By Ngoc Dan – Translated by Kim Khanh
The Hanoitimes – An addition of VND4.54 trillion (US$196.5 million) was mobilized to help mitigate impacts from natural disasters, flooding and African swine fever.
The Vietnamese government has spent nearly US$1 billion for disease control and disaster response, including VND17.9 trillion (US$774.7 million) to aid the Covid-19 fight and support people affected by the pandemic, according to the Ministry of Finance (MoF).
|The government expects a fiscal deficit of VND343.67 trillion (US$14.82 billion) next year. Photo: Chien Cong.|
The government also allocated VND4.54 trillion ($196.5 million) to help mitigate impacts from natural disasters, flooding and African swine fever, while nearly 32,950 tons of rice from national reserves were allocated to people in provinces and cities hit by natural disasters.
Under the severe covid-19 impacts, state budget revenue in the first 11 months of 2020 was estimated at VND1,260 trillion ($54.53 billion), or 83.4% of the estimate.
This budget revenue reflected difficulties of the business community and the impact of government’s supporting policies in forms of freezing and delaying in payment of taxes and fees, noted the MoF.
“Assuming Vietnam’s GDP growth to reach 2-3% for this year, failing to meet the target of 6.8%, state budget revenue is estimated to decrease by 12.5%, or VND190 trillion ($8.21 billion), compared to the estimate,” Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung stated.
“While there is a decline in state budget revenue, the government still has to increase spending on tackling problems caused by climate change and natural disasters, ensuring social welfare,” he added.
During the 11-month period, state budget expenditures totaled VND1,369.6 trillion ($59.23 billion), or 78.4% of the year’s estimate. Of the sum, capital expenditure was equivalent to 71.4% of the estimate, higher than the disbursed amount of the same period last year, but lower than expected.
Given the current context, Minister Dung urged government agencies to tighten spending, including at least 70% cut in expenses for working trip abroad and 10% of regular spending.
“The government has been able to save VND17.4 trillion ($753.4 million) from trimming off unnecessary spendings,” Mr. Dung stated.
Vietnam’s budget deficit this year is estimated at VND319.5-328 trillion ($13.78-14.15 billion), equivalent to 4.99-5.59% of GDP, significantly higher than the 3.44%-of-GDP target set in early 2020.
For the next year, Vietnam’s state budget revenue is estimated at VND1,343 trillion ($58 billion) and expenditure of VND1,687 trillion ($72.78 billion), resulting in a fiscal deficit of VND343.67 trillion ($14.82 billion).
In 2021, Fitch Solutions, a subsidiary of Fitch Group, forecast Vietnam’s expenditures to grow by 16.6% as a rebound of economic activity as well as government efforts to expedite public capital expenditure should drive rapid growth in expenditures. This would result in a fiscal deficit of 3.6% of the GDP (excluding debt payment).
The Hanoitimes – The Vietnamese government and aviation industry are trying to find ways to reopen some international routes soon.
According to an announcement by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), from June 16 to September 16, Vietnam has not granted permission for inbound flights, except for specific cases, Zing reported.
|Vietnam has not granted permission for inbound flights, except for specific cases. Photo: Vietnam Airlines.|
Specific cases include entry for diplomatic and official purposes, experts, business executives and highly qualified workers and those cases specified by the National Steering Committee for the Covid-19 Prevention and Control.
The committee has recently stressed the importance of continuing tightening the control of border lines and people on entry so as to prevent the pandemic from spreading in the community.
According to Luong Hoai Nam, member of the Tourism Advisory Board (TAB), reopening international routes should not be a one-way move. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should negotiate the air travel resumption on mutual basis between Vietnam and the counterpart countries.
An aviation expert said the reopening of international air routes in July is very unlikely as negotiations between Vietnam and other countries on the issue have not been finalized yet.
Meanwhile, the government and aviation enterprises are trying to find ways to resume air travel soon.
Governments of Vietnam and South Korea, Japan and China are discussing step-by-step reconnection of air services based on the demand of each side as well as in compliance with measures to prevent the outbreak of Covid-19, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ statement on June 18.
Vietnamese air carriers announced on June 14 plans to reopen international routes to destinations where the pandemic is under control from July 1, if authorized by the government.
* Globally, as of 9:42am CET, 6 March 2021, there have been 115.478.709 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 2.568.720 deaths, reported to WHO. As of 6 March 2021, a total of 249.160.837 vaccine doses have been administered.
* The Chinese mainland reported no new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases on Friday, the National Health Commission said Saturday. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland reached 89,962 by Friday, including 173 patients still receiving treatment, including one in severe condition.
* Japan extended a state of emergency in the Tokyo area by two weeks to try to combat COVID-19, prompting a “heartfelt apology” by Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide.
* Brazil on Friday registered more than 1,600 COVID-19 deaths for the fourth day in a row, reporting 1,800 new deaths and 75,495 new cases in the past 24 hours. Brazil has so far reported a total of 10,869,227 cases with 262,770 deaths, according to official data.
* Russia on Saturday reported 11,022 new COVID-19 cases, including 1,820 in Moscow, taking the national case tally to 4,312,181 since the pandemic began. The government’s coronavirus taskforce said that 441 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the Russian death toll to 88,726.
* US President Joe Biden said the latest job report shows job gains are too slow and his COVID-19 relief bill is urgently needed to boost the economy.
* The European Union will urge the United States to permit the export of millions of doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to Europe, underlining Brussels’ scramble to bridge supply shortfalls, the Financial Times reported on Saturday.
* Italy said on Friday it would further tighten coronavirus restrictions in three of its 20 regions, while France reported the number of people in intensive care with the disease reached its highest level so far this year.
* Switzerland unveiled a CHF1 billion (US$1.08 billion) plan on Friday to offer free coronavirus tests for its entire population.
* Over 21 million people have now been given a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Britain, health authorities said on Friday.
* The Czech Republic has asked Germany, Switzerland and Poland to take in dozens of COVID-19 patients as the situation in its own hospitals has reached a critical point.
* One of Barcelona’s top music venues will hold a concert for 5,000 people later this month after no COVID-19 cases were reported at a pilot project using same-day testing.
* France will no longer require proof of a negative coronavirus test result from hauliers travelling directly from Ireland, citing very low positivity rates among commercial vehicle drivers.
* A variant of COVID-19 first identified in Britain now accounts for 25% of the reported cases in Poland.
* Canada’s drug regulator has approved Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, the fourth such shot to be given the green light, amid frustration over the slow start to the country’s inoculation program.
* Europe’s medicines regulator said Eli Lilly’s antibody drug combination can be used to treat COVID-19 patients who do not require oxygen support and are at high risk of progressing to severe illness.
* Hungary, which is imposing tough new lockdown measures to curb a spike in COVID-19 infections, reported a record daily high of 7,269 cases on Saturday, a jump of 14% from Friday.
* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 9,557 to 2,492,079, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday. The reported death toll rose by 300 to 71,804, the tally showed.
* Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday successfully secured a vote of confidence from the National Assembly (NA), or the lower house of the country’s parliament, NA Speaker Asad Qaiser said. A total of 178 lawmakers of the 342-seat NA that currently has 340 members, voted in Khan’s favor, said Qaiser, which “had surpassed the 172 votes that the prime minister needed” to obtain the confidence.
* Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Saturday, in a bid to push forward peace talks with the Taliban, that his government was ready to discuss holding fresh elections, insisting that any new government should emerge through the democratic process.
* Italy’s retail sales continued to decline in January, according to information released Friday by the country’s National Statistics Institute, though there were some bright areas in the data including a dramatic increase in online sales.
* Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Friday that her country could “use all vaccines against COVID-19 that are efficient and safe.”
* The European Union (EU) is strongly committed to supporting the upcoming talks on the Cyprus issue, said Josep Borrell, the bloc’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on Friday during a visit to Cyprus.
* Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a video conference on Friday over the COVID-19 pandemic and regional issues, Turkey’s Directorate of Communications said.
* African countries have so far conducted over 35 million COVID-19 tests, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Friday.
* The Chief of Staff of the Strategic Operational Command of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) Admiral Remigio Ceballos on Friday launched military exercises to bolster Venezuela’s defenses. The drills were intended to pay tribute to former President Hugo Chavez on the eighth anniversary of his death on March 5, 2013.
* Rwanda began its COVID-19 vaccine campaign, becoming the first nation in Africa to use pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s doses that require ultra-cold storage.
* Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda started inoculating frontline healthcare workers and vulnerable citizens against COVID-19 on Friday.
* Mozambique expects to inoculate 16 million high-risk people against the coronavirus by 2022.
The Hanoitimes – Vietnam is expected to adopt “travel bubble” scheme with countries and territories where the coronavirus outbreak is under control.
The Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) has proposed the Ministry of Transport consider gradually reopening commercial international air routes from the end of July as part of measures to restore the economy, according to VnExpress .
Vietnam aviation authorities proposed gradually reopening commercial international air routes from the end of July as part of measures to restore the economy. Photo: Vietnam Airlines
Vietnam will create a “travel bubble” among countries which are putting the coronavirus under control and going through 30 days without reporting infection.
Under the travel bubble scheme, the countries allow the entry of their citizens or foreign nationals with residence and business cards, technical experts, and students. Once in the country, they have to be isolated for 14 days at home or at paid facilities indicated by the local governments. Those undergoing home isolation will be strictly monitored by technology.
However, the agency also recommended that the borders should be reopened to foreign tourists as well, provided that they meet the requirements on Covid-19 prevention before entry.
Accordingly, travelers to Vietnam, who have been in any local infection free country or territory at least 30 consecutive days prior to the flight could be allowed to enter, except for transit passengers. In addition, they must have a coronavirus negative certificate issued within 3 days before the departing flight date.
Upon arrival at Vietnamese airports, passengers would be subjected to rapid coronavirus testing, the expenses of which are paid by the airline. Passengers on entry must stay at locations ordered by local governments and pay fee.
In order to implement the above plan, the CAAV suggested that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should discuss with the diplomatic missions to unify the coordination of regular aviation activities.
Dinh Viet Thang, head of the CAAV, said that some Taiwanese airlines have proposed to resume flights to Vietnam.
Domestic carriers also plan air reconnection with foreign destinations from July 1, if authorized by the government. As normally, international routes contribute mainly to total revenue of Vietnamese airlines. For Vietnam Airlines alone, the figure is up to 60% of its total revenue before Covid-19.
The CAAV said that some countries such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have opened their borders to each other, creating opportunities for businesses to reopen. Visitors from outside the bloc are still required to isolate themselves for 14 days upon entry.
At a government meeting on June 24, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered increasing the frequency of international flights to bring investors, experts, skilled workers into Vietnam as well as sending Vietnamese people abroad to work and study.
All experts, high-skilled workers, and investors are allowed to enter Vietnam with an appropriate isolation protocol. However, the country has not opened its doors to tourists.
Basing on international and regional situation of Covid-19, the government is considering resuming international commercial flights and the date will be studied by the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control.
Vietnam Airlines case
As Vietnam Airlines is among the companies hardest hit by the ongoing pandemic, the national air carrier is forecast to face a loss of over VND15 trillion (US$645.5 million) and a cash shortfall of some VND16 trillion (US$688.5 million).
Eariler, Vietnam Airlines proposed the government to lend a maximum of VND12 trillion (US$509 million) at a preferential interest rate to help the air carrier overcome serious impacts caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
If the corporation does not receive financial support from the government, its operating capital will be exhausted in August, Chief Accountant of Vietnam Airlines Tran Thanh Hien said at a meeting on June 18.
The national air carrier also proposed issuance of shares for its existing shareholders to raise capital, in which the government will use its capital or assign State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) or other state-run enterprises to buy its new shares. The scale of issuance will be equivalent to VND12 trillion (US$509 million).
The Hanoitimes – Local hospitality businesses need to collect, update and report to the tourism authorities about the number of foreign guests who are forced to stay at their facilities due to reasons beyond their control.
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) has asked local tourist accommodations to exempt and reduce room charges for foreign tourists who are stuck in Vietnam due to the coronavirus pandemic, until the Ministry of Transport can arrange flights to send them home.
|Foreign tourists wearing face masks in Hoi An, Quang Nam province. (Photo: To Quoc)|
Earlier, the VNAT had requested the provincial authorities to urgently check and list foreign tourists who are stuck in the localities due to border closures and flight suspension. These foreigners are passengers who may be in quarantine, stranded due to flight suspension or in transit to a third country which closed its borders.
The provincial authorities will report to the Ministries of Transport and Foreign Affairs about the number of foreign tourists, their departure points in Vietnam and countries/territories where the tourists come from.
During this stay-at-hotel period, tourist accommodations are required not to organize buffet and cater for guests right inside the room, supervise guest health and take measures to ensure the safety of guests and employees. They should remind guests to refrain from going out, make mandatory medical declarations, regularly check body temperature, wear face masks and keep a two-meter distance from each other when in contact.
In late March, the Vietnam’s Immigration Department has also facilitated procedures for extension of temporary residence for foreigners who are unable to leave the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Accordingly, foreigners who entered Vietnam with a visa waiver or tourist visa (including electronic visas) and who have their resident permits expired but do not have any sponsoring entity and cannot leave due to reasons beyond their control may seek their embassies or consulate general sponsorship for their extension of temporary residence for a maximum of 30 days while awaiting departure, and submit their application at the Vietnam Immigration Department. The policy remains effective until April 30.
Foreign individuals who entered Vietnam for business, visiting relatives or other purposes, should contact their sponsors (agencies, organizations or individuals) according to the Law on Entry, Exit, Transit and Residence of Foreigners in Vietnam for residence extension.
Persons who have exceeded their valid temporary residence period for less than 10 days due to situations of force majeure (with documented evidence) may be considered for exemptions from administrative sanctions.