Vietcombank to exceed credit limit for PVOil

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved a proposal under which Vietcombank can grant credit exceeding currently prescribed limits to the PetroVietnam Oil Corporation (PVOil) and affiliated parties this year.

A report in the Thoi bao Ngan hang website (Banking Times) yesterday said the move aimed to support stable development of the nation's oil and gas industry.

The decision enjoins State Bank of Viet Nam Governor Nguyen Van Binh to examine safety ratios and determine specific credit volumes as well as loan terms.

Vietcombank, a partly-equitised bank in which the State has a 77.11 per cent stake, will be responsible for all the loan agreements that it signs with PVOil.

The report said the loans will provide additional working capital that PVOil, a state-owned oil marketer under the Viet Nam Oil and Gas Group (Petrovietnam), needs to complete plans that will ensure crude oil supply to the Dung Quat Oil Refinery.

The five-year-old US$2.2-billion refinery, which produces 130,000 barrels per day, will be closed for comprehensive maintenance from May to June this year.

Consequently, the plant is expected to produce 5.1 metric tonnes (MT) of oil products worth VND113.6 trillion ($5.4 billion), down 24 per cent against 2013.

PetroVietnam produced 6.6 million MT of oil products last year, up 17.8 per cent from 2012. In 2014, the group aims to produce 4.6 million MT, down 30 per cent from 2013 due to the planned maintenance work at Dung Quat.

Viet Nam imported 1.29 million MT of crude oil for $1.1 billion last year, up 77.2 per cent in volume and 70.4 per cent in value from 2012.

Vietnam Airlines airs new jets as part of expansion

The national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines on Monday received two new Airbus A321 aircraft at Noi Bai International Airport.

As part of its fleet expansion plan, the carrier in 2007 and 2009 signed contracts with Airbus to purchase a total of 26 Airbus A321 planes for delivery during the 2011-2015 period. It has received 21 planes thus far.

The airlines operates a young fleet of 83 aircraft, which includes mostly Boeing 777, Airbus A330 and Airbus A321.

HSBC was the lead arranger for the US$112 million credit for the purchase, with a loan from Deutsche Pfandbriefbank AG.

The transaction was supported by Euler Hermes, the global credit insurance company based in Germany, and guaranteed by Viet Nam's Ministry of Finance.

Pham Ngoc Minh, president and CEO of Vietnam Airlines said: "The agreement for the purchase of two A321 aircraft is really a remarkable deal which enhances our operation efficiency on routes worldwide."

"The new two aircraft will support us to carry out our fleet expansion, meeting the demand for passengers and cargo transport in the long run," said Minh.

Previously in 2009, HSBC acted as co-financier in a multi-bank deal providing financing of US$120 million to purchase six ATR72-500s, and in 2011 it acted as joint mandated lead arranger for US$447 million in financing to purchase six Airbus A321s.

Vietnam Airlines became an official member of SkyTeam Alliance on June 10, 2010 and also the first representative of the alliance in Southeast Asia.

Cienco 6 sets IPO date

Cienco 6, a transport engineering leader in Vietnam’s central and southern regions, has announced its initial public offering will take place on March 21.

On March 6 the company held a brief meeting to unveil the IPO plan.

According to Cienco 6 chairman Bui Phi Hung, the move would help the company boost its financial strength and competitiveness to better execute major transport infrastructure projects throughout the country.

“In respect to strategic partners, our firm is actively searching for firms that are financially strong as well as technology advanced to help foster our development in the post-equitisation period,” Hung said.

The registration process and deposit payments for the IPO started on February 24 and will continue to March 13. Registrants can sign up with auction agents following auction rules enacted by the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange (HOSE).

The auction is slated to take place at 9pm at the HOSE on March 21.

According to Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Hong Truong, the ministry (MoT) will ramp up efforts to accelerate the equitisation of transport sector businesses this year to fulfill the prime minister’s commitment.

Besides Cienco 6, large-scale transport contractors are also planned to board the restructuring bandwagon this year.

Cienco 6 has been involved in major projects in the south and central regions such as the Vung Tau petrol depot, Saigon port complex, Tan Thuan terminal, Nha Be port, Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park as well as several airports and expressways.

After its IPO, Cienco 6, with an estimated chartered capital of VND600 billion ($28.5 million), will continue playing a major role in key transport projects such as the Ho Chi Minh-Long Thanh-Day Giay highway, expanding the Dong Nai port, and building an elevated section and depot for the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro line.

This year the company envisions revenue and post-tax profit targets of VND2.662 trillion ($126 million) and VND37.7 billion ($1.8 million), respectively. The share dividend this year is estimated at around 6 per cent, which is planned to gradually increase to reach 10 per cent by 2016.

Tea and coffee make its debuts at food and drink expo

Vietnam is showcasing its tea and coffee products for the first time at the Food & Hotel Asia (FHA), and Wine & Spirits Asia (WSA) exhibition in Singapore from April 8-11.

Nearly 500 individuals from twelve Vietnamese enterprises have registered for the event so far, including representatives from Highlands Coffee who participates in the FHA Barista Challenge 2014 and employees from Sheraton Hotel who takes part in the Asian Pastry Cup.

The organizing committee confirmed that, nearly 2,800 companies from 70 nations and territories worldwide have participated in the large-scale exhibition, covering an area of 100,000 square metres.

Hundreds of chefs from around the world will join the FHA Culinary Challenge and high profile speakers will attend the FHA International Conference, focusing on topical issues such as human resources.

Stephen Tan, Chief Executive of Singapore Exhibition Services said FHA and WSA is a comprehensive event, aiming to introduce new technology and the latest food products. It is also an ideal place for participants to share ideas, knowledge and experience as well as provide practical demonstrations to customers.

Businesses receive recognition for outstanding achievements

As many as 82 Vietnamese companies have been presented with the 2013 National Quality Awards.

Among the honoured enterprises, 20 were awarded gold, while the remainder received silver, revealed Tran Van Vinh, Deputy Director of Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality (STAMEQ).

Many businesses have developed their trademark in the market by providing high quality products to consumers including Viglacera Corporation, Bac Giang Chemical And Fertilizer Co Ltd, Binh Dien Fertilizer Joint Stock Company, and Military Joint Stock Commercial Bank (MB).

In addition, Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (Vietinbank) and Traphaco Joint Stock Company were presented with the Global Performance Excellence Award (GPEA) by the Asia-Pacific Quality Organisation (APQO).

The National Quality Awards aim to honour outstanding enterprises and organisations for their significant achievements in product quality, business operations and services.

The event also provided an excellent opportunity for Vietnamese companies to sharpen their competitive edge, strengthen capacity and boost international integration.

Vietnam gives Mozambique agricultural assistance

Vietnam signed a US$2.1 million agreement on March 11 to help Mozambique implement the 2013-2017 project on cooperation and research on the development of food crops.

The agreement covers personnel training and the development of food crop models to help the African country boost its agricultural production, thus raising rice productivity and reducing rice imports.

Both nations will pilot models of planting soy bean, sweet potato and vegetables to ensure food security and increase income for local farmers.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat affirmed that the Vietnamese Government hails cooperation with Mozambique across a variety of fields, including exchange of gene sources, development of rice cultivation models, and rice cooperation.

Mozambican Ambassador to Vietnam Gamiliel Sepulveda Joao Munguambe said he believes that the project will contribute to developing Mozambique’s agriculture while ensuring food security and improving Mozambicans’ living conditions.

Mozambique is willing to collaborate with Vietnam to carry out the project effectively, he added.

Finance ministry circular details new pricing model for goods, services

On 17 February, 2014, the Ministry of Finance issued Circular No 25/2014/TT-BTC outlining the common methods for determining the prices of goods and services ("Circular 25").

Under Circular 25, the two methods such as comparison and cost methods have been defined for determining the prices of goods and services. Based on the characteristics and the use value of each type of goods and service; the material conditions on manufacture, trading, market, circulation of material goods, and service, organisations and individuals have the right to choose a suitable method for determining the prices of goods and services.

The comparison method is used for determining the price of goods and services by analysing and comparing its price and economic and technical characteristics with significant impacts on its price with those of similar assets, goods, or services, which are traded in the domestic market and, concurrently, referring to regional and world market prices (if any).

The cost method is based on reasonable and valid actual manufacturing and operating expenses and estimated profits (if any), which are suitable with the market price and the state's policies affecting the price of goods and services to define their prices.

In general, organisations and individuals will be empowered to choose the apt method for determining prices as similarly prescribed in previous regulations. However, it is noteworthy that Circular 25 further points out that fees which are not part of the calculation and considered as reasonable fees for price determination, is a clause that was not part of the previous regulations.

Another significant change is the regulation on predicting the reasonable profit rate (if any) of the organisations and individuals for avoiding overpriced determination as compared to the market price of the products or services.

This Circular takes effect on 15 April, 2014, and replaces the Circular No. 154/2010/TT-BTC promulgating the regulation on the pricing of assets, goods, and services.

On January 27, 2014, the Industry and Trade Ministry issued a circular detailing several articles of a decree on implementing the Commercial Law.

The Circular No 04/2014/TT-BCT describes various articles of Decree No 187/2013/ND-CP regarding international goods sale and purchase, processing, and transit agency activities with foreign countries ("Circular 04").

Under Circular 04, items added to the list of consumer goods that are prohibited for import into Viet Nam are second-hand mobile phone, PDAs, and laptops. Furthermore, the Circular also lists a number of imported items subject to tariff quota management including (i) salt, (ii) unprocessed tobacco, (ii) bird's eggs, and (iv) refined and raw sugar.

This Circular came into effect on 20 February, 2014, and replaces Circular No 04/2006/TT-BTM, dated April 06, 2006, of the Ministry of Trade providing guidelines for the implementation of Decree No 12/2006/ND-CP of the Government dated January 23, 2006, which provides detailed regulations for the implementation of the Commercial Law with respect to international purchases and sales of goods, agency for sale and purchase, processing and transit of goods involving foreign parties.

Cao Bang border gate economic zone established

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on March 11 signed a decision to set up the Cao Bang Border Gate Economic Zone in the northern mountainous province of Cao Bang.

Accordingly, the new zone is formed on the basis of merging three existing border gate economic zones, namely Ta Lung, Tra Linh and Soc Giang.

It has a total area of over 30,130 hectares, covering 37 communes and three towns from Thach An district to Thong Nong district.

Under the decision, the Cao Bang Border Gate Economic Zone will include a non-tariff area and functional areas such as international border gates, industrial parks, financial and administrative centres, and urban and residential areas.

Cao Bang is a province located in the northeastern part of Vietnam with more than 333 km of border shared with China.

The zone is expected to help turn the country’s mountainous areas into an economic, commercial and service hub in the integration process between ASEAN and China.

Vietnamese, Russian companies ink LNG deal

The PetroVietnam Gas Corporation (PV GAS) and Russia’s Gazprom M&T have signed a contract to buy Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for a warehouse project at Thi Vai Port in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau .

The two sides began negotiations on this deal in 2012 within the framework of the comprehensive strategic cooperation between their parent companies, the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) and Gazprom.

Gazprom M&T is the first LNG provider PV GAS has signed such a contract with to ensure LNG supplies for the Thi Vai port warehouse project.

This is an important project of PV GAS which aims to realise its strategy to diversify gas supplies as well as make up for gas shortages in the coming years.

The project has an annual capacity of 1 million tonnes of LNG and is expected to become operational in 2017.

Vietnam – a place to invest in, say Singapore businessmen

Potential investors should consider Vietnam as a place to invest in, particularly manufacturing operations, said Dr. Ahmad Md Magad, Group Managing Director of II-VI Singapore Pte. Ltd.

In an interview granted to Vietnam News Agency’s Singapore-based reporter on the sideline of the “Doing Business in Vietnam ” seminar held by the Singapore Manufacturing Federation and sponsored by Sembcorp, Ahmad said legal framework of doing business in Vietnam has been improved over the years.

Law becomes more and more predictable and generally it seems to be quite friendly. That combines with a vast market and the ASEAN economic framework coming into place in 2015 to provide very good opportunities for potential investors, he said.

Addressing the seminar, Daniel Pok, Investment Promotion Manager of Sembcorp Parks Management Pte Ltd, affirmed that Vietnam is the next destination for investment.

Sembcorp is one of Singapore biggest investors in Vietnam with five Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks (VSIP) locating in Bac Ninh, Hai Phong, Quang Ngai and Binh Duong provinces. It has about 500 tenants, including 56 Singaporeans, and employing more than 100,000 Vietnamese workers.

Low Beng Tin, Vice President and Chairman of ASEAN Regional Business Group of Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF), said that “long term is good” for doing business in Vietnam and “we have joint ventures with Vietnamese companies and they are good now”.

He affirmed that the SMF will provide businesses with information to easily go to Vietnam , including organising such a seminar.

According to Low, the seminar helps SMF members know more about how to do business in Vietnam , Singapore Government’s scheme to help the local businesspeople to invest in other countries, taxation and the business law of Vietnam .

Vietnamese Ambassador to Singapore Tran Hai Hau assured about 80 businessmen taking part in the event that in the medium and long run, Vietnam is endowed with great potential for economic growth.

“We will do our utmost to ensure a competitive and transparent business environment, to create more favourable conditions for Singaporean enterprises,” he said.

In 2013, Singapore continued to be the third largest trading partner of Vietnam in ASEAN, and with 4.2 billion USD invested last year, raising the total registered FDI from Singapore to Vietnam to 29.3 billion USD, Singapore became Vietnam ’s second largest investor.

Two-way trade between Vietnam and Singapore for the first time exceeded the threshold of 14 billion USD in 2013, up 11 percent over the previous year, said Nguyen Viet Chi, Vietnam’s Commercial Counsellor in Singapore .

She expressed her hope that the figure will increase by between 10 and 15 percent this year.-

Hanoi traffic tenders issued

The process of selecting capable contractors to develop a major stretch of elevated road in the west of the capital has begun.

The Ministry of Transport has approved the go-ahead for bidding on the packages.

Package 1 includes a one-kilometre Mai Dich-Co Nhue section costing VND2,435 billion ($116 million), while package 2 will include a 3.3km stretch along Co Nhue-South Thang Long valued at VND2,041 billion ($97 million).

These two packages will select contractors via international competitive bidding practices featuring the one envelope procurement method with a pre-qualification round based on Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) procedures.

The consultant supervision package valued at VND262 billion ($12.4 million) will use a two envelope procurement method following donor regulations while the three remaining audit and insurance packages are subject to open domestic bidding following the one envelope procurement method.

However a decision on contractors won’t be made rapidly, with Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Hong Truong confirming that “the selection of contractors will be implemented from the second to the fourth quarter of 2015.”

The success of the Mai Dich-Phap Van flyover section was regarded as the main reason for MoT to go ahead with the project using official development assistance (ODA).

MoT will build a 5.3km road, including the Mai Dich-South Thang Long flyover section, as part of Hanoi’s Ringroad 3 project.

The project consultants, Oriental Consultants-Kei (Japan) and TEDI-Apeco (Vietnam) envisaged a four-lane elevated highway.

The project will cost VND5.3 trillion ($254 million) with around VND3.7 trillion ($176 million) to be offset by Japanese ODA funding from JICA. The construction will take 28 months, the consultancy unit predicted.

“The project is unique as it won’t require site clearance though relocation and compensation may take place at some points. In this case, compensation work will be overseen by a sub-project to be handled by relevant localities,” Truong said.

The project should boost links with the North Linh Dam-North Thang Long elevated highway, link national highways 1, 5, 6, and 32 to Noi Bai international airport and reduce traffic volumes on Pham Van Dong street.

Absolute is rebranding a range of properties under its U identity

In its latest announcement, the Absolute Hotel Services group CEO Jonathan Wigley announced a major beach front property to be developed in conjunction with the domestically-owned Duyen Ha Company Limited. The hotel will be branded as Eastin Duyen Ha Resort Cam Ranh with the target opening date of first quarter 2017.

The Eastin Duyen Ha Resort will consist of 250 superior, 100 deluxe, 2 penthouse, 70 garden deluxe and 28 garden suites with high-end facilities including restaurants, an outdoor swimming pool, bars, gym and spa facilities, and a 1,200 square metre ballroom.

“This is exciting news for AHS and as it currently stands as our largest Eastin brand project. Cam Ranh is another hot destination and located very close to Nha Trang,” said Wigley.

Wigley added that with the current and future infrastructure developments, beautiful unspoilt beaches, excellent climate and proximity to Cam Ranh International airport he was confident in attractiveness of the investment would grow further.

AHS also announced their re-branding of the already well-established Hoi An Beach Resort at the end of last year.

The resort is currently undergoing renovation and re-branding and will be ready to be re-launched as U Hoi An late this year.

The 121-room resort is located near the UNESCO world heritage town of Hoi An and within easy reach of Danang and the Cham holy site and UNESCO-recognised My Son. The property is currently going through a staggered refurbishment programme while maintaining operations as Hoi An Beach Resort.

Apart from Eastin Duyen Ha Resort, AHS is also managing U Sapa in the northern province of Lao Cai which will be opened in July 2014.

U Sapa is located in the heart of the former French colonial mountain station.

The 57-room resort will consist of 48 deluxe rooms and 9 suites which will include high-end and leisure facilities.

AHS currently manages the Eastin Easy GTC and Eastin Hotel Hanoi which is now closed for renovation and planned to re-open by mid this year in the capital.

Gamuda City ready for March sales

Hanoi People’s Committee has approved the proposal on the adjustment of function of Parcel A commercial area within the masterplan of Yen So Park.

The Festive Retail will add values to Garmuda Garden residents

According to a local government source, Gamuda City will include commercial housing.

Deputy chairman of Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Van Khoi requested the city’s Department of Planning and Investment report on the development’s progress to the local authority and prime minister.

Khoi said Hoang Mai district People’s Committee would resolve site clearance issues in the second quarter of this year.

The gigantic Gamuda City development includes the Yen So sewerage treatment plant, one of the largest modern waste water treatment plants in Vietnam, and Yen So Park.

The entire project covers 500 hectares in the capital’s Hoang Mai and Thanh Tri districts.

The developer earmarked 73ha for the Gamuda Gardens township. According to Gamuda Land Vietnam general director Cheong Ho Kuan, a range of facilities were nearing completion and would be ready for operation in the middle of this year.

“We are offering plenty of privileged benefits for potential tenants and we will start to open registration as of March 2014 ,” said Cheong.

The club house is 80 per cent completed. “The shop houses and club house in Garmuda Gardens are two of the most significant facilities and aminities which are essential for an integrated township. These facilities are targeted to be in full operation in the middle of 2014 to add value for investment as well as Gamuda Garden’s living environment,” Cheong said.

Work is also busily under way to conclude construction on a retail centre, located next to Yen So Park and Phap Van Road. As one of the fundamental commercial components of Gamuda City project, the Festive Retail featuring 5 blocks, 56 units, is located in the proximity of Yen So Park and Phap Van road, which has been constructed up to the third floor. The Festive Retail boasts a commercial hub for not only Gamuda Gardens residents but also for others in the surrounding area.

Gamuda City is developed by Gamuda Land Vietnam with total investment capital of $3 billion. Gamuda Gardens consists of about 2,000 units including villas, semi-detached and terraced houses, and apartments with a mix of commercial facilities.

The first 364 units of terraced and semi-detached houses will be handed over by the end of March 2014.

Work starts on major power station

Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN) on Sunday began construction of a 1,200MW thermal power plant worth some US$1.3 billion in Binh Thuan Province’s Tuy Phong District.

Vinh Tan 4 Thermal Power Plant is among the four projects which will have to be urgently implemented in the 2013-2020 period in the Vinh Tan power generation complex in the commune of the same name with a combined capacity of 5,600MW.

Therefore, the project enjoys special policy incentives concerning investment preparation, engineering design, site clearance and compensation, contractor selection and financing arrangement.

The coal-fired facility will generate 7.2 billion kWh of power a year for the national grid and help ease power shortages in southern provinces in the coming time.

The plant will have its first generator connected to the national grid in 2017 and the second generator commissioned in 2018.

Vinh Tan 4 will need more than 3.7 million tons of coal imported a year.

According to EVN, to meet the coal demand for power plants, EVN will finish work on Vinh Tan port this month to supply coal for the Vinh Tan power center.

The first 622MW generator of Vinh Tan 2 power station came on stream in mid-January this year. This facility has two generators of same capacity and costs around VND24 trillion.

The nation’s power consumption grows at an average of 13% a year. By 2020 national power consumption is forecast to amount to nearly 300 billion kWh, treble the 2010 figure.

Dai-ichi Life VN gets fund manager license

Dai-ichi Life Vietnam received an establishment license for its fund management company, Dai-ichi Life Vietnam Fund Management Company Limited (DFVN), in Japan on Wednesday.

The license award ceremony took place on the occasion of the Vietnam Ministry of Finance delegation’s official visit to Japan.

Headquartered in HCMC, DFVN will manage investment of pension products, universal products, and unit link products, and seek to maximize profit from the management of securities investment funds, securities investment portfolio and securities investment consultancy.

Koichiro Watanabe, president of Dai-ichi Life Japan, said in a statement released on Thursday that Vietnam is an important market to Dai-ichi Life in Asia. The license marks a milestone and affirms the insurer’s long-term commitment to this country.

Dai-ichi Life Vietnam has provided financial products and services to nearly 950,000 Vietnamese customers through the network of 575 staff and 20,000 financial consultants. Total assets under the company’s management have exceeded VND4 trillion.

Consortium signs 30-year lease of Thi Vai Port

A consortium of five enterprises clinched a deal last Friday with the Vietnam Maritime Administration to lease the Thi Vai international terminal in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau for a period of 30 years.

The consortium consists of Saigon Port Co. Ltd., Phu My integrated oil service company, Vinacommodities Joint Stock Company, Southern Salt Group and Hung Thai petroleum and maritime service company.

Both sides at the signing ceremony declined to reveal the value of the leasing contract. However, the Ministry of Transport earlier approved a fixed package leasing price of over US$130.5 million for 30 years.

If the consortium chooses to pay on an annual basis, the price might be different depending on a lot of factors like revenue and profit.

According to the administration, the Thi Vai terminal has two piers able to handle ships of 50,000 DWT. It has a capacity of 1.6-2 million tons per year.

Earlier, Saigon New Port Corporation won a tender to operate Cai Mep port for 30 years.

The Cai Mep-Thi Vai international port complex is the first project to be put up for bidding with private operators participating. Such bidding is expected to reduce monopoly, increase competitiveness and improve service quality.

The Cai Mep-Thi Vai port complex was commissioned in late January 2013 after four years of construction. The VND13 trillion project was financed by Japan’s official development assistance (ODA) loans and Vietnam’s reciprocal capital.

With two piers of 600 meters in length, the Cai Mep terminal can handle vessels of up to 100,000 DWT and has annual throughput of around 700,000 TEUs.

Bayer Vietnam promotes environmental awareness

Bayer Vietnam has started a program called “Eco-talking events” for pupils in remote areas in the Mekong Delta region this year, to further raise awareness on climate change, empowering them to take their action.

Long An was the first destination of the series of Bayer Vietnam’s “Eco-talking events” for pupils in remote areas in the delta, which is surrounded by thousands of rice farmer households.

The company in conjunction with student volunteers from “Be Change Agents” Network, under the Centre of Live and Learn for Environment and Community (Live & Learn), late last week hosted the Eco-talking event, addressing more than 200 students from primary schools Thai Binh Trung and Thai Tri in Vinh Hung District in the province.

“Eco-talking events” are part of children book project “What’s up with the Earth?” launched by the company together with its partner First News Publishing Company to further raise awareness among Vietnamese children on climate change, empowering them to take their action, whether big or small, to make their meaningful contribution to protect the earth.

Scientific knowledge on climate change topic was presented in a fun and easy-to-understand way for children via a play which was based on content of “What’s up with the Earth?” In addition to the play and games, simple hands-on experiments performed by volunteers provided children with an interactive approach toward scientific topics, triggering their curiosity on the world and things happening around them.

On this occasion, Bayer Vietnam donated 600 print copies of the book “What’s up with the Earth?” and learning tools to the children. Forty special rewards were also presented to children who are in a difficult situation but have yet to have outstanding academic performance.

Phan Thiet golf course to become urban area

The government of Binh Thuan Province has agreed on converting Ocean Dunes Golf Club in Phan Thiet City into an urban area due to its operational inefficiency, provincial chairman Le Tien Phuong said at a meeting last week.

Ocean Dunes Golf Club located at 1 Ton Duc Thang Street, a prime land site in Phan Thiet City, is managed by Rang Dong Co.

According to Rang Dong Co., since it was put into service in 1997, the golf course has racked up big losses, Tuoi Tre newspaper reports. Moreover, costs to maintain and operate the golf course are high while the number of golfers there is small.

As calculated by Rang Dong Co., if the golf course is converted into an urban area, business operations could be improved and over VND1 trillion could be paid to the State budget. It is expected that the urban area would consist of villas, garden houses, townhouses, high-rise buildings, public works and other infrastructure facilities.

However, there are mixed views on this issue.

Nguyen Duc Hoa, director of Binh Thuan Province’s Department of Planning and Investment, said that the golf course had operated inefficiently while contributing almost nothing to the State budget and providing few jobs for local people. “The conversion is necessary in this period,” Hoa is quoted by Thanh Nien newspaper as saying.

Sharing the same opinion, Nguyen Huu Quy, chairman of Binh Thuan Nature Conservation Association, said changing the golf course into an urban area was needed given the project’s poor performance.

Nguyen Van Thu, former vice chairman of Binh Thuan Province, disagreed on the plan, saying that Phan Thiet City would lack green space without the golf course.

“If the golf course is changed into a residential area, it will be stuffy. Revenues could be generated from the golf course conversion but over 62 hectares of project land could not,” Thu said.

According to Nguyen Van Thanh Binh, chairman of the Binh Thuan Architect Association, Phan Thiet City has only a beautiful park and it is unreasonable to destroy a green park with a big lake inside.

If Binh Thuan Province wants to change the use purpose of the golf course, there should be at least a council consisting of planning experts. Besides, the province should listen to local people, former provincial chairman Dang Van Hai was as quoted by Thanh Nien newspaper as saying.

Two more firms receive customs incentives

Datalogic Scanning Vietnam Co., Ltd and Samsung Electronics Vietnam Thai Nguyen on Thursday received certificates from the General Customs Department to receive special customs incentives.

According to a representative of Datalogic Scanning Vietnam, since being recognized as a priority enterprise on February 12, the firm’s operations and export-import activities are made easier and quicker, thus enhancing its competitiveness.

Besides, Vietnam’s customs is modernized with the automated customs system to be applied from April 1, which helps relieve foreign investors of time-consuming administrative procedures when investing in Vietnam, he added.

Nguyen Duong Thai, deputy director of the General Department of Customs, said that recognized priority enterprises were those having fully complied with laws and having a modern control process of production and product management.

According to the general department, there have been only 16 out of 40,000 export-import enterprises being given the incentives.

This is a program carried out by the Ministry of Finance since 2011 to make a list of enterprises meeting certain requirements and providing them with the priority. Such enterprises will be granted the certificates and can enjoy incentives in their export and import activities such as fast-track customs.

On August 15, 2013 requirements for priority enterprises were lowered to enable more enterprises to receive the incentives.

Under Circular 86, enterprises with special incentives will be subject to fewer customs procedures and fewer routine checks, have tax refunds upon claim before checks are made later, have quick goods clearance via 24/24 e-customs procedures, and others.

According to Nguyen Ngoc Tuc, head of the General Department of Customs, the general department offers such incentives for enterprises to recognize their contributions to the economic development. Such a move reflects trust in enterprises’ legal compliance in the future, and is also a way to reform administrative procedures in customs.

New CIS campus opens at Phu My Hung new urban area

The Canadian International School (CIS) on Sunday held the grand opening of its new campus on Nguyen Luong Bang Street, Phu My Hung urban area, District 7, HCMC.

In harmony with the Bilingual Canadian International School (BCIS) campus across the street, both campuses create a large-scale, modern and advanced educational complex in the country.

The campus complex of CISS at Phu My Hung consists of two phases and covers 39,000-square-meter with the estimated investment capital of VND950 billion (US$46 million), with the 13,000-square-meter first phase for the BCIS completed in November 2012. The second phase, the new CIS campus with the Maple Leaf Stadium which is for students of the whole system, covers around 26,000-square-meter and will be the new home for CIS students (previously studying at the Binh Chanh campus).

Together, these two campuses will create a full campus complex for the whole CISS, including CIS, BCIS and the Canada-Vietnam Kindergarten (CVK).

The new CIS campus at Phu My Hung offers students the best facilities for the comprehensive educational aim. They include a library with capacity of 700 students and nearly 13,500 books; cafeteria that can serve 2,000 students at the same time; grand swimming pool with international competition-standard size; 1,250-seat indoor sport stadium and competition flooring that meets the standards of FIBA (International Basketball Federation); two 2D and 3D cinemas, each with capacity of nearly 400 seats/cinema; Japan-standard seat systems in cinemas, indoor sport stadium, cafeteria, classrooms.

Besides the chemistry-biology-physics laboratories that were designed based on lab standards of IB (International Baccalaureate Organization) with all equipment, materials and chemical substances imported from USA, Canada and Europe to ensure complete safety and highest quality for students.

Nguyen Thi Kieu Oanh, chairwoman of Khoi Nguyen Education Holdings Corporation (KNE) and Canada International Primary school-Secondary school-High school JSC – investors of CISS, said this March also marked the fifth birthday of CIS. Currently, the whole CISS has 1,350 students from 26 countries and regions studying kindergarten, elementary and secondary grade at CIS, BCIS and CVK.

HSBC: Manufacturing keeps growing but at slower pace

Vietnam’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a composite indicator designed to provide a snapshot of operating conditions in the manufacturing sector, posted 51.0 in February, down from 52.1 in January, but still signaling an improvement, HBSC Bank said in a report.

Business conditions have now strengthened in each of the past six months. Further rises in output, new orders and employment were recorded.

Vietnamese manufacturing firms recorded a further increase in production during February but the rate of expansion eased to the slowest since last October. Where output did rise, this was linked by respondents to higher new orders.

Client demand has been improved while staffing levels have now risen in each of the past seven months, the bank said.

Trinh Nguyen, Asia Economist at HSBC, said that the manufacturing sector continues to be Vietnam’s bright spot with output and employment expanding. Weakened external demand, especially in China, however, is a concern.

“This means that although we continue to expect output to continue to expand on higher orders and reduced inventories, Vietnam faces strong headwinds. With inflation manageable and domestic demand weak, we expect the central bank to keep the open market operations (OMO) rate on hold at 5.5%,” she said.

HCM City’s company accused of violating labor law

A group of employees at Hoang Vinh Kim Ltd., in HCM City sent letters to local authorities in seek of help after they were suspended for asking for a labour contract.

The dispute started in late January, when employees received what they saw as an unfair Tet bonus. The company also refused to pay overtime and paid annual leave.

“When we asked for the reasons behind the company's decision they just said that we do not have any contract and are not entitled to the benefits we were asking for. But, in fact, we have asked several times for a contract," said one employee.

The company then called the workers in to sign a contract, including a minimum wage and a pay scale dependent on skills and seniority. When the employees complained that the contract was unfair because many would actually have had to take a cut in wages and benefits, they refused to sign.

“Then company sent a letter of resignation for us to sign. We refused. Then, while we thought we were still in negotiation, the company suspended all six of us. There are even guards that prevent us from entering the premises," the employee said.

According to Tong Thi My Linh, an employee at the firm, the company made efforts to restrict their employment from other companies in the area.

A company's representative named Nguyen Thi Thuy Huong said that they invited the disgruntled workers to return after the dispute, but the suspended employees were unwilling to work under the original terms, even with pay for days for which they were on suspension.

“We were wrong for not having signed a contract with these employees. We intend to sign contracts with them from the time they started working. We will even cover their social insurance expenses," said Huong.

She added, however, that the company would be unwilling to raise the minimum wage to the demands of the suspended employees. They would, she said, be willing to adjust the pay scale depending on skill and seniority.

As far as overtime, she said that there is no way to calculate the figures at this point, and any employee with a complaint should bring it to court.

However the company has made known its attempt to pay the group of employees less than the minimum wage under current regulation.

Nguyen Anh Dung, Deputy Head of District 12 Office of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said the suspended staff are in fact employed on a long-term and regular basis and that it is illegal for them not to have labour contracts.

“Payments should be based on bilateral negations. If the two sides fail to reach an agreement, payment must be in accordance with the regulations on payments for staff,” Dung added.

Technical infrastructure completed for e-customs system to commence

 A national pilot project to develop efficient border procedures using e-customs technologies was inaugurated at a ceremony in Ha Noi yesterday.

The event marked the completion of the project's Phase 1, which saw the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Ministry of Transport connect to the e-customs system.

Phase 2 will start this year and see three more ministries connected to the network – the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The e-customs system is designed to be the core of the National Single Window (NSW) system Vietnam is building under its commitment to join the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) network by 2015.

This programme allows trade and transport-related parties to declare information and documents just once at a single location to complete all legal requirements concerning import, export and transit, thus greatly reducing waiting times and complicated administrative procedures.

Meanwhile, the ASW is a regional initiative that connects and integrates NSWs of member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), with the aim of expediting cargo clearance, as the bloc looks to establish the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.

Addressing the ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh, head of the National Steering Committee for NSW and ASW, requested that involved ministries and agencies continue to streamline administrative procedures related to the NSW. He also urged them to coordinate closely in building a database on administrative procedures for the NSW.

That same day, Deputy PM Ninh chaired the fourth plenary session of the National Steering Committee for NSW and ASW. He instructed agencies to focus on completing the legal framework for Phase 2 of the NSW, as well as ensuring the smooth operation of the NSW technical infrastructure.

Industrial production on recovery path

The index of industrial production (IIP) saw a 5.4 per cent growth in the first two months of this year in comparison with the same period in 2013

The General Statistics Office (GSO) reported that at the same time, the index of inventory in the manufacturing and processing sectors accounted for 75 per cent of the entire industrial production. It rose 12.7 per cent year-on-year. In January alone, the index of inventory was up 9.7 per cent.

According to GSO economists, the domestic industrial production has been recovering amid the many challenges still being faced by the global and local economy.

The growth of IIP in the first two months showed that businesses had invested strongly in production to keep pace with the economic recovery.

The processing and manufacturing industry, especially, has seen a handsome growth of 7.8 per cent in the first two months, compared with the 5 per cent growth in the same period last year.

Many industries also saw high growth in the first two months, such as garment and textile which was up 21.1 per cent, leather by 19.2 per cent, ready-made garments by 15.3 per cent, electronics and computers by 10.4 per- ent, television production by 38.3 per cent and rolled steel by 22 per cent.

However, some key industrial products saw low or reduced growth such as crude oil which was decreased by 1.4 per cent, electricity equipment by 1 per cent and motorbike production by 11.2 per cent.

In addition, some industries saw high inventory. The volume of the stockpile of drugs and medicinal herbs rose by 104.8 per cent, of chemicals and chemical products by 43.6 per cent and leather products by 36.8 per cent.

VNPT restructuring for sustainable telecom development

The Ministry of Information and Communications is determined to restructure telecommunications businesses this year including splitting the mobile service provider MobiFone from the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) and establishing a mobile information corporation, reported the online Vietnam Economic News.

Pham Hong Hai, head of the ministry's Telecommunications Department, said that the telecommunications sector in Vietnam had grown robustly for years, becoming the world’s fastest as a result of impressive growth of many businesses. However, telecommunications networks have problems in terms of quality and stability.

Three giants – Viettel, VinaPhone and MobiFone - account for 95 percent of the Vietnamese telecommunications market, while other businesses share a modest 5 percent, making them unable to compete. “For this reason, the Vietnamese telecommunications market needs to be restructured to promote sustainable development,” said Hai.

Former Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Mai Liem Truc said that one owner should not have many subsidiaries which compete with each other. He also said that the Vietnamese telecommunications market was not really competitive as it had been managed by State agencies via their administrative decisions.

CMC Group Joint Stock Company General Director Nguyen Trung Chinh said a monopoly existed, and that new brand names such as Gtel’s Beeline and Hutchison’s HTMobile had been defeated due to unfair competition and a State monopoly. Opportunities for small and non-state businesses remain insufficient.

Hai said that the ministry had submitted a telecommunications market restructuring scheme to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung with a focus on streamlining the VNPT by splitting MobiFone and forming a new, independent business.

He also said that as MobiFone is strong and more independent than VinaPhone, splitting it from the VNPT would facilitate the implementation of the Government’s policy to equitise businesses (i.e. transform them into joint stock companies), while at the same time make the VNPT grow in a more rapid and dynamic manner in the near future. Following the scheme, a minimum of three strong businesses would be established providing sustainability for the competitive market.

VNPT General Director Tran Manh Hung said that his group submitted a VNPT restructuring scheme to the Prime Minister in May 2012. Following the scheme, the VNPT would separate MobiFone so as not to concurrently manage two mobile networks and to make the group grow faster in the years to come.

MobiFone Chairman Le Ngoc Minh said that once MobiFone is separated, it will become an independent business and have opportunities to expand and diversify its telecommunications and information technology services, rather than existing mobile services as its core business. “MobiFone is a well-established brand name with a strong and skilled workforce and is therefore able to compete in the Vietnamese telecommunications market,” he said.