel efficiency labels to nine-seat cars and motorbikes “, he said, adding the ministry also worked with the Ministry of Science and Technology to set up and issue Vietnamese standards on fuel consumption limit for cars and motorbikes.
Tien said in the coming time, priority should be given to developing bulk carriers which are energy saving such as railway and waterway towards establishing multi-mode freight transport firms.
The transport sector should continue to outline standards on fuel consumption or several vehicles, and pen policies and a roadmap to switch the use of fossil-fuelled vehicles to those that use renewable energy, contributing to ensuring energy security and protecting the environment, he stressed./.