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Archive for September 26th, 2008|Daily archive page

Trees keep falling while authorities bicker

In Uncategorized on September 26, 2008 at 1:47 pm

Forest rangers confiscate smuggled logs in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue. About 231 of 11,000ha of forest has been destroyed in the province’s Huong Tra District in the past four years. — VNA/VNS Photo Ngo Lich

HCM CITY — Watershed forests of the Huong River in central Viet Nam have suffered rampant destruction over the last few years, but authorities are passing the buck on the failure to take punitive measures.

An estimated 231.6 out of 11,306ha of forests have been destroyed in Hue Province’s Huong Tra District during the last four years.

In 1993, the Hue People’s Committee had designated a team of forestry experts to manage the protected watershed forests of Huong River in the district.

However, many residents have logged trees in the protected area to augment their income and improve living standards. The destroyed area includes a buffer area of 94.9 ha maintained to prevent soil erosion along the embankment and coastal areas, and act as windbreaks in sandy areas.

Local authorities say that although the residents had been fined several times, they continued to destroy the watershed forests.

The destroyed area has increased from 82.7ha of forest in 2006 to 231.6ha in 2008.

Admitting that he had cleared the protected area to plant acacia trees, Nguyen Tu Quan says he did it because of “poor management from the local authority as well as forest management team”.

Quan had been fined many times but he has persisted with the illegal activity.

As many as 100 households living in or near destroyed forest areas have participated in illegal activity. However, they all claim to be unaware it was illegal.

“With no land to farm, we have to exploit the forest to earn money,” a villager said.

In fact, most forest area in Thua Thien-Hue is under the management of State-owned farms or offices while local villagers face a shortage of farm land.

Cao Vuong Thien of Hong Tien Commune illegally cleared 16ha of the forest in 2006 – 2007, but the provincial authorities have not taken due action against him.

The problem of illegal logging has increased as the management team denied they were to blame.

Over the last four years, no violators have been punished.

“The punishment is the responsibility of relevant agencies, not our duty”, said Nguyen Van Vuong, deputy head of the management team. “Our responsibilities are only forest management and protection”.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Xuan Ty, Vice Chairman of Huong Tra District’s People’s Committee said although the majority of illegal loggers were actually residents of the district, action against them must be the duty of the management team.

The violators are now fined just VND100,000 (US$6.06) each, not enough to deter them from continuing to fell the trees.

The 231.6ha of destroyed forest in Huong Tra District including protected and cultivated forest was under the management board of Huong River’s watershed forest.

Also according to the chief of the management board, Nguyen Huu Cu, a main cause of rampant destruction was that the board have no power to punish violators while the local people’s committee only dishes out light punishments.

Nguyen Van Anh, deputy head of Thua Thien Hue Province’s Forest Protection Sub – Department, told the Nguoi Lao Dong (The Labourer) newspaper that both forest protection and management duties had been assigned to the management team.

Therefore, it was responsible for the inaction on deforestation, he said.

However, local authorities are looking for the most sensible way of settling the problem. Current measures to demolish violated areas aiming at restoring original forest seem unreasonable.

Many households who took out bank loans to plant acacia trees on destroyed forest can harvest in the next two years.

Binh Dien Commune’s People’s Committee chairman Nguyen Dai Hoa said if local authorities demolish violated areas, these households would fall into massive debt. —

Foreign retailers to move in on Viet Nam

In Uncategorized on September 26, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Customers buy goods at Big C Thang Long supermarket. Large international supermarket chains, such as Metro Cash & Carry, Big C and Parkson, are planning to expand their businesses in Viet Nam. — VNA/VNS Photo Huu Oai

HCM CITY — Foreign retailers like Metro Cash & Carry, Big C, and Parkson are all planning to increase their presence in the promising Vietnamese market.

The German-based Metro Cash & Carry said it plans to expand its wholesale-retail network from five to 12 soon.

France’s Big C Group is set to open more outlets and South Korea-based Lotte Mart Group will soon launch its second supermarket in District 7 in HCM City.

Another South Korean operator, GS Retail, plans to open 10 shopping centres in Binh Duong Province in the next two years.

But while foreign enterprises are scrambling to expand their presence in Viet Nam, local rivals appear to be lax.

Co-op Mart had said earlier it plans to open 10 new outlets this year, but by the end of August it has opened only four.

The Viet Nam Textile and Garment Corp (Vinatex) had announced plans for nearly 100 new supermarkets by 2010, but has not opened even one in recent months.

Domestic supermarkets blamed their sluggishness on high inflation, property market volatility and rising construction material prices.

With Viet Nam having to fulfil its WTO market-opening commitments by the end of next year, domestic firms have to brace for stiff competition from better equipped foreign investors.

This year Viet Nam has overtaken India as the most attractive emerging retail market destination, according to the Global Retail Development Index released by A.T.Kearney last June.

In the first half of this year retail sales in Viet Nam were worth VND447.3 trillion (US$27 billion), an increase of 30 per cent over the same period last year, according to the General Statistics Office.

The country’s retail sales are set to grow at 13.6 per cent annually between 2008 and 2012, according to another global market research firm, RNCOS. —

Fixed-phone numbers to get ‘3’ prefix from October

In Uncategorized on September 26, 2008 at 1:45 pm

HA NOI — Fixed phone numbers in 55 provinces and cities will be prefixed by “3” from October 5, 2008, announced the Viet Nam Post and Telecommunications Group (VNPT).

Regional codes will be unaffected.

The change means Ha Noi and HCM City landlines will have eight digits, and outside callers phoning Ha Noi will have to dial 04 3 followed by the seven-digit number.

VNPT had originally planned to change fixed-phone numbers in 2010. However, due to demand for new numbers from telecoms companies and customers the move was brought forward, said Pham Hong Hai, director of the Telecommunication Department under the Ministry of Information and Communications.

To minimise confusion, callers will be able to get through on the old telephone numbers for two weeks after the changeover. The change applies to fax numbers as well.

Tran Vinh Phuc, deputy head of VNPT’s Telecommunications Department, said fixed line users would initially be inconvenienced by the change but the move was necessary if the telecoms group was to meet its 2012 development goals. He added that he hoped callers would understand that the change was necessary.

VNPT added that the phone number change was more complicated because Ha Noi had been enlarged to include Ha Tay Province and some districts and communes in Hoa Binh and Vinh Phuc. While fixed lines in Ha Noi and the former Ha Tay Province had seven digits, fixed phone number in Hoa Binh and Vinh Phuc had six, the company said.

The 55 provinces and cities affected by the change are: Ha Noi, HCM City, An Giang, Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Bac Lieu, Bac Giang, Bac Can, Bac Ninh, Ben Tre, Binh Duong, Binh Dinh, Binh Phuoc, Binh Thuan, Ca Mau, Cao Bang, Dong Thap, Gia Lai, Ha Giang, Ha Nam, Ha Tinh, Hoa Binh, Hung Yen, Khanh Hoa, Kon Tum, Lang Son, Lao Cai, Lam Dong, Long An, Ninh Binh, Ninh Thuan, Phu Tho, Phu Yen, Quang Binh, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Quang Ninh, Soc Trang, Son La, Tay Ninh, Thai Binh, Thai Nguyen, Thua Thien – Hue, Tien Giang, Tra Vinh, Tuyen Quang, Vinh Long, Vinh Phuc, Yen Bai, Dien Bien, Lai Chau, Dac Lac, Dac Nong, Can Tho and Hau Giang.—

IMM Japan to train 1,000 Vietnamese apprentices

In Uncategorized on September 26, 2008 at 1:21 pm

The Association for International Manpower Development of Medium and Small Enterprises (IMM Japan) will receive 1,000 Vietnamese apprentices for technical and practical training in Japan in the next two years.

This was part of an agreement, signed in Hanoi on September 26 by IMM Japan and Vietnam’s Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs.

The practical training period normally last three years, with the apprentices’ all expenses being financed by the Japanese sides.

Over the past two years, around 320 Vietnamese apprentices have undergone technical training in Japan, as a part of the bilateral cooperation programme.-

Businesses discuss Vietnam-Japan cooperation

In Uncategorized on September 26, 2008 at 1:21 pm

More than 100 businesses from Vietnam and Japan attended a seminar to discuss the opportunities and challenges for their cooperation in Hanoi on Sept. 26.

According to Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung, Japan is currently Vietnam’s 3rd largest investor, especially the top foreign investor in terms of disbursed capital. The nation has 1,019 investment projects, worth a total of 16.9 billion USD, in Vietnam.

Almost all the Japanese investment projects have been operating fruitfully thanks to Vietnam’s improved administrative procedures, upgraded infrastructure as well as the human resources, the Deputy Minister said.

He also noted that Vietnam-Japan relations have seen fine development, especially since the visits by the two countries’ leaders by the end of 2006.

Dung stressed that Vietnam’s prestige has been improved in the international arena and the country obtained marked achievements in education, health care and social development, especially in poverty reduction along with economic development.

Vietnam has attracted more than 9,000 foreign direct investment projects, worth a total of 132 billion USD, from 81 countries and territories.

Hiroyuki Yoshino, Vice President of the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI), shared the same view with Deputy Minister Dung, saying that Japan’s investment in Vietnam is on the rise.

According to TCCI, Vietnam has great potential for the two countries’ cooperation and Japanese businesses hope to make involvement in long-time cooperation with Vietnam.-

ADB to help disadvantaged children and irrigation development

In Uncategorized on September 26, 2008 at 1:20 pm

Hanoi (VNA) – Two grant projects relating to childcare and the development of irrigation systems totalling 2.9 million USD were signed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Vietnamese Government in Hanoi on September 26.

The childcare project, financed by a 1.9 million USD grant under the Japanese Fund for Poverty Reduction, aims to pilot cost-effective community-based early childhood care and development approaches to improve the health, nutrition status and development of children under 3 years of age in ethnic minority groups and among migrant workers in central Quang Binh and Quang Tri and southern Binh Duong provinces.

The second project, totalling 1.25 million USD, with 1 million USD from the Japanese Special Fund, will formulate a project proposal to upgrade the quality of water-related public services and improve the management of water resources used for irrigation in Vietnam .

The technical assistance specifically focuses on the upgrading of professional training facilities for water resource specialists, while developing a proposal to modernise the management of Bac Hung Hai, one of the oldest and largest irrigation and drainage systems in the country.

The project is scheduled to be launched in Hanoi and provinces of Hung Yen, Hai Duong and Bac Ninh in November and is forecast to be completed by mid-2009.-

Vietnam aviation sector targets airport expansion

In Uncategorized on September 26, 2008 at 1:20 pm

Hanoi (VNA) – The Vietnamese aviation sector is embarking on a plan to develop a network of 26 airports, including 10 international ones, by 2020.

The plan, which includes expanding existing airports and building new ones, is to cost 221.5 trillion VND, according to an aviation transport development scheme drawn up by the Ministry of Communications and Transport.

According to Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) Chief Pham Quy Tieu, the Government has given the nod to an expansion plan proposed by Noi Bai international airport in Hanoi .

Under the approved plan, a new terminal will be built at Noi Bai, which will help the airport to receive up to 50 million passengers a year by 2020, a huge increase on the estimated 8 million passengers who will use the airport this year.

The CAAV is considering the enlargement of Tan Son Nhat international airport in Ho Chi Minh City to enable it to provide facilities and space for around 70 planes to land by 2015, the CAAV chief said.

It is expected that once the enlargement scheme is completed, Tan Son Nhat airport will be able to handle 23.5 million passengers and 600,000 tonnes of cargo a year.

According to the aviation transport development scheme, the country’s largest airport, Long Thanh international airport will be built in Ho Chi Minh City ’s neighbouring Dong Nai province, with the facilities to provide services to 100 million passengers a year.

Several small airports are currently being upgraded to substitute for Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat airports if needed, including Da Nang airport in the central city of Da Nang and Cat Bi airport in the northern city of Hai Phong.

Chu Lai airport in the central province of Quang Nam will get 11 trillion VND to build a new passenger terminal with the aim of enabling the airport to cater for 2.2 million passengers by 2015.

Lien Khuong airport in the central highlands province of Lam Dong is being also upgraded so it can serve 943,000 passengers a year by 2015. A new airport to serve planes providing short and medium-range flights is under construction in Phu Quoc island, Kien Giang province. The Phu Quoc airport is expected to welcome 2 million passengers a year.

Rach Gia airport, which is also in Kien Giang province, is set to be expanded to receive 300,000 passengers a year by 2015.

A terminal designed to serve 3 million passengers a year at Can Tho international airport in the Mekong delta city of Can Tho is expected to become operational in May 2010.

There are currently 20 airports in Vietnam , including five international airports which provide services for an estimated 30 million passengers a year, according to the CAAV.-

Nine month GDP growth rate at 6.52 percent

In Uncategorized on September 26, 2008 at 1:19 pm

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam achieved a GDP growth rate of 6.52 percent in the first nine months of the year, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI).

At a meeting held in Hanoi on Sept 26 to review September’s production performance, the MPI added that the country’s GDP grew at a rate of 6.55 percent in the third quarter, lower than the figure recorded in the first quarter (9.38 percent), but higher than that in the second quarter (5.38 percent).

Another positive sign of the country’s economic picture over the first nine months of 2008 is the development of the agro-forestry-fishery sector despite the impact of natural disasters, epidemics and price hikes, with a production value growth of 5.43 percent, a 1.2 percent year-on-year increase.

The sector posted a growth rate of 3.57 percent, a rise of 0.55 percent over the last year.

During the 9-month period, exports totalled 48.6 billion USD, a year-on-year increase of 39 percent, while trade deficit stood at 15.8 billion USD, equal to 32.6 percent of the total earnings, which led to a trade deficit forecast of 19 billion USD for the whole year.

The country’s consumer price index (CPI) saw a 0.18 percent increase in September, the lowest rise since the beginning of the year.

State budget collections in the period fulfilled 90.5 percent of the year’s estimation, while budget spending was calculated at 78 percent.

During this period, the country attracted 57.12 billion USD in FDI, a five-fold increase on the same period last year.

According to the MPI Deputy Minister Cao Viet Sinh, it will be difficult to achieve the years’ target GDP growth rate of 7 percent.-

State bank raises credit compulsory reserve interest rate

In Uncategorized on September 26, 2008 at 1:18 pm

Hanoi (VNA) – The Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam has decided to increase the annual interest rate for compulsory reserves in Vietnamese dong for credit institutions from 3.6 percent to 5 percent.

The new rate, which comes into effect from Oct. 1, aims to enable credit institutions to reduce their lending interest rates for borrowers, the Governor said in his decision issued on September 25.

The Governor also decided to freeze the basic interest rate on Vietnam dong at 14 percent per annum in October as part of an effort to rein in inflation and stabilise the macro-economy.-

ADB assists transport, agriculture in Vietnam

In Uncategorized on September 26, 2008 at 1:18 pm

Hanoi (VNA) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide 1.1 billion USD in loans to help Vietnam upgrade the Noi Bai-Lao Cai section of the Kunming-Hai Phong transport corridor.

An agreement on the biggest single project financing in the history of the ADB was signed in Hanoi on Sept. 26 between the bank and the Vietnamese government.
The 244-km highway is an integral section of the eastern link of the Great Mekong Subregion (GMS) Northern Economic Corridor, which connects Kunming city in China ’s Yunnan province with Hanoi and the ports of Hai Phong and Cai Lan in Vietnam . It will help reduce the volume of traffic passing through the cities and towns along the road, which could significantly reduce the number of traffic accidents.

Addressing the signing ceremony, the Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam Nguyen Van Giau stressed that the highway, which is expected to be completed in 2012, will help reduce travel time between Hanoi and Lao Cai from eight hours to just three hours, accelerating trade and transport between Kunming and Hai Phong port, as well as improving socio-economic development in northern mountainous provinces and narrowing development gaps among regions in the country.

In addition, the ADB will also provide 95 million USD to help Vietnam implement a project improving farm produce quality and developing biogas production, according to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Bui Ba Bong.

At a seminar on the project, held in Hanoi on September 26, Bong said Vietnam will contribute 14.8 million USD to the 2009-2013 project, which will be established in 16 cities and provinces producing fruit, vegetables and tea.

An estimated 3.6 million local households will benefit from the effects of the project, helping to reduce the poverty rate in projected regions to 10 percent in 2013, down from the current rate of 19 percent.-