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Toyota to pay $32.4 mln in extra fines over recalls

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 at 9:32 am

 Toyota has agreed to pay 32.4 million dollars in fines over its handling of two auto recalls, bringing total penalties levied on the firm to 48.8 million this year, officials said.


“Toyota will pay the maximum fines allowable under the law — 16.375 million dollars in one case and 16.050 million in the other — in response to the department’s assertion that it failed to comply with the requirements of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act for reporting safety defects to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.


The two penalties come on top of Toyota’s record 16.4-million-dollar fine assessed in April to settle claims the automaker hid accelerator pedal defects blamed for dozens of deaths.

Toyota has agreed to pay 32.4 million dollars in fines over its handling of two auto recalls, bringing total penalties levied on the firm to 48.8 million this year, officials said.

Toyota issued a series of mass recalls of around 10 million vehicles worldwide in late 2009 and early 2010 that undermined the company’s once stellar reputation and triggered US congressional investigations.


“Safety is our top priority and we take our responsibility to protect consumers seriously… I am pleased that Toyota agreed to pay the maximum possible penalty and I expect Toyota to work cooperatively in the future to ensure consumers’ safety.” said LaHood.


The 16.375-million-dollar fine was tied to an investigation completed Monday over Toyota’s recall of nearly five million vehicles with accelerator pedals that can become entrapped by floor mats, the Department of Transportation said.


“NHTSA’s investigation led the agency to believe that Toyota had not fulfilled its obligation to report a known safety defect within five days, as is required under the law,” it added.


The 16.05-million-dollar fine stems from an NHTSA probe into whether the automaker properly notified the agency of a safety defect in several Toyota models in 2004 and 2005 that could result in the loss of steering control.


The defect led to a 2004 recall in Japan for Hilux trucks that Toyota initially said did not extend to US models. In 2005, Toyota informed NHTSA that the steering relay rod defect was present in several models sold in the United States and conducted a recall for nearly one million vehicles.


NHTSA said it learned in May of complaints from US consumers and others that Toyota had not disclosed additional information.


“Automakers are required to report any safety defects to NHTSA swiftly, and we expect them to do so,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.


Both fines levied against Toyota are the maximum in civil penalties for each of the two violations stemming from the pedal entrapment and steering relay rod recalls.


In 2008, Toyota ended the 77-year reign of General Motors as the world’s largest automaker but the road has been a bumpy one for the Japanese giant, facing the impact of the economic crisis, recalls and recently a strong yen.


Sales are falling in the United States, with the automaker slipping from second to third place this year behind reviving giants Ford and market leader GM.


Toyota reported a 7.3 percent sales drop in November and its market share could fall by 17 percent to just over 15 percent in 2010, according to IHS Automotive.


To stem the bleeding, the automaker has added an extra four weeks to new vehicle testing, sped up its decision-making process and appointed regional quality control officers.


Analysts say Toyota has become more aggressive in catching possible defects as part of a campaign to improve its consumer image, but warn that continued frequent recalls damage its branding as a quality carmaker.


Only a week ago, Toyota recalled some 94,000 of its 2011 Sienna minivans in the United States to replace a brake bracket that could get stuck.

Source: SGGP

HCM City plans US$135 mln for pre-schools in 5 years

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2010 at 8:27 am


Ho Chi Minh City plans to set aside about VND2,700 billion (US$135 million) for developing its pre-school system between now and 2015.

Children in playing time at Anh Dao kindergarten.   (Photo: SGGP)

Under the plans, the city’s government will build 760 classrooms, and train thousands of teachers, both working and new ones.


The city will ensure that 100% of under-5 children to go to school with two class sessions a day by 2013.


Among them, the local authorities will allocate priority funds in the construction of six national standard kindergartens in rural areas including Ly Nhon Commune in Can Gio District, Nhon Duc in Nha Be, Tan Nhut in Binh Chanh, Xuan Thoi Thuong in Hoc Mon, Tan Thong Hoi and Thai My in Cu Chi; and other pre-schools in 12 wards in districts consisting of 4, 6, Phu Nhuan, Go Vap, Binh Tan, Tan Phu; and in industrial and export processing zones.


In addition, the city’s government also guides the Department of Education and Training to cooperate with the Labor Union in asking industrial and export processing zones to build kindergartens for workers’ children.

Source: SGGP

Gov’t to advance $3 mln equivalent to flood-hit provinces

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:29 am

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has directed the Ministry of Finance to advance VND61.6 billion (US$3 million) out of total VND335 billion from the central budget to eight central provinces which have been damaged by the recent floods. 

File photo of houses flooded in Ninh Hoa District, Phu Yen Province (Photo: SGGP)


The money is expected to help flood victims buy seeds, domestic animals, and restore production, which the floods have caused.


On December 3, PM Dung decided to extract VND335 billion (US$16.75 million) from the State budget and 8,600 tons of rice from the National reserve to support and assist the central provinces to recovered from the consequences of the recent flooding.


The chairperson of the eight provinces people’s committees will be responsible for the distribution of the money for the correct purpose.


The PM’ has decided to distributed the money to the following provinces: Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan, Dak Lak and Gia Lai provinces.


In related news, Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang on December 7 worked with leaders of the Phu Yen Province. This was to ensure that water release from hydropower plants, and the price stabilization was in place, during the upcoming Lunar New Year Holiday Celebrations.


The Provincial People’s Committee asked the government to supply an extra of 2,000 tons of rice, 1,000 tons of seed, 10,000 litres of pesticides to help residents restore production and prevent environmental pollution.


The province also asked the government to support VND185 billion (US$9.2 billion) to upgrade irrigation works in the area.  Mr. Hoang said that he would send a report to the government about the province’s petitions.

Source: SGGP

ADB: 3 nations to get additional $49 mln to fight tropical diseases

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 4:53 am

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is extending US$49 million to expand surveillance response systems to help control dengue outbreaks, and prevent the spread of communicable and tropical diseases in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, the bank announced Tuesday.


“Preventing these diseases requires better local participation and much more intensive regional cooperation,” Vincent de Wit, who leads health professional in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department, said in the announcement.

SGGP file – Volunteers clean up a canal in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 12 during a 2009 summer campaign designed to clean up the environment.

The bank added that the Second Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Regional Communicable Diseases Control Project, which is an offshoot of the first GMS Regional Communicable Diseases Control Project, would also target improvements in the capacity of health services and communities involved in disease control in border districts of the three countries.


The community-based communicable disease control systems funded by the project are aimed at around 1.7 million people living in 116 border districts. About one-third of the population in the target areas belong to ethnic minority groups, according to the Philippines-based lender.


ADB said the new project would build on earlier successes, from the earlier GMS Regional Communicable Diseases Control Project, to strengthen surveillance and response mechanisms.


Financing will come from ADB’s concessional Asian Development Fund with a loan of US$27 million for Vietnam and grants of $10 million for Cambodia and $12 million for Laos. The three countries will provide counterpart support totaling US$5 million equivalent, said ADB.


The Ministry of Health in each country will be the executing agency for the project, which is due for completion in June 2016. The regional coordination unit will be based in Vientiane of Laos.

Source: SGGP

Mövenpick Hotel Saigon reopens after $15 mln renovation

In Uncategorized on August 1, 2010 at 11:20 am

The five-star Mövenpick Hotel Saigon reappeared in Ho Chi Minh City on August 1 after a complete transformation over the past five months.


The renovation, which the hotel management said cost US$15 million, is for all guest rooms, public areas and restaurants.

The Mövenpick Hotel Saigon’s designed façade

“The overarching goal is to create a new benchmark in hospitality in Vietnam,” said Knuth Kiefer, general manager of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Vietnam. 


The hotel is located on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street in Phu Nhuan District, within 10 minutes to drive to the airport.


Completely closed on March 8 this year, the Mövenpick continues to use the time to add key personnel and for staff education, with core training in hospitality essentials.


“I’m happy with our progress in attracting a great team and training them accordingly. The closure of the hotel was pivotal in the process, which will of course continue after we open on August 1,” Kiefer said.


The hotel houses 278 guestrooms and five restaurants. Kiefer said he was especially proud of the new bar on the 3rd floor that flanks the hotel’s swimming pool and spa.


In Vietnam, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts operates five-star hotels, one in Ho Chi Minh City and the other in Hanoi.


The international hotel group, with roots in Switzerland, is represented through over 90 hotels existing or under construction in 26 countries with a concentration in its core markets of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Source: SGGP

AIDS charity Life Ball raises 1.5 mln euros

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 at 11:17 am

VIENNA, July 22, 2010 (AFP) – Vienna’s glitzy AIDS charity Life Ball last weekend raised 1.5 million euros (1.9 million dollars) for international and national HIV and AIDS projects, organisers said Thursday.


This year’s event on the square in front of the Austrian capital’s neo-Gothic Town Hall and attended by former US president Bill Clinton and Hollywood actress Whoopi Goldberg was marred by heavy thunder storms and cloudbursts.


“If the weather had been better, the amount of money raised would probably have been even higher,” commented organiser Gery Keszler.


Nevertheless, tens of thousands of gays, lesbians, drag queens and their friends, all dressed in outrageous costumes, paid between 75-150 euros for a ticket to the 18th annual fashion-show-cum-party event, aimed as a brilliant and dazzling pendant to Vienna’s stiff and haughty Opera Ball much earlier in the year.

Picture shows new HIV protection gel for women on July 21, 2010 during the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna.AFP PHOTO

Also in Vienna, the 18th World AIDS conference, which runs until Friday, is being attended by some 25,000 experts, health professionals and policy makers to discuss progress in fighting AIDS and look at ways to provide further prevention and treatment against the HIV virus which causes it.

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Source: SGGP

VN getting $70 mln loans from ADB to improve vocational training

In Uncategorized on July 17, 2010 at 4:48 pm

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Friday it was providing US$70 million in loans for a Vietnam working skill enhancement project to improve vocational training in priority industries.


The project will fund training programs in public and private vocational colleges in automotive technology, electrical and mechanical manufacturing, hospitality and tourism, information and communication technology, and navigation and shipping industries, all of which currently lack sufficient skilled workers, the Manila-based bank said.

This file photo shows a university graduation ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City. The Asian Development Bank says it is providing US$70 million in loans for a working skill enhancement project in Vietnam. (Photo: Thuy Nguyen)

Around 24,000 students are expected to benefit from the program, with about 25% of them women and members of ethnic minority groups, according to the lender.


“Vietnam’s long-term prosperity and development depends on its increasing competitiveness in regional and global markets, and if it is to expand as an industrialized country, it must develop highly skilled industrial workers,” Wendy Duncan, principal education specialist in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department, said in this Friday statement.


The project will provide management and instructor training to upgrade skills and improve planning and allocation of resources, and will also help develop new curricula and training materials, with support from the industries, according to ADB.


The lender said credit would be also made available to approved private colleges to upgrade their equipment and facilities, with institutions expected to borrow up to US$3 million to US$4 million each.


The project aims to address gender inequity by including programs in information and communication technology, hospitality and tourism where females are well represented.


These $70 million loans come from ADB’s concessional Asian Development Fund. The bank’s assistance includes a regular ADF of $50 million equivalent with a 32-year term and grace period of 8 years, with annual interest of 1% per annum during the grace period, and 1.5% for the balance of the term.


A second 32-year loan of $20 million will be made available for on-lending to private vocational colleges, with an annual interest charge of 2.22% per annum.


The Vietnamese Government will contribute US$8 million for a total project cost of $78 million, ADB said.


The Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs will be the executing agency for the project which is expected to be completed by August 2015.

Source: SGGP

ADB agrees $60 mln loans to help Vietnam improve healthcare

In Uncategorized on June 23, 2010 at 12:37 pm

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said it approved on Tuesday US$60 million in loans for Vietnam to help the country improve its health services.


The lender said the loans are for the Vietnam Health Human Resources Sector Development Program, which is co-financed with an US$11 million grant from the Government of Australia.


ADB said the program gives priorities to poor, remote communities which lack skilled workers and quality health facilities.

(File) A doctor (R) examines an old woman in the southern province of Tay Ninh (Photo: Tay Ninh Red Cross website)

“The program will improve health care services for the poor in remote communities by strengthening the capacity of health facilities, training institutions and health workers to serve their special needs,” Sjoerd Postma, senior health specialist in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department, said in Tuesday’s statement.


The bank said a US$30 million program loan will support reforms such as the Law on Examination and Treatment to govern the operation of health facilities and the registration and practice of health professionals; a new plan to upgrade teaching institutions; and the adoption of new models for costing and managing service delivery in district hospitals.


Another US$30 million project loan will support investments linked to planned policy actions in key sector institutions.


Both loans are from ADB’s concessional Asian Development Fund.


ADB said it has financed six health projects in Vietnam, but this is the first sector development program.


“The program approach gives ADB an opportunity to support policy reforms with accompanying investments to address critical quality, efficiency and human resource constraints,” the bank said.


The Ministry of Health is the executing agency for the program and associated project, which is expected to be completed by end December 2015.

Source: SGGP

VN responds to smoke free day with 1 mln signatures

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2010 at 3:44 pm




VN responds to smoke free day with 1 mln signatures


QĐND – Monday, May 31, 2010, 21:0 (GMT+7)

The Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU) launched a campaign for Smoke Free Homes in Hanoi on May 31, aimed at collecting 1 million signatures in one month until June 30.


The campaign, in response to World No Tobacco Day 2010 initiated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), will focus on raising public awareness against harms of smoking, especially second hand smoke that threatens the health of women and children in the family.


WHO will help fund training courses for women union officials in smoking control, design media coverage on the harms of smoking and speed up the campaign at all levels.


International experts at the event said World No Tobacco Day 2010 is aimed at protecting women from second-hand smoke and marketing campaigns by tobacco companies. The move is also to focus on raising men’s responsibility in smoking far away from women in both public place and at homes.


Vietnam is among countries with highest rates of male smokers in the world with 56.1 percent of men being smokers, according to WHO.


The Ministry of Health’s 2009 report showed that up to 40,000 people died of smoke-related diseases a year, quadrupling the road accident death tally.


However, public awareness against the negative impact of smoking, especially second hand smoke, remained poor.


Source: VNA


Source: QDND

2.6 mln USD to for sustainable tourism in Quang Binh

In Vietnam Travel on March 23, 2010 at 4:21 pm




2.6 mln USD to for sustainable tourism in Quang Binh


QĐND – Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 20:55 (GMT+7)

Some 2.6 million USD from the “Greater Mekong Subregion Sustainable Tourism Development” project will be injected into the central province of Quang Binh to preserve and upgrade ecological tourism in the locality.


This is part of a five-year ADB-funded project, starting from 2009, to boost socio-economic development with focus on poverty reduction, infrastructure, heritage preservation in five provinces of Vietnam.


 Of the funding, over 2.1 million USD will be provided by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the remaining, about 400,000 USD, will be reciprocal capital.


The project will concentrate on the preservation of the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, which is home to two villages living in the core zone and six others in buffer zones, the project’s director, Le The Luc, said, adding that their livelihoods mainly depend on forestry that leads to the degradation of the whole park.


The investment will be spent to upgrade Phong Nha and Tien Son caves, use environmentally friendly materials like composite for making boats to reduce pollution while developing some services serving ecological tourism in other tourist sites.


Apart from setting up a database on local geography, ethnic minority groups and their traditional culture, the project will develop pastoral and community-based tourism to help improve earnings of people in buffer zones. Thus, more than 56,500 people are expected to directly or indirectly benefit from the project.


Source: VNA


Source: QDND