HCM City to set up metro management firm soon

HCMC’s authorities are running against the clock to finalize a scheme to establish an urban railway company tasked with managing and operating Metro Line No. 1 that is expected to be ready by the turn of the decade.

The metro management company will be up and running right this year while studies on metro operation and maintenance as well as personnel recruitment and training will be done after 2016.

The company expects to recruit sufficient employees, complete staff training, and take over infrastructure and facilities of Metro Line No. 1 in 2017.

The HCMC Management Authority for Urban Railways said the company will also make necessary preparations for deployment, operation and maintenance of the first metro line in the 2014-2017 period.

A representative of the urban railway authority added the firm will be entirely funded by the city budget due to the absence of revenue in the first years of the metro line’s operations, and the total cost of the company is estimated at VND107 billion during this period.

Meanwhile, the total value of assets under the company’s management is estimated at nearly VND38.64 trillion, including the costs of infrastructure and equipment of the first metro line.

However, the metro management company’s initial charter capital would be a mere VND14 billion, according to the scheme.

In addition, the number of employees will be 107 and 394 people in 2016 and 2017 respectively, and remain the same in 2018.

New board of Hoa Sen University yet to be recognized

The HCMC Department of Education and Training has yet to formally recognize the new management board of Hoa Sen University elected at an extraordinary shareholders meeting of the school held earlier this month.

In a statement sent to the university, the education department required those calling for the extraordinary meeting, the management board and other shareholders to agree on the capital ratio of each contributor and registered capital of the university.

Tran Van Tao, board chairman of Hoa Sen University, together with four board members and three others of the board of controllers later wrote to the education department insisting on the illegality of the new management board. Tao and many other board members were ousted from their positions at the meeting.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Trung Duc, one of the people who summoned the extraordinary meeting, proposed the authorities officially recognize the new management board.

Japan to help HCM City reduce carbon emission

Japan will help Ho Chi Minh City reduce carbon emission, Japanese Senior Vice Minister of Environment Kitagawa Tomokatsu has assured.

Meeting with Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Huu Tin on August 20, Tomokatsu said his visit is to strengthen two-way cooperation in climate change, waste management and enforcement of the law on environment.

In the open-minded and keen spirit, HCM City and Japan’s Environment Ministry will surely set up interactions via the exchange of information and experience, he said in full confidence.

Tin informed his guest that the city is working to better manage the environment, especially its waste treatment by shifting away from landfill to incineration and microbiological disposal.

He expressed hope for continued assistance in technology transfer from the Japanese ministry and localities in the coming time.

In the past, Osaka helped the city respond to climate change and deal with organic waste to generate electricity in Binh Dien market, the host said.

Giving specialized contact devices to fishers

Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) coordinated with the Ministry of Information and Communication offered 25 SeaGateway sets to People's Committee of Quang Ninh province on August 18.

These advanced equipments were sponsored by VNPT under the campaign “Connecting East Sea”, aiming to mobilize the support of organizations and individuals in the country, overseas compatriots to contribute expenditure of buying the advanced contact devices, helping fishers grasp information timely, prevent and deal with natural disasters proactively; speeding up the development of economy of the sea and protecting sovereignty of the country.

SeaGateway is an advanced device used in fishing vessels, satisfies the demand of calling, sending messages, transferring GPRS documents, transferring GPS documents through GPRS to server within 100 kilometers.

Unlicensed floating restaurants still operate on West Lake

Several floating restaurants on the West Lake in Hanoi are still operating despite having had their licenses suspended by authorities for safety reasons.

In early August, a working group run by the Ministry of Public Security, Vietnam Register and the Vietnam Inland Waterways Administration conducted an inspection of four floating restaurants on West Lake. The results showed that three out of four, including Tay Long 3, Potomac and Nang Tien Ca 1 failed to meet inland waterway safety regulations and their licenses were expired.

Nang Tien Ca 1 restaurant failed to provide any of the required documents. So, it was suspended operation and its dossier was sent to Tay Ho District Police.

However, the restaurant continues to operate and attracts a wide range of customers.

In order to avoid attention, they close most of the doors and use dim lighting and curtains. Still, staff can be seen inside serving customers at large parties.

Other restaurants, such as Potomac, Cruose, and Eureca, also continue their businesses.

Pham Ngoc Tien, of the Hanoi municipal Department of Transport, said, none of these floating restaurants on West Lake are licensed for inland waterway services.

“Licenses for inland waterway services are valid for one year and all these facilities’ licenses were expired,” Tien noted.

Concerning Nang Tien Ca 1, Tien said that this is an anchored ship that was upgraded into a floating restaurant. “We find it difficult to deal with these violations because ownership often changes. Upon inspection it is difficult to find the responsible parties."

Nguyen Duc Du, from the Ministry of Public Security, said Nang Tien Ca 1 poses serious safety risks.

“The incident that occurred on Din Ky floating restaurant in Binh Duong Province in 2011 is an example of why such safety concerns should be dealt with,” Du added

Bkav launches nationwide security network contest

The Bkav network security company launched the WhilteHat Grand Prix Competition on August 19.

Entrants aged under 35 years old and are either students or are working in the field of security networks are eligible to enter.

Entrants are encouraged to register in groups of between two to five members. The groups will then enter an online qualifying round via a forum at http://whitehat.vn.

The best ten teams will then take part in the final round to be held in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City at the same time on October 25, they will be tested both in the form of attack and defence.

The winning team will be awarded VND100 million (US$4,700), while the second and third place winners will receive VND20 million (US$940) and VND10 million (US$470), respectively.

The contest is being held to boost study and research in the field, thus increasing the quality of human resources to ensure the national security network.

The WhiteHat forum was established in 2013 by Bkav to create a space for security network and technology lovers to exchange their knowledge. The forum has attracted around 20,000 members.

Five levels of natural disasters announced

Under the PM’s Decision 44/2014/QD-TTg, natural disasters were categorized in five levels featured by different colours and measurement.

Accordingly, level 1 in light blue tells small risk; level 2 in light yellow is medium risk; level 3 in orange is high risk; level 4 in red alerts extreme risk and level 5 in violet features a catastrophe.

In addition, the Decision also classifies risk levels of low pressure and storm, from level three to level five.

Especially, level 5 is applied to extremely strong storms from grade 12-15 in the South and super storms from grade 16 and above in coastal areas in the Northern and Central regions.  

There are five risk levels for flood disasters; two of whirlwind, thunder, freezing rain; three of heavy rain; three of hot weather; four of drought; three of damaging cold and hoarfrost; three of fog; three of flash flood; two of landslide; two of salt erosion; five of sea level rise; five of earthquake;and two of tsunami (level 3 and level 5).

HCM City childcare plan yields disappointing results

HCM City invested VND15 billion in a pilot childcare programme for children aged 6-18 months, but participation has been much lower than expected.

The plan was started in the 2014-2015 school year and operates in eight districts. It was aimed at improving the quality of childcare in the city and help workers employed in industrial parks.

They planned to expand the model to four other districts, which would cover 50% of districts in the metropolis in the 2015-2016 school year, and then expand it citywide in the 2016-2017 school year.

Currently the programme involves one or two state-funded preschools in each district. But, after careful planning, hiring of teachers and securing infrastructure, not many students showed up. It seems that many parents preferred to send their children to home-based daily childcare centres or back to their hometowns to be cared for by extended family.

Some of these facilities failed to attract any children.

Doan Thi Xuan Phuong, a representative from the HCM City Union of Women's Associations said the demand for childcare for children aged six months and over in the city is high, but because of the the lack of such facilities, many parents have grown accustomed to sending their children to their hometowns while they are young.

“I think part of the reason for this is that many parents working at industrial parks have to work overtime and on Saturdays and these childcare facilities do not coincide with their schedules,” Phuong said.

She added that many parents cannot afford to pay school fees. Many home-based daily childcare centres allow parents to pick their children up as late as 10pm and still provide the service on weekends at a low cost.

Nguyen Huu Danh, from the HCM City Association of Former Teachers said the plan is well-intended, but it is made difficult by a number of procedures. Parents who wish to participate have to submit several documents, including residency papers, which many are unable to produce because they are immigrants.

Deputy PM calls for assistance to Central Highland immigrants

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has directed ministries, sectors and localities to ensure stabile lives for immigrants while controlling the unplanned migration influx to the Central Highlands region.

He has asked the local authorities in northwestern and Central Highlands regions to actively carry out policies on healthcare, land allocation and education for immigrants. The local authorities were asked to immediately allocate land for 10,000 households who had no land to farm in Dak Lak, Dak Nong and Gia Lai provinces in 2014.

The provinces were also urged to give priority to implementing residential stabilisation projects in 2015 and the following years.

Deputy PM Phuc also requested localities in the northwestern and Central Highlands regions to review their land allocation planning and strictly ban the exchange of land use rights on the areas the State has given to the poor and ethnic minorities.

Dak Lak leads Central Highlands in number of schools

The Central Highland province of Dak Lak boasts the largest number of schools, classes and students in the region thanks to its annual investment in education, according to the Central Steering Committee for the Central Highlands.

Local authorities earmark part of the annual budget to repair and build at least 900 classrooms every year, enabling children from most of the communes and villages to go to school.

The province has also spent nearly 53.5 billion VND (2.5 million USD) buying textbook and essential learning tools for about 149,000 students from ethnic minority groups or beneficiary social welfare families.

Particularly, in the 2014-2015 school year, the province is to introduce a set of Ede-language textbooks to local primary schools to meet the demand of children from the ethnic group.

Other provinces in the region have also invested hundreds of billions of VND into upgrading schools in remote areas and buying textbooks for children of ethnic minority groups in preparation for the upcoming school year.

According to the Steering Committee for Central Highlands, the region has 6,271 schools of all levels with 97,409 classrooms and drawing more than 1.4 million students, over 32 percent of whom are from ethnic minority groups.

The Central Highlands provinces comprise of Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Lam Dong, Gia Lai and Kon Tum, with a population of over 5.4 million people, 25.7 percent of them being ethnic minorities.-

RoK firm helps build school for Thai Nguyen’s pupils

The construction of a school for pre-school and primary pupils at Lam Vy commune, Dinh Hoa district, the northern mountainous province of Thai Nguyen, began on August 20 under the support of Lotte Group of the Republic of Korea.

The Lotte Shopping Plaza Vietnam (LSPV), a subsidiary of Lotte Group, funded nearly 2 billion VND via Plan-RoK for the school, which comprises of two fullly-equipped classrooms, a kitchen, a toilet, a water supply system and a play ground.

The facility, which can accommodate 85 students, is expected to become operational in June, 2015.

Speaking on the occasion, Sung Yeon Suck, business director of LSPV said his firm is honoured to join in social activities in Vietnam.

On behalf of the local authorities, Chairwoman of the Dinh Hoa district People’s Committee Loc Kim Tuyet said Lam Vu is one of the poorest communes in the district. She thanked the firm for its assistance for the project, which is hoped to improve the access of local pupils from low-income families, especially those in remote areas, to education.

Resettlement problems put hydro-plant behind schedule

Only 300 of the 800 households on the site of the Lai Chau Hydro-power Plant in the northern province of Lai Chau have been evacuated to resettlement areas.

The new resettlement areas are dispersed throughout the villages of Cang, Giang, Hat Me, Nam Khao, Nam Hai and Trung Tam, in the locality in the province.

As planned, the evacuation had to be completed by June 30 this year.

However, partially completed infrastructure to provide water and electricity in new resettlement areas were blamed for the delay.

Lo Thi Hat, a resident who moved to a new resettlement area in Trung Tam Village two months ago, said, "Tap water for daily lives is often cut off."

Other residents have also had to go without electricity in their new resettlement area in Hat Me Village three months after they relocated.

Vietnam News Agency correspondents in the province reported that only 4 of the 6 new resettlement areas were building classrooms for children.

New resettlement areas located on soft soil in Cang, Nam Hai, and Trung Tam, were also put on high alert in case of landslides during the rainy season.

Muddy roads connecting the commune with the new resettlement areas were also believed to be making residents hesitant to move due to landslide risks.

Lu Thi Sen, chairwoman of the communal People's Committee said it was difficult to travel during rainy weather.

"We have to use excavating machines to remove mud and soil to travel and transport our furniture," she said.

Tran Van Dung, head of the provincial Management Board of Evacuation Project, said the risks would reduce when the rainy season ended.

By the end of this year, the management board would finish the evacuation and repair landlide-affected areas, he said.

The construction of the US$1.68-billion Lai Chau Hydroelectric Plant began in 2011 and was expected to finish in 2017.

New decree aims to boost offshore catching

A newly-devised decree provides a spate of basic policies supporting the strong development of modern off-shore fishing methods to raise incomes for fishermen, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh has said.

In his interview granted to the press before Decree 67 takes effect on August 25, the Deputy PM highlighted the important features of the decree in comparison with those on seafood issued previously.

According to Ninh, the decree provides a full, systematic and synchronous set of basic policies to encourage fishermen build high-capacity, iron-covered ships capable of fishing offshore, a practice that could earn fishermen higher incomes, and at the same time contribute to protecting the country’s territorial waters.

It also gives priority to the building of fishery logistics vessels, which are considered a basic factor for the effective operation of offshore catching fleets.

The credit policy for fishermen is based on commercial credit relations, meaning that fishermen have to work with commercial banks on their needed loans and the State only gives support in interest rate and loan limit, he said.

For those who borrow money to build ships, especially iron-covered ones, the decree regulates a preferential interest rate of 1-3 percent per year, the lowest level at present, for 11-year loans. Loan limit also stands high, about 70-95 percent of the newly-built ship value.

The Deputy PM said Decree 67 has been built carefully basing on fishermen’s opinions, field surveys, and lessons drawn from the implementation of previous decrees.

Relevant ministries and agencies have issued guidance documents to ensure the decree will come into life as soon as possible.

Ninh expressed his hope that the decree will prove effective in reality, creating a breakthrough in the country’s seafood development.

He added that the Government will review the implementation of the decree in late 2016 to draw experience for the next years.

Vietnamese awarded Japan’s Rising Sun order

President of the Vietnam-Japan Friendship Association Nghiem Vu Khai has been presented with Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun in recognition of his contributions to strengthening mutual understanding and friendship between the two countries.

Speaking at a ceremony in Hanoi on August 21, Khai expressed his honour to receive such a noble award, affirming his stronger belief in a brighter future of the bilateral ties.

Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Fukada said he believed that Khai will make more efforts, together with the Japanese side, to further bolster the two countries’ relations in the time to come.

Khai, who received a PhD degree in Japan, has contributed to establishing 18 branches of the Vietnam-Japan Friendship Association in provinces and cities nationwide.

He has also translated many Japanese poems into Vietnamese as a way to introduce the East Asian country’s culture and literature to Vietnamese readers.

Rice research programme committee shaped

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat has approved the establishment of a Steering Committee for the National Rice Research Programme till 2020.

Deputy Minister Le Quoc Doanh will head the committee, which is responsible for building programmes to improve the output and quality of the product while working with relevant partners to assess the results.

Vietnam exported over 3.6 million tonnes of rice for a free-on-board value of over 1.56 billion USD in January-July, showing a decrease of 10.78 percent in volume and 10.27 percent in value, according to the Vietnam Food Association.

The association forecast rice exports will hit 6.3 million tonnes by the year’s end.

Hanoi needs 3.5 trillion VND to treat solid waste by 2020

Hanoi needs about 11 trillion VND ( 522.3 million USD) to implement a solid waste treatment plan to 2030 and with a vision towards 2050, which was signed by Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai.

The figure includes 3.5 trillion VND (164 million USD) from now to 2020.

The project is expected to help the capital reduce environmental pollution, protect public health, and contribute to the sustainable development of urban areas and industrial zones.

More than 16,000 tonnes of solid waste, discharged from households, industrial parks, construction sites, and hospitals, need to be treated daily in the city by 2030.

Seventeen solid waste treatment facilities have therefore been zoned off, including the eight existing ones. The total area for these plants till 2030 will be 422 hectares.

Energy-saving and environmentally-friendly technology will be preferred to treat the waste.

To carry out the project efficiently, the capital will adopt policies and enhance communication campaigns to raise public awareness of environmental protection and classification of solid waste right at home.

Thousands of hectares of forest land destroyed due to ignorance

Over 4,500 hectares of forest in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong have been being destroyed for years, while local authorities said they know nothing.

From 2008 to 2013, more than 4,500 hectares of forest trees were cut down. Even though Truong Xuan Forestry Company is responsible for this land, it has ignored the problem completely, as local residents clear the forest for living and agricultural lands.

Ha Van Tuat, who cleared forest for rubber and coffee plantations, expressed surprise upon learning that his land is managed by Truong Xuan Company. He said, "I bought this 2 hectares of land in 2009 and the transaction didn't involve any forestry company." Tuan said dozens of residents in Truong Xuan Commune have been exploiting this forest. Some bought the land while other reclaimed land from the wild.

Pham Quoc Thuy, chairman of Truong Xuan Commune People's Committee, said, "It's a violation for these residents to clear and use this land. They're not the owners or managers."

A representative of Truong Xuan Forestry Company said that because of financial difficulties they have had to cut staff and could not employ enough rangers to protect the forest. However, they could not explain why the company had never reported the issue to the authorities and continued making fire safety and prevention plans for land they had allowed local residents use.

According authorities in Dak Nong Province, due to the complex situation, they do not intend to pursue criminal prosecutions. They proposed to reprimand the chairman and several employees of Truong Xuan Forestry Company and officials of Dac Song District People's Committee.

Some, however, think that if this case is not strictly dealt with, the remaining trees on nearly 2,000 hectares would soon disappear and rivers and streams would run dry.

Stored toxic waste threatens Halong Bay

The authorities in Vietnam is trying to find ways to deal with 7,000 litres of toxic waste that have been stored near Halong Bay for seven years.

Currently, only Holcim Vietnam Ltd., in Kien Giang Province has a license to safely dispose of the PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl) a chemical that is rated just behind dioxins in toxicity by Vietnamese regulation. However, the logistics of transporting 7,000 litres of the chemicals across 2,000 km is proving to be a problem.

Another proposal was to allow the Thanh Cong Group dispose of the substance at a closer location. An expert from Vietnam PCB Management Project said that Thanh Cong Group is capable of the task, the only obstacle is that they are not licensed. He added that it may take three to six months and VND5-7 billion (USD239,000-333,000)to safely dispose of the containers and their contents.

In 2007, Cuu Long Vinashin Investment JSC imported three pieces of old heavy equipment from South Korea. Upon inspection, customs discovered PCBs hidden in one. Cuu Long Vinashin was fined for violating environmental protection law and ordered to return the equipment, but the exporter refused to take it back.

Hoang Danh Son, deputy head of Quang Ninh Province Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said that the authorities did not dare move the chemicals because of the vast amount and the danger involved. Vietnam does not have any clear regulations on storing, transporting or disposal of PCBs.

For seven years, the waste was kept outdoors at the customs' storage yard and the containers are corroded. Some of the chemicals have even leaked. According to Son, if this substance were to leak out, the damage it would cause to the eco-system in Halong Bay would be permanent.

In May, Cuu Long Vinashin, Department of Natural Resources and Environment and the local customs had to remove the oil from the old equipment and store it in containers. The containers, however, do not meet safety requirements.

Vietnam urged to make State budget transparent

The Government should inform its State budget revenue and spending more clearly so that its people can understand this matter better, said Victoria Kwakwa, country director of the World Bank in Vietnam.

Kwakwa told a conference held by the Ministry of Finance in Hanoi on Wednesday that governmental agencies and organizations should publicize the charges and fees they collect from people. They should not be allowed to retain certain proportions of these revenues for their spending as this could erode the transparency of State budget collections.

Kwakwa warned against the fact that many localities borrow too much to invest in their projects although the debt has gone beyond their payment capacities.

She also emphasized the importance of public finance restructuring as it plays a crucial role in ensuring socio-economic stability and helps the country meet the target of restructuring its economy.

The Ministry of Finance said State budget collections increased 18% a year in 2004-2013.

Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung stressed at the conference that draft amendments to the State budget law will strictly regulate the responsibilities of localities for their expenses. The Ministry of Planning and Investment should supervise public investment projects to ensure their efficiency.

The conference attracted around 150 representatives of governmental agencies and ministries, international organizations and diplomatic corps in Vietnam.