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Archive for October 18th, 2009|Daily archive page

Visa fee exemptions extended till year-end

In Vietnam Travel on October 18, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Visa fee exemptions extended till year-end

QĐND – Sunday, October 18, 2009, 20:41 (GMT+7)

Foreign tourists buying package tours to Vietnam under the Impressive Vietnam promotion campaign will enjoy an exemption on visa fees until the end of the year instead of end-September, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).

VNAT’s travel department said the Government Office on Monday announced the Prime Minister had agreed to a request of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism for the extension in line with the extended tourism promotion.

Vietnam’s tourism agency early this year launched the Impressive Vietnam program offering discounts of 30%-50% for visitors buying package tours from travel agencies in the program.

To help the country’s tourism attract more foreigners, the Government in May agreed to exempt visa fees for foreigners who enter Vietnam on these package tours.

The travel department said more than 20 travel companies had registered for their guests to enjoy free visas.

Despite efforts from the tourism sector, international tourists in Vietnam are still lower than last year.

According to the General Statistics Office, nearly 2.8 million foreigners visited the country in Jan-Sept, down 6.6% year-on-year.

In related news, the Prime Minister issued a regulation to map out and realize the national tourism promotion program for 2009-2010.

Under the regulation, the Prime Minister assigns the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to collect, classify, approve and realize the national tourism promotion program every year. Each program should combine activities to promote tourism, trade, investment and culture.

The regulation stipulates that programs to promote the country’s tourism via local and foreign media, tourism conferences, meetings, events and other activities will receive financial support from the State.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong, deputy head of the market department of the VNAT, said the budget which the regulation mentions belongs to the Trade, Investment, Tourism Promotion fund. Along with the budget, the country’s tourism is supported by the National Tourism Action Program.

* HCMC-based Fiditourist has signed deals to receive 10,500 local and foreign MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions) tourists this quarter, up 32% year-on-year, a source from Fiditourist said.

Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai, director of the public relations, communications and advertising department of the company, said that around 50% of the guests were from Japan, Singapore, the Philippines and Australia and the others locals.

“The result is better than expected because we’ve received 27,000 MICE guests in the first nine months only,” she said.

Fiditourist welcomed big groups of MICE tourists, like the group of 200 Japanese businessmen and others from South Korea and America and Japanese businessmen living in Vietnam, to the coastal city of Nha Trang October 9-12 to join the Vietnam-Japan Friendship Marathon. Around 60 Singaporean students visited the country from October 5 to 10.

The company will receive another group of 80 MICE tourists from the Philippines this week.

Mai said MICE guests were growing and would account for around 30% of the total tourists of Fiditourist in 2009.

Source: VietNamNet/SGT


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Challenges for poverty reduction

In Social life on October 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm

Challenges for poverty reduction

QĐND – Sunday, October 18, 2009, 20:41 (GMT+7)

Vietnam has been acknowledged internationally for its extraordinary efforts to reduce poverty over the past years. However, there remain challenges ahead and a greater effort should be made to ensure the success of the national poverty reduction programme.

The government has approved the national programme on poverty reduction which aims to lower the rate of poor households from 18.6 percent in 2006 to 10-11 percent in 2010 (or 2 percent annually on average). This goal seems to be within reach as the rate fell to around 13 percent at the end of last year. However, there is growing concern about the negative effects of a rapid increase in the consumer price index (CPI) and the global economic recession on people’s incomes and social welfare. These effects have not yet been calculated in the government’s official statistics on poverty.

Ngo Truong Thi, deputy head of the Social Protection Department under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), says the national poverty reduction programme has been drawn up to benefit the most vulnerable groups in society. To make it effective, it is necessary to identify their needs, and the poor themselves have to actively participate in the programme.

Though the government has pooled many resources and issued incentive policies for the poor, the results of the programme varied between regions, especially in the most disadvantaged areas where the poverty reduction rate was the lowest.  

To formulate appropriate policies, policymakers must make fact-finding trips to poor districts because the needs differ widely between them. A typical example is Tram Tau district in the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai where more than 90 percent of its forest land has not been exploited. The district also faces harsh weather, especially during the winter. Therefore, mechanisms for poverty reduction in Tram Tau are different from those for other areas.

Trinh Quang Trinh, director of the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs of Lao Cai province – another locality in the northern mountainous region – says the provincial administration has set a target of reducing the poverty rate by 2.5-3 percent a year. But a powerful storm swept across the province in August 2008, causing huge damage, and it consequently raised the poverty rate, notably by 1.2 percent in Bac Ha and Sa Pa districts.

Like Tram Tau, other poor districts in the central and Central Highland regions face many storms and floods every year which severely damage local infrastructure such as roads, schools and medical stations. As a result, large numbers of people who have just escaped poverty, relapse into poverty again.

Although Vietnam has been acknowledged by the international community for its poverty reduction efforts, there remain difficulties and challenges lying ahead.

Dang Kim Trung, deputy director of the Labour and Science Institute, says the national programme has so far focused on the figures rather than the quality.

“The programme should meet its set criteria of improving the quality of life for poor people and providing them with basic services such as health care, education and vocational training,” says Mr Trung.

Meanwhile, Mr Thi from MoLISA says the next phase of the programme will focus on the quality of poverty reduction. “We continue to give instructions to agencies and localities to ensure the programme will meet its criteria in terms of both quantity and quality,” says Mr Thi.

The lack of information is another factor reducing the efficiency of the programme.

“We have not paid particular attention to disseminating policies on poverty reduction to beneficiaries, so intensive communication campaigns will be launched in the near future,” says the MoLISA official. “We want to share experiences with the media and non-governmental organisations to make communications more effective.”
Source: VOV

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Dengue fever cycle peaks, but forecast to decline next month

In Social life on October 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm

Dengue fever cycle peaks, but forecast to decline next month

QĐND – Sunday, October 18, 2009, 20:41 (GMT+7)

Dengue fever is expected to have reached a 10-year peak and to stay at that level until the end of November, according to Ha Noi Preventive Medicine Centre spokeswoman Nguyen Nhat Cam.

The epidemic often had a cycle of 3-5 years or 5-10 years, said Cam, who is head of the centre’s Infectious Diseases Control Department.

The fever broke out on a large scale in 1998, thus this year was the peak of cycle, he said.

In July, 783 people were hospitalised with dengue fever. Since early September, the number of cases has topped 2,800, 14.5 times higher than the same period last year.

Cam said many people were still not co-operating in the prevention and treatment to control the epidemic.

“They don’t let health-care staff enter and spray anti-mosquito chemicals because they are afraid it will harm their health,” she said.

“In fact, these chemicals do not have a long-term effect and only kill mosquitoes carrying the fever virus to avoid the epidemic spreading,” Cam said.

National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology director Nguyen Tran Hien said those who were affected could suffer a relapse in the same epidemic season.

“It can even get more serious if one relapses because of getting another type of dengue fever virus,” he said.

He advised patients to watch complication symptoms from the fourth to the seventh day after getting the fever, including tiredness, vomiting, stomach ache, difficulty in breathing and hypodermic (beneath the skin) bleeding.

If these symptoms occur, patients should definitely see a doctor.

Hien called on the public to raise their awareness of dengue fever as a preventive measure.

Source: VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

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Mask’s virus-resistant properties unproven: experts

In Social life on October 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm

Mask’s virus-resistant properties unproven: experts

QĐND – Sunday, October 18, 2009, 20:41 (GMT+7)

The ability of a mask made of special fabric to kill viruses including that of swine and avian flu has not verified, local health experts say.

Dr. Nguyen Van Vinh Chau, deputy director of the HCMC Tropical Diseases Hospital, said they have rejected Como Co. Ltd’s proposal to verify the virus killing capacity of its product that is advertised as made from anti-virus and anti-bacteria fabrics developed by Japanese-owned Shikibo Group, as no standards were available for such tests.

A senior staff member at the HCMC Pasteur Institute said although they have agreed to conduct a test for Como it was related to bacteria.

Regarding the fabric’s purported ability to kill viruses, the doctor, who wished to stay unnamed said they could not do such tests as the company couldn’t provide them with the information about which chemical substances are in the fabric.

According to Como Director Nguyen Huu Phuc, the fabrics are cotton absorbed into a Shikibo-discovered organic compound with the ability to detect and kill viruses as well as bacteria, and polyester which acts to trap any virus and bacteria nearby.

Phu Nhuan District-based Como, which has recently sold the masks to some local hospitals and adjacent provinces, also failed to give the institute details about standards for such tests in Japan, according to the doctor.

He also noted that the certificates granted to the product as the company claims on its website and in advertisements, were in fact signed by laboratories in Japan and Indonesia, not the countries’ state health management agencies.

Tran Ngoc Huu, director general of HCMC Pasteur Institute, meanwhile, criticized the company for using the institute’s test results for advertising, as they don’t allow any customer to do so.

According Como’s Flutect mask advertisement, the product has been certified to be bacteria-resistant by HCMC Pasteur Institute, and as both virus and bacteria resistant by Japan’s National Institute of Hygiene and Indonesia’s Airlanga University.

“After 100 washings its anti-bacteria and anti-virus properties are still active and can endure the washing temperatures of 85oC,” the ad says.

Source: VietNamNet/TN/TT

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Stiffer fines sought to curb 12,000 road fatalities a year

In Social life on October 18, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Stiffer fines sought to curb 12,000 road fatalities a year

QĐND – Sunday, October 18, 2009, 20:41 (GMT+7)

In a bid to curb the chronic road accidents in the capital, the Ha Noi People’s Committee has requested permission from the Government to raise fine levels for traffic violations.

Nguyen Duc Nhanh, director of the Ha Noi Police, said major cities faced unique traffic problems and should be allowed to impose harsher penalties on reckless drivers.

Nguyen Duy Ngoc, the head of the city’s Road and Railway Traffic Department, said that in September alone, the city witnessed nearly 45,000 traffic violations, mostly involving running red lights, drunk driving, illegal parking and failure to wear a crash helmet.

He also said motorists when apprehended often assaulted policemen.

Under the traffic law, running a red light or failing to wear a helmet risks a fine of between VND100,000 and VND200,000 (US$5.5-11).

According to the National Traffic Safety Committee, each year 12,000 people die in traffic accidents nationally, of which 4,000 are children.

Traffic accidents are the main cause of death or brain trauma in young people.

Ngoc also said that the police should be given the authority to impound the vehicles of those who have been issued court summonses for 30 days and that the authorities should be given the right to inform their employers.

In July, the Ministry of Transport requested authority to raise punishment levels for traffic violations in Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City to twice the national level. However, the proposal was rejected on the grounds that it discriminated against those who lived in urban areas.

Source: VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

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Weaving a new life

In Social life on October 18, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Weaving a new life

QĐND – Sunday, October 18, 2009, 20:42 (GMT+7)

Le Thi Hoa, an ethnic Dao Tien woman from northern midland Phu Tho province, beamed with pride while showing off her brocade products, which have helped her family to escape poverty.

The mother of three sons, Hoa, said she would never forget the hard times, when she and her husband struggled to ensure the family had enough food to eat.

“But those times have gone,” said Hoa. “Several years ago we were taught about how to diversify our income. We planted subsidiary crops along with the usual rice crops and we were taught to weave brocade, which brought in some money when there’s no work to be done on the farm.”

“We also received a loan of VND10 million (US$550) from the local Social Policy Bank to breed pigs and poultry. We recently repaid the loan and have started to make a profit from the breeding.”

Hoa has managed to escape poverty, but 17 per cent of the country’s population live below the poverty line. However, Hoa’s experiences may prove valuable for others who are still struggling to get by.

Hoa was one of nearly a thousand participants at the Fourth End Hunger Free Campaign, launched in Ha Noi on Friday to mark World Food Day as well as Viet Nam’s Day for the Poor.

The campaign was launched by ActionAid Viet Nam and the Civil Society for Inclusion in Food Security and Poverty Elimination Network (CIFPEN). With the theme of “Investment in Sustainable Agriculture and Protection of Small-holder Farmers,” this year’s campaign specifically focuses on increasing public awareness on sustainable agriculture and food security and promoting initiatives in developing resources serving agriculture.

Secretary General of the United Nation Ban Ki-moon, in his message on World Food Day, said a strategy to provide safety nets and assistance for small-holder farmers was required.

The UN head also urged for more efforts on supporting longer-term agricultural productivity and resilience, social protection schemes, market access and fair trade.

La Van Ly, head of the Department for Co-operative and Rural Development under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that while the nation had launched many projects to tackle poverty and managed to reduce the poverty rate by 2 to 2.5 per cent annually, Viet Nam still had a high poverty rate.

“It ranks 10th on the list of nations with the highest poverty rate,” he said.

Ly said that in addition to building a model of sustainable agriculture for small-holder farmers, it was also necessary to pay more attention to increasing people’s ability to cope with climate change and natural disasters.

However, there were always obstacles to getting poor farmers who operated on a small scale to take part in sustainable cultivation due to a shortage of land, capital and know-how, as well as a reluctance by poor farmers to risk changing their farming methods.

“We don’t just want to escape poverty, we also want to become wealthy,” said Nguyen Minh Tan, a Muong ethnic man from Su Ngoi commune in northern mountainous Hoa Binh province’s Hoa Binh City.

“We don’t really mind losing our land for industrialisation and urbanisation as long as we have new jobs.

“Modernisation has brought us electricity and clean water,” he added.

Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation Jacques Diouf noted that financial resources were not the only factors contributing to successful poverty alleviation.

“Beyond the factors that exacerbate the current crisis, there is a whole series of fundamental problems that need to be resolved,” said Diouf.

“In particular, how aid is channelled and how to make it reach small-holder farmers effectively, as well as how to reform the world food security governance system for more coherence in the action of governments and development partners.

“We must also work on the share of national budgets dedicated to agriculture and private sector investment,” he stressed.

Source: VietNamNet/Viet Nam News


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Vietnam assumes ALA presidency

In Politics-Society on October 18, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Vietnam assumes ALA presidency

QĐND – Sunday, October 18, 2009, 20:41 (GMT+7)

Vietnam took up the presidency of the ASEAN Law Association (ALA) at the ALA 10th General Assembly’s closing ceremony in Hanoi on October 17.

Pham Quoc Anh, Chairman of the Vietnam Lawyers Association (VLA) was elected as ALA Chairman for the 2009-2012 term and Deputy General Secretary of the VLA Le Thi Kim Thanh ALA General Secretary.

At the congress themed “ASEAN Charter – Taking ASEAN to New Heights”, participants discussed six main issues including the impact of the recently-ratified ASEAN Charter on legal education in member countries, ways to settle legal matters in line with the charter, new developments in the legal system and investment laws of ALA member states.

They also examined judicial reform and the enforcement of rulings by international trade arbitrators in ASEAN countries.

Speaking at the congress, Pham Quoc Anh confirmed that the Vietnam Lawyers Association will try its best to fulfill the tasks assigned by the ALA and expressed his hope that the ALA will gain more achievements in the future under the ASEAN Charter’s framework.

ALA was established in Jakarta, Indonesia in February 1979, and now has become one of the largest regional non-governmental organizations in Southeast Asia.

Source: VOV

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Outstanding women honoured

In Politics-Society on October 18, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Outstanding women honoured

QĐND – Sunday, October 18, 2009, 20:41 (GMT+7)

Three female collectives and ten individuals were awarded the Vietnam Women’s Prize at a ceremony held in HCM City on October 18 to mark the 79th anniversary of the Vietnam Women’s Union (October 20).

At the awards ceremony, certificates of merit were also presented to outstanding female students who scored the highest marks on this year’s university entrance exams.

During the event, the Vietnam Women’s Union Central Committee, the Diana Company and Chau Giang Communications Company also relaunched a campaign to build houses for poor women nationwide. This year’s campaign strives to help one or two poor women to receive a house every day.

The campaign was first launched in 2008 and received nearly VND54 billion in support from organisations and individuals. It has already helped build nearly 4,600 houses for poor women in 63 provinces and cities nationwide.

Source: VOV

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Largest hostel area commenced in HCM City

In Politics-Society on October 18, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Largest hostel area commenced in HCM City

QĐND – Sunday, October 18, 2009, 20:41 (GMT+7)

The Ho Chi Minh City National University on October 16th broke ground for a hostel area that can accommodate as many as 60,000 students.

This is considered the largest accommodation project for students in Vietnam, and according to investors, the project will comprise 32 buildings for residence, sport facilities, services areas and so on, to serve not only students of the Ho Chi Minh City National University but also students of other universities in the Northeast of the city.

The project is expected to be wrapped up in 3 years, but will welcome and provide accommodation for students immediately after the completion of each subproject.

Source: TP

Translated by Thu Nguyen  

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Islanders receive great support from community

In Politics-Society on October 18, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Islanders receive great support from community

QĐND – Sunday, October 18, 2009, 20:41 (GMT+7)

Ho Chi Minh City’s People’s Committee and the Navy High Command organised a conference on October 17th to review the implementation of the programme “Ho Chi Minh City with islanders” at the city’s opera house.

As reported, the programme, launched in 2003, has received great support from the community to help upgrade infrastructure on the Spratly Islands. Construction work, such as water and power systems, were completed at a cost of more than VND 6.2 billion. Especially, it has helped the funding for the research of water processing technology to help protect the water resources surrounding the islands.

State’s agencies in the city have raised more than VND 50 billion fund for community development work on the various islands of Vietnam.

On the same day, Ho Chi Minh City Television broadcast a live programme, which took place at the city and the main island of the Spratly’s, under the theme “Singing about Spratly – Singing about Nation’s islands”.

Source: Thanh Nien

Translated by Hoang Anh

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