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Archive for May 3rd, 2010|Daily archive page

Agencies mull solutions to ease trade deficit

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Agencies mull solutions to ease trade deficit

QĐND – Monday, May 03, 2010, 20:46 (GMT+7)

Trade deficit control has been ineffective as Vietnam’s trade deficit in January-April reached US$4.65 billion, or 23 percent of the export earnings in the period, agencies said. 

Export turnover in April was $5.7 billion, up 1.9 percent from March, while imports hit $6.95 billion, up 3 percent, the General Statistics Office (GSO) reported.

As a result, the trade deficit in April was US$1.25 billion, compared to $1.16 billion in March, $1.33 billion in February, and $945 million in January.

In the first four months of this year, Vietnam’s exports rose 8.9 percent year on year to $20.16 billion, while imports soared 35.6 percent to $24.81 billion.

Major imports in the period were machinery and equipment; petrol and oil; steel and iron; electronics, computers and accessories thereof; and plastic products.

Of the January-April trade gap, the foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) accounted for $700 million. It spent $10.2 billion on imports, posting an expansion of 55.6 percent, and earned $9 billion from exports, gaining a growth of 44 percent.

To help FIEs boost exports and reduce trade deficit, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has asked the Ministry of Industry and Trade to work with other ministries to remove unreasonable regulations that has hindered their operation.

Commenting on whether increasing import duty should be a measure to help ease trade deficit, Vu Van Truong, head of the Tax Policy Office under the Finance Ministry, said such a measure is only a short-term one.

This measure needs to be given a due consideration, as it may push production cost up and consequently give rise to an increase in prices of some commodities on the market.

To increase export turnover and reduce trade deficit, the Ministry of Industry and Trade called on businesses to seek new outlets for exports and strengthen their marketing efforts in Asian, EU and North American markets.

Hard to keep trade gap under 20 percent

The country expects to earn about $72 billion worth of exports this year, an increase of 5.6 percent from 2009, and keep trade deficit under 20 percent of export earnings.

However, the ministry said the trade gap target is unlikely to be met, since the country has to import as much as 80 percent of its demand for materials, fuels, machinery, and equipment for production of goods for export.

For instance, the textiles and garment sector earned around $3 billion from exports in the last four months, but it had spent about $2.6 billion on imports of cotton, cloth, and other materials to make products for export, he said.

According to the GSO, trade deficit control has proved ineffective as products subject to import controls, such as seafood, fruits and vegetables, steel, gems and precious metal, increased by 59 percent in the past four months.

Goods subject to import limitation, such as consumer goods, motorbikes, and under-nine seat cars that are fully assembled, also rose 41 percent.

Meanwhile, trade deficit control has been efficient only in reducing imports of luxury consumer goods and machinery and equipment that the country can manufacture, said Nguyen Thanh Bien, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade.

However, he pointed out that those commodities accounted a modest proportion, about 17 percent, in the total volume of imports in the last four months. Therefore, their influence on reducing trade deficit is inconsiderably.

Source: SGGP

Source: QDND

Educators slam new teacher poll

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Educators slam new teacher poll

QĐND – Monday, May 03, 2010, 20:46 (GMT+7)

A ministry plan to select the most popular teacher in each province as an example to others has been criticised as inappropriate by teachers and students.

The Ministry of Education and Training began the campaign to find the teachers most liked by students as a reward and an example to other teachers.

It has ordered that a panel be set up in each school to select the most popular teacher and send the profile to provincial councils for selection of a provincial winner.

The planned May ceremony to grant awards to these teachers has been postponed until November.

Former HCM City’s Universityof Pedagogy Literature Faculty head Tran Huu Ta said the ministry should focus on improving the lot of all teachers rather than organising such a poll.

“What is of most importance to teachers is the respect that students give them, not a title,” he said.

The ministry should improve the teachers’ salaries, he added.

“How could teachers be happy when they only receive a bonus of VND50,000 (US$2.60) for Tet holidays?”

Ta said there were already too many titles for teachers, such as excellent employees, people’s teachers, meritorious teachers and so on. A new title would make a mockery of them.

HCM City’s Nguyen Thuong Hien Secondary School principal Ho Cam Thanh said such a random popularity poll could prove harmful.

Students might not be fully aware of their responsibilities in the selection process, so the result might not be accurate, which would hurt many good teachers, Thanh said.

She said her school often surveyed students’ opinions on teachers’ methods, but only as a supervision tool and to improve standards.

HCM City’s Nguyen Thi Minh Khai School principal Duong Thi Truc Bach said her school was not interested in the popularity poll.

“We are focusing on supporting Grade 12 students to pass their graduation examinations and university entrance exams, not selecting the most popular teachers,” she said.

Hoang Thi Hong Hai, a former head of the Education and Training Bureau of HCM City’s Tan Phu District, said the ministry’s selection process was not comprehensive.

“At primary schools, students only know one teacher each academic year. At secondary schools they are taught by a few teachers. How could the selection cover all teachers in a school?” she said.

Tran Hoang Phuong, a student of Nguyen Du Secondary School in Ha Noi, said he had not heard of the popularity poll.

Le Lan Huong, a Grade-10 student in Kim Lien High School, said a title was not necessary.

“A teacher who is loved and respected by us does not need a title. That teacher, without any ranking, will be surrounded by students,” Huong said.

Source: Viet Nam News


Source: QDND

Eight provinces at high risk of forest fires

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Eight provinces at high risk of forest fires

QĐND – Monday, May 03, 2010, 20:46 (GMT+7)


Many areas in the central highlands and southern regions have suffered severe droughts that could lead to forest fires breaking out.

These areas are mainly in the eight provinces of Kon Tum, An Giang, Binh Dinh, Binh Thuan, Ninh Thuan, Quang Ngai, Quang Nam and Ca Mau.

The National Steering Committee for the Prevention of Forest Fires has urged People’s Committees at all levels to introduce tough measures to prevent forest fire and ensure rescue services.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

Children to receive five-in-one vaccine in June

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Children to receive five-in-one vaccine in June

QĐND – Monday, May 03, 2010, 20:46 (GMT+7)

All children old enough to be vaccinated will be protected against five diseases (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B and meningitis).

According to Nguyen Tran Hien, the head of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE), this vaccination programme will be funded by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI).

The programme will last for five years, starting from June 2010. In the first two years, the GAVI will grant US$37 million to help Vietnam purchase vaccines, needles and syringes.

Each year, Vietnam has 1.5 million new-born babies, therefore, about 1.5 million children need vaccinating annually.

The “five-in-one” vaccine has not been available in Vietnam before and it is quality tested by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

NA Chairman meets voters in Ba Dinh district

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 8:27 pm

NA Chairman meets voters in Ba Dinh district

QĐND – Monday, May 03, 2010, 20:48 (GMT+7)


On May 3, a National Assembly (NA) delegation led by Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong met voters in Ba Dinh district to inform them of the content of the 7th session of the 12th NA and collect their opinions.

The seventh session of the 12th NA legislature is scheduled to open on May 20 for more than one month, during which the NA deputies will discuss and finalise many important issues related to legislature and supervision.

Voters praised the NA’s efforts to renew its operations and enhance its role in boosting national development. They expressed their wish that the NA will continue to strictly control issues such as corruption, superstition, ineffective capital construction investment and rising prices.

NA Chairman Trong acknowledged voters’ opinions which will be submitted to the NA in the upcoming session and confirmed that the NA would perform its supervisory role in a more effective and practical manner.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

Lao-Vietnamese-Thai cultural village built in Laos

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 12:33 pm

The ground-breaking ceremony for building a Lao-Vietnamese-Thai cultural village has been held in Laos ’ central province of Borikhamsay.

Eight border provinces of the three countries along Road 8B, namely Bolikhamsay and Khammouane provinces of Laos, Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces of Vietnam and Noong Khai, Xacon Nakhon and Nakhon Phanom provinces of Thailand, will build their traditional houses, clubs, parks and exhibitions halls in the 197ha village.

The village, which is being built under the agreement reached between the three countries in 2006, will depict the three countries’ housing architectures.

Source: SGGP

More than 500,000 tourists join Ha Long festival

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 12:33 pm

More than 500,000 visitors flocked to the Ha Long Tourism Festival 2010, which was held from April 29-May 2 in the World Heritage site of Ha Long Bay.

On this occasion, hotels and hostels in Ha Long City run at full capacity.

Carnival during the festival (Photo: Vietnam News Agency)

During the four day festival, nearly 50,000 tourists visited Ha Long Bay, five times over the normal day. On May 1 alone, 16,000 visitors toured around the bay.

This year’s Ha Long Tourism Festival took the theme of Hanoi to celebrate the 1,000 birthday of the capital city.

Highlight of the festival was a street carnival when symbolic images of Hanoi were paraded alongside thousands of professional and amateur artists from both inside and outside the country.

The festival, was held at nigh for the first time, including a series of diverse activities, including fireworks, boat races, a conference of the world’s most beautiful bays, an international tourism-trade fair, exhibitions, concerts and a beauty pageant.

Quang Ninh’s tourism sector expects to welcome 5.2 million visitors, including 2.5 million foreigners this year.

Source: SGGP

Election recount under way in Baghdad

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 12:32 pm

BAGHDAD (AFP) – A controversial recount that could alter who becomes Iraq’s prime minister began Monday in Baghdad, the latest in a series of pivotal steps threatening the vote’s credibility.

The war-torn country’s March 7 parliamentary poll has yet to produce a government and the outcome remains shrouded in doubt due to the recount and an imminent ruling on whether several winning candidates should be disqualified.

Iraqi electoral employees recount ballots cast during the recent parliamentary election at the Al-Rasheed hotel in Baghdad.AFP photo

The United States is increasingly concerned that an initially credible election could unravel because of a political stalemate, a lack of democratic transparency and the potential disenfranchisement of a large number of voters.

The recount follows a successful appeal by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who alleged that he had lost votes because of violations at polling centres in Baghdad during the March 7 ballot.

No sooner was it under way than allegations of “ballot stuffing” were raised by a leading member of Maliki’s State of Law Alliance, who hit out at how the recount was being conducted, and lodged an appeal to stop it.

Baghdad was by far the biggest prize in the election almost two months ago, with 70 seats on offer in a new 325-seat parliament.

“We will count 600 boxes today,” Qassim al-Abbudi, an official with the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), told reporters at the Rasheed hotel in the Iraqi capital where the recount is taking place.

Officials from the United Nations, European Union, the Arab League, and the US embassy in Baghdad are monitoring the process.

Former premier Iyad Allawi’s secular Iraqiya coalition won the election, defeating Maliki by 91 votes to 89, according to results still to be ratified by the Supreme Court.

Both need 163 seats to form a majority government but coalition talks with smaller parties appear to have stalled.

Maliki won the vote in Baghdad — taking 26 seats compared to Allawi’s 24 — in what was the second national election in Iraq since the 2003 US-led ouster of dictator Saddam Hussein.

But the recount could lead to a wider winning margin for the premier in the capital, allowing him to eventually overturn his two-seat defeat nationally.

Hussein al-Shahristani, Iraq’s oil minister, and a close Maliki ally, however, hit out at IHEC’s handling of the recount, insisting that voter lists be reconciled with the number of ballot papers sitting in 11,000 boxes.

“We presented a new complaint to the judicial assembly,” said Shahristani, a member of Maliki’s alliance.

“It shows that IHEC insists not to express the desire of voters, and we asked to compare the lists of voters names with voting papers in the boxes.

“So we demand the process stops or changes are made so that it works correctly.”

At a briefing on Sunday, Ambassador Gary Grappo, head of the political section at the US Embassy in Baghdad, said he did not expect significant changes to the election result, following the Baghdad recount.

“We would hope and expect that the recount will take place in as transparent and credible fashion as the elections did on March 7,” he said.

The recount coincides with a ruling expected this week on whether nine election-winning candidates will be disqualified.

The candidates are variously accused of links to Saddam’s outlawed Baath party and military units during his reign.

Grappo said the role of the Justice and Accountability Committee (JAC) that compiled the list of candidates who could be stopped from taking up seats remained opaque.

“From our perspective we see the votes cast by individual citizens as sacrosanct, and now we see we have an organisation of questionable legitimacy trying to alter votes cast by citizens,” he said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on April 27 urged Iraqi leaders to resolve their rows and form a new government quickly.

Source: SGGP

European markets fall despite Greece bailout

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 12:32 pm

PARIS, May 3, 2010 (AFP) – The euro and European stocks fell on Monday on scepticism over a bailout for Greece and huge austerity measures Athens is promising, while a shadow of debt contagion hung ominously over Europe.

“Although Greece has had a lifeline from the IMF… the market is not assured that the worst has passed,” said Thio Chin Loo, a senior currency analyst with BNP Paribas in Singapore.

The euro fell to 1.3232 dollars on Monday from 1.3300 late on Friday when it had rallied on expectations of a rescue for Greece at the weekend.

European shares also fell in mid-day trading with the Frankfurt DAX shedding 0.17 percent and the Paris CAC losing 0.62 percent. The London stock market was closed for a public holiday.

Eurozone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund endorsed on Sunday a 110-billion-euro rescue package to keep Greece from a debt default and end a crisis that has rocked the single currency and rattled world markets.

In return for the emergency loans, the Greek Socialist government agreed to implement draconian spending cuts and tax increases to bring its public deficit down from 13.6 percent to under 3.0 percent by 2014.

Asian shares were also down, with Hong Kong ending the day 1.41 percent lower and Sydney shedding 0.46 percent. Tokyo was closed for a holiday.

Shares were down in Spain and Portugal, countries with high public deficits that are considered the most threatened by contagion from the crisis in Greece.

The Madrid stock exchange was down 0.83 percent while shares in Lisbon fell slightly by 0.04 percent. Athens was up, however, gaining 0.03 percent.

The borrowing costs of Spain rose as the interest rate demanded by investors to hold its 10-year bonds rose to 4.052 percent from 4.032 percent late Friday.

The yield, or return, on Portuguese bonds eased, however, to 5.108 percent from 5.126 percent.

And the rate demanded for Greek bonds, which soared above 11 percent last week, fell further to 8.614 percent. The punitive rates demanded by the markets were what forced Greece to go cap in hand to its European Union partners and the IMF.

At Barclays Capital, analysts expressed concern that the conditions for the rescue aid might not be approved by parliaments in contributing eurozone countries.

The IMF could begin transferring funds without the approval of eurozone parliaments, but that did not remove uncertainty about the final total amount and this was weighing on the euro, they said.

Investors were also concerned about regional elections in Germany on May 9, two days after the date on which the German federal parliament is due to adopt the rescue package.

But other analysts said the German legislature would inevitably pass the deal despite deep reservations among lawmakers.

Even if Greece gets the entire rescue package, Golman Sachs economist Erik Nielsen estimates that the country’s funding needs are much higher.

“I maintain my estimate that the total financing requirement will be about 150 billion euros over the next three years, so this means that the programme will not be fully financed throughout,” Nielsen said.

At Dutch bank ING, interest rate strategist Padhraic Garvey said “the issue now is whether the 110 billion package is enough.”

He said that the “bottom line” was that “if Greece spent the lot on upcoming redemptions, coupons (interest payments) and deficit financing there would not be a whole lot left heading into 2012.”

He added: “This gives Greece an effective window of 18-24 months, or effectively half to two-thirds of the so-called three-year programme.”

Source: SGGP

Greece rushes austerity cuts as anger builds

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 12:32 pm

A man passes by a shop window in downtown Athens. (AFP photo)

ATHENS (AFP) – Greece’s socialist government rushed on Monday to push through parliament a fresh round of spending cuts in the face of public anger at the price to pay for the 110-billion-euro international bailout.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has insisted the austerity package was essential to secure the joint eurozone-International Monetary Fund rescue package.

But Greek unions have vowed to battle the drastic round of austerity measures, worth some 30 billion euros (40 billion dollars) that include deep cuts to wages and pensions.

Union leaders have flagged up a general strike Wednesday as the first stage in resistance to the government’s austerity programme.

The government is to present the new austerity measures to parliament late Monday or Tuesday and aims to get a vote on Wednesday or Thursday at the latest, an official said.

Newspapers said the day after the cuts were unveiled that they marked the end of an era in Greece and beginning of years of painful sacrifice.

“Our way of life, of working, consuming and organising our lives in this part of the Balkans is finished since yesterday,” the pro-governmental Ta Nea newspaper said in an editorial.

The main headline of the independent left-leaning Eleftherotypia read “Four years without a breath…”

Papandreou, in a speech to his cabinet Sunday, made it clear the cuts would run deep: but he was clear too about what he believed was at stake.

“I know that with the decisions today our citizens must suffer greater sacrifices,” he said.

“The alternative however would be catastrophe and greater suffering for us all.”

The 110-billion-euro bailout to dig Greece out of its debt crisis is bigger than the deal agreed to salvage bankrupt Argentina in the 1990s.

European governments endorsed the deal at a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels on Sunday, although the parliaments of some of the 16 eurozone countries involved, notably France and Germany, still need to approve it.

The first installment of the eurozone-IMF rescue package would then be paid within the next few weeks, with the rest spread over three years and conditional on the cuts and tax rises in Greece.

That should mean the first payment will be in the Greek coffers ahead of the May 19 deadline for nine billion euros of debt repayments.

IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said Sunday that the Fund’s executive board was set to approve its part of the deal, 30 billion euros, within the week.

“The authorities’ program is designed with fairness in mind,” he said of the government’s cuts. It would include more progressive taxation; a clampdown on tax evasion with closer checks on the rich.

Athens would also exempt the most vulnerable from cuts in wages and pensions, said Strauss-Kahn. And there would be a “significant reduction” in military spending.

But Yannis Panagopoulos, president of the million-member strong GSEE union, denounced the government’s plan as the “most unfair and hardest measures in the modern history of Greece”.

The austerity plan would only “worsen the recession and plunge the economy into a deep coma”, he warned.

“It’s time to step up the social battle, our May 5 general strike will be the beginning of a long battle.”

In exchange for emergency loans, Greece has agreed the new cuts over three years with the aim of slashing the public deficit to less than three percent of output by 2014, from 13.6 percent last year.

Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said the government would scrap 13th and 14th month bonus wages for public sector workers and pensioners; raise the retirement age for women from 60 to 65, bringing it in line with that for men; and raise the sales tax from 21 percent to 23 percent this year.

Rocked by violent street protests at home, Greece has been under heavy pressure to cut a massive public deficit that has shaken the euro, rattled markets and sparked fears of contagion to other debt-ridden European countries.

But the euro slipped and Asian stocks tumbled in thin trading on Monday on doubts about the bailout.

The single European currency bought 1.3224 dollars at 0350 GMT in Asia, down from 1.3294 late in New York Friday, paring back early gains that saw it climb as high as 1.3332 dollars.

The European Central Bank meanwhile suspended criteria for Greek debt it accepts as collateral for loans of central bank funds, a major boost for the Greek government and banks.

The move, which is to remain in effect “until further notice”, means that banks in Greece and elsewhere will be able to keep getting ECB cash loans using government bonds and other marketable debt instruments as collateral despite their ratings by international agencies.

Source: SGGP