BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MARCH 23

HCM City’s agricultural production value up 4.3 percent in Q1

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MARCH 23
African swine fever rocks meat industry
BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MARCH 23

Ho Chi Minh City’s agricultural production value in the first three months of 2020 increased by 4.3 percent year-on-year, according to the municipal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

This is a positive sign amid complicated developments of the acute respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), as the city’s agricultural sector is exerting efforts to ensure the supply of essential food for locals.

The national target programme on new-style rural area building in the city has entered a new and advanced phase.

By mid-March, each commune in the city met an average of 18.9 out of 19 advanced criteria, up 2.5 criteria compared with that of the same period last year. Up to 52 communes, or 92.9 percent, have completed all 19 criteria.

Meanwhile, each district met an average of 7.8 out of 9 advanced criteria, up 2 criteria against the same period last year./.

Saigon Newport Corporation sharpens competitive edge

Saigon Newport Corporation (SNC), Vietnam’s premier seaport operator brand, is determined to becoming more competitive to be listed in the world’s top 20 container terminal operators in terms of throughput.

These days, containers have been lining up in front of SNC’s Cat Lai port, ready to haul cargo while the tall port cranes are offloading cargo at full capacity.

According to SNC’s leaders, longshoremen work 3 shifts a day to offload goods from 55 large-tonnage vessels, most of them foreign ships.

Ho Huynh Thanh Hang, Deputy Director of the Tan Cang Logistics Service Center, said SNC is rapidly gaining market share in freight transportation services with more than 700 trucks, tractors, and barges operating in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

“In Tan Cang, we work round the clock. This year, the company targets a growth rate of at least 6%. My center is hoping to grow 10%,” Hang said.

Last year, container throughput via SNC ports increased 16.2%, moving the company up one place in the global ranking of container terminal operators. The Tan Cang-Cat Lai terminal, SNC’s flagship terminal, handled its 5 millionth TEU of cargo collecting more than US$3.1 million from import-export taxes which is equivalent to 18.6% of Ho Chi Minh City’s total revenue last year.

SNC is focused on strengthening technology application in cargo handling to save time and money for clients while reducing traffic jams outside the ports.

Tran Ngoc Tinh of the Production Team at Cat Lai port said, “Clients now can complete declaration forms using their smartphones and make payments online. This has helped our clients save time changing their habits and increasing throughput at Cat Lai port.”

In 30 years as a leading container terminal operator in Vietnam, SNC has garnered 90% of container throughput market share in the southern region and nearly 50% market share nationwide. It has also performed military defense tasks to help secure Vietnam’s territorial waters.

Hanoi initiates measures to ensure sufficient goods for COVID-19 fight

In the face of an increasingly complicated situation regarding the social and economic impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, Hanoi has requested that centralised distribution systems move to increase commodity reserves in an effort to ensure that supply resources to the capital are maintained within the next 60 to 90 days.

The request came during a recent meeting held between the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Hanoi People's Committee which discussed the need to prepare a sufficient amount of goods in response to the possibility of the epidemic affecting Hanoi.

This comes as a response to the capital confirming its first positive COVID-19 case which saw distribution businesses immediately initiate plans to transfer goods. According to businesses, the current level of stockpiling has surged by up to five times the usual amount.

Consequently, the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade has completed a detailed stockpile plan whilst simultaneously directing suppliers and producers to ensure that there remains a sufficient supply of goods for distribution systems in order to meet people’s needs.

Most notably, the Department has planned for a range of scenarios to ensure that goods are provided for people in quarantine. The city has therefore requested that production and business units ensure the consistent supply of essential items as a means of providing people with a sufficient amount of goods.

Tran Thi Phuong Lan, Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade, said Hanoi is working to satisfy people’s needs for commodities in any situation, especially for cases where individuals have been put into isolation.

“We have ensured the volume of goods for businesses in the metropolitan area as well as nearby districts. The People’s Committees at a district and township-level must remain active in signing contracts with these distributors," Lan added.

At the meeting, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai underlined the need to stay vigilant when it comes to developments with regard to the actual market situation in order to co-ordinate with enterprises to implement supportive measures aimed at ensuring the supply of essential goods is maintained.

In particular, firms need to maintain price stabilisation and a consistent standard in their products whilst also enhancing links among localities to ensure goods distribution and meeting the urgent needs of locals, Hai noted.

Hanoi approves establishment of two industrial clusters

The Hanoi People’s Committee has approved the establishment of Dong La Industrial Cluster (IC) and the second phase of Duong Lieu IC on the outskirts district of Hoai Duc.

The committee has directed the Hoai Duc People's Committee to select investors with sufficient financial capacity to develop technical infrastructure of the two ICs.

Meanwhile, the municipal Department of Industry and Trade is responsible for appraising documents related to IC development and submitting them to the municipal People's Committee.

Local authorities have made great efforts to attract foreign and domestic enterprises to ICs over the years.

The city is now home to 70 operational ICs, covering more than 1,680ha, with a total of 3,864 businesses. These firms have created 60,000 local jobs thus far.

Five local contractors pass preliminary rounds for North-South Expressway components

After four months of filtering dossiers in the preliminary round, the Ministry of Transport selected five local investors to join the bidding for the construction of the Eastern Cluster of the North-South Expressway.

Two joint ventures were chosen to bid for the 50km Nghi Son-Dien Chau section: the joint venture of Hoa Hiep Co., Ltd., Cienco 4, Pink Mountain Investment Co., Ltd., Vietnam Construction JSC No.2 (the first joint venture) and the joint venture of Tan Nam Construction Co., Ltd., Vinaconex, and Thai Son Traffic Work Construction Corporation.

This component has a total investment capital of VND8.38 trillion ($364.35 million), VND2.55 trillion ($110.87 million) of which comes from the state budget.

For the Dien Chau-Bai Vot section, three investors were selected: the first joint venture applying for the Nghi Son-Dien Chau section, the joint venture of Vinaconex, Tan Nam, and HCJ JSC, and another joint venture consisting of five local companies.

The construction of this component project is estimated at VND13.3 trillion ($578.26 million), VND8.07 trillion ($350.87 million) of which will be taken from the state budget.

The Eastern Cluster of the North-South Expressway is a priority national investment projects in 2017-2020 and includes 11 sub-projects with the total length of 654km running through 13 provinces and cities. Three of these sub-projects will be financed from the state budget and eight will be conducted under the public-private partnership (PPP) and build-operate-transfer (BOT) models.

The 11 projects are estimated to cost a total of VND118 trillion ($5.13 billion), including VND55 trillion ($2.39 billion) of state capital to be pumped into three public investment projects and counterpart funds for the other eight projects.

Previously, 30 local investors submitted files to bid for the building of the Eastern Cluster. Besides, many foreign investors are also interested, however, the Ministry of Transport (MoT) announced cancelling the international bidding for eight PPP sections.

VinaCapital ties up with SAIGONTEL to develop 50MW rooftop solar power

SkyX Solar, a subsidiary of VinaCapital Group, has recently inked a joint venture agreement with SAIGONTEL to build and operate rooftop solar projects for industrial facilities within the industrial parks affiliated with the latter.

SkyX Solar will have a majority stake in the joint venture and will be responsible for the development of the projects. The joint venture will initially focus on 10 industrial parks to develop and operate more than 50MW of rooftop solar assets to start with. Six of these industrial parks are in the central and southern regions of Vietnam which have the highest irradiation levels.

The joint venture will offer an end-to-end renewable energy solution to creditworthy client partners which entails zero capex, zero opex from them but at the same time brings cost savings and reduces their carbon footprint while ensuring that there is zero disruption in their main operations.

Samresh Kumar, executive chairman of SkyX Solar and managing director of VinaCapital, said, “Rooftop solar, especially for the commercial and industrial (C&I) segment, will be a game-changer for the renewable energy sector in Vietnam. We are excited to partner with SAIGONTEL, a member of SGI Group and a market leader in industrial park development, to transform large ‘idle’ roofs into sources of clean energy. This partnership is a strong milestone in our journey to 150MW + development in Vietnam over the next three years.”

Nguyen Cam Phuong, CEO of SAIGONTEL, added, “We believe that rooftop solar solutions will enable us to provide differentiated added value to the partners and customers of our industrial parks by helping them reduce carbon footprint and achieve significant cost savings at the same time. This segment is in the early stages in the country and we believe SkyX Solar, backed by VinaCapital, is the right player to provide world-class solutions for our own and our clients’ facilities.”

Devoid of any land, transmission, or licensing issues, the rooftop solar power market in Vietnam is witnessing significant demand as leading companies increasingly focus on sustainability and managing rising electricity prices. It is expected that more than 4,000MW of rooftop solar power will actually be developed in the next five to seven years in the country – and the potential is even bigger.

However, given the nascent nature of the sector and its unique challenges, strong local players with deep market insights and experience as well as international standards for technical and ESG practices such as SkyX Solar are best placed to successfully deliver world-class solutions to client partners.

Supplies of essential goods ensured under all circumstances: Minister

Supplies of essential goods must continue to flow even in the worst situation of a city or several localities being put under quarantine, said Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh at a meeting in Hanoi on March 19.

“No locality will face a shortage of essential goods,” he said.

Supplies will be sufficient to meet the needs of people, even when the pandemic prolongs for one month, two months, six months, or longer, he affirmed.

In the worst situation, the ministry will ask the government to mobilise national reserves, he said.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said the ministry has reviewed and assured the ability of each locality to provide sufficient essential goods.

So far, 55 out of the 63 cities and provinces nationwide have built plans and scenarios to cope with the pandemic in five levels, including the case its spread forces the quarantine of major cities and satellite zones.

As of March 20 morning, Vietnam had recorded 85 COVID-19 cases, of which 17 have fully recovered./.

Vietnam, Cambodia work to ensure smooth cross-border goods transport

Cambodia has asked for Vietnam’s coordination to ensure uninterrupted cross-border transport of goods amid the COVID-19 epidemic.

In a letter sent to the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the entry of Vietnamese and Cambodian citizens into Vietnam will be suspended from 23:59 on March 20 to avoid inconvenience related to medical quarantine requirements.

However, diplomatic and official passport holders of the two countries will not be subject to the restriction, it said.

The Cambodian side also asked local authorities of the two nations to work together in order to accelerate the repatriation of all Cambodian citizens (if any) who are put under medical quarantine in Vietnam./.

Work starts on industrial centre

KTG Industrial, a subsidiary of the KTG Group focusing on industrial development, on March 17 broke ground for the construction of Nhon Trach 3B Industrial Centre phase 2 project at the Nhon Trach 3 Industrial Zone in southern Dong Nai province.

Covering an area of about 8ha, the project is the second generation of its ready-built factory and is the first “Industry 4.0 Factory” project to be built this year.

Dang Trong Duc, Deputy General Director of the KTG Group and sales development director of KTG Industrial, said “Industry 4.0 Factory” integrates ready-built factories and warehouses with 4.0 technology in order to create a digital convergence of manufacturing, business activities, and internal functions and processes.

It will also build Ecosystem 4.0 for “Image 4.0 - Utility 4.0 - Service 4.0 - Management 4.0” to achieve the goal of optimal management, effective operation and environmental protection, he said.

KTG Industrial’s main activities include leasing ready-built and built-to-suit factories and warehouses. Its industrial and logistics centers are located within the country’s key economic zones such as Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Long An, Hung Yen, Bac Ninh, Hai Phong, and Bac Giang./.

Hanoi keeps growth target for 2020 unchanged

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing considerable impact on Hanoi’s economy, but the capital city still maintains its growth target of 7.51 percent for this year.

Director of the municipal Statistics Office Dau Ngoc Hung said in the first two months of 2020, Hanoi recorded 1.7 billion USD in export revenue and 3.7 billion USD in import turnover, down 19 percent and 20.7 percent year on year, respectively.

He forecast that if the outbreak is under control in the first quarter, state budget collection in the city will decrease by some 11.4 trillion VND (486.47 million USD). If it lingers on through Q2 or longer, the revenue may fall 15 trillion – 19.5 trillion VND.

Nguyen Manh Quyen, Director of the municipal Department of Planning and Investment, said basing on the developments and impact of COVID-19, Hanoi has built three growth scenarios for this year.

In the first scenario, if the pandemic is checked in Q1, the city will have to regain growth momentum in Q2 so as to make breakthroughs in the year’s last half and achieve a GDRP expansion rate of 7.51 percent.

Meanwhile, the growth pace may slow down to 6.93 percent and 6.42 percent if the situation worsens as in the two remaining scenarios.

At present, the growth target of at least 7.5 percent is clearly a big challenge. However, Hanoi is determined to realise this difficult mission, Quyen added.

At a working session between key officials of the city Party Committee and People’s Committee last week, Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Vuong Dinh Hue requested the COVID-19 prevention and control be set as the top priority.

He added in this period, the city needs to actively make preparations, sustain demand, promote investment and gear up projects so that when the pandemic ends, it can swiftly stabilise production and business activities and recover its economy.

The official also ordered a dialogue between the People’s Committee and businesses be organised in late March or early April so as to enhance coordination to achieve the growth target for 2020./.

Major fertiliser producer’s two-month profit fulfills 69 percent of yearly plan

The PetroVietnam Ca Mau Fertiliser Company (PVCFC) generated 34.73 billion VND (nearly 1.5 million USD) in profit in the first two months of this year, equivalent to 69 percent of its yearly plan, despite unfavourable business conditions.

The company’s output surged 17 percent past the January – February target to 157,000 tonnes of urea.

But it has faced various difficulties over the last two months due to impact of the severe saline intrusion in the Mekong Delta, its largest market in the country.

Saltwater has intruded the Mekong Delta deeper and earlier than expected, affecting about 300,000 hectares of land in the region, forcing local farmers to reduce rice-growing areas and shift to aquatic farming, thus making demand for fertilisers drop 15 – 20 percent.

The global spread of the COVID-19 has also taken a heavy toll on exports of regional agricultural products to major foreign markets, particularly China, causing big losses for farmers and agricultural producers.

To solve the problems, the PVCFC has worked hard to boost sales in areas not affected by saline intrusion, such as Cambodia, and cooperated with agricultural authorities to provide farmers with technical support and new varieties to cushion the blow of drought and saltwater intrusion.

The firm has partnered with the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang to conduct demonstrations of new high-quality paddy varieties and advanced farming practices and instruct the farmers on how to use water and fertilisers effectively and test salinity.

It has signed an agreement with VietFarm to develop bio-fertilisers and organic fertilisers to diversify it products and keep up with higher market demand and modern agricultural trends./.

Vietnam-India trade hits 1.65 billion USD during Jan-Feb

Two-way trade between Vietnam and India reached 1.65 billion USD in the first two months of 2020, up 2 percent against that of the same period last year.

Several exported commodities reported impressive growth, including plastics (257.2 percent), confectionary and cereal products (135.8 percent), rattan products and carpets (121.5 percent) and animal feed (113.5 percent).

The Vietnamese Trade Office in India said that at present, raw materials used to produce antibacterial filters are scarce in the country, and enterprises have received full orders until the end of May.

The office advised Vietnamese businesses to be careful to avoid commercial frauds by requesting partners to provide detailed information about products and using L/C (letter of credit) payment.

Bilateral trade between Vietnam and India reached nearly 13 billion USD in 2019. They are striving to bring the figure to 15 billion USD./.

Audit activities to be suspended due to COVID-19

State Auditor General Ho Duc Phoc has requested to suspend the implementation of approved audit plans due to the complicated developments of the COVID-19.

Under a dispatch issued recently by the official, audit activities will be suspended until a new direction from the State Auditor General.

Phoc asked heads of units under the State Audit Office of Vietnam to keep a close watch on the developments of the epidemic and report to the State Auditor General.

For ongoing audits, he ordered leaders of audit units to create optimal favourable conditions for localities and enterprises./.

Hanoi: Retailers plan to boost stockpiles by 300 percent amid COVID-19

Retailers in Hanoi said they have made plans to boost stockpiles by 300 percent if necessary to meet the demands of local people amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was revealed during a March 19 meeting between Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung and local retailers regarding the current reserves and supplies of goods in the city, which has seen a growing number of new infections since the beginning of this month.

Representatives of the retailers said they have discussed with suppliers ways to keep their shelves stocked during the outbreak. Meanwhile, the municipal Department of Industry and Trade has developed a four-tier stockpiling plan to make sure there are enough goods available for people and to supply to those in quarantine.

The department and retailers intend to spend around 174 trillion VND (7.42 million USD) to double the stockpile of essential products in the second quarter of this year, which will include 557 tonnes of grain, 111 tonnes of pork, 32 tonnes of chicken, 619 tonnes of vegetables, 31 tonnes of aquatic products and 31 tonnes of processed food.

They will also provide about 234 million anti-bacterial masks, 18.36 million medical masks and over 123.9 million rolls of toilet paper to the market.

At the meeting, Chung urged Hanoians to stay calm and avoid panic-buying since supermarkets in the city will work to keep goods in stock with unchanged prices under any circumstances.

 

He also requested the municipal Department of Transport to facilitate vehicles transporting foods to the city while the Department of Health was tasked to provide supermarket staff with protective gear to minimise exposure./.

State capital commission to work with struggling mega-projects

The Commission for the Management of State Capital at Enterprises (CMSC) must continue to support managers of 12 struggling mega-projects under the Ministry of Trade and Industry with the State’s capital investment, heard a conference in Hanoi on March 19.

Speaking at the conference, Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh voiced concerns over several limitations and obstacles that must be addressed immediately, namely poor coordination between ministries, agencies and project managers, confusion in the understanding of legal documents related to the projects and the dismal financial and operational performance of several projects.

Deputy PM Binh urged the commission to step up effort to exercise the State’s rights as a major shareholder and investor in said projects.

“The commission’s objectives are to work closely with managers to identify the projects’ limitations and shortcomings, to make recommendations and propose solutions to address them,” said Binh.

“This is crucial as the novel coronavirus outbreak is dealing devastating blows to the economy, especially to the country’s railways, airlines and oil sectors," he added.

Binh asked the commission to ensure their reports and recommendations are ready for review during the next Government online conference scheduled to be held at the end of March.

As the State will no longer pump money into the projects, companies said they lacked the finances to dig themselves out. A lack of funding has already hurt their operation and profitability due to increased input costs. Recovering State capital remained a challenging task. Investors from the private sector either showed little or no interest in loss-incurring projects or were unable to buy in due to ongoing legal disputes.

He urged the commission to focus on improving the quality of human resources, saying it’s a key task that must be completed to restructure large State-owned enterprises (SOEs) such as PetroVietnam and Vietnam Railways as well as to improve their productivity, management and financial capacity in the long run.

Another key task for CMSC is to speed up the process for large SOEs including Vietnam Post, VinaChem, VinaComin, VinaFood1, Power Generation Corp 1 and Power Generation Corp 2 to list on the stock market in the near future.

The Deputy PM urged SOEs to make more investments in R&D activities, conduct extensive market researches, streamline and simplify organisation structures to improve business efficiency. He reiterated the key role SOEs must play in Vietnam’s numerous national development programmes.

Binh stressed that Government ministries including the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Planning and Investment, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment must ramp up cooperation to review policies and to make necessary amendments to SOEs’ investment activities, real-estate and State-owned properties management to reduce waste for the State’s resources.

According to CMSC, the country’s 19 large SOEs reported a profit of more than VNĐ100 trillion last year and contributed more than 221 trillion VND to the State’s budget, a 17.6 percent increase year-on-year./.

Farmers switch to lemongrass cultivation

More farmers in Đắk Lắk Province’s M’Đrắk District have switched to lemongrass cultivation to adapt to climate change.

In Krông Á Commune in the Central Highlands province, the cultivation of lemongrass has helped many farmers escape poverty.

Coffee, pepper and sugarcane are affected by climate change and have low prices.

The Krông Á Commune Farmers Association has instructed farmers in techniques to grow lemongrass to produce essential oil.

Nguyễn Văn Tuân is one of the commune’s farmers who have switched to lemongrass under the instructions of the association. Previously he grew cassava and sugarcane but the profit was not high because of low prices.

He now has 5 – 6 harvests of lemongrass a year and earns VNĐ15 million (US$650) from each harvest.

“Lemongrass cultivation provides a new livelihood, helping farmers escape poverty,” he said.

The plant is suitable for the commune's poor soil and mountainous terrain and requires a low investment.

Besides lemongrass, farmers in the commune have also co-operated with lemongrass essential oil producers to guarantee outlets.

One tonne of lemongrass leaves can produce 1.8-2 litres of lemongrass essential oil which is sold at a price of VNĐ1 million ($43) per litre, according to producers.

Lemongrass essential oil is in high demand for its medicinal elements in treating some illnesses like colds. It can help get rid of mosquitoes.

Đào Thị Thi, chairwoman of the Krông Á Commune Farmers Association who is also a lemongrass oil producer, said because of the high demand of lemongrass essential oil, many farmers in the commune have switched to lemongrass.

She spent VNĐ200 million ($8,600) to invest in facilities for producing lemongrass essential oil in 2018.

Besides co-operating with farmers to grow lemongrass, she has also sought more outlets for lemongrass essential oil to develop cultivation in the commune, she said.

Lemongrass cultivation has helped many farmers have stable lives and the model of co-operating between farmers and lemongrass essential oil producers should be expanded to develop lemongrass cultivation sustainably, she said.

Nguyễn Thế Lập, head of M’Đrắk District's Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development, said lemongrass was planted in the district’s many communes like Krông Á, Ea Lai, Ea Pil and Ea Riêng.

The cultivation of lemongrass has offered high profits than other crops like cassava and sugarcane, he said.

The district has several co-operative groups and co-operatives which specialise in growing lemongrass, producing lemongrass essential oil and selling the oil to the north region, he said.

The district has encouraged farmers to co-operate with lemongrass essential oil producers to develop cultivation of the plant. It has instructed farmers to follow proper farming techniques, including replanting old lemongrass, to ensure the yield and quality of lemongrass. 

Khánh Hòa’s tuna fishermen net high profits

Tuna-fishing boats in the central province of Khánh Hòa are busy with the ongoing season, as a vessel can earn nearly VNĐ100 million (US$4,300) per trip, Dân Việt online newspaper reports.

On average, a boat using a net can harvest from 5 to 10 tonnes of tuna per trip.

High and stable prices, as well as favourable weather, are the main reasons for an expected bumper tuna season, according to a local fisherman.

The main fishing ground is the Trường Sa (Spratly) Islands and DK1 rigs (about 250-350 nautical miles from the mainland).

Tuna boats using nets are different from ocean fishing vessels.

Võ Khắc Én, deputy director of Khánh Hòa Province’s Fisheries Sub-department, said that there are 170 tuna-fishing boats operating regularly in the area.

Unlike ocean tuna-fishing ships, those using nets can be used all year and achieve a stable output.

According to Én, at present, the average cost for a 15-day tuna-fishing trip is about VNĐ100 million per boat.

A boat can harvest several tonnes to more than 10 tonnes of tuna per trip. After deducting all expenses, it has an average profit of up to VNĐ100 million.

At Hòn Rớ fishing port, Phước Đồng Commune, Nha Trang City, boats full of fish are constantly docking after successful fishing trips.

The Management Board of Hòn Rớ Fishing Port reported there have been about 100 tuna fishing boats docking at the port over the last 10 days. There are 5-7 boats docking at the port per day, with an average output of 5 to 10 tonnes each.

According to fishermen, the current tuna price and purchasing market is stable. The wholesale price ranges from VNĐ30,000-40,000 per kilogram. Price of Grade #1 tuna can reach up to VNĐ50,000 per kilogram.

Fisherman Trần Văn Nuôi, captain of a fishing boat in Hương Xuân Ward, Nha Trang City, said the current weather is very favourable for tuna-fishing.

Familiar fishing grounds have abundant sources of tuna. Therefore, the tuna-fishing trips last from 10 to 15 days.

“My boat harvested five tonnes of tuna on the last trip. After deducting expenses, I gained profit of VNĐ50-60 million," said Nuôi.

Another fisherman, Trần Văn Tuấn, in Hòn Rớ, Phước Đồng Commune, said on the last trip he caught about eight tonnes of tuna, earning more than VNĐ100 million after deducting all expenses.

Tuấn said: “Previously, tuna-fishing trips lasted longer than 15 days, with output of 10 to 20 tonnes.”

“But, due to the boats’ poor storage equipment, the tuna was damaged, so the low quality meant low prices.”

Recently, each trip lasted just 7 to 12 days. Although the output was lower, the quality of well-preserved fish means they can be sold at a higher price, Tuấn said.

“Previously, fishing boats landed at the same time, regularly from the 7th to the 15th lunar calendar. But, recently, fishermen told each other to dock throughout the month, so output is not overloaded, and prices are better,” a representative of the Hòn Rớ Fishing Port’s Management Board said.

Hanoi waives taxes for enterprises hurt by Covid-19

In the two-month period, over 2,600 household businesses in Hanoi were forced to shut down, and 6,400 others suspended operation, an increase of 22% and 37.8% year-on-year, respectively.

As enterprises in Hanoi are bearing brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic, Hanoi’s Department of Taxation has been providing supporting policies to help the business community cope with the situation, including waiving, lowering and extending tax payment.

Beneficiaries entitled to these supports are businesses, organizations, individuals, and household businesses in the fields of agro-forestry-fishery, food processing, textile, electronics and computers production, automobile, transportation, accommodation, tourism, catering services, among others.

The move is in line with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s directive No.11 issued last month detailing measures to support the business community to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic.

The department informed that in the first two months of 2020, over 2,600 household businesses were forced to dissolve, and 6,400 others suspended operation, representing an increase of 22% and 37.8% year-on-year, respectively.

Due to the impact of the pandemic, many restaurants and stores in Hanoi are closing temporarily, including those in major business streets such as Cau Giay, Xa Dan or Lang. Additionally, some have moved on from brick and mortar to the online channel, or put up their stores for lease.

Meanwhile, the remaining are struggling for customers as people prefer staying at home.

Ha Thi Thu, owner of a fashion shop at Cau Giay street, said since the outbreak of Covid-19, her revenue declined by half due to the lack of customers. Thu said she plans to temporarily close the shop or return the space to the landlord.

Vendors at Dong Xuan market, one of the largest indoor markets in Hanoi, said they are seeking reduction in rental fee or forced to close.

Director of the Hanoi Department of Taxation Mai Son requested tax officials to provide timely support for tax payers, while strictly punishing those abusing policies for personal gains.

Hanoi’s tax authority is committed to creating the most favorable conditions for businesses to recover from this difficult period, stressed Son.

The department previously predicted the city's state budget revenue in 2020 could decline up to VNDV16.6 trillion (US$712.14 million) in case the pandemic lingers to the fourth quarter, equivalent to a decrease of 7.17% in revenue year-on-year.

Banks support customers affected by COVID-19

Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) Dao Minh Tu has asked commercial banks to promptly to support customers affected by COVID-19.

Speaking at a recent working session with representatives of Agribank, VietinBank, Vietcombank and BIDV, Tu urged the banks to put forth their own scenarios to combat the disease.

The entire banking sector needs to accompany businesses to overcome difficulties, he said, ordering the four commercial banks to demonstrate their role in driving the market and implement policies regarding debt restructuring and extension.

While assessing losses caused by the epidemic to customers, attention should be paid to “hot” spheres and prioritized sectors regarding exports, production and distribution, especially essential goods and social welfare.

Product packages and incentives like interest rate cuts must be announced publicly, Tu said.

Tiet Van Thanh, General Director of Agribank, said the bank has issued documents and set up a steering board for COVID-19 prevention and control, along with a three-level scenario to counter the epidemic.

Apart from establishing a steering board and working groups in charge of fighting COVID-19, VietcomBank has also offered product packages to assist clients impacted by the disease, according to General Director Pham Quang Dung.

Nguyen Quoc Hung, Director of the SBV’s Credit Department, pointed out that the epidemic has hampered the operation of businesses, thus affecting debt collection.

He stressed the need for banks to continue supervising the performance of organisations, enterprises and other customers./.

Vietjet offers passengers free COVID-19 insurance

Budget airline Vietjet is offering free COVID-19 insurance to all passengers flying on its domestic flights from March 23 to June 30.

SKY COVID CARE offers coverage ranging from 20 million VND (853 USD) to 200 million VND for all passengers regardless of nationality and age.

Passengers are eligible for insurance coverage and benefits from Vietjet within 30 days starting at 00:01 of the flight date, regardless of how the passengers become infected with the disease, Vietjet said in a statement.

Those who purchased tickets before March 23 and travel within the effectiveness period are also covered.

Once passengers are confirmed positive for the coronavirus, subject to a test approved by the Ministry of Health of Vietnam, and treated at a hospital or at an authorised medical camp in Vietnam, they are eligible to claim.

Tens of billions of VND for the insurance premiums will be covered entirely by Vietjet.

In order to be eligible for insurance coverage, passengers need to provide all information in accordance with Vietjet’s terms and conditions when purchasing tickets and using aviation services; and comply with all regulations on disease prevention and control of Vietjet as well as the Ministry of Health and authorities.

Further information is available on the carrier's official website www.vietjetair.com./.

Restaurants shut down as pandemic scares away customers

Restaurant chains in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are shutting down outlets due to dwindling revenues as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps customers away.

Golden Gate has closed five of its Gogi House Korean-style BBQ restaurants in Hanoi since March 11 after revenues fell by 30-40%. Golden Gate operates over 20 chains with 112 outlets around the country.

It also plans to shut seven Kichi-Kichi hotpot restaurants in Hanoi out of a total of 87 it has in the country.

Nhan Sushi has shut down all three of its restaurants in Hanoi for two weeks from March 10.

The owner of the chain, Luong Hoang Long, said on his Facebook page: "I only want customers to walk into my restaurants to enjoy the food, not to worry about the disease."

The closures come amid an increasing number of novel coronavirus cases, which is causing people to avoid public places. The number of confirmed cases has risen to 113.

In HCMC, restaurants in the swank Cresent Mall area in District 7 are no longer busy like before.

Even during weekends, few tables are occupied, and some outlets have already closed with managers saying revenues have plummeted by half since the outbreak.

Mai Truong Giang, CEO of TGFood, which owns the fried chicken restaurant chain Otoke Chicken, said revenues at its 14 outlets in the city have fallen by up to 50%.

He is negotiating with landlords for a 20% discount on rents for three months. The company also plans to lay off staff to reduce costs.

"Reducing staff working hours, negotiating rents and requesting delays in bank repayments are what we are seeking to overcome the disease."

If the situation persists, he estimates a 30% staff cut and a 30% pay reduction for the remaining workers.

With customer numbers plummeting, restaurants are focusing on delivery to survive the outbreak.

Golden Gate now offers BBQ and hotpot delivery including kitchenware for customers who want to enjoy their food at home.

Smaller businesses have taken the same route. Phuong Mai, owner of a hotpot restaurant in Hanoi’s Cau Giay District, said in the last two weeks there has been a rising number of delivery orders for hotpots costing VND350,000-600,000 (US$15-26).

Other restaurants offer free drinks with ginger or lemongrass, said to boost the immune system. They also provide hand sanitizers to customers and require staff to wear face masks.

Economist Le Dat Chi says delivery services are only a temporary solution as restaurants might have to bear higher costs if they don’t have a good strategy.

"There is actually no good solution amid an outbreak like this," Chi says.

VNS/VOV/VIR/VNN/VNE/ND

 
 

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