By Nguyen Quoc – Translated by Kim Khanh
Even though the pandemic has caused unemployment to rise and people are looking for jobs, workers who’ve participated in the government’s free vocation education program say it is not effective and a waste of time.
Employees who pay social insurance are eligible to receive vocational training and career counseling free of charge. Each month, students enrolling in the program are supported with VND1 million ($43.42) for vocational training not exceeding six months. This aims to help people who had lost their jobs to acquire skills needed to make a career switch.
Vu Thanh Ha, 22, went to the Ho Chi Minh City Job Service Center at the end of March to complete procedures and access unemployment benefits. After working for four years at a factory in the southern province of Binh Duong, she decided to quit her job at the end of last year and go to the city to find new job opportunities. Once she completed all the paperwork, the employment service center recommended a number of occupations like tailoring and cooking.
Vu Thanh Ha files documents to receive unemployment allowance at the Ho Chi Minh City Job Service Center. Photo by VnExpress/Le Tuyet.
Not interested in the curriculum on offer, Ha ended up using all the money she had saved, around VND20 million ($868), to study professional photography.
Rejecting the free vocational education on offer seems to be the rule rather than the exception. Hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers across the country are choosing not to participate in the free vocational training courses.
HCMC had more than 195,000 people receiving unemployment benefits last year, but less than 7,000 registered for vocational training. In Binh Duong, just 3,000 out of 102,000 registered jobless people were interested in vocational training.
According to data from the national social insurance agency, of more than one million people receiving unemployment benefits nationwide, only 16,000 people have said they need vocational training to change their career paths.
Ngo Xuan Lieu, director of the National Center for Employment under the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, admitted that the free vocational training program has failed to interest laid-off workers.
He gave several reasons for this. Some institutions were teaching skills for which there was no demand. Also, most of the unemployed are unskilled workers and living difficult lives, so when they lose their jobs, they focus on getting unemployment benefits, not on vocational training, he said.
Not attractive enough
Le Thi Kieu Phuong, director of the HCMC Job Service Center, said that the vocational training support level of VND1 million per month for a maximum of six months was not attractive enough for people to enroll in the program.
Furthermore, many vocational schools have poor facilities and do not offer much choice. Worse still, they do not offer training that matches current labor market needs.
Students, including laid-off workers, attend a vocational training class at the Ho Chi Minh City Job Service Center. Photo by VnExpress/Le Tuyet.
From the recruiters’ side, Nguyen Thi Lien, Deputy General Director of Phong Phu International Joint Stock Company in HCMC’s Thu Duc City, said that the training offered is basic.
She said the workers learn more on the job than at a vocational training school, so the question of the courses improving their skills does not arise.
Kieu Ngoc Hoa, human resource director with Samsung Co., Ltd. at the Hi-tech Park in Thu Duc, said that in order for vocational training to be effective, it was necessary to have better partnerships between employment service centers and businesses.
Instead of studying at designated vocational training centers, employees can train on modern equipment and machines directly at the enterprises that need workers. After completing a course, the enterprise can absorb qualified students.
Under a recent government decision, starting May 15, the vocational training support for those who lose their jobs will be increased from VND1 million to VND1.5 million per month.
For those undergoing training for less than three months, the support level will be calculated according to the vocational school’s tuition fees and actual study time, not exceeding VND4.5 million ($195.44) per course. For 3-6 month learners, the support level will be calculated by month, tuition fees and actual time of apprenticeship not exceeding VND1.5 ($65) per month.
According to the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, the new scheme will help curb the current jobless rate because most unskilled workers want to return to the market as soon as possible.
Unique ceramic streets in Lien Mac village
Residents of Lien Mac village in Hanoi’s Bac Tu Liem district have been busy collecting discarded materials such as ceramics, bottles, and dishes to decorate the village’s streets.
The initiative was inspired by a group of painters and received a warm response from local people, especially in collecting materials and gluing the ceramic pieces together.
The mosaic walls also help spread a message to everyone about environmental protection.
The vivid and artistic artworks have already garnered major attention from local people and visitors alike./.
VNA, NA Office release photo book on 14th legislature
The Vietnam News Agency (VNA) and the National Assembly (NA) Office have coordinated in compiling and publishing a photo book on the 14th legislature.
The 428-page book, titled “Quoc hoi khoa XIV – Nhung thanh tuu va dau an noi bat” (The 14th National Assembly – Outstanding achievements and imprints,” comprises nearly 1,000 photos featuring the past five-year journey of the legislative body.
Such photos, together with infographics, give readers an insight into the NA’s performance in legislation, supervision, decision-making on the country’s major matters, and external affairs.
The book also devotes pages to introducing 494 deputies to the 14th NA, who are grouped in provincial and municipal delegations of NA deputies.
The book has been released at the end of the 14th legislature that created many hallmarks during the five-year tenure.
The 14th NA concluded its 11th session – the last of this tenure – in Hanoi on April 8, with many important contents on reviewing the tenure’s work, building laws and handling personnel matters completed over the course of 12 days./.
Foreign scholars have high expectations for Vietnam’s new leadership
Vietnam’s new leadership is expected to continue inheriting and building on impressive achievements made in the past tenure to carry the country forward, contributing to ensuring peace, stability and development in the region and the world, said Dr. Takashi Hosoda, an expert on Asia-Pacific from the Czech Republic’s Charles University.
In an interview recently granted to a Vietnam News Agency correspondent in Prague, Hosoda said in order to continue ensuring national interests and security, improving the country’s stature on international arena, Vietnam needs to maintain balance between ensuring a stable regional environment and promoting economic development.
Specifically, he suggested Vietnam pay attention to joining ASEAN’s cooperation mechanisms and other multilateral cooperation frameworks with the participation of the US, Australia, Japan, the UK and the European Union to shape international code of conduct.
Additionally, Vietnam needs to keep boosting multilateral trade and mutually beneficial economic relations within the framework of multilateral free trade agreements, especially the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the European Union – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), he said.
In particular, Vietnam also needs to enhance trust in international relations by reinforcing bilateral and multilateral cooperative ties in a more substantial and effective manner, for the sake of peace, stability and development in the region and the world.
The scholar also expressed his special impression of Vietnam’s success in controlling COVID-19 pandemic and sustaining economic development, saying that while countries suffered negative growth due to the pandemic, Vietnam was one of a few economies to achieve a growth of 2.91 percent last year.
According to him, the success demonstrated Vietnamese leaders’ prestige, capability and determination when facing difficulties.
Hosoda also highlighted the Southeast Asian nation’s important external achievements thanks to multilateral foreign and global economic integration policies.
As ASEAN Chair in 2020, Vietnam actively worked to raise international community’s awareness about the importance of international maritime security besides other issues. Major powers like the US, Australia, India, Japan and European nations actively contributed to maintaining maritime security and freedom in Indo-Pacific and Southeast Asia in particular.
In global integration, Hosoda hailed Vietnam for actively signing important multilateral trade deals like the CPTPP and EVFTA, which held strategic significance and created a driving force for Vietnam to develop its economy.
In Russia, the Independent, the most popular newspaper in Russia, recently published an article by Chairman of the Council of Experts of the Eurasian Research Fund Grigory Trofimchuk on important leadership changes in Vietnam.
Among four new pillar leaders, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc have been known among and trusted by many Russian people.
Pham Minh Chinh is considered “the PM of the fourth industrial revolution” in Vietnam while NA Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue will assume great responsibility as inter-parliamentary cooperation is becoming an important factor of global security and stability, he wrote.
The author said Vietnam is now among 40 largest economies and 16 most successful emerging economies in the world. It also climbed three spots in the global soft power rankings.
Concluding the article, he said Vietnam’s leadership apparatus has been completed and is ready to perform harder and more ambitious tasks set by the 13th National Party Congress./.
Italian official: Vietnam, Italy could work on fields of shared interest
Vietnam, in its capacity as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and Italy – in its role as Chair of the G20 and Co-Chair of the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, could strive and work together on fields of shared interest such as trade liberalisation, climate change combat and respect of international law, said Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy Manlio Di Stefano.
In an interview recently granted to Vietnam News Agency correspondents in Rome, Di Stefano said in recent years, Vietnam has made a stride in history, which was the result of the Vietnamese leaders’ strategic vision.
The country has overcome difficulties during the Cold War and chosen the road of modernisation and multilateral integration with basic steps such as entry to the UN, ASEAN, the World Trade Organisation, and establishment of ties with regional organisations like the European Union as well as strategic partnership with many nations worldwide, including Italy, he said.
According to him, Vietnam’s opening of door to receive foreign investment, including those from Italy, has brought to Vietnam necessary resources in terms of investment, labour and technology for national construction.
Italy pays attention to Vietnam’s important role in the region and on international arena, he said, adding that the two nations have supported principles of a world order based on the respect of rules and the peaceful settlement of disputes, as well as shared a common wish to effectively promote multilateralism and sustainable development for all stakeholders.
He reiterated Italian President Sergio Mattarella’s congratulatory message sent to new State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc that Italy will grasp cooperation opportunities from the Vietnam – Italy strategic partnership established in 2013 and the Italy – ASEAN development partnership signed in 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed that common issues must be settled via solidarity and cooperation, which inspired Italy in its role as G20 Chair and promptly the country to fund 116 million USD for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) to offer equal access to vaccines worldwide, including Vietnam. He also hailed Vietnam for effectively coping with the pandemic thanks to its experience in dealing with SARS in 2003.
Commenting on the prospect of bilateral cooperation after the European Union – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) took effect in August 2020, Di Stefano expressed his belief in growing Italy-Vietnam trade ties this year. He suggested that Vietnam and the EU continue pursuing the goal of trade liberalisation in a more balanced manner.
As many as 110 Italian firms are operating in Vietnam. Bilateral economic ties are growing, especially in traditional fields such as machinery, apparel, automobiles, farm produce, oil and gas.
The European nation also supports hi-tech investment in Vietnam in telecommunications, outer space, pharmaceuticals, architecture and design, renewable energy, and innovation industries, he said.
He also expressed his hope to visit Vietnam when conditions allow.
Russia scholars, media confident in Vietnam’s new leadership
Vietnam’s new leadership have recently been on the radar of Russian scholars and media, especially after Russian President Vladimir Putin had a phone call with the Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and sent his congratulations to newly-elected leaders of Vietnam.
In an interview with Vietnam News Agency (VNA) correspondents in Russia, Professor Vladimir Kolotov, head of the Ho Chi Minh Institute at Saint Petersburg University, said Vietnam’s current apparatus of senior leaders is optimal and harmonious.
It allows the modernisation of the political system, creates a premise for continued reform and propelling the country forward, while maintaining stability and keeping in place leaders who have a wide reputation and rich experience in state administration, he added.
Earlier, also in an interview with the VNA, Valeria Vershinina, an expert from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations University under the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spoke highly of the new Vietnamese leaders’ dignity and working capacity.
The expert expressed her belief that with its experience and successes in reforming the economy and maintaining a balanced foreign policy, Vietnam will continue posting fast development and playing a growing role in global and regional processes.
In addition, a series of major newspapers and news agency from Russia like TASS, Infox, and Bigasia have published articles on the new leadership, praising Vietnam’s successful election of senior leaders.
Regarding the future prospect of the Vietnam-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership, Russian experts and media said they are confident that the two countries will enhance their bilateral relationship toward practical outcomes as they consider each other their respective priorities in their policy for external relations.
Vietnamese Ambassador in Paris receives French honour
Vietnamese Ambassador to France Nguyen Thiep was presented the French State’s National Order of the Legion of Honour, Class Commandeur, at a ceremony held at the French foreign ministry’s headquarters on April 9.
Addressing the event, Bertrand Lortholary, Asia-Oceania Director of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, congratulated Ambassador Thiep and said that by presenting the noble award, France has recognised and honoured the ambassador’s efforts during his working term in the country.
Ambassador Thiep recalled wishes of the two countries’ leaders to strengthen and expand bilateral relations in various areas.
He highlighted the development of the Vietnam-France strategic partnership over the past three years, marked by a number of visits by senior leaders of the two countries, especially visits to France by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in March 2018 and then National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan in March 2019, and by a visit to Vietnam by then Prime Minister Édouard Philippe in November 2018.
These visits have helped enhance trust and deepen bilateral cooperation in a number of fields, Thiep stressed.
Permanent Vice NA Chaiman pays Chol Chnam Thmay visit to Soc Trang
Politburo member and Permanent Vice Chairman of the National Assembly Tran Thanh Man on April 10 visited and extended his greetings to dignitaries of the Mekong delta province of Soc Trang’s Patriotic Clergy Solidarity Association on the occasion of the Khmer people’s Chol Chnam Thmay (New Year) festival.
Most Venerable Tang No, permanent vice president of the association, said it has so far encouraged Khmer Buddhist monks and followers to engage in social activities, and popularised the Party’s policies and guidelines, the State’s laws, and campaigns and movements launched by the Vietnam Fatherland Front.
Amid the complicated developments of COVID-19, the association has postponed the traditional New Year’s rituals and informed the Khmer community on pandemic prevention measures, he added
Speaking at the visit, Man hihglighted Vietnam’s initial success in the fight against COVID-19, saying that the achievement is partly contributed by Khmer people nationwide, including those in Soc Trang.
He wished the association and Khmer people continue working together to overcome difficulties and implement the nation’s dual goals of pandemic prevention and economic development.
He asked them to further participate in the local prevention of natural disasters, drought, and saline intrusion as well as in upcoming National Assembly and People’s Council elections.
On the occasion, the official presented 25 gifts worth 130 million VND (5,645 USD) to local Khmer Buddhist monks and to the association.
According to Most Venerable Tang No, Khmer people accounts for over 30.18 percent of Soc Trang’s population and run 130 worshipping establishments.
Honorary Consul in Italy believes in Vietnam’s new leadership
Vietnam’s Honorary Consul in Torino, Italy Sandra Scagliotti has said Vietnam’s new leadership will build on achievements in the past tenure, continue with reform and affirm Vietnam’s role and stature on international arena.
Italy’s Scenari internazionali newswire on April 9 quoted her as saying that Vietnam’s new leaders are experienced and capable who will surely overcome new challenges and continue with reform in an effective and sound manner.
She said Vietnam – a middle-income country with a goal of basically becoming a modern-oriented industrialised nation by 2030 – is one of the most promising economies in ASEAN. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vietnamese economy still grew strongly last year on the back of economic stability, upgraded infrastructure and successful negotiations with major trade partners. Its growth is estimated at 6.8 percent this year.
Another important factor to Vietnam’s success in pandemic response was the involvement of the entire political system and high public consensus. Learning from experience in coping with SARS in 2002-2003, the Government’s every action programme was accelerated via a widespread and effective awareness campaign and active public involvement. Therefore, Vietnam became one of the nations worldwide that rode through the pandemic the most effectively.
As ASEAN Chair last year, Vietnam effectively carried out the bloc’s activities to cope with global challenges, contributing to turnining ASEAN into a hub not only on geographical terms.
In recent years, Vietnam has successfully signed 11 trade deals, including the European Union – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement.
Scagliotti affirmed that Vietnam – Italy ties will keep growing in the future.
Programme honours Vietnam’s Ao dai in Hanoi
An Ao dai (Vietnamese traditional long dress) performance event named “Ao Dai Cua Chung Ta” (Our Ao dai) was held in Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam (The Temple of Literature) in Hanoi, on April 9.
The area in front of Khue Van Cac (the pavilion of the constellation of literature) in Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam became the “stage” for 15 designers to introduce more than 600 Ao Dai designs. Among them, there are renowned designers such as: Minh Hanh, Ngoc Han, Lan Huong, Chu La, and Trinh Bich Thuy.
The event, co-organised by the Thang Long Institute for Cultural Research (TICR) and Tinh hoa Dat Viet Magazine, also features the participations of more than 400 models, actors, and guests, including wives of ambassadors of Italy, India, Laos and Belarus.
Ao dai has long been a traditional costume and a typical cultural feature of Vietnam. Through ups and downs with constant changes, ao dai still honours the gracefulness and elegance of Vietnamese women.
The event “Ao Dai Cua Chung Ta” contributes to the continued promotion of community awareness and responsibility in preserving and protecting traditional Ao dai, and honouring and promoting Vietnamese traditional costumes; while, at the same time, promoting cultural exchange between Vietnam and other countries around the world.
Gifts presented to poor Vietnamese in Cambodia
Up to 100 gifts were presented to poor Vietnamese households in Cambodia hard hit by COVID-19 pandemic on April 10, ahead of the traditional New Year festival Chol Chhnam Thmey from April 14-16.
With the support of Viettel Cambodia’s Metfone company and philanthropists in and outside the region, the event was co-organised by the Vietnamese Consulate General in Preah Sihanouk province, which is in charge of providing consular services in southwestern Cambodian localities – Preah Sihanouk, Kampot, Kep, Koh Kong, Kampng Speu and Takeo.
As the Cambodian Government banned travelling nationwide to prevent the spread of the pandemic, the Consulate General and executive board of the Khmer – Vietnam associations of the southwestern provinces handed over 300 gifts to Vietnamese there.
As scheduled on April 12, Vietnamese Consul General Vu Ngoc Ly will meet Kouch Chamroeun, Governor of Preah Sihanouk – one of the three provinces hardest hit by the February 20 COVID-19 community transmission event, to grant 10,000 face masks.
On the occasion, the Vietnamese Consulate General will offer 200 gifts to help disadvantaged people in Preah Sihanouk.
Also on April 10 morning, Deputy Director of the provincial police Hout Sree received 50 boxes of instant noodles from the Consulate General./
US newspaper highlights Vietnam’s success in completing new leadership
The US newspaper Washington Times has ran an article assessing that Vietnam has succeeded in completing its key leadership positions.
According to the article, Vietnam now has a mindful and influential leadership.
It highlighted Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and his strong anti-corruption campaign, and State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc with significant economic progresses he helped the nation achieve in his previous post as Prime Minister.
It also expected Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh to effectively implement contents set out in documents of the 13th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV).
It said the new administration is expected to bring Vietnam into a new era, with new technologies applied in knowledge-based industries.
Vietnam reports nine imported COVID-19 cases on April 10 afternoon
Nine imported cases of COVID-19 were detected in the past 12 hours to 6pm April 10, raising the national count to 2,692, according to the Health Ministry.
All of the patients are Vietnamese citizens who were put under quarantine right after their arrival through Ha Tin international border gate in Kien Giang province. They are now being treatment at the medical centre in Ha Tien city, Kien Giang province.
As many as 37,938 people who had close contact with COVID-19 patients or arrived from pandemic areas are under medical monitoring nationwide, with 523 in hospitals, 21,705 in designated facilities and 15,710 at their accommodations.
The ministry said 2,429 COVID-19 patients in the country have been given the all-clear so far, while the death toll remains at 35.
Among patients still under treatment, 22 have tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 once, 11 twice and 17 thrice.
To live safely with the pandemic, the Ministry of Health advised people to remain proactive in pandemic prevention and control by continuing to wear face masks when going out, disinfecting frequently, maintaining a safe distance, refraining from mass gatherings, and making medical declarations.
Condolences to UK over passing of Prince Philip
State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc on April 10 sent a message of condolences to Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland over the death of her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh also cabled a message of condolences to PM Boris Johnson.
The same day, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son extended his condolences to Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Dominic Raab.
Prince Philip died on April 9 at the age of 99.
President lauds Da Nang, Quang Nam for achievements
State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc lauded the central city of Da Nang and the neighbouring province of Quang Nam for their achievements over the past years during a working session with their leaders on April 10.
He stressed that due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Quang Nam and Da Nang’s economies suffered negative growth. But in the first quarter this year, they achieved outstanding growth.
Da Nang attracted a number of investors and is working on building a financial hub. Meanwhile, Quang Nam dealt with difficulties following disasters and flooding, and is focusing on tourism and services.
The President suggested the two localities seek pillar fields as Da Nang is a hub in the central region and Da Nang – Quang Nam is a growth locomotive in the region and an important driving force of the country.
He asked them to become worth-living localities and join hands to build a powerful country. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, they should strive to become safe tourism paradises.
Their leaders were urged to fix shortcomings, step up reform, rearrange a streamlined apparatus while ensuring effective vaccinations.
The President also asked for creating favourable business environment, fighting negative behaviours and group interest in investment process.
Once Da Nang sets hi-tech industry as a pillar, it is necessary to choose capable investors that abide by law, and create a better working environment to raise labour productivity for socio-economic development.
Forum spotlights digital transformation challenges
A forum on Vietnam’s digital challenges took place on April 9, a follow-up of a chain of technological events initiated by the Ministry of Information and Communications in 2020.
Aim at introducing Make in Vietnam digital platforms, the forum informed participants on a smart transport management platform developed by the Vietnamese-based An Vui Technology JSC since 2015.
The technology facilitates the operation of the long-distance passenger transport industry, helping businesses involved step up digital transformation and scientific management, reduce social waste, and improve competitiveness.
To date, the 20-module platform is serving 150 transport firms, which operate more than 4,000 coaches nationwide.
Addressing the event, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Huy Dung stressed 2020 was the year when the national digital transformation was kicked off and this year is the time for action.
Digital transformation platforms introduced at this forum have formed to solve social challenges, Dung noted.
He unveiled that the ministry will plan a host of digital events with the same aim of searching for and tackling these challenges./.
World Press Photo exhibition opens in HCM City
An exhibition showcasing 158 award-winning works from the World Press Photo contest in the Netherlands from 2018 to 2020 has opened at Lê Văn Tám Park in HCM City.
The “Best of Three 2018-2020” exhibition, organised by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in HCM City, features topics such as the environment, climate change, politics, sports, animals and people.
Carel Richter, Consul General of the Netherlands in HCM City, who spoke at the opening ceremony on Wednesday, said the exhibition aims to celebrate the friendly relations between the Netherlands and HCM City.
Richter added that he chose excellent photos featuring important topics like human rights and climate change for the showcase.
The exhibition highlights photos on bilateral cooperation between the Netherlands and Việt Nam in general and HCM City in particular in various fields such as the circular economy, water management, food safety and sports.
The World Press Photo Contest is a leading contest for professional press photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers.
The contest’s mission is to connect the world to stories that matter, embracing accuracy, transparency and diversity.
Contestants can send works as single photos or stories in eight categories, including contemporary issues, general news, environment, nature, long-term projects, portraits, spot news, and sports.
In the last three years, the World Press Photo Foundation received around 75,000 images each year from at least 125 countries and territories.
Each year, the prize-winning photos are collected for an exhibition held in 100 cities in around 45 countries, mostly in Europe.
The “Best of Three 2018-2020” exhibition will be open to the public until April 16. Lê Văn Tám Park is on Hai Bà Trưng Street in District 1.
HCM City hosts Techcombank HCM City International Marathon event
More than 13,000 athletes from 44 cities and provinces took part in the 4th edition of the Techcombank HCM City International Marathon event that opened on April 9.
Sixty companies competed in the corporate challenge, providing a platform for their staff, clients and suppliers to embrace a healthy lifestyle.
The marathon has grown to become the most anticipated sport event among professional athletes and sporting enthusiasts. It is the country’s largest running competition for the third time in a row, according to the organisers.
The annual event features four runs: a marathon (42.195 km), a half-marathon (21.1km), a 10km race, and a 5km race.
A children’s 1.5km run is held for 5-10 year-olds and a 3km run for 7-14 year-olds.
This year’s marathon course crosses Thủ Đức City and districts 1, 3, 5, 6 and Bình Thạnh.
The tourism and sports sectors have made concerted efforts to raise the marathon to the level of other cities in the world, said Mai Bá Hùng, deputy director of the city’s Department of Culture and Sport.
Participants will pass by many of the city’s historic and iconic landmarks, he said.
The event is co-organised by the city’s Department of Culture and Sports, Department of Tourism, the HCM City Athletics Federation, HCM City Tourism Promotion Centre, Sunrise Việt Nam, and Techcombank.
It will end on April 11.
HAGL trying to play beautiful football, says coach
Coach Kiatisuk Senamuang of Hoàng Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) said his side are trying to play beautiful and winning football at the same time.
The Thai coach made the statement following HAGL’s 2-0 win away to SHB Đà Nẵng at Hòa Xuân Stadium Thursday.
“HAGL have to play beautifully according to the direction of the club’s chairman Đoàn Nguyên Đức. But we still must have points. If there are no points, it is not beautiful anymore,” said Senamuang.
HAGL defeated Đà Nẵng with goals from national team stars Nguyễn Văn Toàn and Nguyễn Công Phượng.
“Before the game, we knew Đà Nẵng were a strong team. HAGL were also under pressure when we played away. Meanwhile, we played without Lương Xuân Trường and Kim Dong-su as they received yellow cards earlier. For us, this match was like a final,” said Senamuang.
According to Senamuang, HAGL’s defence line played with focus, while forwards Toàn and Washington Brandao played very well.
Meanwhile, coach Lê Huỳnh Đức of Đà Nẵng lamented his team’s failings.
“In the first half, I said my players had to play faster because HAGL were putting pressure on us. If my players had done so, HAGL would have had difficulties in the first half. But my players couldn’t do it. Đà Nẵng were bad because we lost ourselves, creating opportunities for HAGL,” said Đức.
With the win, HAGL climbed to the top of the V.League 1 table with 19 points after eight matches.
Elsewhere, Becamex Bình Dương beat Nam Định 4-3 and HCM City FC defeated Sông Lam Nghệ An 3-0.
Ninh Bình promotes agricultural tourism
Agricultural and rural tourism is gradually becoming a sustainable economic development trend in the northern province of Ninh Bình, helping take advantage of rural values and preserve traditional culture.
The tourism model has also generated stable jobs for hundreds of workers in the countryside areas.
In Đông Sơn Commune of Tam Điệp City, home to several historical sites and natural caves, co-operatives and farm owners have worked together in recent years to set up tours with homestays, gardening and fishing to tap local strengths.
The commune has become an attractive destination of the province, attracting a large number of tourists every year.
Trịnh Văn Tiến, director of Tam Điệp Agriculture and Tourism Co-operative, said the co-operative has 10 members that produce and trade Ninh Bình’s speciality plants and animals.
Last year, the members decided to work with other farms to develop tourism, Tiến said.
“Tourists were taken to visit historical sites and natural beauty places and experience farm work such as animal rearing and planting, and then enjoy foods produced by the co-operative,” Tiến said.
With efforts in the development of agriculture and tourism, the co-operative’s tourism model has been recognised with 4-star certification from the One Commune, One Product (OCOP) programme.
Hoa Lư District has also enjoyed success by shifting from rice planting to tourism since 2019.
The district has more than 3,000ha of rice farmland, however, many areas are at the foot of the mountain and wetland areas that make it difficult to cultivate rice, leading to some households no longer planting rice.
To overcome the situation of abandoning fields in some localities and improve the production value in the area, from the beginning of 2019, the district People’s Committee has converted 6.2ha of inefficient rice cultivation land to plant Japanese-bred lotus combining breeding to develop ecotourism in Ninh Hải, Ninh Xuân and Trường Yên communes.
According to Vũ Văn Thông, director of the Hoa Lư Agriculture and Rural Development Department, growing Japanese lotus combined with fish breeding had not only brought high economic efficiency but also attracted many tourists to visit the lotus ponds.
The model had also helped local people earn more income from renting outfits to tourists for photography at the lotus ponds, Trường said.
Hoa Lư District has been expanding the model in the communes of Ninh Xuân, Ninh Hải, Ninh Thắng and Trường Yên.
According to a provincial official, combining tourism with agriculture was first formed and put into operation in Vân Long Wetland Nature Reserve in Gia Viễn District.
This started as tourists visited Vân Long Wetland Nature Reserve and wanted to stay at local people’s houses to explore rural lives, he said.
The model has spread to many localities throughout the province in Gia Viễn and Hoa Lư districts and Tam Điệp City.
“Ninh Bình is a purely agricultural province, with more than 70 per cent of the population living in rural areas, possessing a long history of agricultural ecological production,” said Phạm Duy Phong, vice director of the Ninh Bình Tourism Department.
The province has many fields implementing new farming models attracting domestic and foreign tourists for taking photographs such as Đồng Giao pineapple field, Ninh Phúc flower field and Đông Sơn peach blossom village, he said.
With those advantages, the development of agricultural and rural tourism is becoming a trend of sustainable economic development in the province.
“In the past, people lived on cultivation and animal breeding,” said Vũ Nam Tiến, director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“Thanks to tourism development, people can earn VNĐ6 million (US$260) per month from tourism services,” said Tiến.
To further develop rural tourism in the next period, the province needs plans and guidelines to connect people, travel businesses and local authorities to create high-quality tourism products, Tiến said.
Local authorities should accelerate agricultural and rural development in association with tourism planning including investment in traffic infrastructure and tourism promotion campaigns, he said.
Local people needed to increase the application of science and technology in production but still retain traditional culture to give a good impression to tourists.
Building community and agriculture-based tourism associated with environmental protection to attract domestic and international tourists was also important, he added.
Helmets for Kids programme reduces injuries and fatalities due to traffic accidents in Vĩnh Phúc Province
Asia Injury Prevention Foundation and Vietnam Garments Manufacturing company yesterday (April 8) carried out the Helmets for Kids charity programme in Bình Xuyên District in the northern province of Vĩnh Phúc.
The programme disseminates road safety knowledge and raises awareness among students, teachers and parents about protecting themselves while driving, and, importantly, seeks to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries by distributing quality helmets in schools.
During the 2020-21 academic year it distributed 400 helmets at Sơn Lôi A Primary School in the district.
Nguyễn Trọng Thái, chief of the National Traffic Safety Committee secretariat, said during the distribution on April 8: “All teachers should instruct and remind students to follow traffic safety laws and wear a helmet when travelling by motorbike or electric bicycle. They should … make sure the rate of wearing helmets is steady.
“Parents should create the habit of wearing helmets in their children, and always remember the message ‘love your child, wear a helmet’.”
Since the programme began in 2018, nearly 1,400 students in Vĩnh Phúc Province have received helmets.
Fire tragedies cause alarm in residential areas
Two deadly fires in recent weeks have raised the alarm about poor fire safety standards in big cities.
On April 4, a blaze in a house in Hà Nội killed four members of a family, including a 10-year-old child and a pregnant woman.
Five days earlier, six members of a family died in a fire at their house in HCM City.
Colonel Nguyễn Minh Khương, deputy director of the Police Department of Fire Prevention and Fighting and Rescue under the Ministry of Public Security, said both the houses were small and covered with iron cages and iron-welded roofs. The main door was the only way in or out.
At the house in HCM City’s Cát Lái Ward, five motorbikes were parked in front of the main door. When they caught fire, they blocked the only way out.
In Hà Nội, the fire occurred at a house that was not eligible as the site of a business but there were many flammable goods for sale inside. It was covered with an iron roof and there was no other way out but the main door.
That’s why the victims did not manage to escape, he said.
Colonel Nguyễn Trường Sơn, deputy head of Cầu Giấy District Police Sub-department and an expert on fire prevention and fighting of the Hà Nội Police Department, said there was not much time to stamp out fires at business households with flammable materials.
Sơn said in these fires, it took at least 10 minutes for the firefighters to approach the scene, which was usually too late.
In big cities, many houses are used as shops for business, especially houses near roads. Most of the shops have a worship altar of the God of Wealth and goods close to the main door, posing high risks of fire.
Meanwhile, due to the dense population in urban areas, many people only focus on measures to prevent burglary and intrusion instead of fires. In many houses, the main door is the only entrance and exit.
According to Hà Nội Police Department, the city now has hundreds of thousands of houses combined with businesses and most have only one way in and out.
Figures from the Ministry of Public Security’s Police Department of Fire Prevention and Fighting and Rescue showed in the first quarter of this year, there were 627 fires at private houses nationwide, accounting for 36.3 per cent of all recorded fires.
Most of the houses are used for small business and in most of these fires, the damage was not great but caused serious consequences for those living in the houses.
Colonel Nguyễn Minh Khương said the two fires should be a lesson for people to follow fire prevention regulations.
“Each house must have at least two ways in and out. Households must pay attention and clear goods and furniture out of the way in and out of the house,” he said.
“People should be equipped with skills to escape from the fire. For example, they should know how to escape the house from the balcony so rescuers can approach and save their lives,” he said.
“Those who build an iron cage on their balcony must build one more exit in case of emergency,” he added.
Khương also suggested that families have fire escape equipment and install automatic fire alarms. Information on fire prevention and fighting skills is available at the department’s website on canhsatpccc.gov.vn.
Measures needed to reduce traffic fatalities
Despite traffic safety improvements and a drop in the number of accidents overall, the amount fatal road collisions remains high.
That was the message delivered by Deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the National Committee for Traffic Safety Trương Hòa Bình during an online conference on Friday.
The Deputy PM said traffic statistics from the first three months of the year did show a reduction in accidents, but this was mainly due to less vehicles on the road because of the Tết holiday and social distancing measures in a number of localities.
But he warned that despite the drop in accidents in general, many lives were still lost on the roads and overloading, plus traffic congestion, remained a concern.
Minister of Transport Nguyễn Văn Thể said one of the reasons roads were getting busier was because of the large amount of new vehicles being registered, which he estimated at around 500,000 each year.
“With such an increase in cars, over the next five to seven years, the level of congestion will be very large if we do not have radical solutions right now”, he said.
Việt Nam had 3,206 traffic accidents in the first three months this year, killing 1,672 people and injuring 2,386 others. The number of accidents and injured people decreased by 263 and 183 respectively compared with the same period last year but the number of fatalities increased by 33, according to the National Committee for Traffic Safety.
Speaking at the conference, Deputy Minister of Public Security Nguyễn Duy Ngọc proposed several measures to improve traffic safety and order.
Ngọc said that as Việt Nam was on economic development mission, transport infrastructure improvements were crucial.
He suggested that provincial and municipal traffic safety committees must learn from experience what has been done well and what improvements were needed.
“One example is coach monitoring,” he said.
“It needs to be better directed because not monitoring journeys is the cause of many serious traffic accidents.”
He added that although the country still has many accident black spots, improvements had been made to about 20 per cent of them.
The Ministry of Public Security will direct traffic safety campaigns to educate motorists.
It will also strengthen coordination between police, prosecutors and the courts to ensure strict punishments for those who violate traffic laws.
“For illegal racing, we will assign provincial and municipal police and the court to open trials in public to create a strong deterrence,” said Ngọc.
Finally the Ministry of Transport and traffic safety committees will be asked to review all recommendations and prioritise those that need to be done first.
“The rainy season in the past few years has been very fierce, especially last year,” Ngọc said.
“Thanks to good forecasts and preparation plans, traffic police have coordinated with forces to guide vehicles through flooded places. This year, we also need a preparation plan to reduce congestion and accidents related to natural disasters.”
Sea grape cultivation thriving in coastal provinces
Sea grape cultivation has become a route to prosperity for many people in the south-central province of Khánh Hòa due to increased demand for the product in Việt Nam and overseas.
With productivity of 1-1.5 tonnes per hectare and a price of VNĐ35,000-40,000 per kilo, sea grape growers have enjoyed improved incomes.
Sea grape grower Đặng Ngọc Thoại of Ninh Hải Ward, Ninh Hòa Town in Khánh Hòa said he earned a profit of VNĐ100-200 million per hectare from growing sea grapes.
Now, he has about five hectares of sea grapes. In harvest time, he hires about 10 people to help collect, sort and process sea grapes.
“Sea grape cultivation does not require huge investment but can bring stable income and jobs,” he said.
Besides his own products, Thoại also buys those of other growers in his neighbourhood to supply the domestic market and to export.
However, like many other sea grape growers in the ward, Thoại is working in an area that is part of a delayed project.
“Once the project resumes, I will have to move,” Thoại said, adding that he will invest more to develop the business if he finds a different cultivation area.
Trần Thanh Tùng, vice chairman of Ninh Hải Ward People’s Committee, said all 27ha of sea grape cultivation area in the ward was on land slated for a heavy industry complex project by the Korean investor STX Group.
“However, since the land was transferred to the investor in 2009, no item has been developed and the area has been unused,” Tùng said.
Võ Khánh Đăng, Chairman of Ninh Thọ Commune People’s Committee in Ninh Hòa Town, said local farmers shifted to grow sea grapes to earn more than from traditional aquaculture products.
However, they had not found stable outputs for their sea grapes and had to accept the prices that wholesalers offered.
There was about 20ha in the ward being used for sea grape cultivation, Đăng said, adding that local authorities were considering placing sea grapes on the list of key farming products to develop.
“To include sea grapes in the local farming development planning, we need more studies and assistance from expert agencies,” he said.
Lê Bền, Vice President of Việt Nam Seaculture Association, who introduced sea grape cultivation to Việt Nam in 2004 in Ninh Hải Ward, said the cultivation was very promising and generated economic benefits.
Besides economic benefits, sea grapes can improve the aquaculture environment quality since they develop quickly, have strong anabolism and high nutrition uptake. They can be grown while cultivating shrimps and fish – this intercropping allows two to three times higher income compared with shrimp or fish cultivation alone.
Sea grapes are a highly nutritious plant that can be used as a substitute for green vegetables. They contain high quantities of protein and minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium, as well as iodine, iron and vitamin A, which help prevent malnutrition and anaemia.
Sea grape cultivation is now present in several coastal provinces in Việt Nam, including Khánh Hòa, Bình Thuận, Ninh Thuận, Kiên Giang and Vũng Tàu ,Phú Yên, Bình Định in the south and Quảng Ninh in the north.
“Seeing high profits from sea grape cultivation, many farmers are rushing into it,” Bền said, adding that oversupply and improper farming technique could leave negative impacts on the emerging sector.
Voting of Viet Nam’s top 10 ICT businesses 2021 launched
The Việt Nam Software and IT Services Association (VINASA) has begun voting procedures to find the top 10 leading information, communication and technology (ICT) firms in 2021.
The programme aims to support the Government’s goal of having 100,000 digital technology companies by 2030.
This year’s event will select the 10 best ICT companies in 17 categories, including e-government, smart city, logistics solutions, e-commerce, start-ups, information security, artificial intelligence of things (A-IoT), cloud computer services, blockchain, fintech, property technology (PropTech), education technology (EdTech) and medical technology (MedTech).
Enterprises will be evaluated across seven criteria, financial indicators; human resources; products and services; technology and research and development (R&D) capacity; leadership and business management; awards, titles and recognised achievements; and special assessment for each sector.
The evaluation process features three rounds – profile selection, presentation and verification, final voting. They will be judged by leading experts in technology, finance, corporate governance, e-Commerce, start-up and media.
Addressing the event, VINASA Vice Chairwoman and Secretary-General Nguyễn Thị Thu Giang said given that digital transformation is in high demand, the selection and introduction of reputable solution suppliers and capable partners will quickly connect firms and facilitate their effective cooperation.
This year, the voting categories are expanded with the honouring of leading companies in new sectors – Fintech, Proptech, EdTech, and MedTech, she said, adding that the move does not only keeps up with the latest trend but also helps seek solutions for real-life problems in certain fields.
The presentation round is scheduled on May 15 – 16. The announcement and award ceremony will take place on July 13, prior to the Việt Nam ICT Summit 2021. ICT companies may register to join the programme on the website: top10ict.com.
The Top 10 Việt Nam ICT businesses programme was launched in 2014.
The software and technology services industry has posted high growth over the last five years, expanding 26.1 percent in average annually.
Last year, the industry earned US$120 billion in revenue. Of the figure, more than $6 billion was generated by software and digital content, twice as high as that in 2015.
Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh’s government has inherited many legacies, but also faces many challenges, especially in institutional reform, to realize the aspirations of taking the country to new heights of development.
Speaking for the last time before the National Assembly as head of the government for the 2016-2021 term, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc recalled an incident when he took office.
At that time, the Prime Minister pointed out that Vietnam’s economy ranked 48th in the world and 14th in population.
Newly-elected Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh presents a bouquet of flowers to his predecessor Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who is now the State President. Photo: Minh Dat
This changed after the 5-year term of the Government. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Vietnam’s GDP in 2020 reached $340.6 billion, surpassing Singapore with $337.5 billion, Malaysia $336.5 billion, becoming the 4th largest economy in ASEAN and 37th in the world.
Mr. Phuc said: “In 2020, Vietnam’s GDP increased by about 1.4 times compared to 2015, reaching over $340 billion. In the past 5 years, together we have created about $1,300 billion of added value… We are very proud that our rankings has increased 11 places, surpassed 11 countries, to rank 37th in the world.”
“Although the road ahead is still full of difficulties and challenges, we completely believe that Vietnam will become an upper middle-income country and join the group of developed countries with high income by 2045,” he said.
Economist Tran Dinh Thien said that the Vietnamese Government in the 2016-2021 term has made a number of economic achievements, of which there are three outstanding areas.
The first is to stabilize the macro-economy, curb inflation, reduce public debt to a low level, increase exports and foreign currency reserves, and create room for fiscal and monetary policies to support businesses and the people.
The second is economic institutional reform, with focuses on reform of administrative procedures as well as e-government. The government has eliminated thousands of sub-licenses, and simplified half of specialized inspection procedures.
The third is deep international integration with new-generation trade agreements such as CPTPP and EVFTA, which open new markets and create pressure for further domestic reforms.
Dr. Vo Tri Thanh, former Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, added: “These foundations have created new positive energy for people, businesses and the economy. The position of Vietnam has taken a very significant step forward in the international arena.”
The legacy left by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s Government for the next term is a successful anti-epidemic achievement, helping the economy from being blocked. As a result, the country’s economic development prospects are quite promising as evaluated by many international financial institutions.
The core weakness of the current economy is very low efficiency of resource use. Photo: T.Tung
For example, Standard Chartered Bank said that Vietnam’s economic outlook is stable and forecasted that economic growth will return to 6-8% this year and the coming years. The International Monetary Fund expects Vietnam’s economy to grow by 6.5% in 2021. Meanwhile, Fitch forecasts that Vietnam’s GDP can grow to 7.5% in 2021 and Euromonitor predicts Vietnam’s GDP growth of up to 11% this year.
The economic foundations and position of the country today is created by efforts of many generations ahead in the struggle between the old and the new, between the new and the old, in the long journey since the start of Doi Moi (reform) 35 years ago.
During that journey, the economy is still in a transition stage with many shortcomings that need to identify and overcome. For example, the economic development rate, although the highest in the world, is slowing down.
According to a report by the Central Institute for Economic Management, the country’s GDP growth rate has decreased gradually, from 7.34%/year in the 1991-2000 period to 6.82%/year in the 2001-2010 period, and estimated to be 5.9%/year in the 2011-2020 period – below the average target of 7-8%/year of the socio-economic development strategy for the period of 2011-2020.
Vietnam’s growth rate was lower than other countries in the same period of development. Vietnam obtained an average growth rate of 8.21% per year for five years (1991-1995). Other countries in the period of equivalent qualifications of Vietnam today maintained very high growth rates for a relatively long time.
For example, South Korea achieved an average GDP growth of up to 9.58%/year for 30 years (1960-1990), over 10% for 14 years; abd the highest rate was 14.8% (1973). In China, in 30 years of reform and development (1977-2007), its average GDP growth was 10.02/year; and the highest growth rate was 15.14% (1984). This country had 15 years with GDP growth rate of more than 10%.
Compared with the past growth rate of our own as well as that of neighboring countries, Vietnam’s growth rate for more than a decade is far behind.
Compared with the past growth rate of our own as well as that of neighboring countries, Vietnam’s growth rate for more than a decade is far behind. Photo: Le Anh Dung
To illustrate clearly the growth challenge, it is necessary to point out the fact that within 30 years, several countries in the region have become industrialized countries with a high GDP per capita.
For example, South Korea’s GDP per capita of Korea was $100 in 1960, and by 1990 it increased to $6,516, which is over 65 times up in 30 years. By 2020, its GDP per capita was over $31,000.
For about 30 years, Vietnam’s GDP per capita increased from about $100 in 1990 to $2,750 in 2020, an increase of more than 27 times. Although the growth rate remains high, the risk of falling into the middle-income trap is high.
Removing bottlenecks to growth
The Resolution of the 13th Party Congress targets an economic growth rate of about 6.5-7%/year in the period of 2021-2025; and GDP per capita of $4,700-$5,000 by 2025.
The growth target is lower than 7-8% of the previous period, but still very challenging in the context of the Covid pandemic. The world economy is uncertain and the local economy is facing many bottlenecks which have been unsolved for many years.
Dr. Tran Dinh Thien said: “The most central issue in institutional building for the development of new structures is a modern and integrated market economy.”
Thien said that the five main markets are land, labor, energy, science – technology and goods. The private sector must develop healthily to promote the market economy.
According to Thien, of these types of markets, only the consumer goods market has developed according to the principles of the market, while the other markets are distorted.
It is necessary to ask why the market for means of production has been difficult to develop, while the market for consumer goods has been easily developed?
Awareness of market development is poor, resource allocation mechanisms do not follow market principles, the ask-give mechanism is still common, and central planning thinking makes markets operate asynchronously, he said.
According to the former director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, the core weakness of the current economy is very low efficiency of resource use, especially investment efficiency.
Nguyen Dinh Cung calculated that with a high level of investment, equal to about 1/3 of GDP, if Vietnam’s Incremental Capital Output Ratio (ICOR) was equivalent to that of South Korea in the period 1961-2000 (ICOR = 4), or of Japan in the period of 1955-1973 (ICOR = 3), the Vietnamese economy could have grown about 8.5-11%, instead of an average of about 5.9%/year in the 2011-2020 period.
It is worth noting that, the upward trend is clearly decreasing. In the period of 1991-2000, the average growth rate was 7.58%; 6.8% in the period of 2001-2010, and estimated at 6.4% in 2011-2020 (if there was no Covid-19 pandemic), and now only about 5.9%. In general, the efficiency of investment capital is still low and has not improved significantly.
“Fundamental institutional change in distribution and use of social resources has been identified as a focus of reform to restructure the economy and transform growth models,” said Cung.
According to Cung, the aforementioned major guidelines and solutions include ensuring that the market plays a key role in mobilizing and effectively distributing resources; allocating resources according to market principles into highly efficient, spillover-effect sectors, fields and regions; overcoming the thinking about subsidies, ask-give mechanism, and reliance on state agencies, local governments and in society.
Mr. Vo Tri Thanh pointed out six development points stated in the Vietnam 2035 report by the World Bank as country development tasks in the time to come.
These include economic modernization and private sector development; building national innovation capacity; improving the economic efficiency of urbanization and territorial development; sustainable development of the environment and strengthening resilience to climate change; ensuring equity and promoting social inclusion; and creating a modern and efficient state institution.
These development bottlenecks, if removed by the Government in this term, will become a launch pad for the whole economy.
Tu Giang – Lan Anh
An drone shot of Thanh An. It is one of six communes in Can Gio District, about 46 km southeast of HCMC’s center. The island commune’s total area of more than 13,000 hectares accounts for 18 percent of the Can Gio District area. It has around 4,500 residents and a large protective forest area.
According to the municipal administration, despite the area of protective forests, the island commune suffers frequent flooding and damage from storms, tropical depression and high tide. Given its geographical location, natural conditions and socio-economic situation, the commune is considered “a locality of special difficulty”.
Fishing boats head to see against a spectacular rising sun.
Since there is no high-speed boat from Can Gio Pier to Thanh An, the transport to and fro takes place on fishing boats. But many tourists from downtown HCMC and Can Gio District visit Thanh An on weekends.
As a Covid-19 precaution, people from the mainland going to Thanh An for any purpose are required to fill out health declaration forms and have their body temperature checked upon arrival.
Near the center of the island commune, people set up a daily street market between 5- 9 a.m.
“The island commune is developing and changing day by day, with many new public infrastructure built like schools, medical stations, roads and exercise equipment in parks,” said Le Thi Hoang Loan (R), a 58-year-old resident of Thanh Binh Hamlet.
Starting 2018-2019, high school students in Thanh An do not have to travel by boat to mainland Can Gio District to study as Thanh An School now includes high school education.
The main livelihood of Thanh An residents is fishing, aquaculture (fish and shrimp) and making salt.
For about six years now, many residents have begun to raise oysters. Authorities are encouraging this as a way to reduce the local poverty rate.
The island commune was only connected to the national grid in 2015. It has a public lighting system now, helping people move safely around at night. The most commonly used vehicle on the island is the bicycle.
With just a few street vendors opening up late, the island commune gets really quiet at night.
|The pandemic has not slowed down interest from buyers and developers for top-class properties|
On a breezy Saturday evening in Nhon Trach district of Dong Nai province, a group of residents were enjoying a BBQ dinner outside a garden villa at SwanBay, a township developed on Dai Phuoc island, 30 minutes by boat from Ho Chi Minh City.
“It is ideal to have a villa on the island. I had heard about the concept of island properties, and now I can have such a villa right here in Vietnam,” said the owner.
Beginning in 2017 as a project totalling over 200 hectares, half of which has already been developed, Swanbay boasts over 2,000 units sold and 1,000 of them already completed and handed over.
The project is among some of the first to be developed under the concept of island townships in Vietnam. Also in the same province, other ventures such as Angel Island by Song Tien Corporation and Aqua City-Phoenix developed by Novaland are driving interest from high-income buyers.
According to Trang Bui, head of client development and transactions at JLL Vietnam, Vietnam waterfront and island properties may be one of the newest areas in the region to reach prominence, but it is far from being the only one.
Before the pandemic hit, the Asia-Pacific was in the midst of an urban waterfront building boom, as developers crowd in to get a piece of coveted coastal areas from Singapore to Sydney.
While the world in general saw investment reduced sharply due to the coronavirus crisis, in Vietnam the segment remains on the radar of rich buyers thanks in part to its successful containment of the pandemic compared to many nations elsewhere.
Trang said that as local economies mature and affluence rises, these waterfront and island properties become increasingly attractive from a recreational and housing point of view.
“Island properties are offering something uniquely different from the typical inland development and they reflect the unique habit of wealthy consumers,” said Trang.
From an urban perspective, coastal and island development has traditionally been dominated by commerce such as trading, shipping, and transportation.
According to Trang, in developed modern metropolises where green space is at a premium, however, a river or island view brings a sense of openness and a connection to the natural world that is crucial for every resident.
Waterfront locations offer residents expansive views and a resort-like lifestyle – two preferred factors for both buyers and investors. Moreover, island and waterfront properties are offering a valuable environment to its residents.
In many real estate projects, developers have to build up a friendly environment system from the ground up. Island projects, meanwhile, already inherit a rich bio-diversified environment, meaning developers can focus on preserving the landscape and environment in the area.
Meanwhile, over the past few years, Vietnamese people with a sophisticated lifestyle have increasingly been searching for more isolated spaces surrounded by rivers or other water-based locations.
According to the Wealth Report 2020 released by UK-based Knight Frank consulting agency, Vietnam will be among the countries with the most rapid projected growth of the superrich over the next five years and this proportion will make a great impact on the consumption of high-end properties, especially eco-island properties.
Chow Chee Fan, CEO of Song Tien Group, the developer of Angel Island in Dong Nai province, told VIR that although the real estate market in Vietnam is still in its early stages of development, eco-island properties are increasingly attracting demand from customers with high living standards.
“For this customer class, their need is not only looking for real estate to live in, but they also pay much attention to the ecological environment of that property and the amenities that cater to advanced resident’s health,” Fan said.
“Island ecological properties also need to meet key factors such as high-quality products and integrated planning,” Fan emphasised.
Fighting logistical hurdles
According to JLL, not every project has been as successful in the region. In Thailand, for instance, there is little access to many riverfronts. The building regulations of local authorities on the use of the riverfront are very tight, bringing many challenges for developers. The Thai government is beginning to offer public facilities such as walking paths and cycle-ways along such riverfronts, and these services can bring about social, economic, and environmental benefits.
In Hong Kong, harbour-front properties have been in demand for decades, but implementing the kind of large-scale change seen in places like Singapore is proving tricky. While demand for a waterfront lifestyle may be rising, supply is limited.
“There are not many waterfronts which a city or a country can offer. However, developers will be driven by areas with improved infrastructure and ambitious new projects located near rivers, and so island and waterfront properties look set for further change in the coming years,” said Trang from JLL.
The success of island properties can be more challenging than in inland areas, and also depends much on the financial and technical capacity of the developers themselves.
For example, many years ago Vinaconex looked to build Cat Ba Amatina, a $1 billion township on Cat Ba island near Haiphong. With a scale of more than 170 hectares, Cat Ba Amatina was to be a complex of several resorts and hotels, marinas, tourism port, international trade and service centres, entertainment, and sport facilities.
However, due to the lack of investment capital, the venture was delayed from 2013 and was only just resumed last October. The developer has since committed to finish the first phase of the project by 2023 and fully complete it in 2025.
In Thanh Hoa province, the Tien Trang coastal urban project has been delayed for more than a decade due to the incapability of developer Soto Co., Ltd. to implement the project.
Soto expected to put the 100ha residential area and sports and entertainment centre into operation in 2014. Today, however, only half of a central square has been constructed. Last November, local authorities permitted the developer to transact several land plots in the project to other developers. The capital flow from the transaction is assumed to be re-invested in the project itself.
By Bich Ngoc