Hanoi tax evader jailed for 28 months

Director of the Vietnam Information and Credit Rating Company Le Dinh Quan was sentenced to 28 months in prison at a trial in Hanoi on December 6 for tax fraud pursuant to the Article 161, clause 3 of the Criminal Code.

From 2008 until 2011, Quan, asked his chief accountant Pham Thi Phuong to make 291 fake contracts on hiring experts worth over 5 billion VND (230,000 USD) to raise the company’s operational costs, meaning that he had to pay less in corporate income tax.

During the period, he also instructed cashier Nguyen Thi Oanh, 26, to legalise declarations for tax deduction.

In addition, in transactions to sell apartments at Sky City Tower located at 88 Lang Ha street, Quan only declared 3.5 billion VND (166,000 USD) in payment that home buyers transferred to him through the bank. The remaining payment totalling 948 million VND (45,000 USD) was made in cash directly to Quan with the purpose of evading tax.

The verdict made it clear that he must be held accountable for over 2 billion VND (100,000 USD) in all the dodged payments. Meanwhile Phuong, who was involved in making fake contracts and illegally trading added-value tax invoices, will be jailed for 7 months. Oanh was sentenced to six months in prison to be suspended for 12 months.

The Hanoi People’s Court also imposed the supplementary punishment pursuant to the Article 161, clause 4 of the Criminal Code, meaning the company must pay back double the evaded tax sum, or over 4 billion VND (200,000 USD) in total for the State budget.

Before the trial, Quan’s family voluntarily handed in more than 210 million VND (10,000 USD) to pay back part of the evaded tax. The amount will be deducted from the above sum.

Company closed for dumping waste

The southern province of Tay Ninh has temporarily shut down the My Loi private enterprise for discharging untreated waste into the river.

According to the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment, the enterprise discharged wastewater from processing cassava into the Vam Co Dong River.

So far this year, the province has suspended operations of 12 production factories for causing pollution, and issued fines to six firms worth a total of VND447 million (US$ 21,300).

Ministry cracks down on poor quality toys

Market watch officials and technological experts have warned parents to pay more attention to the quality of toys they purchase to better protect their children.

If a toy does not have a trademark or does not meet quality norms, customers should not buy it, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MST)'s chief inspector Tran Minh Dung said.

The warning was issued after an inspection conducted in August and September by the ministry discovered violations related to the quality of children's toys.

During the inspection, more than 1,700 manufacturers, importers and trading companies were checked, and nearly 700 were found to have violated quality regulations, which could endanger children.

The inspectors issued administrative fines of more than 430 million VND (20,400 USD) to violators and destroyed some 20,000 violent toys that had unclear origins and trademarks.

An anonymous toy seller in Hanoi's Luong Van Can Street, said that she has sold children's toys for more than 10 years, but no customers ever inquire about the toys' trademarks or quality norms.

She often purchased large numbers of toys from the northern border province of Lang Son. She only knew that the toys were made in China and she did not care which companies manufactured these toys or how they were produced.

Her shops have some Vietnamese toys with clear trademarks, however, few people ask for these toys since their colours and shapes were not attractive.

"The children prefer cars, motorbikes, dolls and cartoon characters, which no Vietnamese company produce, whereas the ones made in China are beautiful and look the same as the children's favourite characters," she said.

Nguyen Mai Phuong, a customer, said when buying toys for her children, she only paid attention to the toys' colours and shapes, not their trademarks.

"However, only Chinese words are printed on the toys' packaging, so I cannot have any information about the toys, even if I want to," she added.

Importing businesses in Vietnam should work more closely with manufacturers in China so the toys to be sold meet quality norms for children, said Phuong.

Nguyen Thi Nhu Mai, director of the Hanoi Market Watch, said controlling children's toys face many obstacles, since the city has so few inspectors.

During each inspection period, inspectors can check only about 20 percent of the shops in the city, and most are located in the inner city.

Moreover, equipment to check the quality of the toys is so out of date that inspectors cannot issue timely penalties.

Mai suggested that inspectors at different levels publish lists of shops and enterprises that are violating regulations so the public can avoid purchasing from these shops.

Also, she said, schools should explain about dangerous toys to their students.

Of note, the city market watch will include inspections of children's toys in their inspections before the Lunar New Year holiday, which will fall in early February next year.

Chief inspector Dung said the number of violations has not increased compared with previous years, however, it is a reminder to children's toy managers to pay more attention to the control of the manufacturing process.

Also, stricter oversights should be placed on toy importing companies, especially in their implementation of regulations on technological norms.

And authorities at different levels should more closely watch the market to prevent illegally imported toys, said Dung.-

Photo contest illuminates EVN’s devotion to country

The Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN) in association with the Vietnam Association of Photographic Artists (VAPA) has launched a special contest in preparation for the group’s 60 th founding anniversary celebrations on December 21, 2014.

The photography competition aims to popularise the EVN trademark and demonstrate its values of high service quality and responsibility to the community.

The quest for excellent photos capturing EVN’s contributions to society and national sovereignty defence is the contest’s goal, said Nguyen Anh Tuan, an EVN official.

It also aims to honour outstanding individuals who brave hardship to bring electricity to remote and rural areas, contributing significantly to the country’s socio-economic development, he added.

The 150 best photos will be chosen to go on display in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City from next November. The award ceremony is scheduled for early September, 2014.

Interested candidates from all backgrounds are encouraged to send photos for the contest to 51 Tran Hung Dao street, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi.-

Can Tho hopes for future new technology centre

The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho is endeavoring to become a new technology centre in its region in compliance with a decision made by the Prime Minister in 2006.

To this end, Can Tho is broadening its partnerships with other localities throughout the country along with international support in order to provide personnel training and technology innovation in the areas of agricultural product processing, building materials, chemicals, biology and automation.

It has also been deemed necessary to apply information technology in state management, development of technological businesses, investment attraction and high-tech industrial and agricultural zonal models in the local districts of Vinh Thanh, Co Do, and O Mon.

Over the years, the city has gained certain achievements in science and technology development. However, the low rate of people undertaking scientific studies, inadequate equipment at institutes and universities and a shortage of technological consultations and quality standards are hampering the local sector.

From 2016, Can Tho is scheduled to develop technologies of agricultural item processing, automation and biotechnology.

It will also build a high-tech industrial park by 2020.-

Action plan to realise ethnic work strategy approved

PM Nguyen Tan Dung has recently approved an action plan to implement the Strategy for Ethnic Work to 2020.

The action plan includes building programs, policies, schemes and projects to fulfil tasks stated in the strategy, which was approved on March 2013.

The strategy is targetted to boost production, hunger eradication and poverty reduction.

Intensive goods production areas will be planned while policies to attract investment and encourage businesses to utilize ethnic labourers and provide them with vocational training and job opportunities will be developed.

Policies on supporting disadvantaged ethnic minority people to have land for production and capital to develop household-based production will also be implemented.

The Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs(CEMA) will devise schemes on building models of sustainable socio-economic development in the north west, the central highlands and the south west.

It will devise plans on boosting socio-economic development for ethnic minority people in the Mekong Delta and on allocating forest land for ethnic minority communities as a source of livelihood and protect the environment sustainably.

The Viet Nam Women’s Union is asked to develop a program on supporting the construction of vocational training models, promoting traditional vocations and improving incomes for ethnic minority women and submit it to the Government in 2014.

The strategy has set a target of developing socio-economic infrastructure in ethnic minority regions.

It aims to build fundamental socio-economic infrastructure facilities, transport routes to link intensive goods production areas, villages and communes and small-scale bridges to connect different regions and regular power supply while planning, arranging and stabilizing population in combination with developing infrastructure and building new rural areas.

The Ministry of Home Affairs is in charge of building policies and a decree on issuing policies to attract and encourage talents to work in ethnic minority regions.

The strategy also looks to improve capacity building of ethnic minority human resources. Accordingly, ethnic minority students will be prioritized to be trained in an improved network of schools and educational institutions in ethnic minority regions. Polices on supporting ethnic minority students in disadvantaged regions will also be improved.

The Ministry Education and Training will develop five schemes and policies in 2014 on educating ethnic cultural values for ethnic minority students, building a curriculum for ethnic boarding schools, improving Vietnamese language for ethnic minority students, training teachers and educational workers for ethnic minority regions, as well as developing scholarship policies to university ethnic minority students.

The CEMA will develop schemes and policies on supporting socio-economic development of ethnic minority groups, reviewing socio-economic situation in 53 ethnic minority groups and developing several specific policies to support socio-economic development in ethnic minority regions in the 2016-2020 period.

Country struggles to control cancer incidence

Breast cancer has been increasing throughout the country, mainly in the capital city of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, with there predicted to be 25,000 new cases reported every year by 2020.

The figure was released at an annual conference on cancer prevention held in HCM City on December 15 with the involvement of over 1,000 delegates from 118 medical facilities across the country.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (Globocon 2008) estimated Vietnam now has 111,500 new cancer incidences and 82,000 mortalities.

Lung, liver and rectum cancers are mainly diagnosed in males while breast and cervical cancers are prevalently seen in women. In most cases the disease evolves more quickly as the patients are over 40 years of age.

The country’s treatment of cancer has so far experienced optimistic results thanks to advanced equipment and new chemotherapies applied in a number of specialised hospitals such as Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital, Hanoi K Hospital and Hue Central Hospital.

In recent years, the government has constructed more hospitals scattered across the country including Da Nang Cancer Hospital and Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital No.2, among others.

Cancer is the number one killer, said Le Hoang Minh, director of the City Oncology Hospital, adding the incidence of cancer at his hospital rises by 10 percent annually. In 2013 alone, it received more than 20,000 cases.

The conference is believed to create room for doctors, experts and scientists to suggest new therapies and exchange precious experience in cancer treatment.

The previous event also mentioned advances in cancer treatment, safety in chemotherapy, disease prevalence and newly invented cancer-proof drugs.-

Ministry lays out new tuition fee policies

The Ministry of Education and Training on December 5 announced new tuition fee policies, by which students who study the Royal music of Hue, Vietnamese traditional operetta, classical drama, Cai Luong theater and circus art, will be exempt 70 percent of actual fee.

Preschool students and children of those who have suffered industrial accidents or occupational hazardous diseases will enjoy 50 percent tuition fee exemption.

Children from families whose economic condition is close to poverty line or earn less than VND400,000 a person per month and students of vocational schools will be exempt 50 percent of fee charge.

The Ministry also regulates that a student who receives many support policies at the same time will enjoy the highest among them.

Those who earn a salary amount while studying will not receive tuition exemption.

Post-graduate students also will not be eligible for tuition fee exemption.

Official joins Lee Kuan Yew Exchange programme

Secretary of the Quang Ngai Provincial Party Committee Vo Van Thuong is paying a five-day visit to Singapore as the 40th Lee Kuan Yew Exchange Fellow (LKYEF), and the third representative from Vietnam over the past 20 years.

Established in 1991, the LKYEF programme aims to invite outstanding individuals around the world to Singapore for discussions on issues of mutual concern.

During his visit from December 2-7, Thuong, who is also a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam, had a meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The Singaporean PM said his country is willing to assist the central province of Quang Ngai in personnel training.

The Vietnamese guest heard a number of reports on the island country’s experience in recruiting personnel for governmental institutions, training officials and devising socio-economic development policies.

He also had working sessions with the Ministers of Health, Education and Foreign Affairs, who expressed their belief that bilateral strategic partnership will be developed further.

On the sidelines of the visit, Thuong met with President and CEO Tang Kin Fai of Sembcorp’s Group which has partnered with Vietnam’s IDC Becamex Corporation in the fifth Vietnam-Singapore industrial park in Quang Ngai province.

On the occasion, Sembcorp announced to present the locality with 100,000 USD to aid its flood recovery efforts.

According to the Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the Vietnamese official is scheduled to meet Deputy Minister cum Minister of Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean, and have a working session with officials from the Corrupt Investigation Bureau to study their anti-corruption measures.

Vietnam focuses on developing transport infrastructure

The Vietnamese Government has decided to strongly develop the country’s transport infrastructure system in the coming years, especially highway projects, to promote socio-economic development and reduce traffic jams and accidents.

Officials from the Ministry of Transport told participants at the 7th Vietnam’s highway construction seminar co-organised by Vietnam and Japan in Hanoi on December 5.

Accordingly, Vietnam will implement 22 projects to build highway routes with a total length of 1,851 kilometres during 2013-2020, including some sections in the North- South route and some highway roads in the South and other routes.

After 2020, construction will be continued with a total length of about 4,000 kilometres.

At the seminar, the Japanese side shared its experiences in operating, managing and maintaining highway system as well as measures on mobilising capital for the field.

The Vietnam Department of Railway has recently asked the Ministry of Transport to approve its plan for building Sai Gon-Loc Ninh railway route from Di An town of the southern province of Binh Duong to the Hoa Lu Border Gate in Southern Tay Ninh province.

The project value is estimated at about 20.9 trillion VND (982.3 million USD). The route, which will allow trains to run at 120km per hour, will include 16 stations with a total length of 128 kilometres.

Vietnamese brides in RoK assisted to visit homeland

As many as 19 families of Vietnamese brides in the Republic of Korea (RoK) began their eight-day trips to the homeland on December 5 with the sponsorship of Seoul-based Nonghyup Bank.

In addition to the free-of-charge trips, each family also received 500 USD in cash.

This is the 7 th time Nonghyup Bank has supported homeland visits by Vietnamese brides and their Korean families, raising the total number of the beneficiaries to over 1,300.

Chief Representative of the Nonghyup Bank Office in Hanoi Lee Woo Sik said there are about 35,000 Vietnamese brides in the RoK with many of them desiring to visit the homeland.

Truong Thi Kim Loan, 28, born in the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu , who got married to a RoK man four years ago, said she feels very happy to visit her native land for the second time.

She added that during the first days in the RoK, she faced a lot of difficulties, including language difference that hindered her to access the local culture and customs.

Thanks to the support of the Women’s Union in the RoK, Vietnamese brides like Loan have received Korean language and vocational training as well as met each other to share experience each month, thus gradually integrating into the new life, she said.

Int’l Red Cross to continue support to Vietnam

A representative from the International Committee of the Red Cross in Asia-Pacific has pledged that the committee will continue assisting the Vietnamese Government and army in popularising the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and helping the country overcome war aftermaths.

During a December 5 meeting with Deputy Defence Minister Sen. Lieut. Gen. Le Huu Duc in Hanoi, Beat Schweizer said the committee will also work with Vietnam in projects to raise public awareness on unexploded ordnance.

It will share experience in military medicine and humanitarian rescue as Vietnam joins United Nations peacekeeping operations, he added.

Schweizer also said he hopes to receive support and cooperation from the Defence Ministry of Vietnam during his term from 2013-2015.

For his part, Duc expressed his delight that the Vietnamese Government and army share a close relationship with the committee.

Through the Vietnam Red Cross, the International Committee of the Red Cross has supported Vietnam in organising training courses on the IHL for military officers while publishing documents and holding conferences and seminars on the law.

On the other hand, Vietnam has also actively responded to programmes launched by the committee such as those on public healthcare, humanitarian support in remote and mountainous areas, search for martyrs’ remains, assisting Agent Orange victims, and blood donation, he added.

President sends condolences over death of brave man

President Truong Tan Sang on December 4 sent a letter to Pham Van Thoi’s family to express his deep condolences over the death of the man who sacrificed himself to rescue fishermen in distress.

The Vietnamese State leader said he was very touched by the man’s brave act of fighting raging waves to save the victims, then leaving forever while his children are still very small.

He expressed his belief that with support from the local authorities, his family members will be able to overcome the pain to stabilise their lives and well educate Thoi’s children.

The 34-year-old man lived in Yen Ngu hamlet, Xuan Yen commune, Nghi Xuan district of the central province of Ha Tinh.

On November 30th, he and other local men saved two fishermen from a trawler capsized by high waves.

When they returned to the scene to continue searching for other victims, their boat was also sunk in the bad weather, and Thoi went missing, while the others were able to swim ashore.

USAID’s development cooperation strategy for Vietnam approved

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that its Country Development Cooperation Strategy for Vietnam has been recently approved after consultations with numerous concerned parties.

The strategy will provide the foundation and orientations for the agency’s development programmes in Vietnam in the next five years.

This strategy contributes to the Vietnam-US Comprehensive Partnership, which was set by US President Barack Obama and his Vietnamese counterpart Truong Tan Sang in July, Joakim Parker, USAID Mission Director, said in the agency’s recent press release.

Over the next five years, USAID assistance will be oriented around three objectives: enhanced State governance for inclusive growth, strengthened institutions to improve health and welfare, and addressing post-war issues to advance the two countries’ partnership.

During the period, the agency’s programmes will focus on global health, climate change, disaster mitigation and education.

The new strategy will create a foundation for assistance planning, budgeting and resource allocation. It will also cover Agent Orange/Dioxin remediation in central Da Nang city.

Vietnam, RoK transfer energy, environment technologies

The technological achievements of Vietnam and the Republic of Korea (RoK) in energy and environment that have been applied in Vietnam’s southern region were highlighted at a seminar in Ho Chi Minh City on December 5.

The event was co-organised by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST)’s National Office of the Southern Region and the Korea Invention Promotion Association (KIPA).

Delegates introduced technological achievements in waste water treatment, environmental protection, light-emitting diode (LED) lamp technology in RoK streets, Vietnam’s fruits in energy saving as well as the two countries’ high-tech cooperation.

MoST Deputy Minister Tran Quoc Khanh underlined the role of international cooperation in promoting scientific and technological activities during industrialisation and modernisation.

He said that Vietnam and the RoK have reached cooperation in many fields, including science and technology.

He also urged linkage between agencies, units and businesses of the two countries in technological transfer to service production and environmental protection in Vietnam’s southern region.

Kim Kye-Soo, Managing Director of the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning (KETEP), stressed the importance of saving energy and fuel, saying it is necessary to handle issues related to energy, fuel and environment, especially in the context of climate change.

The seminar offered an opportunity for Vietnamese and RoK agencies and units to transfer technologies and cooperate with each other, thus creating a foundation for the two countries’ mutually beneficial cooperation in the coming time.-

Int’l workshop talks agro-engineering cooperation

Vietnamese and foreign scientists sat together at an international workshop in Hanoi on December 5 to discuss scientific cooperation in agricultural engineering and post-harvest technology.

The workshop themed “Agricultural engineering and post-harvest technology for Asia sustainability” (AEPAS) offered an opportunity for scholars to present their research papers, exchange experience and seek cooperation opportunities in agro-forestry-aquaculture processing and preservation technologies.

Panels at the workshop discussed and evaluated the current situation and orientations to develop technology in production , scientific research studies and technology transfer, as well as the role of agricultural engineering for a sustainable Asia .

According to them, agricultural engineering and post-harvest technologies play a key role and are prerequisite conditions to attain the goals of rural agricultural modernisation, industrialisation and raising the competitiveness of agro-products.

The AEPAS is co-organised by the Vietnam Institute of Agricultural Engineering & Post-harvest Technology (VIAEP), the National Programme on Research, Application and Development of Post-harvest Technology, the University of Agriculture-Forestry of HCM City , the Hanoi University of Agriculture, and the Japanese Society of Agricultural Machinery and Food Engineers (JSAM).

The national programme aims to apply and develop advanced technologies to reduce post-harvest losses in Vietnam ’s agro-forestry-aquaculture products and medicine.

Training course help improve disaster response

A training course is being held from December 4-6 in Thanh Hoa city for over 150 cadres from the provinces of Ninh Binh, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An and Ha Tinh to sharpen their skills to respond to natural disasters and cope with marine environmental incidents.

During the event, experts highlighted the causes and impacts of sea and island environmental setbacks on socio-economic development and ecological climate in marine areas.

They also talked oil spills and measures to cope with them to ensure a healthy sea and island environment.

Pham Van Son, Director of SOS Environment Company under the Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment, said with experience in dealing with 41 oil spills in Vietnam, his company is ready to cooperate with provinces in working out plans to cope with the issue in an effective manner and with the lowest cost.-

Southern Vietnamese frog delicacy

In recent years, many farmers in the southern province of An Giang have found a new way to make income by catching hylidae, of the frog family, and making dry products for sales.

The products have recently become popular in the Mekong Delta region and have more and more customers. Several visitors now consider this among regional typical dishes. Many local households have escaped from poverty by catching the animals.

Vo Van Lien, 40, from Vinh Trung Commune in Tinh Bien District, is something of a pioneer frog catcher in the locality. His family has been making dried frog products for four years.

“I was earning a living by working as hired hand. One day I saw a Vietnamese from abroad in Cambodia buying fresh frogs to make dry products. I decided to return home and catch such animals for sales,” Lien said.

After learning the craft of making dried frog products, of the scientific name hylidae, and finding that the products tasted good, he decided to start making and selling it himself. At first their customers were neighbourers, but now that the products have become more popular and they received several big orders from traders and owners of restaurants from the surroundings like Can Tho, Long Xuyen and Dong Thap.

He said that after skinning the frogs, they add other ingredients, including pepper, sugar, chili and fish sauce before drying it under the sun or drying ovens.

His family buys between 30 to 40 kilos of fresh frog per day at a price of VND4,000 (USD0.19) per kilo from around 30 local sellers for later processing. Final products are sold at from VND300,000-VND350,000 (USD14.2-USD16.57) per kilo, bringing about considerable profits.

With simple tools local farmers can catch between four and ten kilos of fresh frogs each night depending on season, earning around VND200,000 (USD9.47) per day. Many local families have significantly improved their standards of living in this way.

More locals have been attracted to this activity by easy profits, resulting in a diminishing return. Some have started to travel to more distant locations, such as Tri Ton and Chau Phu Districts in An Giang Province or Hon Dat and Kien Luong Districts in Kien Giang Province.

Products made from this type of frog have been nicknamed “Vu Nu Chan Dai” or Long-legged Dancing Girl. Locals hope to receive support from authorities to build a brand for the products as well as ensure food safety and hygiene.

Marching to end violence against women, girls

Hundreds of people marched through Ho Chi Minh City streets on December 7, calling for the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls.

The demonstration was joined by leaders of the Vietnam Women’s Union HCM City People’s Committee, State agencies, and social organisations, as well as more than 500 local residents.

Participants voiced their strong support for social movements and campaigns combating violence against women and girls and highlighted men’s role in ending domestic violence.

Domestic violence against women is a global concern, adversely affecting people’s health, living conditions, and family happiness. It often harms the women and girls most vulnerable to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and maltreatment.

A recent UN survey revealed more than half of the Vietnamese women respondents suffer at least one form of violence; 50% of the victims never speak out; and 87% have yet to receive support from public services.

Laws and policies safeguarding women and promoting gender equality must be implemented and enforced. Ending violence against women and girls demands the united efforts of the entire community.