Vietnam anticipates US$2,300 GDP per capita in 2015
The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) is forecasting an annual economic growth rate of 6.2 percent over the next two years will push Vietnam’s GDP per capita to US$2,300 by 2015.
The prediction was released at the monthly Cabinet meeting in Hanoi on August 28. Under the PMI’s five-year outlook, social investment will constitute 32 percent of GDP, with State budgetary overspending equivalent to 4.5–4.6 percent of GDP.
Cabinet members raised concerns regarding an ebb in total consumer demand, continuing meagre purchasing power, and capital access difficulties.
Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung proposed raising the budgetary overspending to 5.5 percent of GDP. Transport Minister Dinh La Thang and Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Nguyen Minh Quang concurred, but Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Quan warned the proposed rate is rather high.
Boy diagnosed with rare skin disorder
Cho Ray Hospital in HCM City on August 29 announced the first ever case of Vohwin syndrome, a rare skin disorder which can cause loss of limbs.
The patient, an 18-year-old boy from HCM City’s Thu Duc District, had shown symptoms since he was 18 months old including thick, honeycomb-like calluses on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and dry, scaly skin.
The patient was taken to the hospital a month ago after developing a serious infection and gangrenous hands and feet.
The hospital’s doctor Thanh Thanh said the rare disorder was caused by genes, with only 30 reported cases in the world.
The patient will remain in hospital for treatment.
Vietnamese student wins US international paper award
A Vietnamese student studying at the Thailand-based Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) has won the Best Master’s Student paper award from the West Coast Section – Air and Waste Management Association of the United States.
Nguyen Hong Phuc, an AIT environmental engineering and management (EEM) graduate student, won the paper titled “Assessment of Air Quality and Climate Co-benefit for Residential Combustion Sector in the Red River Delta, Vietnam".
In the paper, written along with his advisor Dr. Nguyen Thi Kim Oanh, Phuc also found evidence that reducing indoor air pollutants led to the positive result of increased air quality at local levels and decreased emissions of greenhouses gases at the global scale.
This finding was achieved through a device set up to monitor how much carbon dioxide equivalent could be reduced in the defined rural locality, and through a survey, he said.
By studying one area in the Red River region, he was able to identify what kind of fuel or mix of fuels was the most environmentally suitable. Phuc proposed a combination of rice-straw and liquefied petroleum gas as the best option for the future.
Around 70% of Vietnam’s population live in rural areas. It is estimated that about a third of Vietnam’s energy consumption is from traditional biomass and waste, and nearly 60% of the biomass is consumed by households, mainly in the countryside.
Labour-export company fined $9,400
All companies found using work permits of another company to send Vietnamese labourers to work abroad, will face the highest-level fine of VND200 million (US$9,400) under a newly issued decree.
The fines will also apply to companies guilty of not refunding deposits paid by labourers before going overseas - and to those that send workers abroad to work at banned jobs or in banned areas.
The decree is set to take effect on October 10.
Cam Pha City residents relocated after sinkholes
As many as 17 households in Cam Pha City in northern Quang Ninh Province were moved to safe ground on Wednesday, according to lieutenant Nguyen Van Ton from the city Military Command.
The emergency relocation follows a number of sinkholes created by land subsidence in recent days in the city's Cam Dong Ward; in which a local man was injured and houses damaged.
According to initial results of one geological survey from the Geophysical Technology JSC under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, underground water had eroded the soil under the houses' foundation, causing the depression.
Students and teachers enjoy more support for new school year
Students and teachers in remote areas will get more support from the government in the new school year beginning September 1, said the Ministry of Education and Training.
The news was announced on August 28 during a press conference about school year 2013-2014, in accordance with resolution 19.
Previously, teachers and officers who have to move to remote and disadvantaged areas for work are only given VND6.5 million (USD311) to cover moving expenses. Now the financial support to cover moving, especially if they bring their family along, will be 12 months' salary.
Pham Ngoc Phuong from the Ministry of Education and Training Office said, "The policy is a big encouragement for all teachers in disadvantaged areas."
When teachers finish their work contracts but the new teachers are unable to arrive on time for some reason, they can still enjoy the same financial support as before.
Meanwhile, students will be given 15kg of rice each month, as well as part of their living costs for the school year.
According to the ministry, the tuition fees of students who study Ho chi Minh ideology and Marxist-Leninist philosophy, as well as those who enter the medical departments of neurology, forensic science and pathology, plus ethnic minority students, will be exempted or reduced.
Education sector needs revamping: President
On occasion of start of the new academic term in schools nationwide and the “Whole Country Take Children to School Day”, President Truong Tan Sang hoped the education sector will improve on management and curriculum to raise teaching and learning standards.
In his letter to teachers and students, President Sang said that the education sector should upgrade teaching methodologies, revamp curriculum and enhance quality of teachers at all levels.
The President lauded the sector’s achievements in past years. He also commended the teachers who have remained devoted to their career and students who come from remote and disadvantaged districts to study despite several hardships.
In his letter, President Truong Tan Sang has proposed that all governments, teachers, students and parents remember Uncle Ho’s teachings for a better future.
Fund awards 100 scholarships in Delta
The National Fund for Vietnamese Children yesterday awarded scholarships to 100 students in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region under a US$150,000 programme.
The programme, funded by an energy consortium led by Chevron Viet Nam, will provide 800 scholarships and upgrade five schools in the Can Tho, Hau Giang, Bac Lieu, Kien Giang and Ca Mau provinces.
Since 2009, the programme has provided more than 3,000 scholarships and upgraded 14 schools in the region.
Weather mixed for national holiday
Northern Viet Nam is forecast to have patchy weather during the national holidays (August 31 to September 2) with rain and sunshine expected over the weekend, said the National Center for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting.
Temperatures will range between 23 to 33 degrees Celsius in the north and 20 to 28 degrees in the mountain regions.
Hotter weather is expected in the central and southern regions with temperature ranges between 24 and 34 degrees Celsius in the south and 26 and 36 degrees in central Viet Nam.
‘No rush' for Thu Thiem upgrade
Developing the Thu Thiem Urban Area in HCM City into a financial district should be done slowly and flexibly because demand for office space is very low at present, a British expert has advised the municipal leadership.
Howard Dawber, Strategic Advisor of Canary Wharf Group, who was invited to HCM City to advise the local government on developing the peninsula, suggested that the city looks at long-term benefits and offers more incentives to investors.
At a Wednesday meeting with the city's administration, Dawber shared some of the challenges his firm had faced in developing the Canary Wharf in London, the city's largest regeneration project as also the largest banking centre in Europe.
Canary Wharf Group is the developer, manager and construction company for the Canary Wharf estate, which covers approximately 97 hectares.
Dawber said the Thu Thiem Peninsula, which is very similar to Canary Wharf in terms of scale and topography, will attract many investors "if brought to Great Britain."
However, with the scant local demand due to global economic difficulties, the project should be developed slowly, he told Nguyen Thi Hong, Vice Chairwoman of the HCM City People's Committee.
He recalled that when Canary Wharf opened in London, office prices went down sharply and many developers went bankrupt.
While HCM City will be a big mega city of the 21st century, potential investors in Thu Thiem will certainly worry about current and future demand, he said.
He suggested that the city government offers lower land prices to lure more investors.
"I believe the prospects for Thu Thiem, in the medium term, are very strong," Dawber said.
HCM City is already a financial centre, which is very important in the regional context, he said at a press briefing after meeting with the city leadership.
He said that, eventually, all international banks in the world will come to the city.
"The city's People's Committee should look at the balance of short-term income and long-term income, because the long-term can make more money from taxes."
Douglas Barnes, British Consul General and Director of UK Trade & Investment (Viet Nam), said developing Thu Thiem will increase the status of HCM City in the region as a major commercial hub.
Last February, Hong headed a delegation of city officials to London's Canary Wharf to learn how the area managed to overcome its financial difficulties and attract investment.
Impressed by what she saw, Hong invited representatives from Canary Wharf Group to visit HCM City and speak further on developing the Thu Thiem Peninsula.
So far, the new urban area, billed as a financial, commercial and entertainment hub, has failed to attract investors due to poorly developed infrastructure, high land prices and a stagnant property market.
The mega project was begun as early as 1996, and it took municipal authorities more than ten years to relocate 60,000 local residents from the area.
HCM City firms seek more female workers
HCM City authorities and companies have unveiled many measures to benefit women workers in industrial parks and zones in recent years.
Of more than 268,000 workers in the city's 15 industrial parks and export processing zones, 161,000 are women, according to the HCM City Industrial Park and Export Processing Zone Authority (HEPZA).
Since 2008 HEPZA has worked with trade unions and the Workers Supporting Foundation to provide scholarships and interest-free loans to outstanding women workers who want to improve their educational and professional skills.
Nguyen Van Khai, deputy chairman of the city's Confederation of Labour, said his agency has worked with local authorities and companies to organise activities to benefit female workers in industrial parks and export processing zones.
It has also stepped up oversight to ensure companies follow labour law provisions, he said.
The confederation's women's boards have organised activities to provide VND6.5 billion (US$309,000) to more than 7,900 workers who had workplace accidents, serious sickness, and general difficulties this year.
The boards have also organised periodic health checks for women workers, launched a programme to help them save to repair their houses, and provided them information about job vacancies for free.
Many companies too have programmes to benefit their women employees — such as building dormitories and providing them sports and other entertainment activities.
Women are employed mostly in sectors like textile and garment, leather, footwear, electronics, and food processing.
A large number of them come from other provinces but seldom take part in amusement activities because they do not have money to spend on them or are too tired to go looking for them.
The Institute of Community Health and Development organised on Wednesday an orientation workshop for their new project, "We are Women – A Rights-based Approach to Empowering Migrant Women in Viet Nam."
Provided US$200,000 by the Fund for Gender Equality, the project aims to improve rural migrant women's access to socio-economic rights, especially those working in the informal sector.
Women migrants face various risks stemming from their inability, in many cases, to access basic services and adequate living conditions; their differential treatment in the labour market; and the social stigma attached to them.
Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that some migrant women in Viet Nam are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence as they are engaged in domestic work hidden from the outside world and difficult to regulate, though the new Labour Code recognises domestic workers.
If these gender issues are not recognised and addressed properly, it is feared new socio-economic empowerment achievements will lack sustainability and transformative power.
The project is expected to enhance the rights of women migrant workers, including increased access to and use of social welfare and health services; increase capacity of rural migrant men and women to access and utilise economic empowerment opportunities; and usher in gender equality to strengthen socio-economic positions of rural migrant women, both at destination places and hometowns.
The project will be managed and led by LIGHT, a non-governmental organisation which has been working with rural migrants for the last 10 years.
Its four main partners include people's committees, the Women's Union, and the Farmers Union at all levels and a co-operative of migrants it supports.
The project will be implemented in five wards in Ha Noi (destination place) and six rural communes (places of origin).
An estimated 1,140 women and 1,090 men will directly benefit from the interventions through the project, while another 6,270 women and 5,630 men will be indirect beneficiaries as a result of improvements.
Vietnam joins regional people’s forum preparations
A host of Vietnamese people’s organizations met in Hanoi on August 29 to discuss preparations for the 2014 ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) scheduled to take place in Yangon city, Myanmar, from March 21-23 next year.
Participants agreed to elect Vietnamese representatives to the forum’s four sub-committees working in management, document drafting, agenda, and media and information.
Earlier, delegates from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Myanmar alongside 15 regional organizations agreed to set August 31 as a deadline to receive a list of members to the APF’s sub-committees at their first preparatory meeting for the event early this month in Mynamar. They were also unanimous on the event’s timing, venue and delegates.
The second meeting of this kind, scheduled for October 20-21 will reach a decision on the number of workshops and their topics, high-level meetings, as well as the function, mission, working mechanism and regulation of sub-committees, among others.
Themed “Advancing ASEAN Peoples’ solidarity towards sustainable peace, development, justice and democratisation”, the APF will focus discussions on peace, fairness, human rights, development and democratisation.
The forum will also come up with exhibitions, a souvenir fair and a regional culinary festival.
The 2014 APF, with 1,000-1,200 delegates expected to take part is to raise diverse voices at regional and national levels to promote the involvement of ASEAN people for peace, security, socio-economic fairness, environment and climate to all, including migrant workers and stateless people.
Vallet scholarships for students in central Vietnam
317 outstanding pupils and students in the central provinces of Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Ha Tinh have received Vallet scholarships worth nearly VND2 billion in total.
A scholarship granting ceremony was held by the Quang Binh Study Encouragement Society and the Rencontres du Vietnam (Meeting Vietnam) organization in Dong Hoi city on August 29.
The recipients included 227 in Quang Binh, 45 in Quang Tri and 45 in Ha Tinh.
The scholarship is valued at VND5.5 million for each pupil and VND9 million for each student.
French Prof. Odon Vallet said he has spent all his savings on the scholarship programme for both French and Vietnamese pupils and students.
Since 2001, he has presented more than 20,000 scholarships worth over VND100 billion to Vietnamese pupils and students.
In 2013, the “Meeting Vietnam” organization allocates more than 2,000 Vallet scholarships worth approximately VND19 billion for outstanding pupils and students in the three regions of Vietnam.
Flyover at Dai Co Viet-Tran Khat Chan intersection open to traffic
The flyover at the Dai Co Viet-Tran Khat Chan intersection in Hanoi was officially open to traffic on August 30 after nearly eight months of implementation.
At the inauguration ceremony, Chairman of the Municipal People’s Committee Nguyen The Thao said that this is one of flyover projects under the city’s investment plan to reduce traffic jams and ensure urban order.
The two-lane flyover of a 352.4m long and 11m wide steel structure was built by the Quang Trung Mechanical Enterprise and Thang Long Bridge No.5 Joint Stock Company.
Nguyen Quoc Hung, director of the Hanoi Department of Transport, said that another flyover at the Nguyen Chi Thanh-Kim Ma intersection will be open to traffic on October 10.
Workshop raises public awareness of autism
The establishment of an autistic network in Vietnam is needed to raise public awareness of the rights of autistic people in particular and disabled people in general.
Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) Nguyen Trong Dam was speaking at a workshop in Hanoi on August 29.
Jointly held by the MoLISA, the ASEAN Autism Network and the Asia - Pacific Development Centre on Disability, the workshop examined policies and activities to support autistic children in Vietnam, thus helping them integrate into the community.
It also deliberated plans to promote cooperation among ASEAN member nations in the field.
According to Dam, autism is a neural development condition characterised by impaired social interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication, and by restricted, repetitive or stereotyped behaviour.
Dam said Vietnam sees an increasing number of children with autism, adding that autistic people are able to integrate into the community and make their contributions to society if their condition is timely discovered and treated in an appropriate manner.
The workshop is a good chance for parents from many localities across Vietnam to share knowledge on autism as well as their experience in caring for autistic children.
Mexico supports Vietnamese AO victims
Mexican Labor Party (PT) Chief Alberto Anaya Gutierrez, the incumbent President of the Mexico-Vietnam Parliamentary Friendship Group, has presented 50 wheelchairs to the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) on August 28.
This is the third time PT has donated gifts to Vietnamese AO victims, bringing its total wheelchair contribution to170.
Gutierrez used the presentation ceremony to reaffirm his party’s support for Vietnam’s revolutionary cause and described the donation as a symbol of positive Mexican sentiment towards the Vietnamese people in general and AO victims in particular.
Vietnam’s Ambassador to Mexico Le Thanh Tung promised to distribute the donations to their intended recipients as soon as possible.
Tung briefed Gutierrez on Vietnam’s current political and socio-economic situation and summarised recent initiatives supporting AO victims.
The two sides discussed issues of mutual concern and boosting cooperation between the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and PT.
Gutierrez wished the Vietnamese Party, State, Government, and people his best on the occasion of the 68th August Revolution anniversary and National Day.
He praised the CPV’s and late President Ho Chi Minh’s leadership during Vietnam’s past national unification struggle and the party’s ongoing pursuit of renewal.
He expressed hopes of broadening cooperation between the two Parties and countries, especially in agriculture, healthcare, and training.
Vietnam to adopt UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Vietnam is preparing to adopt the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2014 after signing it in 2007.
Deputy Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs Minister Nguyen Trong Dam has told an August 29 conference in Hanoi.
The conference was organised by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MoLISA, the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD), and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
It reviewed the progress ASEAN member nations have made on promoting and implementing their commitments to CRPD. Conference attendees witnessed Vietnam’s CRPD roadmap declaration and the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the APCD and the MoLISA.
Dam said Vietnam‘s 6.7 million citizens with disabilities accounts for 7.8 percent of its total population and continues to rise. The country has introduced a wide range of initiatives designed to protect its most vulnerable members, expand their social involvement, and fulfill the Millennium Development Goal obligations regarding rights for disabled people.
Dam cited the debut of the Law on Persons with Disabilities and the national project to support persons with disabilities as demonstrating the Government’s commitment to adopting the CRPD.
Vietnam’s disabled citizens still encounter a number of difficulties in everyday life. Insufficient resources limit the effectiveness of social welfare measures.
UNICEF’s Chief Representative in Vietnam Lotta Sylwander noted that out of the 155 signatories to the CRPD, 90 countries have signed the optional protocol, 127 countries have ratified the convention, and 76 countries have adopted and joined the optional protocol.
Conference evaluates labour export policies
A conference evaluating labour export policies in relation with gender and migration opened in Ho Chi Minh City on August 28.
Jointly held by Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities and the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Foundation (Germany), the two-day event focuses on the situation of labour export in Asian region, labour export policies of regional countries as well as experience of Vietnam and international community in the management of labour export in the region.
Experts say the rate of women is increasing among migrant labourers in Asia. While these labourers contribute markedly to economic development, they are faced with many problems such as inadequate and inconsistent social welfare policies in host countries.
At the same time, a lack of information on the host countries and limited foreign languages skills often make the labourers, particularly women, vulnerable to abuse and human trafficking.
Associate Prof, Dr. Dang Nguyen Anh from the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences said existing laws have yet to deal with gender issues relating to migrant labourers. He added that it is essential for both labour sending and receiving countries to cooperate in implementing policies on migrant labour.
Presently, Vietnam has sent about 500,000 labourers to work in 40 countries and territories in the world, of whom women account for 25-30%.
The Vietnamese Government has promulgated law and guidelines on labour export and exerted efforts to protect overseas Vietnamese labourers via cooperation agreements with host countries.
However, Vietnam’s trade union organisation has so far failed to reach out to overseas Vietnamese workers due to a lack of mechanism and resources.
Experts urged legalizing trade union’s role in assisting Vietnamese labourers abroad as well as strengthening cooperation between the trade union organisations of Vietnam and other countries in order to protect the rights of migrant labourers.
Block B gas-to-power project partners provide scholarships to Vietnamese children
Chevron Vietnam Ltd., PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corporation (PVEP), Mitsui Oil Exploration Co., Ltd. (MOECO) and PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited (PTTEP) today awarded scholarship certificates to 100 schoolchildren from the Mekong Delta, in a ceremony celebrating a programme developed with the National Fund for Vietnamese Children (NFVC).
The partners’ commitment of more than VND3.1 billion ($150,000) in 2013 builds on an existing Block B Gas-to-Power Project education programme that has already provided scholarships to more than 3,000 children in the Mekong Delta since 2009. In addition to awarding a total of 800 scholarships, the 2013 programme will upgrade five schools in the area. The partners have sponsored upgrades to 14 schools over the past three years.
“Chevron is committed to improving access to education, a critical element in improving livelihoods and sustaining long-term development in the community. We are proud to support the good work of the National Fund for Vietnamese Children,” Barry Andrews, president of Chevron Vietnam Ltd. said.
Chevron, PVEP, MOECO and PTTEP are partners in the Block B Gas-to-Power Project, an offshore development that will supply natural gas to fuel power plants in Ca Mau and Can Tho.
Chevron is one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies, with subsidiaries that conduct business worldwide. In Vietnam, Chevron Vietnam Ltd. and its partners have discovered significant gas resources in Blocks B, 48/95 and 52/97 in the Gulf of Thailand, offshore southwestern Vietnam. The resources from these fields will help to meet Vietnam’s growing energy and power needs.VOV/VNA/VNS/SGGP/ND