Inspectorate checks implementation of laws by provincial heads
Government inspectors will check the implementation of laws on citizen reception, complaints, denunciation and anti-corruption by the heads of six provinces.
These provinces are Bac Ninh, Ninh Binh, Quang Nam, Kon Tum, Tay Ninh and Binh Thuan. The inspection was part of the Viet Nam Government Inspectorate’s plan in 2016, recently approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
Under the plan, the government inspectors also examined compliance with regulations on the use of capital and property, as well as the restructuring of the Airports Corporation of Viet Nam.
An inspection of the state management’s work regarding dyke projects is also scheduled to be conducted at the agriculture and rural development ministry in 2016.
VN Food Association’s former chairman to be prosecuted
Nguyen Hung Linh, former general director of Kien Giang Trade and Tourism Ltd., (KTT), and six others will face prosecution for causing KTT loss of more than VND50 billion (US$2.2 million).
Linh was also chairman of the Viet Nam Food Association.
During 10 days in March 2010, Linh and his Deputy Director Do Hieu Liem, signed four contracts with Viet Phong SJC (VIFOCO) to buy 11,000 tonnes of rice. Linh and LiÃªm agreed to buy 7,000 tonnes and 4,000 tonnes respectively. The contracts were valued at VND72.7 billion ($3.23 million).
Huynh Vu Anh, a planning officer of KTT, was assigned to go to VIFOCO to check the goods in the warehouse.
Though he found that VIFOCO didn’t have enough rice, Anh still signed the inspection reports, allowing VIFOCO to take 90 per cent of the total value of the contracts, equivalent to VNÄ65.3 billion ($2.9 million), or 9,900 tonnes of rice.
After receiving the money, VIFOCO Director Le Thi Thanh Diem used VND29 billion ($1.28 million) to pay her own debts, and the remaining amount for round trading. When Diem went bankrupt, she could give KTT only 2,000 tonnes of rice.
The indictment also said Linh and LÃª Nguyá» n Hong Nam, KTT’s former head of trade and planning department, abused their powers to establish three private companies to sign contracts with VIFOCO. They exported the rice deposited at VIFOCO’s warehouse, making personal profits of VND2.4 billion ($1.06 million) and causing KTT loss of VND425 million ($180,000). Nam also received $296,000 as commission through contracts with Diem.
Oncology Hospital to get advanced medical facility
The Ha Noi People’s Committee has approved a plan to build a high-quality medical facility at the Oncology Hospital to meet the increasing demand for health check-ups and treatment.
The building will be located in the campus of the Ha Noi-based hospital.
As per the plan, the construction will begin next year and the building will be fully ready by 2020. The construction and the purchase of medical equipment will be completed by the end of next year, so that the hospital can make the building operational in early 2017.
The project has a total investment capital of VND145.5 billion (US$6.5 million), of which about VND130 billion ($5.8 million) will be a bank loan and the rest will come from the hospital’s funds.
The check-up and treatment rates will be decided as per the regulations of the ministries of finance and health.
The Oncology Hospital is one of the busiest central hospitals that has 300 beds, and provides treatment to thousands of patients annually.
25 arrested for cockfight gambling
Police in Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta Tien Giang Province arrested 25 people for engaging in cockfight gambling in My Trung Commune yesterday.
Tran Van Danh, 59, of the commune, was found to be the ringleader of the gambling gang. The police seized six cocks, 20 motorbikes and VND100 million (US$4,450) from the scene.
The case is under investigation.
One worker found dead at mine disaster site
The body of one worker has been found by a rescue team, a day after a coal mine suddenly collapsed in the northern mountainous Hoa Binh Province, trapping three workers.
The body of Bui Van Thon was found early today. The rescue team is still searching for the other two trapped workers, Bui Van Quy and Bui Van Tuan, both from Lac Son District.
The coal mine, owned by Tan Son Co., Ltd in Tan Lac District’s Lo Son Commune, suddenly collapsed when a large volume of water burst out at 10am yesterday.
Four of the seven workers who were working in the mine at the time managed to escape.
Three killed in kiln wall collapse
Three people were killed when the wall of a lime kiln in Hai Phong collapsed this morning, according to a Dan Tri online newspaper report.
The incident happened at 9 a.m. at a private lime kiln that was under repair, in Thuy Nguyen District’s Lai Xuan Commune.
The high stone wall of the lime kiln suddenly collapsed over a group of workers who were seated in front of it. Three of them were buried under the piles of rubble and died immediately, the report said.
The victims were identified as Bui Van Duc, 53, Bui Van Cuong, 28, and Bui Van Trinh, 27, all residents of Lai Xuan commune.
Nguyen Tran Lanh, chairman of the district’s People’s Committee, directed the district and commune police to preserve the scene for investigations and prevent another incident.
The three bodies were handed over to their families for burial. The local authorities also provided VND10 million (US$455) in compensation to each victim’s family ahead of the funeral.
5,500 dengue-fever patients recorded in Khanh Hoa
Some 5,500 people have contracted dengue fever in central Khanh Hoa Province since early this year, five times higher than the total number of cases recorded last year.
Among the patients were two fatalities, the provincial Health Department said.
Head of Pasteur Nha Trang Institute Vien Quang Mai said the dengue-fever cases had jumped from 2,500 to 5,500 between September and November.
Controlling the situation had placed undue pressure on the local health sector, he said.
It also led to overloading at the local hospital, the department said.
The Khanh Hoa Hospital of Tropical Diseases is designed to hold 70 sick beds. It now needs an additional 60 beds but cannot meet the demand, officials have said.
According to the department, it is estimated that the hospital received nearly 200 dengue-fever patients in a single day at the peak of the disease’s spread in the province.
Similarly, the tropical diseases hospital, the Ninh Hoa General Hospital, is equipped with 35 sick beds and has added another 60 beds to treat patients suffering from dengue fever.
The department predicted the province would have some 10,000 dengue-fever cases this year based on the current speed of the disease’s spread.
The local authority has taken steps to bring the situation under control. The latest move was to organise a workshop, yesterday, to uncover solutions for the situation.
Lang Son police seizes 10 kg of methamphetamine
Security forces in northern Lang Son province arrested two persons transporting 10kg of methamphetamine from China into Vietnam on November 17.
The arrested are Be Thi Niem from Trieu Au commune, Phuc Hoa district, Cao Bang province and Hoang Van Phong, from Bao Lam commune, Cao Loc district, Lang Son province.
They admitted to have bought the methamphetamine from China for domestic consumption.
The forces are expanding investigation into the case.
Dak Nong works to overcome toxic chemical consequences
The Central Highlands province of Dak Nong is now home to nearly 900 Vietnam War veterans who have been affected by Agent Orange and related toxins, according to the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
The figure was revealed during a working session between the provincial People’s Committee and a delegation from the national steering committee on overcoming the consequences of the toxic chemicals used by the US during the war in Viet Nam. The event was held on November 17.
Attendees reviewed the results of recent tasks and proposed plans on how to overcome the consequences of Agent Orange and other toxins used on humans and the local environment.
According to the department, local authorities and charity organisations have held a number of activities to care for, and improve the spiritual and material lives of the toxic chemicals’ victims .
However, the works are facing many difficulties, including a lack of investigations and instructions to warn the people about areas affected by the chemicals; financial limits in detoxification treatment of hotspots; and low qualifications of healthcare staff participating in victims’ treatment.
To deal with these problems, the province proposed the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment build a system to observe and manage the chemicals’ effects in the locality.
The Ministry of Health was asked to provide training for medical workers who treat Agent Orange victims.
Vu Chien Thang, Deputy Head of the Steering Committee, said that Dak Nong should raise more public awareness about the chemicals’ environmental and health effects.-
Japanese NGO donates 30 wheelchairs to the needy in Thai Binh
A Japanese non-governmental organisation presented 30 wheelchairs to handicapped people in Dong Hung district, the northern province of Thai Binh on November 18.
Speaking at the ceremony, Envoy Nagai Katsuro from the Japanese Embassy in Vietnam hailed the organisation’s voluntary activities in the past few years, hoping that the wheelchairs will facilitate the travel of disabled people in the locality.
The organisation has donated wheelchairs to 20 countries, including 600 wheelchairs to Vietnam. In the coming time, it will call for further support from donors to deliver more wheelchairs to needy people.
About 150 wheelchairs are expected to be sent to disabled people in Thai Binh province in 2015.
Thai Binh has 124,000 disabled people, only 700 of whom get access to health care services in social centres while the remaining are reliant on their families.
RoK shares pubic finance experience with Asian countries
Experts from the Republic of Korea (RoK) shared their country’s experience in public finance management reform during a workshop in Hanoi on November 18.
The Knowledge Sharing Programme (KSP) Regional Workshop in Asia was coorganised by the Institute for Development Strategy under Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment, the Korea Development Institute and several other agencies of the RoK.
The event aims to sum up lessons drawn from the RoK’s development experience, share knowledge in a broader context, and develop policies regarding the effective public finance reform and management.
Yoon Dae-Hee, former RoK Minister for Policy Coordination, said the workshop focused on how to set up a strong and efficient public finance management system, which is seen as one of the major matters concerning the KSP’s partner countries in Asia.
The RoK’s lessons could serve as policy hints to partners who are facing similar issues, he said.
Stressing the important role played by fiscal policies in public finance management, Yoon said the RoK is taking measures to boost financial reform and investment management in an effective and transparent manner in order to improve the efficiency of fiscal policies.
To Huong Thao, deputy head of the Vietnam Finance Ministry’s Public Asset Management Department, said the exchange of experience in utilising financial resources from public assets is essential and useful for Vietnam to complete the management mechanism for this field.
The KSP is a knowledge-intensive development and economic cooperation programme designed to share the RoK’s development experience with partner countries.
It offers comprehensive policy consultations tailored to the needs of partner countries encompassing in-depth analysis, policy consultation, and training opportunities.-
Workshops spotlight development of blue economy in East Asia
The growth potential of shipping, port and oil and gas industries , their economic contributions to world trade, opportunities available in each sector, and areas for further development were the focus of discussion at a workshop on “Maritime sector’s contributions to a blue economy for the seas of East Asia” organised in the central city of Da Nang on November 18.
As part of the 5th East Asian Seas (EAS) Congress, the workshop also looked into how these subsectors of the maritime industry are able to balance the increasing demand for its services with environmental sustainability.
Panelists held that the maritime transport sector is considered as a major contributor to blue economy in the East Asian Seas region and has been recognised as the backbone to world trade and globalisation.
An increase in world trade means increasing demands for the maritime transport and its related services. Thus, the maritime sector is now fac ing the challenge of how to advance the growth potential of the maritime economy while minimi s ing environmental impact s of its activities.
In response to the call to mainstream sustainability criteria into planning processes, policies and investment strategies, the workshop was designed to develop a roadmap which will promote the development of a blue economy in the EAS region through a sustainable maritime transport system that enables the growth of the maritime economy while protecting the marine environment.
Also on November 18, a roundtable themed “Investing in a blue economy for conservation and impact” was held with the aim of updating participants on the current investment landscape of integrated coastal management (ICM) in East Asia and various investment models being applied in fisheries and other coastal sectors.
Panelists agreed that more investment is needed to protect and enhance critical ecosystem services while contributing to sustainable development and growth of a blue economy. There is no shortage of investment capital, but investors frequently cite difficulties in sourcing high-quality investable deals as an important factor in preventing them from actively participating in ICM-related sectors. At the workshop, representatives from the World Bank and Da Nang city introduced specific coastal investment projects at various stages.
Earlier, participants attended a plenary session where Vice Chairman of the Da Nang People’s Committee Nguyen Ngoc Tuan presented the city’s strategy to develop a blue economy based on building an environmentally-friendly city.
Accordingly, Da Nang has implemented communication activities to raise public awareness of environmental protection and tighten state management in environmental protection and urban management.
The city has also build mechanisms and policies on the environmental industry, developed plans for environmental services, produced green products and restored the environment in addition to working out plans for clean energy resources, encouraging its enterprises to use clean fuel and integrating environmental protection into socio-economic development plans.
Tuan revealed that the ICM programme has made significant contributions to the efficient management of resources and the environment in coastal areas of Da Nang. Since the launch of the ICM programme, the city has defined disasters as one of the serious threats to its development and conducted various action programmes to reduce disaster risks, including the establishment of a steering committee for response to climate change.
The same day, a Senior Government Officials’ Meeting convened with the attendance of representatives from 12 member nations of the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA). The meeting reviewed the final preparations, including the agenda, documents, procedures and related issues, for the 5th Ministerial Forum slated for November 20.
Meanwhile, PEMSEA chaired a Special East Asian Seas Council Meeting where members of its executive board, representatives of the PEMSEA member states, partners and donors deliberated the implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA) beyond 2015.
Former RoK ambassador awarded Honorary Professor title
Da Lat University in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong presented the Honorary Professor title Yoo Tae Hyun, former Ambassador of the Republic of Korea (RoK) to Vietnam, on November 18 at a ceremony in Da Lat city.
The former RoK ambassador, who served in Vietnam from 2003-2005, was the first to be granted with the title by the university during its nearly 60 years of operation.
Yoo Tae Hyun, born in 1943, has made great contribution to the introduction of Korean Study as a major under the Faculty of International Study at Da Lat University in 2004. He himself compiled several textbooks and gave lectures on the subject at the university.
After completing his tenure, he volunteered to stay in Da Lat and became a lecturer of Korean Study at the faculty.
The former diplomat is also the author of several books on Vietnam published in the RoK.
New Zealand shares education reform experience with Vietnam
New Zealand education officials shared their experience in education reform with Vietnam during a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on November 18.
According to Steven Joyce, New Zealand Minister of Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, his country’s education renovation focuses on such issues as decentralisation – increasing the self-control of headmasters and lecturers and setting up a close responsibility framework.
The country has also built an education programme to national standards and increased the engagement of parents at schools, said Joyce, who is also Minister of Economic Development, Regulatory Reform and Science and Innovation.
He highlighted that New Zealand has always taken the development of education as the foundation of the country’s prosperity, adding that core targets of New Zealand’s education system are promoting creativity and ceaseless innovations and bettering learning quality.
He also stressed the importance and active role of school leaders, adding that New Zealand always encourages them to seek solutions to their schools’ own problems to meet the specific development requirements.
Meanwhile, Assistant Prof. Dr. Duong Anh Duc, Vice Director of the Ho Chi Minh City-based National University said he hopes through the conference, leaders of Vietnamese schools can learn educational renovation experience from New Zealand to apply to specific conditions in Vietnam.
During the event, participants also discussed the role of school leaders in speeding teaching-learning and curriculum reforms, as well as building a long-term cooperation among lecturers and heads of faculties.
They also shared experience in defining strategic goals and the significance of fostering partnership in enhancing education leadership efficiency.
Vietnamese tourists begin canceling France tours
Vietnamese tour organizers have begun receiving booking cancellations for France and European packages, less than a week after the terrible attacks that killed more than 120 people in Paris.
Thai Thanh Lan, director of a travel firm specializing in offering French tours, said she had to cancel several packages slated for December, due to security concerns in the wake of the November 13 bloodshed.
“Tourists are concerned about the situation in Paris, while new customers have also been hesitant about booking France packages,” she told Dan Tri (Intellectual) newswire.
Local travel agencies say they will not be surprised if customers who have booked tours to celebrate Christmas and New Year in France scrap their bookings, according to Dan Tri.
Vacationers in Ho Chi Minh City also began canceling their France and EU tours on November 16, The Saigon Times Online reports.
Most of the travel firms said they only made a couple of booking cancelations, while Hoan My Travel Co. said as many as 60 of its customers had decided to scrap their Paris visit.
“Two groups with a total of 60 tourists have canceled their France tour to celebrate New Year,” Hoan My director Nguyen The Khai told The Saigon Times Online on November 16.
“Some other customers have asked about packages to France and the EU, but there is little likelihood they will opt for those tours.”
Hoan My Co. has received 100 bookings for New Year tours to France and is extremely concerned they will all be canceled.
“Customers asked us about the situation in Paris to decide whether they should go there, but we could only tell them to wait,” Khai said.
Other tour organizers, including Saigontourist, Travelink, and Fiditour said they have yet to receive any cancelations for bookings to France, according to The Saigon Times Online.
“Although customers have not dropped tours, they have asked to deposit for the bookings later to watch the situation [in Paris],” Travelink director Tu Quy Thanh said.
“So we are yet to be able to evaluate the impact of the Paris attacks on our business.”
The Paris attacks, consisting of suicide bombings and shootings for which the Islamic State has claimed responsibility, killed at least 129 people and wounded 352 others on November 13.
Association hailed for bridging Swiss families with adopted VN childre
Vietnamese Ambassador to Switzerland Pham Hai Bang has praised the efforts made by the association of Swiss families that adopt Vietnamese children to help orphans and the elderly in Vietnam over the past two decades.
The diplomat made the praise at a recent ceremony held in Saint-Blaise, Neuchatel State to mark the 20th founding anniversary of the association.
The association, or the “Thi San’s friends” association, was established in 1995 and named after the name of a Vietnamese girl.
Association President Wanda Bledea said that over the past 20 years, the association has acted as a bridge connecting the families and contributed to charity and humanitarian activities in various Vietnamese localities.
Since 2008, it has so far raised 350,000 CHF (345,000 USD) for these activities. The money was used to build a vocational training centre in Ninh Binh province, and fund several centres for the elderly and disadvantaged children in Vinh Phuc and Nghe An provinces.
Thi San is adopted by the family of Guylaine Magnin, who was also the founder and the first leader of the association. She found her own parents 9 years ago and maintains close contact with her family.
Vietnam shares experience in oil spill preparedness and response
Vietnam has shared its experience in oil spill preparedness and response, highlighting the importance of developing oil spill contingency plans at provincial and local levels along the need to develop local government capacities in this field.
At a seminar held within the framework of the 5th East Asian Seas Congress in the central city of Da Nang from November 16-21, representatives of Vietnam, other member countries of the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) and international organisations also discussed recent developments in oil spill preparedness and response.
The seminar updated participants on trends in oil spills from tankers, best practices in developing effective response strategies and contingency plans, developments in the compensation regime for oil spills and industry collaboration through the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA).
Despite increasing transport of oil at sea, a study conducted by the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited (ITOPF) found a decreasing trend in oil spills from tankers. However, Jessika Fuessel of ITOPF stressed that even small oil spills can still cause serious environmental damage and economic losses.
It was noted that response operations for oil spill incidents at sea involving two or more countries is complicated and challenging, particularly if these countries have different response polices and techniques.
Presentations and discussions at the seminar provided valuable information to countries in attendance to review and update their national contingency plans and develop a strategic action plan for the Gulf of Thailand.
As an international cooperation mechanism, PEMSEA was established in 1994 on the basis of agreement between parties regarding the East Asian seas, including 12 countries, private sectors, research and education institutes, international and financial organisations, and donors. PEMSEA is also a regional coordination mechanism to implement the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA).
The nations involved in PEMSEA comprise Cambodia, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Timor Leste, Thailand and Vietnam.
Australian event raises funds to prevent drowning in Vietnam
A concert in Australia’s Perth on November 17 raised money to fund efforts to stop children from drowning in Vietnam.
The Vietnam Consulate in Perth brought handicrafts to the show, which it organised with the Rotary Club of Hillarys.
According to the head of the club, Graham Kent, disadvantaged Vietnamese children who live near water are particularly prone to drowning, as they cannot afford to learn proper swimming techniques.
Thus, all funds raised will be used to send two Australian swimming teachers to Vietnam, providing lessons for their peers at Swim Vietnam.
Swim Vietnam is a charity based in central Vietnam that gives free swimming and water safety lessons to children, and trains local adults as swimming teachers.
It was the third event the Rotary Club of Hillarys hosted to support the Vietnamese charity.
Dak Nong, Cambodian province strengthen bond
The Vietnam-Cambodia Friendship Association’s chapter in Dak Nong will continue serving as a bridge to foster the ties between the Central Highlands province and Cambodia’s Mundulkiri province.
The statement was heard during the chapter’s second congress held on November 17, which re-elected Tran Thi Thao as Chairwoman of the 2025-2020 tenure.
In the past five years, the organisation worked to disseminate information on border-related policies, as well as to organise free medical treatment and medicine distribution programmes, benefiting more than 1,000 residents of Mundulkiri’s Sen Monorum city and communes of O’rang district.
It also visited and presented gifts to needy households living along the border in Mundulkiri province.
In the new tenure, these activities will be maintained. The organisation will boost exchanges with its Mundulkiri counterpart and consult local authorities in assisting fund for its counterpart to build a headquarters.
On this occasion, the Mundulkiri governor presented a certificate of merit to Dak Nong chapter’s Chairwoman TranThi Thao in recognition of her contributions to the cooperation programme on socio-economic development for the 2010-2015 period between Dak Nong and Mundulkiri.
OANA vows to counter terrorism with fair reporting
The Organisation of Asia Pacific News Agencies (OANA) condemned recent terrorist attacks worldwide in a joint statement issued at the end of its Executive Board’s 39th meeting in Seoul, the Republic of Korea, on November 17.
In the joint statement, the OANA members expressed their resolves to continue to report on acts of terrorism accurately and without fear or bias.
They committed to expanding their cooperation in keeping credibility as news agencies that provide quick and accurate news.
They promised to lead the media market with quick and accurate news services based on the understanding that the role of news agencies is ever growing due to the rise of mobile media.
They will vitalise exchanges and bolster cooperation in various fields among member companies to protect information sovereignty in the Asia-Pacific region.
At the same time, the OANA members will raise competitiveness and professionalism as news agencies by extensively sharing human, material sources and experiences among member companies.
In his closing remarks, Park No-hwang, President and CEO of Yonhap News Agency, which hosted the event, affirmed the important role and position played by the association over the past 50 years.
The OANA serves as a venue for its members to seek optimal solutions to information-related issues, he said.
The next boarding meeting has been slated for spring 2016 in Bahrain.
The association is scheduled to hold a general assembly in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku in November 2016.
The Vietnam News Agency (VNA) was elected as a member of the OANA executive board for the 2013-2016 tenure at the forum’s 15th general assembly in 2013 in Moscow, Russia.
In an interview granted to the VNA, OANA Secretary General Mikhail Gusman reiterated that news agencies will continue operating despite challenges stemming from the development of social media and new technologies.
He highlighted the crucial role of the prestigious agencies like Russia’s TASS, Vietnam’s VNA and other OANA members in providing specific, honest and impartial information.
The news agencies are responsible for what they publish, which is different from several current social media networks, he said.
Gusman noted his belief that as a regional organisation of news agencies, OANA will help its members improve their performance, thus popularising the world’s changes to all people.
The VNA delegation to the two-day meeting was led by General Director Nguyen Duc Loi, who affirmed that the VNA has trained its correspondent staff on skills to handle information on mobile devices as well as developed software and new information processing systems for its clientele.
The VNA has published news in Vietnamese and English languages on several social media networking, including Facebook – the most popular in Vietnam. In the near future, news items on French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and ethnic minority languages will follow suit and user-friendly applications will debut.
Nearly 6 percent of energy consumption saved in five years
Vietnam’s volume of energy savings was equivalent to nearly 6 percent of the total energy consumption between 2011 and 2015, Chairman of the Vietnam Association and Technology in Energy Saving and Efficiency Do Huu Hao said at a conference in Hanoi on November 18.
The saved energy volume was about nearly 12 million tonnes of oil equivalent, he said, adding that the country could save up to 15-20 percent of energy consumption in the future.
The head of the Department of Science and Technology and Energy Efficiency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s General Directorate of Energy, Trinh Quoc Vu, said 585 energy-saving projects have been carried out while over 10,000 energy-saving target products were labeled.
More than 700,000 solar water heating systems have been installed nationwide, Around 1 billion kWh of electricity is saved each year, equivalent to 1.6 trillion VND (72 million USD).
Experts cited lack of technological experts and investment capital as major difficulties to build database and promulgate standards and regulations on energy usage in sectors.
Additionally, the mechanism to support businesses to improve technological lines with higher efficiency is limited.
To address the matters, it is necessary to promote energy-saving labeling on products and encourage businesses to implement energy-saving solutions.
Improving the database system on energy consumption and enhancing collection, settlement, and operation capacity are essential to that end.
Vu said the Department of Science and Technology and Energy Efficiency is implementing a Denmark-funded project on low-carbon conversion in energy-saving field.
The project aims to support small and medium sized enterprises to pilot energy saving in brick, pottery and food processing sectors, he added.
HCM City heralds Poland’s Independence Day
A ceremony was held in Ho Chi Minh City on November 18 to mark the 97th anniversary of Poland’s Independence Day (November 11, 1918).
The event, organised by the municipal chapter of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations (VUFO) and the Vietnam-Poland Friendship Association in HCM City, was attended by officials from State and municipal agencies, representatives from the Polish Embassy in Vietnam alongside many Vietnamese people who used to work and study in Poland.
President of the Vietnam-Poland Friendship Association Nguyen Dang Cuong highlighted the traditional friendship between Vietnamese and Polish people, which has been nurtured over the past more than 60 years.
Vietnamese people have special sentiment towards Poland and always remember the valuable assistance of the Polish Government and people in their struggle for national independence and freedom as well as current construction and defence.
The bilateral relations have been consolidated and furthered over the years, he said, expressing his belief that the friendship and multi-faceted cooperation between Poland and Vietnam will continue to thrive in the coming time.
Polish Ambassador to Vietnam Barbara Szymanowska said the relationship between Vietnam and Poland has grown closer since they established diplomatic ties in 1950, adding that she hopes the bilateral friendly rapports will develop in a sustainable manner.
Thua Thien- Hue invests 1.3 million USD in afforestation
The central province of Thua Thien- Hue has splashed out 30 billion VND (1.33 million USD) on planting 290 hectares of forests, including 50ha of mangrove forest in response to climate change in 2015.
The provincial forestry department has supported localities to map out their afforestation plans and supplied them with 23,000 seedlings, mostly mangroves. Other mangrove varieties, which are suitable with the salt marshes in the province, have been successfully produced.
A large area of mangrove forests has been restored in Lap An lagoon in Lang Co town, making it home to a slew of valuable sea creatures.
In addition to the development of five hectares of forest in Ru Cha, Huong Phong coastal commune cultivated 4,000 square metres of mangrove forests with 2,200 varieties, forming bio-diversity and protecting environment in estuaries and areas near Tam Giang lagoon.
Thua Thien Hue has over 128 kilometres of coastline with 22,600 hectares of the lagoon system. Salt intrusion during the flood season causes land erosion while sweeping away houses and ponds, causing drastic losses to local people.
Thus, mangrove forest enlargement and restoration is crucial to develop the provincial socio-economic development and the environment.
Hanoi: over 16,000 trade fraud cases handled
Hanoi’s police has detected 54,096 smuggling and trade fraud cases, of which 16,399 cases have been addressed, so far this year.
According to the municipal Department of Industry and Trade, legal proceedings have started against 72 cases involving 98 people and collecting taxes and seizing goods totaling nearly VND2.17 trillion (US$95.5 million).
In October and November alone, 3,077 cases were brought into light, with two thirds handled, and nearly VND380 billion collected.
On the occasion of the upcoming New Year and the lunar New Year holidays, deputy head of the department Chu Xuan Kien said that to prevent trade frauds, the department will tighten management and define responsibility for the heads of each area and sector.
It will also expand communications on law for businesses to facilitate the stable and healthy development of the market and ensure the interests of consumers.
Vietnamese students continue to make beeline for the US
Vietnam maintained its position as the top source in Southeast Asia for US university and college students with a sharp increase last year, according to the annual Open Doors report released recently by the US Department of State.
The number of Vietnamese students increased by 12.9% to 18,722 in the academic year 2014-15.
The number of Vietnamese choosing to pursue advanced degrees in the US has risen from under 1,000 in 1995 when the two countries normalized relations, and the US Mission to Vietnam sees this as a tremendous source of strength in the bilateral relationship.
Vietnamese students being consulted at an education fair held by Education USA. Photo credit: US Consulate General
“Education is the best investment any country, or any family, can make, and a natural area for cooperation between the US and Vietnam,” US Consul General Rena Bitter said at an event held on November 17 at the American Center in Ho Chi Minh City to mark the release of the report.
“We are thrilled by this increase. Our goal is to keep this trend moving in the right direction.”
According to the report, the number of students from Vietnam studying in the US rose for 14 straight years.
Vietnam is ninth in the list of countries sending students to the US.
China topped with 304,926 in 2014/15 followed by India with 132,888 and the Republic of Korea with 63,710.
China arrests hitman suspected of killing Vietnamese businesswoman
Chinese and Vietnamese police have arrested a man suspected of killing a Vietnamese woman during her business trip to China in September, a source told Thanh Nien.
The man was arrested in Taiwan, the source said.
He reportedly told police that he was hired to kill Ha Thuy Linh, 45, director of Ha Linh Ltd. Co., a tea company based in Vietnam’s Central Highlands province of Lam Dong.
The man then fled to Taiwan after the crime, according to the source, who added that Linh was killed due to business conflicts.
Police are still investigating the mastermind behind the murder.
Linh reportedly came to China on September 19. Three days later, the Chinese consulate in Ho Chi Minh City informed her company of her death.
According to the source, Linh came to China to sign a contract to sell oolong tea. She was attacked and poisoned by a stranger at the airport.
She thought the injuries were not serious and did not go to hospital.
She came to a hotel and then reported the attack to Chinese police. Later in the evening, she died.
Linh established her company in 2008. The company is known as one of the largest oolong tea exporter in Lam Dong.
Her body has not been repatriated as the investigation continues.
Richer Vietnamese tourists a boon for France, Japan
Higher incomes have allowed a new generation of consumers to make their travel dreams come true.
Founded in 2008 as a domestic tour operator, Viet Media Travel Corporation says two-thirds of its customers are now Vietnamese tourists traveling abroad.
“People are flocking to countries like Thailand and Japan,” said Tran Van Long, general director of the Ho Chi Minh City-based company.
He said after the 2009 global recession, many countries ramped up support for tourism to boost their sagging economies.
“And Vietnam, with a population of around 90 million, has been one of their target visitor markets,” Long said.
“For example, a tour to Japan now costs between VND20 million (US$891) and VND30 million (US$1,347). That is significantly cheaper than VND40 million in 2013,” said Long, who chairs the Japan tourism club in southern Vietnam.
Late last year Japan also simplified visa acquisition procedures for Vietnamese participants of tours offered by the travel agencies endorsed by the Japanese government.
The results were almost instant: nearly 120,000 Vietnamese visited Japan in 2014, a 50% year-on-year jump, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.
People row canoes past cherry blossoms trees in full bloom in Tokyo, Japan on March 29, 2015. Photo: AFP
In the first nine months of this year the number of Vietnamese tourists visiting Japan reached an all-time high of 139,000, up 53% from the same period last year. That put Vietnam ahead of most European countries.
Unlike Viet Media Travel, some other top tourist companies in Vietnam are still receiving more bookings for domestic tours, but overseas tours have grown faster.
Vietravel sold domestic tours to 280,000 people in the first ten months of this year, a year-on-year increase of 20%. The company had 147,000 outbound tourists, up 50%.
At Saigontourist, outbound tourists were up 40% year-on-year in the first ten months while the number of domestic tourists was up 30%, Doan Thi Thanh Tra, its marketing and communications director, said.
Both companies said that Thailand, Japan, the Republic of Korea (RoK), Europe and the US were among the most attractive destinations.
Tran Thi Bao Thu, marketing and communications director of Fiditour, said the number of customers booking tours to those countries were up 32% year-on-year in the first ten months, similar to the growth rate of domestic tourism.
Last month a delegation of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau came to Vietnam for the first time. They spent two days in Ho Chi Minh City meeting local tourist companies and media as well as running an exhibition to promote travel to the French capital city.
Patricia BarthÃ©lemy, a marketing manager at the bureau, said that her delegation “may come back to Vietnam and visit Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi next September.”
Around 22,000 Vietnamese went to France last year, 54 of them traveling for tourism purposes, according to French authorities.
Since economic reforms were launched in 1986, Vietnam has turned from one of the poorest in the world, with a per capita income of around US$100, into a lower middle income economy with an income of more than US$2,000.
Vaughan Ryan, CEO of Nielsen Vietnam, said Vietnamese people no longer lived day to day. Now they live for the future and their aspirations.
“Vietnam’s emerging middle class continues to grow. People start to think: ‘Well, I’ve got spare money now… How can I start buying stuff for me?’ he said.
Ryan said more consumers now save money for big-ticket items, including cars, apartments and holidays.
This is part of a changing consumer culture, he said.
“Historically they used to share their money with mom and dad. The money went to a pool of fund which would pay for food and drink and the basics,” said Ryan.
“While family values still exist, people are spending more money and time for themselves,” he said.
A recent Nielsen survey showed that 42% of Vietnamese plan to spend their spare cash on holidays and vacations while the global average rate is 38%.
Of course not everyone can grab a ticket to travel overseas. Or at least not yet.
A seven-day trip to the US still costs VND59 million (US$2,655) per person and an eight-day trip to France and Italy costs VND65 million (US$2,925), much higher than the annual income of most households.
But there is no denying that Vietnamese are traveling more. The trend is that people choose domestic trips first, then travel to neighboring countries in the Southeast Asia region, before visiting further and more expensive destinations such as Japan, RoK, Europe and the US.
Industry insiders have pointed out a problem in this trend: Vietnam is allowing other countries to steal its own tourists, especially those with high disposable income.
Long of Viet Media Travel said many go to local beaches just for a short trip and prefer traveling to foreign countries for longer vacations during which they will spend a lot more.
“This is because domestic tour prices are relatively high, services quality isn’t really good and crime is still an issue,” said Long.
He said since 2009, trips to overseas destinations have become 20% to 50% cheaper. In Vietnam, the price reduction has been around 10% or less.
Tourism authorities seem to think that local people automatically know about local tourist spots and will keep visiting them again and again, even though that is not the case, Long said.
Doan Thi Thanh Tra, marketing and communications director at Saigontourist, said apart from growing income and competitive tour prices, there is another reason that many Vietnamese prefer traveling abroad.
“More and more families are sending their children to overseas countries for study, so they travel there to visit their children and take a vacation together,” said Tra.
“Some families even choose a different country to travel each holiday,” said Tra. “Because they are rich.”
Russian student caught with drugs in luggage at Vietnam airport
Customs officers at Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City have discovered cocaine in the luggage of a Russian student who had traveled from Chile through some other countries without being detected before arriving in Vietnam.
The foreign student, 25, came to the international airport on flight EK392 from Dubai (UAE) in the evening, bringing along with him a backpack and a handbag, customs officers said.
Finding signs of suspicion in his baggage, customs officers asked him to bring it to a separate room for manual inspection.
During the inspection, officers found the linings of the handbag, a blanket and three overcoats seemingly soaked with drugs.
Tests made on the lining samples showed that they contained cocaine.
Officers then seized 13 pieces of linings, weighing 6.42kg in total, which contained cocaine.
The student admitted to officers that he had been hired by an unidentified man to transport the drugs for US$1,000.
The Russian national said he received the objects containing cocaine in Chile and then traveled with them in a complicated itinerary of Chile-Russia- Dubai-Paulo (Brazil)-Santiago (Chile)-Dubai-Ho Chi Minh City.
The Ho Chi Minh City customs department has handed over the student and the linings containing cocaine to anti-drug police for investigation.
On November 3, anti-drug officers at the same international airport caught a Malaysian woman smuggling over 5kg of cocaine after she traveled through five countries without being detected.
Kaur Gurcharan Singh Manpal, 44, was found carrying 16 bags of suspicious white powder in her baggage.
The bags, weighing 5.39kg in total, were covered with silver wrappings and hidden in the linings of her handbags and suitcases, officers said.
Tests on the powder samples taken from these bags showed that they were cocaine.