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Social News 28/3

 Work starts on ASEAN Culture House in Busan, Korea, Ao Dai Museum: Press conference and Fashion Show, Legal documents issued in February, Carnival Ha Long 2016 to take place next month, Gender equality project educates State employees

Work starts on ASEAN Culture House in Busan, Korea

Construction on an ASEAN Culture House recently started in Busan city, in the Republic of Korea (RoK) as part of efforts to promote mutual understanding and cultural exchanges with ASEAN member states.

The four-storey ASEAN House will be built in Busan’s Haeundea district, and is scheduled to be open for visitors in late 2017.

Addressing the groundbreaking ceremony, First Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam recalled that since the establishment of a bilateral dialogue partnership in 1989, ASEAN and the RoK have developed friendly and trustful ties.

ASEAN has become the second largest trade partner and the most popular tourist destination of the RoK, with two-way trade surging 20-fold and civil exchanges increasing 24-fold, he said.

On the back of such momentum, Lim believed that the cultural initiative, which was reached at a commemorative summit held in December 2014 to mark 25 years of bilateral partnership, will contribute to raising Korean awareness of ASEAN’s cultural diversity as well as promoting cultural and civil exchanges.

Vietnamese Ambassador to the RoK Pham Huu Chi called the project a bridge of culture and a symbol of strategic partnership between ASEAN and the RoK; saying that it is of significance, given that ASEAN has become an inclusive community in which the integration of cultural diversity is a key pillar of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

Kim Kyu-ok, deputy governor of Busan city, said Busan is worthy of accommodating the ASEAN Culture House as it hosted the commemorative summit in 2014 and now boasts itself as the second largest city and an economic hub of the RoK.

Busan has twinning relations and works closely with six ASEAN cities across the fields of economy, tourism, health care and cinema.

Nearly 20,000 nationals from ASEAN countries are living in the city, he said.

Ao Dai Museum: Press conference and Fashion Show

The Ao Dai Museum and Indian Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City held a joint press conference on March 25 to unveil the details of an upcoming Ao Dai and Saree Dress Fashion Show.

Through the fashion event at the Ao Dai Museum in HCM City on April 1 and out-of-the-catwalk activities we aim to contribute to the commercial success of Vietnamese and Indian designers, they said.

They said a large group of representatives of the Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council (Texprocil), the Synthetic & Rayon Textiles Export Promotion Council (SRTEPC) and Indian businesses will participate.

In addition, they said an exhibition on Indian cotton, Ao Dai designed from Indian cotton and Indian clothes will take place April 1 to June 30 at the Ao Dai Museum.

Harley-Davison offers deferred payment program

Harley-Davidson of Hanoi and Harley-Davidson of Saigon, the two authorized distributors of Harley-Davidson in Vietnam, have introduced a new program allowing for the trading of used Harley-Davidson motorbikes and deferred payment.

The program offers a chance for those owning Harley-Davidson genuine motorbikes to easily sell their used motorbikes.

For motorbikes that were not bought from authorized distributors in Vietnam, their owners are required to produce proof that the motorbikes were imported into Vietnam legally and registered with local authorities.

The used motorbikes will be checked by the professionally trained staff of Harley-Davidson before they are put on sale.

If the warranty of the used motorbikes is still valid, the buyer can enjoy full warranty services without having to pay an extra fee. The buyer can easily register the ownerships of the vehicles with Harley-Davidson through its system.

The deferred payment method is applied to all brand-new Harley-Davidson motorbikes distributed in Vietnam.

The buyer can borrow less than VND500 million (US$22,370) with an annual interest rate of below 9% in the first year.

In order to take out the loan, the buyer should make a down payment equivalent to half of a motorbike’s price and submit a labor contract and an income statement from the bank.

Those interested can contact Harley-Davidson of Saigon at 800 Nguyen Van Linh Parkway, District 7, HCMC, tel: 0854 112 122, and Harley-Davidson of Hanoi at 40 Ngo Gia Tu Street, Long Bien District, Hanoi, tel: 0438 737 888 for more information.

Foreigners a prime target of criminals in Ho Chi Minh City: police

Police in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City admitted on Friday that foreign visitors are the biggest preys of criminals, but quickly reassured that they are exerting effort to protect both tourists and local dwellers.

Tightening security efforts to better protect people was high on agenda as the district’s administration and the police unit gathered for a meeting yesterday.

Nguyen Tan Dat, head of the District 1 police unit, admitted that most robbers or thieves in the locale would target foreign victims, as the district is a hub of international tourists.

In the first three months of this year, there were 17 cases of theft and robbery in District 1, eight of which were targeted at foreigners, Dat said.

“International tourists usually stay in Ho Chi Minh City for a short time so they will move to another place or return to their home countries after reporting the case to police, which makes investigation more difficult,” he explained.

The police chief however added that his unit is enacting different measures, including carrying patrols more frequently and installing more surveillance cameras, to boost security efforts.

There will be more criminal police officers dispatched to conduct additional patrols across District 1 in the second quarter of this year, Dat said.

The police chief asserted that criminal police is a fine unit as they detect and handle up to 40 percent of criminal cases in the locale on an annual basis.

Besides the police officers, there are also urban security units and residential area-level guards, which help increase the security forces, according to the police chief.

Tran The Thuan, chairman of the district’s administration, also asserted that authorities “have enough personnel to carry out 24/7 patrols, not to mention the camera systems and reports and tip-off by local residents.”

In the meantime, the police unit urged District 1 administration to enact measures to tackle scam and dishonest taxi drivers, who will run away with passengers’ belongings and baggage immediately after the foreigners get off their cabs.

The police chief, Dat, also suggested issuing leaflets in foreign languages to warn international tourists against scams and crimes in the city.

The messages conveyed, however, must be gently put as the previous warning leaflets had frightened, rather than reassured, tourists.

Dat also said the police unit will not set up a new force specializing in protecting tourists as widely suggested, because the Ho Chi Minh City administration has tasked its tourism department with doing so.

“The police will provide training for this force, who will help fortify the protection for tourists once they begin their duty,” Dat said.

Living in this mountain province might cost you more than in Hanoi

While Lai Chau is one of many poverty-hit Vietnamese localities, a recent study found that statistically it is more expensive to live in the northern mountainous province than in Hanoi.

The Vietnamese capital was chosen as the 'base city' for the calculation of the 2015 Spatial Cost of Living Index (SCOLI) by the General Statistics Office, according to results released on Thursday.

According to the methodology, the cost of living in the 'base city' is expressed as 100 and the cost of living in each destination is indexed against this number.

Lai Chau, some 420km northwest of the capital, had a SCOLI score of 100.3 percent, meaning it is 0.3 percent more expensive to live there than in Hanoi.

Do Thi Ngoc, deputy head of price statistics at the General Statistics Office, said the geographical location of Lai Chau might explain why it is pricier to live there than in any other Vietnamese province.

The traffic system in the mountainous province is rough, making it hard for goods to flow through the area. Meanwhile, its production sector has a limited capacity, according to the official.

With poorly developed production that fails to meet local demand, people are forced to buy goods from other localities which can get very expensive due to high transportation costs, Ngoc elaborated.

“The cost of living in Lai Chau is therefore higher than localities in flat areas. The same goes for all northern mountainous provinces,” Ngoc said.

This explains why Son La, Lao Cai and Dien Bien, all mountainous provinces in the north, took the next three spots after Lai Chau and Hanoi in the 2015 SCOLI.

Ho Chi Minh City is the sixth most expensive locality, with a SCOLI of 97.39 percent, whereas the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh had the lowest index, 80.72 percent.

According to the General Statistics Office, Ho Chi Minh City posted a cheaper cost of living compared to Hanoi thanks to a number of price stabilization programs which have kept the prices of essential commodities such as food, clothing, and beverages from skyrocketing.

The 2015 SCOLI measured the difference in cost of living between Hanoi and 62 other cities and provinces, and across six regions, including the Red River Delta in the north, the Mekong Delta in the south, the Central Highlands, and the central coast.

Legal documents issued in February

The Government and the PM issued nine legal documents, including four Decrees and five Decisions in February this year.

Decree No. 10/2016/NĐ-CP deals with agencies under the Government or established by the Government to realize specific and crucial public services directly monitored by the Government.

Decree No. 11/2016/ND-CP detailed Labor Code foreign workers in Viet Nam defines that foreign are laborers working within the businesses , volunteers , professionals , managers , executives and technical employees.

 Decree No. 12/2016/NĐ-CP on environmental protection charge on mineral exploitation clarifies subjects entitled to charges, charge payers, charge calculation methods and management of mineral exploitation charge.

The PM signed Decision No. 6/2016/QĐ-TTg on personal income tax exemption for foreign experts who implement foreign non-governmental aid programs or projects in Viet Nam and Decision No.7/2016/QĐ-TTg on personal income tax exemption for Vietnamese individuals working for Viet Nam-based representative agencies of international organizations belonging to the United Nations system.

Decision No. 08/2016/QĐ-TTg dated February 26, 2016 stipulates concentrated procurement of state assets.

Carnival Ha Long 2016 to take place next month

Carnival Ha Long 2016 will be held in ten days, from late April to early May.

Especially, under the title “Ha Long – The city of Tourism – Civilization – Friendly,” a carnival night concert will be organized on April 29 at the October 30th Square in Ha Long city.

The upcoming event will also include an art show of eventful music and light.

The People’s Committee of Quang Ninh also revealed that responding activities will last from March 17 to late May, 2016.

More funding sought for drought-hit provinces

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has proposed the Ministry of Finance provide an additional VND470 billion (US$21 million) for 22 provinces which have been seriously affected by drought and saltwater intrusion.

Tran Quang Hoai, deputy director of the General Irrigation Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, told a conference on solutions for aquaculture to cope with drought and salinity in Ca Mau last Friday that the funding would help farmers overcome difficulties and prepare to resume production after drought and salinity.

Earlier, the Prime Minister approved allocating VND523.7 billion (US$23.5 million) to 34 provinces to cushion the impact of drought and saltwater intrusion on the 2015-2016 winter-spring rice crop.

In February, the Prime Minister okayed VND85.1 billion (US$3.8 million) for six provinces to partly cover losses of the 2015 summer-autumn rice crop caused by drought and salinity. They were Long An, An Giang, Dong Thap, Quang Tri, Daklak and Dak Nong.

Hoai said the Government and the agriculture ministry have called for the international community to aid Vietnam in technical and financial solutions for drought and salinity that have wreaked havoc on different provinces nationwide.

Le Thanh Tung from the Cultivation Department under the agriculture ministry, told the Daily on the sidelines of the conference that 140,000 hectares of the winter-spring rice crop in the Mekong Delta has been damaged by drought and salinity. It is estimated that total rice output of the winter-spring crop will dip by 300,000 tons year-on-year.

Gender equality project educates State employees

More than 1,400 State office workers and 1,000 lecturers and students have received training and access to technical documents about gender equality under a project initiated by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Co-operation.

The project Gender Equality Integration in Decent Work Legislation, called for ensuring the rights of women in work policies and regulations, and to raise people’s awareness on gender equality. It focused on areas such as maternity leave, how to balance home and work life for women, and how to improve the salary gap between men and women.

A conference held yesterday in Hà Nội discussed the 2012-2016 project that aimed to bring gender equality into the process of implementing labour laws. It provided technical support and research for lawmakers compiling the Law on Social Insurance and Law on Vocational Education in 2014.

The project delivered educational documents and leaflets on the issue to the wider public. It also held several dialogues and conferences on gender equality and labour to support the country as it changes its laws to meet international commitments on the issue.

Việt Nam’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and EU-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement was an opportunity for economic growth, said Lê Kim Dung, director of the International Co-operation Department under MOLISA. But they also challenged Việt Nam to assure that all people – men and women alike – benefited from that growth.

"The project aims to help the Government design laws that respect gender equality as Việt Nam integrates into the international community," she said.

Đào Hồng Lan, deputy minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said gender equality was a big priority for the labour sector.

Effective management of labour offices at the local level would help ensure the genders were treated equally as policies were implemented, she said.

PM approves mineral exploitation ban

The Government has approved the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment’s temporary ban on mining at many places in the central province of Ninh Thuận to protect historical relics, enable infrastructure work and for other reasons.

The province People’s Committee earlier reviewed mining done at various places and identified some for the ban.

In all, the ban takes effect at 1,236 places, and the official reasons cited include protection of historical and cultural relics and sightseeing destinations; protected land and forests; geological studies; land earmarked for military; buffer land for infrastructure works like high voltage grids, traffic works, irrigation, dykes; land for urban development, industrial parks and industrial clusters; and land for water storage and emission and wastewater treatment plants.

They cover an area of 224,513 hectares.

The ministry has made sure the laws allow the ban.

New delta co-op project approved

The Prime Minister has approved a project for three new farm co-operative models for rice, aquatic products and fruit in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta by 2020.

The project aims to promote connections between co-operatives and farmers, as well as improve the conditions of local people.

It will be carried out in three phases in the delta’s 13 provinces and cities.

The first phase, which begins this year and will end in 2017, will evaluate the Delta’s existing co-operatives based on the 2012 Co-operative Law and reorganise them according to the region’s three key products. Establishing new co-operatives is another task of the project.  

The second phase, to end in 2018, is for implementation of a model of provincial co-operative unions for each product, while the last phase is for establishing co-operative unions for the region.

Local authorities are in charge of encouraging individual farmers and farming households to join the co-operatives.

They are also responsible for working with the co-operative to find ways to generate more capital to promote their operations.

After two years of implementing the project, the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Planning and Investment will work with the Southwestern Region Steering Committee and the region’s provincial authorities to review the work and create a plan to expand new co-operative models across the country.

Drug trafficker gets death penalty

The People’s Court of the northern province of Hòa Bình sentenced two drug traffickers for illegally transporting heroin.

Mùa A Đùa, 35, who comes from Pà Cò Commune, in Mai Châu District, of Hòa Bình Province received the death penalty while Giàng A Xà, 52, from Sơn La Province was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

According to the indictment, in December 2013, Đùa was hired by a man whose identity remains unknown, to transport  26 cakes of heroin from Pà Cò Commune to Mỹ Đình Station in Hà Nội for a charge of VNĐ30 million (US$1,330).

Đùa asked Xà to help him by going ahead to see whether the police were looking to arrest Đùa. Đùa paid Xà VNĐ7 million ($310).

However, the two traffickers were arrested red-handed with 26 cakes of heroin and other items when they were travelling in Cao Phong Town, Hòa Bình Province.

Đùa confessed that he had illegally purchased one cake of heroin in October 2013 with his uncle who was arrested by Sơn La Police.

In 2005, Đùa was sentenced to 10 years in prison for illegally purchasing heroin and was given special amnesty in August 2010.

Short documentary film on Mỹ Sơn Hindu sanctuary released

A short documentary film on Mỹ Sơn, a unique Hindu sanctuary located in the central province of Quảng Nam, has been released in Hà Nội.

The film, Mỹ Sơn - Thung Lũng Của Thần Linh Và Nghệ Thuật ( Mỹ Sơn - The Valley of Gods and Arts), is part of a project to promote Vietnamese heritage to the world, launched by Quảng Nam and its partners.

The 18-minute work features the beautiful scenes of Mỹ Sơn and its architecture. It also highlights the Cham people, and their culture today.

Mỹ Sơn was the capital of the Champa Kingdom from the 4th to 13th  century. Its architecture of bricks and stones dedicated mostly to the deities Shiva, Krishna and Vishnu.

New comic collection about insects released in HCM City

A comic collection about insects, written by Ngô Tường Mẫn, has been released in HCM City to meet children’s demand.  

The collection, Trường Học Côn Trùng (The School of Insects), includes 12 books. Lively pictures by young artists of the Dân Trí Publishing House illustrate the series.

The works include many useful stories of the life and work of insects. The comics help will help readers learn more about the natural world and animals around them.

The publisher and writer both hope readers will develop a love for science from reading their books.

Work on Dau Giay-Phan Thiet expy to start in 2017

Work on the first section of Dau Giay-Phan Thiet expressway project will commence in the first quarter of next year, according to the Project Management Unit 1 (PMU1) under the Ministry of Transport.

PMU1, which represents the investor of the multi-million-dollar project, discussed the ground-breaking plan and site clearance for the project with the government of Dong Nai Province at at a meeting on Tuesday.

According to PMU1, the expressway was divided into two sections with the first section running 36 kilometers from Dau Giay to Xuan Loc District in Dong Nai Province funded by the State budget and the International Development Association (IDA) under the World Bank (WB).

Relevant agencies are drawing up a construction plan for the second 62-kilometer-long section from Xuan Loc District to Phan Thiet City in Binh Thuan Province under the public-private partnership (PPP) format for the Government to consider and approve.

The expressway project requires a total investment of more than VND17 trillion (over US$757.7 million), including VND6.2 trillion for the first section.

PMU1 said at the meeting that the first section of the expressway is scheduled to get off the ground in quarter one of 2017 and be opened to traffic in 2019. Meanwhile, construction of the second section is planned to start in late 2017 and be completed in three years.  

PMU1 said it has set aside VND300 billion for site clearance. It urged the government of Dong Nai to take back land for the expressway to pave the way for the investor to prepare for the next steps.

Earlier, the Government approved Bitexco Group to contribute 60% of the total funding for the expressway project and the second investor to cover the remainder.

In 2013 and 2014, the Ministry of Transport organized roadshows and seminars in Vietnam, India, South Korea and Singapore to promote the expressway in order to look for the second investor. Around 100 potential investors expressed interest in the project but none of them got involved due to the lack of revenue guarantees for the project.

Bitexco withdrew from the expressway project as well. Therefore, the ministry decided to divide the expressway into two sections. However, the ministry has yet to find the investor for the second section.

Dau Giay-Phan Thiet expressway is envisaged stretching 101.28 kilometers.

Once completed, the expressway will shorten travel time between HCMC and provinces in the south-central region, cut traffic on the National Highway 1A sections in Dong Nai and Binh Thuan provinces, and boost the development of tourist areas and industrial parks along the road.

120,000 units of blood from donors expected in April

Vietnam expects to have 200,000 voluntary blood donors for a minimum of 120,000 units of blood during April.

Cities and provinces nationwide have scheduled a host of activities in response to “National Blood Donation Day” (April 7) to raise public awareness of the necessity of non-remunerated blood donation and to encourage people to give blood to save lives.

The localities will organise communication campaigns on local media to provide people with basic information on blood and the benefits of blood donations. They will also make it clear that donating blood is a safe procedure that is not harmful to people’s health.

A network of social clubs for blood donors and those with rare blood types, including Club 25 - a youth blood doners group, as well as blood banks, will be encouraged and expanded at local level, while individuals who make regular blood donations will be honoured.

The country targets to collect at least 10 percent of blood needed this year during April.

Cienco 5 project still unfinished

A project approved by the then Prime Minister 16 years ago hasn’t been finished and continues to waste the State’s money.

Bình Triệu 2 Project has been conducted under the build-operate-transfer format, but its investors and investment funds keep changing.

The project’s investor was Civil Engineering Construction Corporation No 5 (Cienco 5).

Phase one of the project was building the Bình Triệu 2 Bridge and the second is upgrading 10.6km of roads. The 4.5km Highway 13 in the southern province of Bình Dương is in the most need of repairs. It’s an important gateway connecting HCM City to Central Highlands provinces and the southern economic zone.

Total investment for the project was VNĐ341 billion (US$15.2 million).

Construction on the project started in February 2001 and was expected to finish in a year and a half.

But after three years, just the bridge had been completed.

Cienco 5 representatives said the cost of the project had increased to more than VNĐ1.2 trillion (US$53.3 million), because the fund for compensation had increased. The company could not continue to conduct the project, as it was too expensive, so it handed it over to HCM City authorities.

The HCM City People’s Committee in July 2004 asked the Prime Minister to let the HCM City Department of Transport become the project’s investor. The project would be implemented under the municipal budget.

The committee proposed the total investment in the project would be VNĐ1.6 trillion (about US$75.2 million). Of this, VNĐ1.2 trillion ($57.1 million) would be required for compensation.

The project was scheduled to finish in 2006.

The Government in November 2004 agreed to transfer the project to the HCM City People’s Committee.

A year later the committee passed the project on from the municipal Department of Transport to the HCM City Infrastructure Investment Joint Stock Company (CII).

Instead of finishing the project in 2006 as the city had planned, the CII started its work in 2007, dividing the project into seven sub-projects.

From September 2009 to August 2010 the CII implemented only sub-project No 3, which was upgrading Bình Triệu 1 Bridge. None of the other projects made any headway.

Dương Quang Châu, CII investment director, told Lao động (Labour) newspaper that the biggest difficulty was that the project’s total investment increased too much, whereas the city’s budget was limited.

From July 2007 until now, the project’s costs have continued to rise. Now it requires VNĐ5.5 trillion (about $244.4 million), 15 times more than first allotted.

As a result, Highway 13’s upgrades under sub-project No 1 haven’t been completed. The 4.5km highway, which is HCM City’s north-to-east gateway, is untidy and always jammed with traffic.

HCM City’s tuồng theatre set to restage historical dramas

A popular historical play from the 1990s will be restaged by HCM City Tuồng Theatre this weekend at Sen Hồng Stage in District 1, as part of the theatre’s efforts to preserve tuồng (classical drama), a symbolic form of traditional art originating in central Việt Nam.

The work Chuyện Tình Bảy Núi (The Love Story of Bảy Núi) depicts the life of Vạn Hoa, a young woman from Bảy Núi District in An Giang Province, who leads her villagers to join the resistance war against the French colonialists.

The three-act play also highlights the culture and characters of southern people.

It features more than 20 veteran and young actors who have worked to renew their performance style to meet changes in a modern society.

To attract city audiences, the actors will mix the performance of cải lương (reformed theatre), a southern art form, into the central art form of tuồng, after using modern materials on stage.    

The theatre staged a free performance at Sen Hồng located in 23/9 Park on Sunday. Their show left a strong impression on local audiences.

Chuyện Tình Bảy Núi will be staged at 8pm every Friday and run until late April. Tickets are available at the Sen Hồng box office.

The theatre also plans to restage other famous historical plays, including Tiếng Hát Nàng Huyền Cơ (The Voice of Huyền Cơ) and Chất Ngọc Không Tan (Pure Pearl), which feature the life and career of national heroes.

The plays will be staged every Saturday and Sunday in April.

Ministry to overhaul international cooperation mechanism

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) will continue revamping its international cooperation activities in line with the Party’s and State’s policies and guidelines on international integration and the domestic reality, heard a conference in Hanoi on March 22.

MoNRE Deputy Minister Tran Hong Ha told the conference to review the ministry’s cooperation with development partners for 2011-2015 and chart orientations in 2016.

He said his ministry can take the initiative in seeking foreign aid through such mechanisms as official development assistance (ODA) and preferential loans, public-private partnership and foreign investment.

It will increase collaboration in the forms of partnership, information transfer and experience exchange, instead of playing the role of recipient only, he said.

According to the official, the MoNRE has expanded bilateral and multilateral activities, especially in climate change response, environment, water resources, hydrometeorology and land management, while seeking to diversify sources of financial aid.

Between 2011-2015, the ministry received about 162 million USD in ODA, which has helped the State’s investments in natural resources and environment amidst a limited domestic budget.

The financial assistance has also helped strengthen officials’ management capacity, expand affiliation with partners in this field, and elevate the role and position played by Vietnam, and the ministry in particular, regionally and globally.

Vietnam has partnered with a number of countries like Denmark and the Netherlands in climate change response and water resource management.

The ministry has also received support from Japan, New Zealand, France, Finland, Sweden and Australia, among others, to implement its strategic action programmes.

Clean water comes to disadvantaged children

The Vietnam Red Cross Society (VRC) and the US company Procter & Gamble (P&G) will bring clean water to children in disadvantaged localities.

The two sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on humanitarian collaboration in Hanoi on March 22, which includes the assistance to vulnerable groups via scholarships for poor students and supporting orphanages.

Chairwoman of the VRC Nguyen Thi Xuan Thu said the MoU demonstrated the bilateral efforts in improving local living standards.

She said she hopes the projects will be implemented soon, so as to create a premise for further cooperation between the VRC and other humanitarian organisations.

General Manager of P&G Vietnam Emre Olcer said supplying clean water for children is one of the group’s key social programmes in the world, which was initiated in 2004.

Over the past 11 years, the group has coordinated with 150 partners from 75 countries to supply over 9 billion litres of clean water to local people, which is expected to reach 15 billion litres by 2020.

The company has pledged to spare no effort to bring economic, education and healthcare opportunities to children in Vietnam, he said.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 663 million people around the world cannot access clean water. Every day, about 1,000 children lose their lives due to diseases related to dirty water.

In Vietnam, many locals in remote and flood prone areas often have limited access to clean water.

The P&G Company has been active in Vietnam for more than 20 years, and it has helped improve the lives of more than 200,000 unfortunate locals. The group has coordinated with UNICEF to present scholarships to poor students, build houses for needy farmers in the Mekong Delta and improve hygiene conditions at schools.

Central Highlands improve local health care service quality

The Central Highlands Steering Committee urges regional provinces to invest more in the healthcare network in a bid to improve the health care service quality at all levels.

The Committee also asked the localities to focus on preventive medicine services while accelerating the building of a regional general hospital.

The Committee also called on the Government and the National Assembly to allocate more capital to the region’s health sector in the mid-term public investment plan for 2016-2020.

The Central Highlands provinces now count 827 public health care facilities, with over 13,484 beds. They include 31 at provincial level, 76 at district level and 750 at communal level, according to the Committee.

82.4 percent of communal clinics in the region have at least a doctor, with the rate reaching 100 percent in Dak Lak province. On average, there are seven doctors for every 10,000 people.

Hundreds of midwives have been trained to work across the disadvantaged areas, particularly among ethnic minority groups and border areas.

The regional public health care network served over 10 million people, up from 8.8 million in 2012.

Hi-tech agricultural enterprises given loans

As many as 28 enterprises nation-wide have been selected to participate in 31 agricultural projects that apply a hi-tech models with low interest loans, the State Bank of Việt Nam has said.

The amount of money allocated to help these enterprises to develop their models was nearly VNĐ7 trillion (US$339 million), it said.

The programme was carried out under the Government’s Resolution No.14, which would as a trial provide loans to enterprises who had agricultural models that ran from production through processing to consumption, and applied high-tech methods to increase production.

The lending rates would be about 1 to 1.5 per cent lower than the normal annual rates. The interest rate would be 6.5 per cent for short-term loans, 9.5 per cent for medium-term loans and 10 per cent for long-term loans.

Enterprises would be eligible for loans of up to 90 per cent of their agricultural production project costs. In cases where they failed to demonstrate enough asset security as required, they could still get a loan based on the bank’s control of cash flow.

If the time for implementing the project was between 12 and 18 months, and each stage of production, processing, and consumption was estimated to be less than 12 months, enterprises would be eligible for the loan at this low interest rate if they committed to pay off part of the debt after every stage.

A representative of the State Bank of Việt Nam said that the bank, together with the ministries of agriculture and rural development, and science and technology, had chosen 28 enterprises in 22 cities and provinces to join the programme.

As many as eight banks have committed to give financial support to enterprises totaling more than VNĐ5.6 trillion (US$263 million). The two-year trial of the programme will be completed this May.

Explaining the disbursed amount of money of  VNĐ7 trillion (US$339 million), an increase of VNĐ1.4 trillion (US$62.7 million) compared to the initial amount committed to enterprises, the representative said that some enterprises had asked to expand their production during the implementation of the programme.

Hospital uses new surgical technique

Doctors at Chợ Rẫy Hospital’s cardiac surgery ward have begun using a less invasive surgical technique to treat patients with aortic disease.

The procedure avoids open-chest surgery, said Dr Nguyễn Thái An, head of the ward.

Smaller incisions are made during the procedure, resulting in less bleeding, fewer post-surgery infections and complications, and less pain.

Noticeable cosmetic improvements were also among the procedure’s benefits, An said. The faster recovery time helped patients save on treatment costs.

Three months ago, doctors began using the surgical technique on certain patients. This comes as Việt Nam sees an increase in the number of patients with heart problems.

Fifteen patients with valve problems have undergone the surgery, An said, adding that patients with congenital heart disease could also benefit from it.

New programme to highlight risks of methanol poisoning

The Institute for Preventive Medicine and Public Health (IPMPH) and Methanol Institute (MI) today launched a programme to protect people from improperly brewed, homemade alcohol and methanol-laced alcoholic drinks.

Under the framework of the five-year programme, MI and the Medical University’s IPMPH, in partnership with Bạch Mai Hospital’s Poison Control Centre and LIAM Charitable Fund, will develop a five-year Việt Nam Methanol Education Programme (VMEP) from 2016 to 2020.

“We believe the programme will provide critical training and education to our communities and to the medical teams that work tirelessly to provide them with the best healthcare services,” the Hà Nội Medical University Rector Nguyễn Đức Hinh said.

The VMEP will encompass training of medical personnel and public healthcare workers in community, regional and municipal hospitals. The programme will also provide educational outreach to the Vietnamese public, including at-risk communities.

These programmes will also highlight the serious risks of methanol poisoning associated with traditional and homemade alcohol production.

MI and IPMPH are currently conducting an extensive study in Phú Thọ Province. This will provide greater clarity on the causes of methanol poisoning due to the consumption of improperly brewed, homemade alcohol in the province. The two organisations will then develop a pilot VMEP model in Phú Thọ this year, with the aim of expanding the model to other provinces and cities nationwide.

“Based on the success of this programme in Indonesia with LIAM, MI has a solid foundation on which we can build a successful programme in Việt Nam – one that we are confident will save many lives in the years to come,” Chairman of MI’s Product Stewardship Committee John Livorness said.

The health ministry said Việt Nam consumed about 3.4 billion litres of beer and 600 million litres of liquor yearly, worth US$3 billion or three per cent of the country’s GDP. The country reports 26 deaths and tens of injuries daily, of which 60 per cent are caused by improperly brewed, homemade alcohol and methanol-laced alcoholic beverages.

Water education programme expands to southern schools

"Mizuiku - I love clean water," an education programme to promote children’s awareness of water conservation, was launched today in HCM City.

The programme will benefit some 2,400 elementary students from 10 elementary schools in Bắc Ninh, Hà Nội and HCM City with new initiatives, such as the water conservation and protection festival and outdoor activities for students.

The programme is being jointly organised by the districts’ education and training divisions and the Suntory Group and Suntory PepsiCo Việt Nam Beverage as an initiative to celebrate World Water Day on March 22.

As a unique hands-on education programme, Mizuiku combines both classes and practical activities as well as a variety of outdoor activities to educate children on the role of water, raising their awareness of the importance of water resources and water hygiene in their daily lives. The project also sponsors the installation of water facilities or renovation of rest rooms at participating schools.

In 2015, the pilot programme was successfully rolled out at six elementary schools in Hà Nội’s districts of Mỹ Đức and Thanh Oai, with the participation of some 1,600 pupils.

In Japanese, Mizu means “water” and iku means “education.” Mizuiku is a natural water education programme that has been successfully deployed in the home regions of Mineral Water Suntory Tennensui since 2004. After 10 years of operation, the number of participants in Japan has reached over 100,000 children and parents.

Marine police catch transnational oil smugglers

The marine police have caught six vessels for smuggling 700,000 litres of diesel in the sea bordering Việt Nam and Malaysia, the government’s online newspaper said.

The three Thai and three Việtnamese vessels were carrying 42 people, comprising 16 people from Cambodia, nine from Thailand and 16 from Việt Nam.

This is the largest oil smuggling case to be discovered by the marine police of Việt Nam, in terms of the number of vessels and people involved.

The case is under further investigation.

Photographs of Hà Nội, Huế at night set to be exhibited

A collection of 30 photographs of Hà Nội and Huế at night will go on display in the capital from April 14 to 23 and the central city from April 29 to May 4.

Conceived, executed and produced by Sebastien Laval, a France-based photographer with ties in Việt Nam that date back to the early 1990s, Hanoi 18h/6h Hue 18h/6h evokes haunting perspectives of otherwise ordinary settings – quiet alleys, lonely railways and fluorescent-lit shops.

The photos in the exhibition – to be held at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi and MGallery La Residence Hue Hotel & Spa – were taken on a digital camera without artificial light between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

They will hang in the Metropole’s garden and the lobby at La Residence.

They will later be exhibited at the Art Vietnam Gallery in Hà Nội.

Mass fish death worries Bình Thuận

More than 7,000 cobia fish, kept in floating cages in Vĩnh Tân Commune in the central Bình Thuận Province’s Tuy Phong District, had died as of March 21.

The mass death has been occurring since March 12, when more than 4,000 fish died.

Most of the fish, weighing about 0.8kg to 1.1kg, had been bred a month ago. The mass death has caused losses worth billions of dong to the local people.

Lộc, a fish farmer, said his family’s 2,000 cobia fish had died, causing him a loss of VNĐ300 million (US$13,300).

It is the fourth time mass fish death has been reported in Vĩnh Tân Commune. The first such instance occurred in September last year, while the second and third instances occurred in October last year and January this year, respectively.

The fish farmers blame the Vĩnh Tân Thermoelectric Plant for polluting the water with wastewater, because the mass death of fish has occurred near the plant. But the local authorities have not reached any specific conclusion as to the cause.

Ha Giang to host Mong ethnic cultural festival in October

The second Mong (H'mong) Ethnic Culture Festival will take place in Dong Van district, in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang next October, highlighting the traditional ethnic culture of Mong people across the nation.

The event will be held by the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism in collaboration with 17 localities with Mong ethnic communities.

With the theme, ‘Preserving and promoting cultural identity of Mong people’, the festival features a range of cultural activities, including a pan-pipe festival, a display of Mong traditional costumes, Mong folk song performances, and Mong ethnic cuisine.

Traditional cultural rituals will also be enacted during the festival, in addition to introduction of distinctive Mong handicrafts and traditional folk games.

At the opening of the festival, the organisers will announce the decision to recognise several heritages of Mong communities as national cultural intangible heritages.

The event will honour the rich culture of the ethnic group, in order to preserve and promote their cultural identity in Vietnam’s unified and diverse culture with 54 ethnic groups.

It also offers a good chance for localities with Mong ethnic communities to discuss raising awareness for all in developing Vietnamese culture imbued with national identity.

As planned, the festival will be held along with the second ‘Tam giac mach’ (Buckwheat Flower) Festival in early October. The flowers are the most popular of the krast plateau area of Ha Giang, which start blossoming at the end of autumn and last 15-20 days, covering the mountain sides in pinkish white carpets of buckwheat.

Two Vietnamese hold photo exhibitions in Bhutan

Two Vietnamese photographers Nguyen Thanh Hai and Nguyen Thanh Tung exhibited their Bhutan- theme works on March 20-21 in Thimphu, Bhutan, Tuoi Tre reports.

The duo held an exhibition called “My Bhutan” in November 2015 in Vietnam.

There are 30 works printed on canvas, 68cm x 100cm, including a picture of monasteries in morning dew, poetic villages in valleys or mountainside house roofs in Bhutan.

“We’d love to introduce Bhutan-theme photographs taken from the Vietnamese perspective to people in Bhutan. This is also a good chance for artists in the two countries to exchange with each other,” Hai added.

The event also features three works by Bhutan’s photographer Sonam Wangchen.

HCM City pollution data of low reliability

Environmental pollution data in HCMC has a low level of reliability due to rudimentary observation methods and a lack of monitoring stations.

Environment experts said at a meeting between the HCMC People’s Council and experts last week that environmental pollution in the city has not been warned in a timely manner partly due to the poor pollution monitoring system.

Phung Chi Sy, deputy director of the Institute of Tropical Technology and Environmental Protection said the environment must be monitored regularly and continuously to issue timely warnings. According to experts, semi-automatic and haphazard monitoring could not reflect the actual environmental pollution situation.

Since 2012 the city has not invested in a good environmental monitoring system. Therefore, the city has not been able to collect comprehensive data, making it difficult to accurately assess water and air pollution.

Nguyen Van Phuoc, director of the Institute of Environment and Resources under the Vietnam National University in HCMC, said environment monitors in the city in recent years have focused on observation, and they have rarely issued pollution warnings or alerts. Experts suggested the city process environmental data to make predictions and issue warnings if necessary.

Nguyen Thi Quyet Tam, chairwoman of the HCMC People’s Council, said the city has 12 automatic environment monitoring stations nine out of service. She asked the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to get those observation stations fixed and construct new stations.

The department has recently proposed the city government approve construction of 27 automatic and 227 semi-automatic monitoring stations to collect data about surface water, groundwater and air pollution. Construction work is expected to begin this year and be complete in 2020 with a cost of about VND495 billion (US$22.26 million). In 2000 the city was funded by foreign organizations to build nine automatic environment monitoring stations but by 2012 those stations had deteriorated.



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