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Banks to start year with challenges and oppotunities

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2011 at 7:14 am

Commercial banks are set to cope with challenges and opportunities in 2011 as monetary policies will be more flexible, Dr. Le Xuan Nghia, vice chairman of the National Financial Supervisory Committee, said in an interview with Dau Tu Tai Chinh Newspaper.

(Photo:Minh Tri)

With the global economy will surely recover in 2011, foreign investments will return strongly to emerging markets in Asia, including Vietnam, said Dr. Le Xuan Nghia, vice chairman of the National Financial Supervisory Committee.

“Statistics show foreign investments keep flowing constantly into Vietnam in the last four months. Despite the inflation rising relatively high, investors are not too worried about the possibly of an unstable macro economy as the basic rate caused by monetary policies remains low,” Nghia said.

The inflation will decrease to 7-8 percent in this year if the gasoline price is around US$85-90 per barrel, helping commercial banks to cut interest rates, he said.

“Commercial lenders had to cope with the difference between the long-term and short-term interest rates last year, which hit the banking system hard. Therefore they should strengthen their operation as soon as possible this year,” he said.

The deposit interest rate fluctuation at the end of 2010 showed the interest rate was not driven by both the monetary market and the governmental regulations, threatening the safety of banks’ operation, Nghia noticed.

“Lenders this year will also have to cope with issues from the foreign exchange rate. They should offer foreign currency loans with the interest rates, which are adequate to each type of clients,” he said.

The vice chairman of the National Financial Supervisory Committee also warned the competition of foreign-owned and local banks this year will become harsher as the formers will be allowed to take the dong deposits from Vietnamese clients.

“But I do not think local lenders will be so worried about that. Foreign banks remain behind local lenders as their weaker financial strength and a fewer number of branches nationwide. Moreover, the strict risk managements prevent them from taking risks in such a small market in Vietnam,” he said.

“Besides, human resource is also a tough challenge for foreign lenders. Therefore, the biggest competitor of local banks in the next couple year is still themselves.”

Local lenders will also have to change their entire accounting software to match up with new regulations in the Law of Credit Institutions, which took effective on Jan. 1st 2011, he said.

“The new Law of Credit Institutions has some more regulations including forbidding banks to deposit to each others and restraining the credit growth of banks,” Dr. Nghia said.

Source: SGGP

German jazz musicians to start European Music Festival in Vietnam

In Uncategorized on November 16, 2010 at 5:30 am

Vietnamese online games off to faltering start

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2010 at 7:57 am

Of the 55 online games run by distributors nationwide, just one has been produced in Vietnam so far.

Miss Vietnam 2006 Mai Phuong Thuy is invited to be the game’s ambassadress, as well as a model for designing a character. (Photo: SGGP)

The market is heavily reliant on games imported from China and Korea, and there is no indication that this will change, because Vietnamese firms have made little or no headway in developing their own online games.

At the beginning of last year, more than 40 online games had been officially released in the local market, but all of them were developed in other countries.

Initial efforts to develop online games have shown that local firms have a long way to go.

 “Thoi Loan” (Age of Chaos), made by the Trangenix team, won four prizes in the VietGames 2006 contest. The game’s plot was based on the “Son Tinh – Thuy Tinh” (Mountain God – Water God) legend.

“Thoi Loan” was hailed and welcomed by many as the first made-in-Vietnam online game.

However, after being accused of stealing a foreign source code, the game turned out to be a failure that was an initial setback for the domestic online game developing industry.

Two years later, a multiplayer online game named “Lang Online” (Online Village), developed by 3DVN Co., Ltd. on LOL engine and operating in a flash environment won a prize for a cultural and educational online game at VietGames 2008. This game also disappeared without a trace, however, for reasons that are not clear.

In January last year, the online-game community was excited about an association forged between VTC Game and its Korean partner, VinaDreamline, to produce games in Vietnam. The companies revealed that it would be a multiplayer online role-playing game. So far, no other information has come out about the project.

Meanwhile, VinaGames had laid the first bricks for developing a Vietnamese online game industry in 2006 as it began developing an online game named “Thuan Thien Kiem” (Heaven’s Will Sword), which received major interest and support from the community and the government.

In particular, Miss Vietnam 2006, Mai Phuong Thuy, was invited to be the game’s ambassadress, as well as a model for designing a character. A delegation from the Ministry of Information and Telecommunications, led by deputy minister Do Quy Doan, had visited VinaGames and its game developers before the debut of “Thuan Thien Kiem” on August 12, 2009.

First success

Vietnamese online gamers registered in large numbers to play “Thuan Thien Kiem”. Although the game publisher opened six servers, the game was continuously overloaded as many characters gathered at the game’s starting point.

Fortunately, VinaGames surprised local gamers as they solved the problem in quick time, an impressive achievement because it usually took a lot more time for foreign developers to fix their glitches. Here was proof that Vietnamese online game developers could control their products well.

However, according to the game producer, although the number of members in the developing team has risen to 200 people from just 20 at the beginning, they are facing many difficulties. Some phases of the game have to be processed by other countries as the skills and technology of Vietnamese developers are not sophisticated enough, yet.

The company invested VND25 billion (US$1.25 million) in “Thuan Thien Kiem”. It faced many difficulties in getting permission and approval for the game content, which had to suit Vietnamese habits and customs.

On the other hand, “Dat Viet truyen ky”, an online game developed by Singaporean company, Zealot Digital, had no problems getting the copyright and releasing it in Vietnam, although it is not very authentic, historically speaking.

“Dat Viet truyen ky” is based on a story set during the reign of the 18th Hung King, but its characters wear ao dai and palm-leaf conical hats.

“Thuan Thien Kiem”, with the inclusion of several historical landmarks like the Thang Long Royal Citadel, Mot Cot Pagoda, Co Loa Citadel and the ancient capital of Hoa Lu in its settings, has contributed in a small way to promoting national history and culture.

It currently attracts 60,000 regular players. The game is updated twice or three times per month. However, according to Le Hong Minh, chairman of VinaGames, the number of players of “Thuan Thien Kiem” has accounts for just 10 percent of those of other online games because its story-line is not really interesting and its graphics are not visually stunning.

However, this is just a start for a nascent industry, and several challenges remain ahead. Given the recent crackdown on games with violent content, the potential for developing interesting, exciting and fun-filled games is great, experts say.

With greater co-operation between authorities and the developers of online games, the industry can develop well in the coming months and years, they add.

Source: SGGP

Muslims start fasting month of Ramadan

In Uncategorized on August 11, 2010 at 7:20 am

Muslims in much of the Middle East begin the fasting month of Ramadan Wednesday during an especially gruelling time of the year, with sweltering heat and extremely long daylight hours.

Religious authorities in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, announced the sighting of the crescent moon on Tuesday evening, fixing the start of the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar on the following day.

Officials in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Qatar, Syria, Libya, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Algeria and Tunisia also announced a Wednesday start to the month.

The same was true for Sunni Muslims in Iraq, but the larger Shiite community will not begin until Thursday, as is the case with Oman.

Indonesian women pray during the first night of Ramadan in Jakarta.

Muslims observe Ramadan by abstaining from food, drink and sex from dawn until sunset.

Pregnant and menstruating women, the sick, travellers and prepubescent children are exempt from the fast, which is one of the five pillars of Islam.

Ramadan will begin amid scorching temperatures in the Middle East and elsewhere, with the first six months of 2010 being the warmest ever recorded.

Egypt, the largest Arab country whose 80 million population is mostly Muslim, will switch to winter time for the month, moving the clock back by an hour.

The same will be true in the Palestinian territories.

In Dubai, a cleric told workmen they are religiously allowed to break their fast if the heat got the better of them.

Most fasting Muslims go about their business as usual, if skimping an hour or two from work. Sleeping well into the day, although not technically a fast breaker, is considering cheating by some clerics.

Pieties increase, with additional optional prayers in the evening. Often, so does the evening and nighttime revelry for those able to peel themselves away from the special Ramadan television series in the evenings.

The month is marked by family visits and invitations to sumptuous iftars — the meals that break the fast.

Festivities can last into the early morning, to the consternation of traditional clerics who stress the ascetic nature of the month, in which Muslims believe God revealed the Koran to the Prophet Mohammed.

Egypt, which depends on tourism, is offering rich Arab holidaymakers fireworks, concerts, folkloric shows and displays by whirling dervishes.

But given the family-centred traditions of the month, enticing people to leave their countries is a tough sell.

Egypt’s bars and pubs either close during the month or switch to abstemious menus, with the exception of hotel bars, which serve alcohol only to non-Egyptians to conform with the Islamic ban on alcohol.

Dubai, one of the most popular Middle East cities for party-goers, closes its night clubs or bans dancing in them.

Consumption of alcohol in the United Arab Emirates is officially allowed only for non-Muslims. But in practice, anyone can drink at licensed hotels and clubs. During Ramadan, hotels close off their bars from public view.

“There are tourists and non-Muslims in the country and they can go to closed bars in which they can be served alcohol” during Ramadan, director of Dubai government’s inspection and tourism permit section, Mohammed Khalifa, told AFP.

“It is not permitted to hold entertainment activities, celebrations or parties at any time throughout the holy month of Ramadan,” the government said in a circular.

Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country, will take the opportunity to crack down on Internet pornography.

Quoting a poem at a press conference on Tuesday, Communications Minister Tifatul Sembiring called on Muslims to “keep hearts clean in the holy month,” and said that he would target websites and media that carried sexual content.

Despite the fasting, some clerics complain that people end up piling on the pounds during the month, as they over-indulge to compensate for the fasting. The consumption contributes to price hikes.

In Mauritania, the government announced “urgent measures” against the increase.

The global rise in food prices, coupled with the Ramadan spike, also means that less can afford a traditional theme of the month — charity.

Long iftar tables set with free stews and bread that were commonplace in Cairo have been noticeably decreasing over the past two years, with many hosts saying they can’t afford it anymore.

Source: SGGP

Toyota to start Prius production in Thailand: reports

In Uncategorized on August 7, 2010 at 11:21 am

AFP file

TOKYO, Aug 7, 2010 (AFP) – Toyota Motor will start producing the Prius hybrid in Thailand this year, stepping up overseas output of the fuel-sipping vehicles amid swelling global demand, reports said Saturday.

Toyota, the front-runner in hybrid cars that use two power sources — a petrol engine and another source such as an electric motor — launched the Prius, the world’s first mass-produced hybrid car, in 1997.

It will make the latest model of the Prius in Thailand, the second hybrid car following the hybrid version of the Camry sedan, the Nikkei daily and Jiji Press said without citing sources.

Local subsidiary Toyota Motor Thailand Co. will oversee the Prius production, with the technology-sensitive hybrid system including batteries and engines to be supplied from Japan, the reports said.

The world’s biggest automaker wants eventually to export the hybrid cars from Thailand to quickly expanding Asian markets, the reports said.

Sales of hybrids have been brisk in recent years because of high petrol prices and increasing public awareness of global warming.

Last year, Toyota recalled 437,000 Prius and other hybrid vehicles to repair a flaw in the braking system, as part of around 10 million recalls worldwide that have tarnished its previously stellar reputation for quality.

However, the Prius has retained the popularity, being the most-selling cars in Japan for the past year, according to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.

Source: SGGP

Ha Noi plans to start cleaning-up its rivers

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Ha Noi plans to start cleaning-up its rivers

QĐND – Sunday, July 25, 2010, 21:7 (GMT+7)

The Ha Noi People’s Committee, in co-ordination with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, plans to invest about VND2 trillion (US$104 million) in waste-water treatment plants along the Nhue-Day river.

The money will also be used to dredge the riverbeds and upgrade the rivers’ dykes over the next five years.

The committee also said that it would now be compulsory for new industrial parks in the city to have waste-water treatment facilities, while existing parks must begin treating their waste by the end of this year.

Pollution studies are being conducted on the Nhue and Day rivers. Pham Van Khanh, deputy director of the Ha Noi Natural Resources and Environment Department, said water samples had been taken at 56 out of 104 sluice gates along the rivers. Inspections have also been tightened. In the first six months of the year, the department fined 27 of 46 industrial firms inspected a total of VND353 million ($18,400) for violating environmental regulations, he said.

Earlier this month, the Ha Noi People’s Committee asked relevant agencies to clean up the banks of the To Lich and Nhue rivers which pass through the districts of Cau Giay, Hai Ba Trung, Ba Dinh, Thanh Xuan, Hoang Mai and Thanh Tri.

The rivers have become choked with rubbish. An initial survey showed that nearly 20,000cu.m of domestic waste had been dumped on a 11,400-metre stretch of the To Lich River. Meanwhile, the banks of the Kim Nguu River are also littered with rubbish.

Floodwater from Ha Noi mainly drains into the To Lich, Nhue and Day rivers.

* West Lake’s water to be kept clean

A waste water treatment station will begin construction this year in Tay Ho District’s Nhat Tan Ward to restore and improve the water quality of West Lake, Ha Noi People’s Committee has announced.

The station, located in area of more than 16,000 sq.m, is worth about VND600 billion (US$31 million).

It would handle 15,000 cu.m of waste water daily thanks to using the biological activated sludge method. Construction is scheduled to finish in the next two years.

Source: VietNamNet/Viet Nam News


Source: QDND

Thua Thien-Hue youth start summer voluntary campaign

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Thua Thien-Hue youth start summer voluntary campaign

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

PANO – Nearly 3,000 young people and students across Thua Thien-Hue Province participated in the opening ceremony of the summer voluntary campaign 2010, held on May 30th at the Thua Thien-Hue Information and Culture Center.

As scheduled, the campaigners will give assistance to 13 impoverished communes in mountainous districts of Nam Dong and A Luoi.

During the campaign, under the theme “Youth Join Hands for Community Life”,  young people and students will take part in various activities, such as restoration of monuments and memorial steles; the building of houses of gratitude; presentation of gifts and savings books to families of martyrs and war-invalids, Heroic Vietnamese Mothers, Agent Orange victims and poor households, and establishment of several voluntary security teams to protect the border lines.

The voluntary activities will also include support for the Hue Festival 2010. Accordingly, 300 volunteers, selected from 8 universities across Hue city, will be present at 18 festive spots, offering useful instructions to tourists.

Translated by Mai Huong

Source: QDND

Rocky start to new Middle East peace talks

In Uncategorized on May 10, 2010 at 4:51 am

Cracks quickly appeared in a newly relaunched peace process on Sunday just hours after the start of US-mediated indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks, as Washington warned both sides not to jeopardise the process.

Underscoring the deep mistrust between Israel and the Palestinians, the United States announced the start of the talks, after months of arduous shuttle diplomacy and false starts, with a caution to both sides they would be held accountable if they did anything to “seriously undermine trust.”

As if to highlight the fragile state, the US announcement describing confidence building measures already supposedly taken sparked the first spat.

“Both parties are taking some steps to help create an atmosphere that is conducive to successful talks, including president (Mahmud) Abbas’ statement that he will work against incitement of any sort and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement that there will be no construction at the Ramat Shlomo project for two years,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (R) meets with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

An Israeli official immediately denied Netanyahu had given any such promise.

“The prime minister has clarified, over the whole process, that building and planning in Jerusalem will continue as usual, exactly as it has under all governments of Israel in the last 43 years, and no Israeli commitments have been given on this issue,” an official close to Netanyahu said in a statement.

The Israeli official said that while no commitments have been given, Netanyahu had informed the US that under normal planning procedures it would take several years before any construction would start.

“In reality, the planning for Ramat Shlomo will take at least another year and actual building will only start in a few years,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Proximity talks were originally due to start in March but the Palestinians withdrew after Israel publicised plans to build the 1,600-home Ramat Shlomo project in annexed east Jerusalem.

The Palestinians quickly accused Israel of trying to undermine the process.

“The Israeli statement is an attempt to embarrass or challenge the US administration,” Abbas aide Nimr Hammad told AFP.

“The Israeli government must choose between peace and settlements,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.

Netanyahu’s statement on why no construction will take place at Ramat Shlomo over the next two years also indicated the hurdles he will face in making real concessions to the Palestinians because of his hard-line coalition.

Right wing parties were quick to accuse Netanyahu of betraying his electorate.

“The announcement from the US that Netanyahu promised to freeze the Ramat Shlomo building for two years proves that Netanyahu lied and continues to deceive his supporters by announcing that building will continue in Jerusalem,” lawmaker Aryeh Eldad of the hawkish Jewish Home party said.

“Netanyahu is betraying his voters and the ideology with which he was elected.”

Jerusalem and Jewish settlements are among the thorniest issues in efforts to achieve a peace deal.

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised future state, but Israel considers all of the Holy City to be its “eternal and indivisible” capital.

The Palestinians only agreed to consider fresh talks after receiving US assurances that the Jerusalem settlement expansion plan would be frozen.

The indirect talks, which both sides are hoping will revive the peace process after a 17-month break, are expected to cover all final-status issues, including borders, security and Jerusalem.

The way was opened for both sides to move ahead on Saturday when the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) gave its backing to the start of indirect talks with Israel.

The Palestinians reiterated there would be no direct contacts for now.

“There are no negotiations between us and the Israeli government,” Erakat said. “The discussions will be held with Mitchell and the Americans, and they will mediate between the two sides.”

Mitchell, who left for Washington shortly after the talks, will return to the region next week, but there is little expectation the process will produce tangible results other than a possible resumption of direct negotiations.

“If we didn’t have any hope, we wouldn’t have got involved in the (indirect) talks. But we don’t have any illusions,” a senior Palestinian official told AFP on condition of anonymity, while stressing the difficulty of “obtaining anything from the Netanyahu government.”

Source: SGGP

VN’s fourth largest pagoda construction to start in Lang Son

In Uncategorized on May 9, 2010 at 8:41 am

A groundbreaking ceremony of the country’s fourth largest pagoda named Phat Quang Son will take place in the northern province of Lang Son May 15-17, Hoang Van Pao, director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has said.

An artist’s impression of Phat Quang Son Pagoda

The provincial People’s Committee will coordinate with Vietnam Buddhist Shangha Central Executive Council to host the event.

Construction of Phat Quang Son, the first pagoda built in the country’s borderland, is expected to cost about VND600 billion (US$32 million), donated by businesses, benefactors, domestic Buddhist followers and oversea Vietnamese.

The pagoda’s total planned area is 21 hectares in Ha Nan Mountain root, close to Tan Thanh Border Gate and behind Saigon – Lang Son trading center.

According to Monk Thich Thien Nhon, deputy chairman and general secretary of the executive council, after being built, Phat Quang Son Pagoda would become the country’s largest Buddhist cultural tourism center.

Lang Son Province annually receives about two millions of visitors with 70 percent of them being domestic travelers, bringing a total turnover of up to VND600-900 billion (US$47 million).

After the pagoda construction is completed, the number of visitors might rocket by three to four times compared to the current number.

Source: SGGP

Vietnam gets off to a flying start

In Uncategorized on April 15, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Vietnam gets off to a flying start

QĐND – Thursday, April 15, 2010, 21:3 (GMT+7)

Vietnamese mixed duo Le Ngoc Nguyen Nhung and Huynh Nguyen Khang advanced to play in the main round of the Yonex Sunrise Badminton Asia Championships.

The pair defeated Karuna Dinulsa and Chandrika de Silva of Sri Lanka 21-12, 17-21, 21-16 on April 13 in the second qualifier in New Delhi, India.

Vietnam’s key player Nguyen Tien Minh who is seeded No. 4 at the tournament will play the unknown Shao Wen Shu from Chinese Taipei, who is ranked No 259, in the men’s singles.

Minh, who is placed seventh in the world, expects to meet Malaysian Muhammad Hafiz Hashim, who Minh both beat and lost to in 2009, next round.

If the Olympian makes it to the quarter-finals, he will likely to challenge Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand, who he defeated 2-1 at the Thailand Open last year.

HCM City-based Nguyen Hoang Nam and Nguyen Hoang Hai will play in the men’s singles event. Nguyen Nhung is the only representative in the women’s singles event, after her teammates Nguyen Thi Binh Tho and Phung Nguyen Phuong Nhi lost in the qualifying rounds.

Similarly in the women’s tournament, four of the world’s top 10 players will play at the event.

Source: VNA/VOVNews


Source: QDND