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Archive for April 12th, 2010|Daily archive page

VN-Index opens week with slight rise

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 9:01 am

Vietnam’s benchmark VN-Index opened the week with upward momentum from last week, gaining 0.48 percent on April 12.

The shares of 219 companies and four mutual funds on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange rose 2.51 points to 519.93. Trading volume dropped slightly over last week as more than 54.4 million shares, worth VND2.08 trillion, changed hands.


Among the index members, 82 rose, 101 declined, and 40 remained unchanged. Most investors expected the index to finish above 520 points today. However, the benchmark failed to pass this level.


Big gainers on the southern bourse included Cuu Long Fish Joint Stock Company (ACL), Construction and Materials Trading Joint Stock Company (CNT), Truong Thanh Furniture Corporation (TTF), and Viet Nam Fumigation Joint Stock Company (VFG). Each gained the maximum daily 5 percent allowed limit to VND33,600, VND37,800, VND33,600, and VND84,000 respectively.


Hochiminh City Infrastructure Investment Joint Stock Company (CII) was the most active stock in volume as 3.19 million shares were traded on the city bourse. Saigon Commercial Bank or Sacombank (STB) came next with 1.97 million shares changing hands, followed by Vietnam Electricity Construction Joint Stock Corporation (VNE) with 1.47 million shares.


The newly listed Pacific Property and Infrastructure Development and Investment Joint Stock Company (PPI) officially traded 10,014,753 shares on the city bourse at VND32,000 today. Ending the trading sessions, PPI rose to VND38,400 with more than 1.24 million changing hands.


The northern market also performed well as the HNX-Index gained 0.23 percent, or 0.4 points, to 171.23. Trading volume reached 52.92 million shares, worth more than VND1.71 trillion.


On the market, 102 stocks advanced, 150 fell, and 22 were unchanged.


Over-the-counter market shares moved in contrast as the UPCoM-Index closed down 0.45 percent, or 0.19 points, to 41.78.

Source: SGGP

City pharmaceutical companies receive fines for violations

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 9:00 am

Several pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies have recently been fined for violating laws, Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Market Management has said.

An inspector is checking drugs at Minh Phuc Pharmaceutical Company’s warehouse

The department has been investigating pharmaceutical enterprises in the city for the past three months and says it found some drugstores of the My Chau pharmaceutical chain and Minh Phuc Pharmaceutical Joint-Stock Company selling expired medicines and drugs without Vietnamese labels.


The department has fined Minh Phuc VND17.5 million and revoked the business registration certificate of one of My Chau’s drugstores at 73 Thuan Kieu Street in District 5.


The city market management department also penalized the Dong Phuong Pharmaceutical Company VND20 million for similar offenses and withdrew its business registration papers.


The Saigon Pharmaceutical Company, meanwhile, was fined VND12.5 million when market management officials discovered the enterprise didn’t keep written records after inspecting the company’s warehouse in an industrial area of HCMC’s Hoc Mon District.

Source: SGGP

Viva Macau Airlines closes Vietnam offices after Macau closure

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 8:56 am

Cash-strapped budget airline Viva Macau has closed its ticketing offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City after its office closure in Macau on April 6.


“As a direct result of the revocation of the Viva Macau Air Operator Certificate – a globally unprecedented event in international aviation – Viva Macau is now seeking legal advice for an orderly and responsible winding down of the business,” the airline’s April 6 statement wrote.


The statement said any passenger inquiries should be sent to the Macau Government Crisis Center at Tourism Crisis Management Office, email: info@ggct.gov.mo, website: http://www.ggct.gov.mo.

This file photo, taken on Dec. 7, 2009, shows Viva Macau’s ticketing office in Ho Chi Minh City, located at the Sheraton Hotel, on the office opening day. The carrier has closed its Vietnam offices following its Macau closure. (Photo: Tuong Thuy)

On March 26, the carrier cancelled services because of ‘”fuel payment issues”. Two days later, the city’s first budget airline saw its license revoked by the Government after failing to offer assistance to passengers stranded by flight cancellations. Viva Macau said the termination of air operator certificate affected flights to destinations including Tokyo, Sydney, Melbourne, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.


Viva Macau had been operating daily service to HCM City and three weekly flights to Hanoi on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays before its office closure in Macau.


Viva Macau’s general sales agent in Vietnam – TransViet Travel – has emailed all passenger requests for refunds to the carrier but none of the affected passengers got the refunds so far, according to Mr. Le Viet Cuong, director of business development at TransViet Travel.

Source: SGGP

Mekong island residents growing prosperous off durian

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 8:54 am

Durian farmers on Ngu Hiep Island in the Mekong Delta Province of Tien Giang are ecstatic as the price of the fruit has almost tripled recently.

Ngu Hiep island’s economy has strongly developed thanks to the community’s durian growing efforts.

The fragrant produce is now fetching at VND9, 000-26,000 per kilogram.


The islet of Ngu Hiep in Cai Lay District has an area of more than 1,471 hectares with 3,459 households. Among them, 3,135 families grow durian on over 1,257 hectares with an output of about 40,000 tons of the fruit yearly.


Farmer Nguyen Van Chang from the island’s Tan Son village owns a 2-hectare durian farm and said he earlier invested in fish breeding and planting longan, but saw very little profit from it. He then decided to try growing durian and after five years, he was earning large sums of around VND300-400 million (US$15,000-20,000) a year.


Le Van Loc, a farmer from Thuy Tay village, similarly earns VND400-500 million ($20,000-25,000) growing durian on a 3-hectare area. He also has plans to develop his land into an ecotourism area to draw visitors in the near future.


Senior farmer Nguyen Hoa Thuan, who has dozens of years’ experience growing durian on a 5-hectare area in Ngu Hiep, said his family has lived on the island since 1970 and was one of the first to plant the fruit trees.

Thuan says many people were skeptical when he first planted 60 durian trees, but after 1975, the trees began to bear fruit and helped his family earn more profits than by growing rice. Following his success, many other families decided to try planting durian.

Ngu Hiep island’s economy has continued to develop strongly over the past 10 years thanks to the community’s durian-growing efforts.

“Durian has helped many families escape poverty, making the countryside more prosperous,” said Deputy Chairwoman of the Ngu Hiep People’s Committee Nguyen Thi Thuy.


If it were not for durian, the islet district would likely not have changed so dramatically, added Huynh Huu Loc, a Ngu Hiep official.

By applying scientific technology, the islet district has also been able to offer the produce year-round, instead of just a few months a year as before.

Local authorities are now encouraging growers to plant higher quality durian varieties including Chin Hoa, Ri6 and seedless yellow-flesh types to ensure sustainable development and larger profits, said Chairman of the Ngu Hiep Gardening Association Tran Van Nam.

The Department of Agricultural and Rural Development of Cai Lay District is also implementing improved durian farming methods under VietGap (Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices) standards to further help farmers produce quality products. 

Source: SGGP

Euro rises on Greek rescue package

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 8:53 am

The euro jumped against the US dollar and yen in Asian trade Monday after the 16 nations using the single currency unveiled a 30-billion-euro lifeline for debt-hit Greece.

Chart showing the performance of the euro against the US dollar (AFP/Graphic)

The euro rose to 1.3647 dollars in Tokyo afternoon trade from 1.3497 in New York late Friday. It was up against the yen at 127.35 in Tokyo from 125.51.


The dollar fetched 93.28 yen, up from 93.18 Friday.


Finance ministers from the countries that share the under-pressure euro agreed a three-year financing programme at interest rates of around five percent to help Greece and restore confidence in the single currency.


The rescue package is intended as a back-up plan in case Greece is no longer able to raise funds to repay its debts and finance its budget on financial markets because of excessively high interest rates.


However, “the initiative for activating the rescue package rests with the Greek government and we’d be surprised if they didn’t use it in the absence of a sharp fall in borrowing costs,” said NAB Capital strategist John Kyriakopoulos.


In the days ahead of the agreement, the euro fell sharply and the yield on Greek 10-year bonds hit the highest level since 1998 amid persisting doubts about whether Athens’ eurozone partners would offer loans if needed.


“The euro is firmer as traders took heart from the Sunday announcement of the aid package for Greece,” said Daisuke Karakama, forex analyst at Mizuho Corporate Bank.


“But the gain could be short-lived as I can’t find many fresh factors from what’s written in the statement,” he added.


“The undertone of the euro’s weakness against the dollar probably won’t change for a while,” he said.


The IMF’s role in the unprecedented aid package for Greece is due to be the focus of talks starting on Monday.


EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said it would be for the IMF to reveal its precise share, but that “in principle” the split would be of the order of 2:1 for funding between the EU and the IMF.


An EU official said it would mean another 15 billion euros.


Dealers were also closely watching US data for clues on the recovery of the world’s largest economy, such as data on the retail sector due out this week, Karakama said.


In regional trade, the dollar declined to 32.26 Thai baht from 32.29 on Friday, to 1.3885 Singapore dollars from 1.3947 and to 9,003 Indonesian rupiah from 9,033.


It eased to 31.50 Taiwan dollars from 31.56, to 1,114.55 South Korean won from 1,118.70 and to 44.78 Philippine pesos from 44.82.

Source: SGGP

World Bank calls on Israel to ease West Bank restrictions

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 8:52 am

The World Bank warned on Monday that continued economic growth in the occupied West Bank would depend on Israel taking further steps to lift restrictions on movement.

Israeli border guards check Palestinian women?s IDs as they head to Jerusalem at a checkpoint in Bethlehem, 2009.(AFP)

“The fiscal position of the (Palestinian Authority) remains precarious. Despite evidence of economic growth in the West Bank, its sustainability remains in question,” the Bank said ahead of a donors conference in Madrid.


The warning came a day after the International Monetary Fund said the West Bank economy grew 8.5 percent in 2009 following Palestinian reforms, the easing of some restrictions, and nearly two billion dollars of foreign aid.


Both bodies have cautioned that those gains could be in danger if Israel does not remove more of the hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints it maintains in the West Bank, which it says are necessary for security.


The World Bank recommended “that continued easing of the economic restrictions on the West Bank, and lifting the Gaza blockade, remain a top priority for the government of Israel.


“Specifically, it urges unlocking of the economic potential of Area C in the West Bank,” it said, referring to the more than 60 percent of the territory that is under complete Israeli civil and military control.


It also urged the “liberalising of economic linkages with east Jerusalem,” which Israel seized in the 1967 Six Day War and annexed in a move not recognised internationally, and which the Palestinians view as their capital.


Both the World Bank and the IMF called for the lifting of sanctions on Gaza imposed after the Islamist Hamas movement seized power in June 2007, which have crippled the private sector and spawned an informal smuggling economy based on tunnels beneath the Gaza-Egypt border.


“All parties must bear in mind that economic integration of the West Bank and Gaza is critical to the viability of a Palestinian state in the medium and long terms,” World Bank regional vice president Shamshad Akhtar said.


“The current political and security uncertainty, as well as the movement restrictions, pose substantial impediments to the necessary integration of the Palestinian economy within the Middle East as well as globally.”

Source: SGGP

Defiant Thai protesters parade their dead

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 8:52 am

Thai “Red Shirts” paraded the bodies of dead protesters and empty coffins though the tense capital Monday, warning the time for negotiation was over after the bloodiest political unrest in 18 years.

Anti-government protesters head up to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s residence, Monday, April 12, 2010 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The protesters vowed to press on with their bid to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva following weekend clashes in Bangkok which left 21 people dead and more than 800 injured.


Pick-up trucks carrying two bodies and 14 empty caskets draped with Thai flags led a procession of cars, trucks and taxis filled with Red Shirts that snaked its way through central Bangkok, to cheers from some bystanders.


“There will be no talks with the government. We will not talk with killers,” said Reds leader Jatuporn Prompan. “What else is there to talk about?”


Seventeen civilians, including a Japanese cameraman, and four soldiers were killed Saturday after the army launched a crackdown on the supporters of fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, following almost a month of mass demonstrations.


The Red Shirts, who hail from mainly poor and rural areas of Thailand, insist they will not end their campaign until the government calls fresh elections, and Abhisit stands down and leaves the country.


“We want people in Bangkok to know what happened to the Red Shirts because the government and the army control the news,” said Chakkricth Kadeeluck, a 34-year-old watch seller from Chonburi, east of Bangkok.


“The Red Shirts want the people to know the truth.”


Abhisit offered last month to hold elections by the end of 2010 — one year ahead of schedule — to end the stand-off, but protest leaders rejected the proposal.


The government also played down local media reports that Abhisit might offer to bring forward the polls to October.


“There was no talk of elections in October yet,” government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn told AFP.


Thousands of Reds, who accuse the current government of being elitist and army-backed, have refused to end a month of mass rallies that have dealt a heavy blow to the country’s vital tourist sector.


Deepening fears about the impact of the political crisis on the economy sent Thai stocks plunging more than five percent in early afternoon trade on Monday as Thailand’s neighbours voiced their concern about the turmoil.


The Reds charge that the government is illegitimate because it came to power in 2008 after a court ousted allies of fugitive ex-premier and telecoms tycoon Thaksin from power.


Many are seeking the return of Thaksin, who was toppled in a bloodless coup in 2006, hailing his policies for the masses, such as cheap healthcare.


Shaken tourists have been seen packing up and leaving the capital after bloody clashes spread into the Khaosan Road backpacker district, where Thai flags, red roses and incense sticks were placed on pools of blood.


Saturday’s violence erupted when troops tried to clear one of two sites in the centre of the city which have been occupied by the protesters for the past month.


As the clashes intensified gunshots echoed around the city and both sides accused the other of using live ammunition. Emergency services said two protesters were killed by gunshot wounds to the head.


The army later retreated, calling for a truce with the demonstrators. One group of soldiers was taken hostage by the Reds but police said they had been released on Sunday.


The bodies of four soldiers killed in the clashes were due to be returned to their families for private funeral ceremonies after autopsies.


The family of the Japanese cameraman who was fatally shot in the chest while covering the clashes arrived Sunday in Bangkok, where his wife said she was “bewildered” at the tragic turn of events.


“He was the best husband and father. I am very sorry that he couldn’t come home with that smile,” she said in a statement.


 

Source: SGGP

BAE Systems tops ranking of biggest arms maker: study

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 8:51 am

Britain’s BAE Systems topped an international ranking of the world’s biggest arms groups, becoming the first non-US company to hold the spot, a leading defence think tank said on Monday.

Britain’s BAE Systems topped an international ranking of the world’s biggest arms groups, becoming the first non-US company to hold the spot, a leading defence think tank said on Monday. (AFP Photo)

The British group knocked US defence giant Boeing out of the top position in 2008, according to the ranking of biggest defence groups worldwide tallied by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).


“The main reason that BAE became the largest arms-producing company in the world in 2008 is the increase in its US sales, which outpaced decreases elsewhere including in the UK,” the think tank said in the study.


With arms sales in 2008 of 29.2 billion dollars (21.6 billion euros), Boeing fell from first place in 2007 to third following BAE Systems with 32.4 billion dollars and US group Lockheed Martin with 29.9 billion dollars.


It was followed by three US groups — Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and Raytheon — ahead of European group EADS in seventh place, Italian company Finmeccanica in eighth, L-3 Communications in ninth and Thales of France in tenth position.


The biggest Russian group on the list, air defence systems maker Almaz-Antei, was number 18 on the list.


In 2008 the 100 biggest defence groups had arms sales of 385 billion dollars, up 11 percent from the previous year, according to SIPRI.


“This is more than three times the size of the total development aid of OECD countries in 2008,” SIPRI said, noting that such aid reached 120 billion dollars.


Putting the data in perspective, the think tank said that arms sales of Lockheed Martin alone topped US development aid by four billion dollars and that BAE Systems sales were greater than the gross domestic product of 105 countries.


SIPRI’s ranking focuses on companies’ arms sales which make up only 48 percent of Boeing’s turnover and 70 percent of Lockheed Martin’s revenues.


In BAE System’s case, arms sales make up a far larger share of its sales with 95 percent of the total.


Born out of the merger of Marconi and British Aerospace in 1999, BAE Systems counts among its products the Eurofighter combat aircraft, the Bradley tank and the Astute submarine.


With 59 percent of BAE Systems’ sales coming from the vast US arms market, the group has major production operations in the country as well as in Britain, Sweden, South Africa and Sweden.


“BAE really shows the increasing internationalisation of the arms industry and the attractiveness of the US market,” SIPRI arms industry expert Susan Jackson said.


The group has benefitted from sales of mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles to the US government for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Source: SGGP

Polish relatives seek to identify Russia crash corpses

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 8:49 am

Grieving relatives of 96 people killed in the Polish presidential air disaster were in Russia on Monday to carry out the grim task of identifying corpses, many of them disfigured beyond recognition.

A map showing the route of the crashed plane and photos of some of the officials killed in Poland’s worst peacetime tragedy. (AFP Photo)

President Lech Kaczynski’s body was taken back to Warsaw on Sunday but that of his wife and dozens of other victims of the crash have still not been identified, Polish and Russian officials said.


Russia — which over the past years has had tense relations with Poland — was holding an official day of mourning for the crash victims with flags flying at half mast and entertainment programmes cancelled.


Russian officials have stated that there was no technical fault with Kaczynski’s Russian-built plane and that the Polish pilots were flying too low when they tried to land in thick fog on Saturday.


A special flight from Warsaw carrying the first of the relatives arrived in Moscow overnight and a second plane was expected to land in the course of the day, officials said.


The relatives, who are being put up in hotels in the capital, were starting the identification process at Moscow’s municipal morgue number three where the corpses are being held.


One hundred and thirty-two relatives have already arrived in Moscow.


The Polish military chief of staff and heads of the main armed services were also on the crashed plane along with the central bank governor, two deputy ministers, lawmakers and religious and cultural officials.


“The procedure for the relatives to identify the corpses is starting,” said Russian Health Minister Tatyana Golikova, standing alongside her Polish counterpart, Ewa Kopacz.


“We think that this procedure will last 2-3 days. We will do everything so this work is organised well and quickly,” said Golikova, adding that psychologists from Poland and Russia were helping the relatives in the ordeal.


Kopacz said the procedure would be difficult and some of the bodies were so badly disfigured that they could only be identified with the help of DNA evidence.


Russians paid their respects to the dead by laying flowers and candles outside the Polish embassy in Moscow. “Grief without borders,” headlined the pro-government Izvestia newspaper.


Kaczynski and the presidential delegation died as they were heading to a memorial service at Katyn, near Smolensk, for 22,000 Polish officers and troops killed in World War II 70 years ago.


Russian investigators on Sunday ruled out a technical fault with the Tupolev Tu-154 jet. Though it was an ageing Soviet-built craft, the jet had undergone a major overhaul in December, the Russian makers said.


“The recordings that we have confirm that there were no technical problems with the plane,” Russia’s chief investigator Alexander Bastrykin told Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who is leading an official inquiry.


Recordings of the plane’s communications with air traffic control revealed the pilot had been warned that thick fog over the airport created dangerous conditions, but tried to land anyway, Bastrykin said.


“The pilot was informed about complex weather conditions but nevertheless made a decision to land,” Bastrykin, the head of Russia’s investigative committee said.


 

Source: SGGP

WHO sets up swine flu probe

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 8:48 am

Health experts on Monday begin examining the controversial response to the first influenza pandemic of the 21st century, nearly a year after global alarm was raised over the new swine flu strain.

A Cambodian child (R) receives a vaccine for A-H1N1 along a street in Phnom Penh on April 1. (AFP Photo)

The World Health Organisation is forming a panel of 29 external experts following accusations that the agency-led international reaction to A(H1N1) influenza was overblown and may have been tainted by commercial interests.


After the formative three-day meeting, the International Health Regulations review committee’s work is expected to take about nine months, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said.


WHO Special Adviser on Pandemic Influenza Keiji Fukuda recently admitted that “we still have a lot of things to learn,” including the way the risks posed by swine flu are communicated to the public.


However, specialists broadly defended the alarm over the discovery of A(H1N1) cases in Mexico and the United States in April 2009 as well as the WHO’s declaration of a pandemic in June as the flu swiftly spread around the world.


“I think they gave a terrific lead and were very authoritative. I think we have a lot to thank them for,” John Oxford, a virologist and professor at the Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry in Britain, told AFP.


“A lot of the criticism is political. I’ve not heard criticism from any virologist,” he added, also highlighting the need to cater for impoverished countries with poor surveillance, care and health conditions.


Parliamentarians conducting a Council of Europe probe have criticised the transparency of decision-making and especially the potential influence of the pharmaceutical industry on a decision last year to press for vaccination.


That inquiry was set up after several governments sought to cancel mass orders of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of swiftly developed special pandemic vaccines, when fears about the severity of swine flu died down.


British MP Paul Flynn, who is leading that probe, declined to comment before he meets WHO officials in Geneva on Thursday.


David Heymann, a former head of infectious diseases at the WHO who left the agency in early 2009, voiced concern about public reticence towards vaccination in generally healthy Western populations.

Source: SGGP