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 PM calls for greater efforts to keep 5.8% economic growth; Vietnam simplifies corporate tax payment procedures; Indonesian firms explore M&As; Bank employees still living large despite doldrums

Supporting industry exhibitions open in Hanoi

Three exhibitions relating to supporting industries opened on August 27 at Hanoi International Centre for Exhibition.

At the opening ceremony, Vice Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee, Nguyen Van Su said that organising the three exhibitions taking place at the same place is a good opportunity for supporting industry businesses to seek their partners in the field as well as take a closer look at various advanced technologies and products.

A total of 200 companies from 20 countries and territories showcase their products such as spare parts, machines and equipment serving supporting industries.

The exhibitions are expected to draw some 11,000 businesses and importers to visit and seek partnership.

The three-day event is hosted by the Ministry of Industry and Trade in collaboration with the Thai company Reed Tradex.

Industrial production increases 6.3 percent in first eight months

Compared to the same period last year, the industrial production index was up 6.7 percent in August and 6.3 percent in the first eight months, reported the General Statistics Office.

In the eight months, manufacturing and processing increased 8.1 percent, electricity production and distribution was up 11.2 percent. Waste and wastewater treatment hiked 6.2 percent but mining continued falling to 0.8 percent.

The country has 47,500 new companies in the eight months with registered capital of VND289.8 trillion, down 9.5 percent in the number of companies and up 14.2 percent in capital.

44,500 enterprises have been forced to shut down or temporarily stop operation because of the economic slowdown, a 12.9 percent year on year increase. 10,900 shutdown companies have resumed operation, up 2.6 percent.

Ten young entrepreneurs to receive 2014 Red Star Award

Vietnam Young Entrepreneur Association held a press conference on August 25 to announce the 5th national congress of the Viet Nam Youth Federation and 2014 Red Star Award.

The congress will take place in Ha Noi on August 30-31 with participation of 1,000 delegates.

Within the framework of the congress, the 2014 Red Star Award granting ceremony will be also held at National Convention Center in the evening of August 31.

10 youth among 100 outstanding businessmen will be granted the Red Star Awards by their success in doing business and contributing in the social development.

Vietnam Young Entrepreneur Association presented at 63 provinces across the country with participation of nearly 10,000 members.

Statistics showed that total revenue of 100 enterprises reached VND 320,696 billion in 2013.

The Red Star Award, established in 1999, has recognized 87 outstanding young entrepreneurs, who create successful businesses and have great contributions to the social development.

PM calls for greater efforts to keep 5.8% economic growth

It is imperative to focus on alleviating business difficulties and stimulating agricultural and industrial and service growth in order to achieve a 5.8% economic growth rate set for this year.

Prime Minister Nguyen Ta Dung stressed the need at a regular cabinet meeting in Hanoi on August 27 which reviewed the socio-economic performance for the eight months of this year.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MoPI) report showed that the reviewed period saw continued socio-economic recovery, ensured social welfare, and positive changes and improvements in all economic sectors.

Export growth was maintained with trade surplus while inflation was controlled at a low level and market prices were kept stable.

The MoPI reported that GDP growth in three quarters is estimated at 5.54%. However, the socio-economic development situation still face numerous difficulties due to  macroeconomic infirmness, slow growth of aggregate demand, lower credit growth, and obstacles for business’ access to bank loans and ineffective settlement of bad debts.

In his speech, PM Dung applauded the joint efforts by ministries, sectors and localities to stabilize the macro-economy towards this year’s growth target of 5.8%. 12 out of 14 targets set for 2014 were fulfilled or exceed.

The Government leader urged all sectors to do their utmost to reach all the set targets, thus providing a solid underpinning for ensuring year-on-year growth.

PM Dung suggested they should concentrate their attention on increasing aggregate demand of the economy by increasing credit outstanding balance associated with improving credit quality, dealing with bad debts, increasing disbursement and investment and combating fake and imitation goods in order to protect and boost domestic production.

Dung placed importance of restructuring the national economy with a focus on restructuring State-owned enterprise (SoEs), commercial banks and agriculture and preventing loss and wastage.

Regarding administrative reform, PM Dung asked relevant agencies to devise proper solutions for boosting production and investment, improving the business environment and sharpening national competitiveness.

"From now until the end of the year and next year, dealing with customs procedures will be reduced by half from the current level, tax formalities to 200 hours from 500 hours, insurance procedures to less than 100 hours from 300 hours. Procedures for investment, construction, land management, access to electricity will drop from one thirds to half compared to the current level. Ministers have pledged their utmost efforts to streamline all cumbersome procedures to improve the investment environment and the national economy’s competitiveness.” Dung said.

In terms of socio-economic tasks for 2015, he asked cabinet members to focus on practical solutions and measures aimed at exceeding this year’s GDP growth to reach 6.0-6.2% as estimated by the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Vietnam simplifies corporate tax payment procedures

The Ministry of Finance (MOF) has announced that a number of regulations are to be scrapped or modified in an effort to reduce the time it takes enterprises to pay their taxes.

The changes will come into effect from September 1 and they are expected to save more than 200 hours each year for businesses.

This is the first step towards the Government’s goal to cut the time it takes enterprises to prepare and pay taxes by no more than 300 hours each year by the end of 2014.

According to the MOF’s Circular 119/2014/TT-BTC, enterprises do not have to declare and pay value added tax (VAT) when re-importing goods returned by foreign companies.

They will now only have to do so when the returned goods never left Vietnamese territory.

The MOF is also abolishing several other regulations to ease administrative procedures for enterprises.

MOF officials said the changes are designed to facilitate corporate tax payment and would not affect tax revenues.

According to World Bank data, it took an average of 872 hours per year for an enterprise to prepare, file and pay the three major types of taxes in 2013.

Indonesian firms explore M&As

Vietnam and Indonesia are seeing big merger and acquisition opportunities.

At last week’s conference on promoting investment in Vietnam, organised in Indonesia by the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) in co-operation with Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board, Indonesian Cement CEO Dwi Soetipto said the group had acquired a 70 per cent stake in the Thang Long Cement Plant in the northern province of Quang Ninh several years ago.

“This deal has been a success story, prompting many Indonesian investors to turn to the Vietnamese market now,” he said.

The conference saw an impressive 150 Indonesian firms turn up. They were also joined by Vietnamese businesses such as the State Capital Investment Corporation - the state shareholder in Vietnamese enterprises, VPBank Securities (VPBS), PetroVietnam Power Corporation, PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corporation, Hanoi Housing Development and Investment Corporation, and Hanoi Urban Development, Construction and Investment Consulting Joint Stock Company.

At the conference, Barry David Weisblatt, head of research at VPBS, told Indonesian participants about investment opportunities in Vietnam via merger and acquisition (M&A), particularly in retail, banking, construction and production of consumer goods.

Known as a leading advisor for M&A deals in Vietnam, VPBS representatives said that the firm had been selected by some Indonesian firms to provide them with advisory services for their M&A deals in Vietnam in the coming time.

Established in 2006, VPBS has become one of the largest securities firms in Vietnam with chartered capital of VND800 billion (nearly $40 million). The firm aims to be a market leader by 2015 with differentiated products and services.

The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry also announced that many Indonesian firms were set to visit Vietnam next montth to investigate M&A opportunities.

Both Nguyen Xuan Thuy, Vietnam’s Ambassador to Indonesia and Mahendra Siregar, chairman of Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board, said better understandings between the two sides would need to be developed in order for enterprises from both nations to conduct M&As. Vietnam’s M&A market value increased from $1 billion in 2008 to $5 billion in 2012, with successful big deals also involving Indonesian investors. In early August 2014, the Vietnam M&A Forum, jointly organised by VIR and AVM Company, also drew major attention from local and foreign firms.

Vietnam’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) started undergoing a comprehensive restructuring process via equitisation many years ago, but it is just the present time when the process has been strongly accelerated. The Vietnamese government’s target is to equitise 432 SOEs in 2014 and 2015, while state capital in non-core businesses will be divested.

Out of the 432 SOEs slated for equitisation by the end of next year, 348 have established equitisation steering committees, 247 have conducted a formal business valuation, 88 have had their valuations approved by the government. Significantly, 55 SOEs have had their equitisation plans approved by the government, including the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) and Vinalines.

Of the 55 SOEs approved for equitisation, 32 are currently listed on either the Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh stock exchanges, while the rest held their auctions directly at their offices or at securities firms.

In telecommunications sector, for example, in mid-June the prime minister made a decision to separate VMS – the operator of Mobifone, from its parent company VNPT to better carry out its equitisation plan, which the prime minister is expected to approve within this year. Though Mobifone’s value and plan to sell shares to foreign strategic partners have yet to be finalised, there may be a number of competitors vying for Mobifone shares.

MPI’s Minister Bui Quang Vinh stressed that Vietnam’s equitisation programme was creating new M&A opportunities, and that a new M&A wave would serve to boost the equitisation and economic restructuring process in Vietnam.

While Vietnam has seen a fast rising influx of M&A deals from foreign investors, Vietnamese firms are similarly closing their own deals outside of Vietnam’s borders.

Not long ago FPT signed a deal with RWE Group, under which it will purchase RWE IT Slovakia. This was FPT’s first M&A deal in a foreign market. In late December 2013, Vinamilk announced its acquisition of 70 per cent of US-backed Driftwood Dairy. In August 2012, Viettel Global bought a 65 per cent stake in Tanzania’s Epocha & Golden Ocean Tanzania Ltd (Egotel). In October 2012 PetroVietnam announced it had concluded its purchase of Oil Block No67 on the Maranon River in Peru.

Bank employees still living large despite doldrums

Despite difficulties in the banking sector, employees are still enjoying high wages.

Many banks recently released first-half financial statements that showed employee incomes at many banks are still high, despite the institutions’ hardships.

Vietcombank’s first-half consolidated financial statement showed that its second-quarter after-tax profits rose 22 per cent on-year to VND1.06 trillion ($50.4 million), bringing the bank’s six-month after-tax profit to VND2.23 trillion ($106.2 million), a 12.4 per cent bump compared to the first six months of 2013.

Also in the first half, Vietcombank earmarked VND1.55 trillion ($73.9 million) for staff remuneration, averaging VND112 million ($5,300)/6 months and VND18.6 million ($885) per capita per month.

As of June 30, the bank consisted of its headquarters, one transaction bureau, one training centre, 89 branches, and a rep office in Singapore with total staff numbering 13,873.

In the first six months of 2014, Military Bank (MB) posted VND1.33 trillion ($63.7 million) in post-tax profits, slightly down on-year.

As of June 30, the bank reported its staff at 6,389 with more than VND689 billion ($32.8 million) in total income, averaging nearly VND18 million ($857) per capita per month.

BIDV also caved its name among banks taking the lead in staff payments, at nearly VND19 million ($904) per capita per month.

With total after-tax profits reaching VND614 billion ($29.2 million) in the second quarter this year, up 34 per cent on-year, and six-month cumulative profits at VND1.2 trillion ($57.2 million), up nearly 9 per cent on-year, Sacombank has scaled-up recruitment.

As of June 30, the bank had a reported headcount of 11,089 people, up 303 compared to the end of the first quarter.

The bank’s payroll reached VND1.07 trillion ($51 million) in the first half, averaging VND16.1 million ($766) per capita per month.

The employees at VietinBank, Techcombank and ACB respectively reported average monthly pay of VND17.9 trillion ($852), VND16.9 million ($804), and VND15.5 million ($738).

Salaries at public banks such as PVcomBank, OceanBank, PGBank, and Saigon-Hanoi Bank were also relatively high, in the range of VND10-12 million ($476-$571) per capita per month.

E-tax service launched in 15 cities, provinces

By the end of August 2014, the General Department of Taxation will launch e-tax service at 15 cities and provinces nationwide.

These localities include Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong, Quang Ninh, Hai Duong, Phu Tho, Nam Dinh, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Quang Binh, Da Nang, Binh Dinh, Khanh Hoa, Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Ba Ria-Vung Tau.

Earlier, from February to July this year, the taxation sector piloted e-tax service for 246 people in Ha Noi, 11 in Bac Ninh Province and 40 in Vinh Phuc Province with a total amount of VND208.6 billion.

The service helps economize travelling cost and time for transactions and simplify procedures.

Between the end of 2014 and August 2015, the taxation sector had set to expand the connection with other commercial banks in the work and launch e-tax service nationwide.

Inflation slows to 4.73% in August

Vietnam’s annual inflation, as measured by the consumer price index (CPI), eased to 4.73% in August from the 4.94% rate in July, the General Statistics Office (GSO) has reported.

Compared with the previous month, consumer prices increased by 0.22%, official data released by the GSO on August 24 showed.

Inflation slowed in August as a result of decreases in transport costs, building materials, utility bills and telecommunications as well as slight increases in other commodities in the basket used to calculate the CPI.

Building materials and utility bills as a single category posted a one-month drop of 0.31% while transport costs also fell by 0.06%, mainly driven by recent petrol price cuts.

Last week, the retail price of RON92 petrol, the most common type of fuel in Vietnam, was cut by VND600 to VND24,210 per litre, the third cut within a month.

In August, food costs and restaurant services went up by 0.45% from the previous month, boosted by respective increases of 0.45%, 0.54% and 0.16% in the prices of food, foodstuff and eating out.

The GSO said the reason for such a large increase in this category was stronger demand for food for the Hungry Ghost Festival, rising meat production costs and rice exporters rushing to buy grain to meet orders.

Garments and education costs rose by 0.32% and 0.22% respectively due to higher demand for clothes, footwear and stationery products ahead of a new academic year.

In August, the prices of gold and the US dollar, which were not included in the CPI basket, dropped by 0.34% and 0.26% respectively.

SDI shares snapped up at IPO

Hanoi Sport Development and Investment Company (SDI) sold out 7.8 million shares at its initial public offering (IPO) last Friday at an average price of VND31,000 a share.

Eight investors, including three institutions, took part in the auction, bidding for a volume 3.5 times higher than that put up for sale.

Some investors bid to buy up the 7.8 million shares while others offered to pay VND40,000 a share, four times higher than the starting price.

Closing the session, three individual investors acquired the shares at around VND31,000 each, with foreign investors buying over 3.8 million shares. The firm raised over VND244 billion at the IPO.

The successful bidding was credited to SDI’s ownership of several land lots at prime sites in Hanoi City. The firm reported meager after-tax profit of around VND2-3 billion a year in 2012-2013

In the coming time, the company plans to speed up investments in offices for lease and venture with foreign partners to improve revenues. It will also focus on sport equipment business.

DOJI Group gets gold assessment license

The Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality under the Ministry of Science and Technology has awarded a gold assessment license to DOJI Institute & Laboratory for Gemology and Jewelry (DOJILAB) under DOJI Gold & Gems Group.

DOJI is the first enterprise in Vietnam to have such a license, which allows it to assess the content of gold jewelry and artistic products on the market.

To win the license, DOJI has to meet requirements on testing machines, assessor qualifications and prestige.

The ministry’s Circular 22/2013/TT-BKHCN regulates that standards of quality and measurement of the gold jewelry items traded on the local market must be written in a code with the correct gold content.

The circular is aimed to prevent the production and trading of substandard gold products and help law enforcement agencies tackle violations effectively.

SOEs told to spur divestments from non-core operations

The Government has called on State-owned business groups and corporations to speed up divestments from non-core business operations, including banking, real estate and securities, this year and next year.

Excessive investments of State-owned business groups and corporations in non-core areas, particularly banking and finance, have caused big concerns, according to a report on about conclusions by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at a conference on the restructuring of State-owned enterprises (SOE) earlier this month.

The Prime Minister ordered the central bank to urgently propose solutions to dealing with SOEs’ investments in finance firms and commercial banks in connection with the restructuring of commercial banks.

He demanded that ministries, agencies, localities, State business groups and corporations tell their enterprises currently in the process of asset assessment to announce the results of asset valuations in the third quarter so that their equitilization plans can be approved in the fourth quarter of this year.

Their listing schedules must also be clarified in decisions on their equitilization plans.

SOEs which cannot launch initial public offerings as regulated may continue to operate as joint stock firms with shareholders being the State, State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC), trade unions, employees, strategic investors or voluntary shareholders if they can find to diversify their list of shareholders.

Public utilities, including those in urban environment, water supply and drainage, may have its majority of chartered capital held by domestic investors if they commit to ensure the quality of their services for the public.

Around 432 SOEs are scheduled to go public towards the end of 2015 and this target is seen obtainable as the tempo of SOE equitization in the January-July period was faster than the same period last year, according to the Steering Committee for Enterprise Reform and Development.

In the period, State corporations and groups divested a total of less than VND2.98 trillion, three times higher than last year, but the divestment process was still slower than expected.

There were some 76 enterprises restructured in the first seven months of this year, with 55 equitized, two dissolved, one sold, 15 merged and three filing for bankruptcy. As of July, the Prime Minister had approved the restructuring plans of 20 State-owned groups and corporations.

Ministry determines to streamline tra fish industry

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has showed determination to streamline the tra fish industry which has suffered consequences from quick and uncontrollable development for the last decade.

Tra fish prices have been in a long reduction in the Mekong Delta. Farmers suffer losses and are unaffordable to continue production. Businesses face full of hardship due to low export price and technical barriers from import countries.

According to the Seafood Departments in the Mekong Delta's provinces, tra fish farming area reached 4,469 hectares in the delta as of August. Productivity averaged 273 tons per hectare.

Eighty seven percent of tra fish farming area and productivity are from An Giang, Dong Thap, Ben Tre Provinces and Can Tho City.

One decade ago, tra fish export had many advantages. A lot of tra fish islands sprouted on Hau River with the appearance of several tra fish billionaires.

Afterwards so many people from jewelry shopkeepers, duck breeders, real estate enterprises and even officials jumped into the profitable industry. They opened more farms and processing plants.

The quick development of tra fish industry has been out of control causing much consequence. Breeders have been unable to sell their fish, forcing the central government to help seeking consumption sources for several times.

According to experts, tra fish industry most developed in 2001-2005 and slowed down in 2006-2009. From 2009 to 2013, farming area reduced 0.7 percent per year.

The developed phase has gone by and the tra fish industry has entered a recession.

Households with limited capital have had to quit farming. Only rich households and large businesses are able to stay in. However most of them are underperforming partly due to high costs.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development are determined to tackle long lasting issues and unleash development of the tra fish industry. The ministry is implementing a Government’s recently issued decree on tra fish farming, processing and export.

According to the decree, tra fish farming locations must be reset up. By the end of next year, all farms must meet VietGap quality standards.

Businesses must register their export contracts with the Vietnam Pangasius Association. They must get the association’s confirmation for customs clearance.

Despite of receiving agreement from the fish breeders and local authorities, the decree has faced objection from businesses, saying it lengthens the list of export procedures. 

At present, they must get quality certificate for their export products from the National Agro, Forestry, Fisheries Quality Assurance Department. They also do other procedures for customs clearance and booking vessels.

Businesses have also raised objection against a floor price regulation in the decree. Import markets are in different demand of the fish quality, resulting in different export price and purchasing price too, they said.

It is easy to understand why they react like that. Long since, the businesses have decided buying prices and export prices themselves and it is caused unhealthy competitiveness such as selling low quality product or dumping.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development affirmed that they would manage the tra fish industry from sources of breeding fish to farming, processing and exports. All phases must comply with current regulations.

Registration with the Pangasius Association is to prevent businesses from paying farmers lower than the floor prices and ensure that processed products are qualified. Unless meeeting this regulation, businesses will not be permitted to export.

The regulation also aims to grasp market demand from which the ministry can plan suitable farming scales to protect farmers from undergoing losses due to superfluous supply and tumbled prices.

According to Vietnam Customs, tra fish export turnover reached $890 million by mid July, down 2.12 percent from a year ago.

EU becomes the largest importer of Vietnamese tra fish with $189.57 million. At the second position is the US with $163.12 million, a year on year fall of 32 percent.

Vietnam exports tra fish products to 137 countries and territories worldwide.

ASEAN and China agree to negotiate upgrade of ACFTA

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China have agreed to negotiate for an upgraded ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) in order to ensure that the ACFTA remains dynamic and facilitates trade activities, said a joint statement from the two sides.

The consultations between ASEAN economic ministers and the Chinese Minister of Commerce (AEM-MOFCOM) took place in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, on August 26, under the framework of the 46th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting.

The ministers said that the agreement to upgrade the ACFTA reflects the positive relations between the two sides and helps deepen their economic co-operation in a mutually beneficial manner.

They also pledged to expedite the conclusion of the Custom Procedures and Trade Facilitation (CPTF) negotiations and to report progress made to the next AEM-MOFCOM consultations.

China remains ASEAN’s largest trade partner, with two-way trade hitting US$350.5 billion in 2013, up 7.7% from the previous year, accounting for 14% of the bloc’s total trade turnover.

The ministers reaffirmed their commitment to bringing the figure to US$500 billion by the end of 2015, said the statement.

Established in January 1, 2010, ACFTA covers a population of 1. 8 billion, with a total gross domestic product of US$6 trillion and trade reaching US$4.5 trillion. It represents the biggest FTA made up of developing countries in the world.

Senior ASEAN environmental officials gather in Laos

The 25th Meeting of ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment (ASOEN) kicked off in the Lao capital city of Vientiane on August 26.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Moemany Nhoybouakong, head of the Lao delegation and Vice Chair of the 25th ASOEN meeting, highlighted the challenges and difficulties that ASEAN needs to solve. He then then suggested the bloc intensify co-operation in the region to deal with the impacts of climate change sustainably and encourage the private sector’s active involvement in the use and management of natural resources.

She affirmed the Lao Government’s strong commitments to implement principles of the ASEAN Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution and other environment-related plans and strategies.

During the three-day meeting, delegates will hear reports from ASEAN environment ministerial meetings in the past year.

Proposals of ASOEN working groups on issues relating to; climate change, the marine and coastal environment, education on the environment, natural conservation and bio-diversity, as well as reports on water source management, ASEAN co-operation in environmental technology and sustainable consumption and production are also expected to be delivered at the event.

The meeting’s outcomes will be submitted to the 15th unofficial meeting of ASEAN environment ministers scheduled for October 27-31.

Scientists stress request to develop sci-tech human resource

Scientists of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) have stressed the request to develop future scientific researchers, at a working session with Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee President, Nguyen Thien Nhan on August 26.

According to Director of Institute of Materials Science, Nguyen Quang Liem, human resources mobilised in science and technology have not yet met the quest for the sector’s development.

He cited that under Vietnam’s National Strategy for Science and Technology Development, Vietnam targets 90,000 working in the field. The figure, according to him is modest in comparison with neighbouring countries, such as Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore where six or seven people out of 1,000 people work in the field.

His opinion was supported by Director of the Institute for Environmental Technology, Nguyen Hoai Chau. Chau pointed out that research institute units have been allocated with limited quota for official personnel, which leads to the lack of human resources for the institutes, while causing difficulties for young and talented scientists who want to apply for jobs.

Speaking at the event, VFF President, Nguyen Thien Nhan highly appreciated the frank and enthusiastic opinions contributed by the scientists.

He asked VAST to work out a plan to develop human resource for science and technology for the next five to 10 years.

He also pledged that VFF would work closely with the science and technology circle to boost human resources for national construction and development.

Young players expected to stir up Nhan Dan Newspaper national table tennis tourney

Buon Ma Thuot city in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak will host the 32nd Nhan Dan Newspaper National Table Tennis Championships from September 6-10, the tournament’s organising board announced at a press conference in Hanoi on August 26.

The annual event, sponsored by PetroVietnam Ca Mau Fertiliser Company Limited, is going to feature more than 100 players on 14 teams from across the country in seven categories including the singles, doubles and team events for both men and women and the mixed doubles discipline.

Apart from veteran players such as Doan Kien Quoc of Khanh Hoa and Hanoi’s Tran Tuan Quynh, a number of young athletes, including Le Tien Dat from the Army team and Hai Duong’s Doan Ba Anh Tuan and Nguyen Duc Tuan, are also expected to excel at this year’s tournament.

The five-day championship enables table tennis contestants to hone their skills and gain experience, while providing an ideal opportunity to assess training in localities and sectors and to select outstanding performers for national teams, said Nhan Dan Newspaper Deputy Editor-in-chief, Le Quoc Khanh, who heads the organising board.

Competitors will be battling for VND195 million (US$9,165) in total prize money, awarded to the top three players in each category and the most outstanding young male and female performers.

The official draw for seven events will be conducted on September 4 in Dak Lak province, two days ahead of the opening ceremony.

The Army team’s Duong Van Nam was crowned men’s singles champion last year after overcoming Khanh Hoa’s Doan Kien Quoc 4-1 in the finals, while Mai Hoang My Trang of Ho Chi Minh City defended her women’s singles crown with a handy 4-0 victory over Nguyen Thi Viet Linh from the Ministry of Public Security.

Major sales promotion fair to kick off this week

Consumers in HCMC can enjoy price discounts of up to 49% on thousands of products at the HCMC Consumption Promotion Fair 2014, which will take place from August 29 to September 3.

Apart from price cuts by 5-49%, visitors to the annual event at Phu Tho Stadium in District 11will also get tips from exhibitors to distinguish genuine products from fake ones. They will also be given free environmentally-friendly bags and invited to join lucky draws.

Some 250 enterprises will showcase and sell foodstuffs, drinks, clothes, footwear, autos, motorbikes, electronic products, schooling items, cosmetics and healthcare products among many others at 500 booths.

The fair is organized by the HCMC government, Department of Industry and Trade, and Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, According to organizers, the annual event will not only help enterprises boost sales and introduce their products and services to consumers but also stabilize prices and promote Vietnamese products.

Soft credit package no longer limited to condo buyers

Low-income people now can borrow from the VND30-trillion credit package to buy landed homes in commercial projects in urban areas instead of just apartments as previously regulated.

This is stated in Government’s Resolution No. 61/NQ-CP issued on August 21 to supplement Resolution No. 02/NQ-CP in 2013, aiming to deal with difficulties in business activities, support the domestic housing market and help clear bad debt.

Based on the new policy, beneficiaries of the VND30-trillion home loan package are expanded to include civil servants, army officers, workers and low-income earners to help them buy landed houses worth under VND1.05 billion compared to nearly VND1 billion as provided in the previous regulation.

Nguyen Ngoc Thanh, vice chairman of the Vietnam National Real Estate Association, said this adjustment by the Government will give low-income earners more chances to own low-cost houses.

In the coming time, realty enterprises will offer more products suitable to customers who are eligible for the VND30-trillion home loan package, he said.

At present, many apartment projects in HCMC are eligible to access the package such as Hung Ngan Garden, EHome 3, and Sunview Town while owners of those projects said they will boost sales to meet customers’ demand.

In addition, those taking out loans from the credit package are now offered a longer repayment term of 15 years instead of 10 years when purchasing houses at commercial housing projects approved by authorities.

Owners of properties aligned to local authorities’ land management plans will be funded to construct or repair their houses and the amount is decided by banks.

The credit package is also available to individuals and households wanting to invest in budget housing projects to serve workers, students and laborers.

In the coming time, besides five commercial banks appointed to disburse the VND30-trillion credit package, more banks will join to help speed up this process.

The Government has ordered localities to check their realty projects so as to adjust them to meet the market’s demand and to stop licensing those not in line with urban development plans.

Meanwhile, administrative procedures in checking and approving budget housing projects and commercial-turned-budget housing projects must also be streamlined.

HNX reports State Treasury bill sales of VND21 trillion

State Treasury bills transacted on the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) have hit nearly VND21 trillion over the past two years, accounting for nearly 2% of the total government bond transaction value.

HNX was quoted by as saying that State Treasury bills have been put up for sale on the secondary market since August 24, 2012.

In 2012, the debt paper transaction value reached over VND909 billion before surging to nearly VND11.7 trillion last year and VND8.1 trillion in the January-July period this year.

HNX’s statistics showed that proprietary trading by commercial banks accounted for over 75% of the market’s total trading value, brokerage trading by securities firms made up 20% and proprietary trading by brokerage firms 5%.

In addition, foreigners have been active on the State Treasury bill market.

During the last four months of 2012, normal foreign selling value was over VND342 billion while buying value exceeded VND587 billion. In 2013, the figures soared to over VND6.7 trillion and VND2.8 trillion respectively.

Between January and July this year, foreign selling and buying value was VND2,142 billion and VND2,188 billion respectively.

State Treasury bill is a type of G-bond with tenors of one year or shorter. The debt paper is issued by the Ministry of Finance to raise funds for temporarily financing a State budget deficit.  

Sales expected to jump on National Day

Supermarkets and retail outlets in HCMC are expecting a 30-50% rise in sales thanks to the coming National Day holiday.

Ho Quoc Nguyen, public relations manager of Big C Vietnam, said despite the economic hardship, the supermarket chain is still hoping for an average increase of 30% in consumption on the National Day holiday. Therefore, it has plans to prepare various goods to meet higher consumer demand, including fresh and packaged food, and beverages.

Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, director of Maximark Cong Hoa supermarket in HCMC’s Tan Binh District, said the goods volume brought into her supermarket by suppliers would move up 50% over normal days.

Similarly, a representative of Saigon Trading Corporation (Satra) said the corporation has actively worked with its suppliers and distributors to ensure abundant supply of products at its store chain for the Big Sale Month of September as well as the peak season at year-end. Its goods volume will rise 30% over normal days, and increase 15-20% over the same period last year, the Vietnamese supermarket added.

Besides preparing goods, supermarkets will launch sales promotion programs to stimulate demand. Both Big C and Maximark will give their customers discounts of 5-50% on hundreds of items while Satra will offer discounts of 10% to 49% for its consumers on the coming holiday.

GM Vietnam recalls 468 Chevrolet Captiva autos

General Motors Vietnam (GM Vietnam) has announced a plan to recall 468 Chevrolet Captiva autos assembled and manufactured in Vietnam for checking the safety belts on the front seats.

The automaker attributed the recall to the probable incorrect installation of the safety belts equipped in certain Captiva autos.

Although this technical fault has never occurred in Chevrolet Captiva made by GM Vietnam, the automaker has still advised the owners of the Captiva which belongs to the list of 468 units manufactured in Vietnam between September 29, 2011 and June 3, 2014 to take their vehicles to the nearest authorized dealerships of GM Vietnam for checks.

The company will examine the safety belts and fix them if necessary in one hour. The customers will be offered free services in this program taking place until February 20 next year.

ODA disbursement slow in job skills improvement project

Official development assistance (ODA) loan disbursements by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for a national labor skills improvement project are only 7.87% complete though work started on the project three years ago.

Tran Lien Huong, head of the planning and investment department of the project management unit, told the Daily on the sidelines of a seminar on job skills improvement in Can Tho City last week that different calculations for the project implementation period had adversely affected the pace of disbursement.

“ADB used July 2010 when the loan was approved as the start month of the project, while Vietnam chose the effective date of the loan in February 2011,” Huong said.

Huong also attributed the disbursement delay to unexpected issues related to wages for consultants, loose collaboration between partners and limited capacity of the vocational schools benefiting from this loan.

The project was initially planned for implementation in 2011-2015 with total capital of US$78 million, including US$70 million lent by the bank and the balance of US$8 million sourced from the Government as reciprocal capital.

Duong Duc Lan, general director of the General Department of Vocational Training cum national director of the project, said the ADB loan was divided into two packages with the first worth US$50 million from the Asian Development Fund (ADF) carrying a term of 32 years including eight years of grace and an annual interest rate of 1-1.5%. The remaining US$20 million is sourced from an ADF hard term facility with an annual fixed interest rate of 2.22% for 32 years.

The project management board has requested ADB to extend the implementation period of the project until February 2017, or one and a half years behind schedule and the disbursement of the US$50-million package until August of the same year.

Regarding the ADF hard term facility, the State Bank of Vietnam is proposing ADB allow vocational schools to have one more year to complete borrowing procedures, or until June 30, 2015.

Lan said the objective of the project is to help vocational schools to upgrade their facilities and improve training quality in automotive, welding, metal cutting, electricity and electronics, ship control, software programming and management, cooking techniques and hotel management.

According to the project management unit, the Government will cover the interest on the US$50-million package for public vocational schools, while private institutions will have to pay an annual interest rate of 6.9% when they borrow from the US$20-million package.

Vocational training schools have to spend US$0.28 for each of the US$1 of the ODA loans disbursed by ADB.

Banks lower deposit rates en mass

Several large Vietnamese banks have decided to lower deposit interest rates by 0.1-0.5% for VND accounts for the last months of 2014.

On August 25, the Foreign Trade of Vietnam JSC Bank (Vietcombank) announced that interest rates for short-term deposits of two to nine months will be lowered to 5-5.7%. Annual rates of 6.8% will only apply to 24-month to 60-month term deposits. This is the second time in 2014 that Vietcombank lowered their deposit interest rates.

Interest rates for terms of less than six months for deposits at Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam JSC (BIDV) and Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) were also reduced to less than 6%. The rate for a 12-month term deposit at BIDV is 7.2%, while ACB has slashed it to 6.8%.

According to experts, the lower deposit rates show that banks may plan to reduce their lending rates in the near future. The National Financial Supervisory Commission of Vietnam said that the stable inflation rate has created favourable conditions for banks to lower interest rates.

A report from National Financial Supervisory Commission pointed out that deposit rates tend to decrease faster than lending rates. As of July, the average deposit rate decreased by 0.6% compared to rates in December 2013. Meanwhile, the lending rates only reduced by 0.25%. Their report also noted that, "If the inflation remains stable, interest rates may continue to be lowered."

On the other hand, the State Bank of Vietnam said that in the first seven months, VND deposits increased by 7.92% compared in late 2013 and the deposits in foreign currencies increased by 1.31%. Liquidity in the banking system has continued to increase.




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