VIETNAM NEWS JANUARY 7

Stricter COVID-19 prevention in cultural, sports, and tourism sector requested

VIETNAM NEWS JANUARY 7

Stricter COVID-19 prevention in cultural, sports, and tourism sector requested - Illustrative image (Photo: VNA)

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has issued Document No 5050 / BVHTTDL-VHCS, requesting that People’s Committees of provinces and centrally-run cities strictly implement COVID-19 preventive measures in culture, sport, and tourism activities.

COVID-19 prevention work in these fields must be strictly conducted in line with guiding documents and instructions from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Tour operators, accommodation establishments, tourism service providers, cultural, physical training, and sports establishments, and museums, tourism destination management boards, and organisation committees of festivals are required to apply COVID-19 prevention regulations and measures in accordance with the guidance documents from the two ministries.

Accommodation establishments must register and declare daily any relevant information in line with instructions in Document No 4159 / BVHTTDL-TCDL dated November 9, 2020 from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Plans will be outlined to ensure the safety and security of tourists and people participating in cultural and sports activities and visitors to museums, cultural heritage sites, and festivals.

COVID-19 prevention instructions will be also popularised on posters and leaflets and via loudspeakers at tourism sites, museums, cultural and historical relic sites, cultural and sports establishments, and festival venues.

In the event of a new pandemic outbreak or the risk of community infection, the organisation of festivals will be suspended or adjusted in terms of scale, time, and form to ensure disease prevention regulations are met.

People are requested to wear a face mask when participating in tourism, cultural, and sports activities in public places, visiting museums, historical relics, landscapes, and festivals.

The inspection and examination of the implementation of COVID-19 pandemic prevention measures will be strengthened, while violations will be severely punished./.

Vietnam, US foreign ministers agree to boost ties

The foreign ministers of Vietnam and the US have pledged to enhance cooperation between the two countries on the basis of respecting independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and political regime of each other.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reached the agreement during their phone talks on January 6.

Both sides spoke highly of the close cooperation between the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry and US Department of State over the past years, contributing to promoting the bilateral comprehensive partnership in a practical manner in various areas. They welcomed the flexible organisation of joint celebrations for the 25th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the occasion, the two sides discussed the US Trade Representative’s ongoing investigation on Vietnam’s monetary policy and wood materials under Section 301 of the US’s Trade Act 1974.

Minh affirmed that the Vietnamese ministries and agencies will continue actively working with the US partners to deal with issues of US and Vietnam’s concern, thereby maintaining a stable trade towards a harmonious, sustainable and mutually beneficial trade balance.

Pompeo, for his part, affirmed that the US attaches importance to and pledges to maintain a stable relationship with Vietnam. The US supports a strong, independent and prosperous Vietnam with an increasingly important role in the region, he said./.

Generations of legislators meet to mark 75 years of first NA election

VIETNAM NEWS JANUARY 7

The National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee on January 6 hosted a gathering of current and former legislators on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Vietnam’s first NA election (January 6, 1946).

Attending the event were Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and other leaders.

Seventy five years ago, Vietnamese people from all walks of life across the country casted their votes in an election to select deputies to Vietnam’s first-ever NA, marking a milestone in the country’s history and its democracy building process.

In her remarks at the event, NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan recalled the NA’s 75-year journey, saying following the footsteps of the 13 previous legislatures, the 14th NA has made achievements in various areas, from lawmaking, supervision and making decisions on major issues to parliamentary diplomacy.

She said such significant achievements and the NA’s 75-year glorious history would lay firm and important foundations for the 15th legislature and the next ones to better function, practice their rights and fulfill missions in line with the Constitution and laws.

She highlighted the power of unity and people-centred approaches and the importance of the Communist Party of Vietnam's comprehensive leadership and innovation to turn challenges into opportunities.

She called on the NA to further promote reforms and innovation so as to improve its effectiveness and contribute to the accomplishment of goals set in the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress and the successful organisation of the election of deputies to the 15th legislature and all-level People’s Councils for the 2021-2026 tenure.

She later extended the best wishes to Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong, former leaders and NA deputies on the occasion of the New Year 2021 and Vietnam’s traditional Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday./.

74 people detained for illegally entering from China

As many as 74 people have been detained while trying to illegally enter several Vietnamese northern border provinces from China. 

10 Vietnamese citizens are detained for illegally crossing the border in Lang Son Province on January 5.

On January 5, border guards in Lang Son Province found 10 Vietnamese citizens crossing the border in Cao Loc District's Bao Lam Commune.

According to the border officers, they were from different provinces who earlier illegally went to China to work and now wanted to return home for the Tet Holiday.

On January 3 and 4, 33 other people were also detained.

The Border Guard Command of Lai Chau Province announced on January 5 that they detained 31 Vietnamese people illegally crossing the border from China in Phong Tho District the same day.

They are also illegal workers in China who were attempting to return to Vietnam for Tet.

According to provincial authoritie, the number of illegal crossings from China have increased recently as Tet nears and people want to return home without being quarantined. Meanwhile, local border guards have been asked to intensify monitoring and these people will all be sent to local quarantine areas for Covid-19 prevention. 

Sub-committee considers number, structure of deputies of 15th legislature

A proposal on the number and structure of deputies of the 15th National Assembly (NA) was tabled for discussion at the first session of the National Election Committee (NEC)’s sub-committee for personnel work on January 6.

Under the chair of the Standing NA Vice Chairwoman Tong Thi Phong, who is also standing vice chairwoman of the NEC and head of the sub-committee, the session also considered proposals on the issuance of a resolution giving guidance on relevant documents to be used in the upcoming election of deputies to the 15th NA and all-level People’s Councils in the 2021-2026 term.

National Assembly Chairwoman and head of the NEC Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan attended the meeting.

Addressing the meeting, Phong said that the sub-committee will work continuously and regularly to assist the NEC in organising the general election, which is slated for May 23, 2021.

She asked sub-committee’s members to coordinate closely with relevant agencies to select and introduce candidates meeting requirements on the number and quality of candidates as well as the suitable ratios in terms of occupation, gender, ethnic, and social classes.

The sub-committee will submit a report on the discussions to the NA Standing Committee at the committee’s next meeting./.

Top priority given to preparations for 13th National Party Congress: Official

The organising sub-committee of the 13th National Party Congress convened its sixth meeting in Hanoi on January 6 under the chair of Politburo member and Permanent member of the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat Tran Quoc Vuong.

Participants listened to a report on the preparations for the 13th National Party Congress, scheduled to take place in Hanoi from January 25 to February 2, as well as key tasks from now until that time.

Vuong, who is also head of the organising sub-committee, highly valued the proactiveness, efforts, and high sense of responsibility of related agencies and units in preparing for the national event.

He requested their leaders and the sub-committee’s members to review the jobs that must be completed between now and the time the congress is held.

They need to give the top priority to ensuring that the preparations for the congress will be carried out on schedule, thereby contributing to the success of the event, the official said, asking them to further bring into play their proactiveness, enhance coordination with each other, and conduct frequent examination./.

Gov’t presses on with thrift practice, wastefulness combat

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has signed a decision promulgating the Government’s master plan on thrift practice and wastefulness combat.

The decision described the master plan as important to creating resources to help address consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, and climate change, recover and develop the economy, and realise socio-economic targets for 2021.

The master plan underlines the task of tightening financial and budgetary discipline; expanding the tax base; enhancing management over tax collection; drastically carrying out solutions to tax losses, transfer pricing, and tax arrears; and strictly controlling the State budget overspending.

It points out the need to continue restructuring the State budget spending towards effectiveness and sustainability, ensure a reasonable balance between saving and spending, increase spending on development investment, reducing the sum for frequent expenditure, and ensure adequate expenditure on human development, social security, defence, and security purposes.

The master plan requests strict compliance with the principle of budget transparency, thorough thrift practice and wastefulness prevention right from the stage of setting up tasks, proactive review of policies and tasks to remove overlapping or inefficient ones, and arrangement of items of expenditure according to their level of priority and feasibility in 2021.

This programme emphasises serious review of the plans using ODA capital and concessional loans provided by foreign sponsors, removal of unnecessary or poor-performing projects, arrangement of foreign-sourced public funds for the projects carried out on schedule, and no provision of funding from foreign loans for frequent expenditure.

It also urges accelerated disbursement and effective use of public investment capital, which must be viewed as an important political task for stimulating production, business, and consumption, creating jobs, and guaranteeing social security.

Wage policy and social insurance reforms, apparatus re-organisation, and staff streamlining are also among solutions to practice thrift and prevent wastefulness under the master plan.

Regarding public asset management and use, it highlights the need to review and re-organise public assets, especially housing and land, to ensure that they are used for right purposes and in line with regulations, resolutely revoke assets used in wrong ways, and handle assets in accordance with law. It also orders serious adherence to legal regulations on the sale and transfer of public assets, as well as stringent settlement of violations./.

Long Thanh Airport to improve links in southern region

Construction of the Long Thanh International Airport got underway on January 5, which is expected to improve the transport network in the southern region and boost socio-economic development.
 
As Dong Nai is located at the core of the Southern Key Economic Zone, all main roads leading to the province are constantly congested, especially National Highways No 1A and 51 and routes linking Bien Hoa city with Ho Chi Minh City and Binh Duong province.

In order to ease the traffic congestion, the Government has invested heavily in transport projects in the Southern Key Economic Zone. The most notable include Long Thanh International Airport and the Ben Luc - Long Thanh and Dau Giay - Phan Thiet expressways, which are expected to bolster trans-regional transport links.

The Resolution from the Party Congress of Dong Nai province (2020-2025 tenure) as well as that of other cities and provinces in the Southern Key Economic Zone identify making breakthroughs in improving local transport networks a prime focus.

With the determination of the Government as well as central and local authorities, transport bottlenecks in the Southern Key Economic Zone are expected to be removed, facilitating sustainable growth in the region./.

Traffic Safety Year 2021 launched

The National Committee for Traffic Safety in collaboration with the Hanoi People’s Committee organised a ceremony in Hanoi on January 5 to launch the Year of Traffic Safety 2021 and kicked off a campaign on traffic order and safety during the upcoming Tet holiday season (Lunar New Year).

Addressing the ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the committee Truong Hoa Binh requested the National Traffic Safety Committee, ministries, branches and localities take drastic measures to ensure traffic safety this year, with the theme "Improving the efficiency of law enforcement in ensuring traffic order and safety". 

From the first days of 2021, all levels from central to local authorities need to implement nine groups of key tasks on traffic safety contained in the approved plan and strive to lower the number of traffic accidents and the number of traffic-related deaths and injuries by 5-10% compared to 2020. He asked them to try to reduce traffic jams in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other big cities nationwide. 

In order to ensure the safety of people during Tet holiday, the Deputy Prime Minister requested ministries, branches and local authorities fulfill both of these vital tasks - ensuring traffic order and safety and preventing the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Deputy Prime Minister emphasized that the relevant departments should strictly handle violations of traffic order and safety without exception. He suggested media outlets support the traffic police, explaining to citizens about police efforts to prevent traffic accidents which often lead to injury or death. 

The relevant units have to prepare an effective response plan to prevent COVID-19 infection from occuring at traffic hubs and on public transport. Meanwhile, leaders of each agency or unit should be held accountable if COVID-19 infection occurs in their areas of jurisdiction. 

According to statistics from the Ministry of Public Security, the number of traffic accidents decreased by 42.71%, the number of deaths fell by 19.01% and injuries by 53.91% in the period from 2016 to 2020. 

2020 saw the biggest reduction in traffic accidents in the past 10 years at nearly 18%. Last year, the number of injuries dropped by nearly 20% and the number of deaths fell by over 12%; and for the first time ever, the number of traffic-related deaths decreased to less than 7,000 people per year.

“Spring for Children” programme to be broadcast live this month

VIETNAM NEWS JANUARY 7
Mountainous Vietnamese children

The 14th “Spring for Children” programme, which aims to raise funds for needy children and honour outstanding donors, will be broadcast live on January 10, revealed the organising board during a press conference on January 4.

The event will take place at the Hanoi Opera House and be shown on the Vietnam Television’s VTV2 channel.

According to Hoang Van Tien, Director of the National Fund for Vietnamese Children, the event is expected to receive about 100 billion VND (4.3 million USD) from philanthropists.

The programme, during its 13 past editions, raised 1.2 trillion VND (52 million USD) to support close to 1 million children via scholarships, clean water projects, free operations, and relief aid, among others.

The 14th edition will be in form of a story which covers reports on children with heart diseases, those facing difficulties after severe floods hit the central region, and the fund’s assistance for needy kids.

On the occasion, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs will present certificates of merit to individuals and units with excellent contributions to protecting and caring for children in 2020. The fund, meanwhile, will introduce its new projects for 2021.

Speaking at the conference, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affair Nguyen Thi Ha said thanks to businesses and philanthropists, the fund still mobilised various sources of funding to assist disadvantaged children amid difficulties caused by COVID-19 and natural disasters last year.

The fund, in its 28 years of operation, has so far raised nearly 7.2 trillion VND to help more than 33 million children nationwide./.

Thu Duc City needs more special mechanism, jurisdiction for development
 
Thu Duc City, the new satellite city of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) should have specific administrative regulations and proper jurisdiction in order to become the leader in promoting the economic growth of not only HCMC but the neighboring regions as well, said Dr. Cao Vu Minh from HCMC University of Law when sharing his viewpoint about the administrative power Thu Duc City should have.

The original goal to establish Thu Duc City (merging from Districts 2, 9, and Thu Duc) as a satellite city of HCMC is to become a center for the knowledge economy and innovation, boosting the general economic development of HCMC and the Southern key economic region.

With the natural surface area of over 210km2 and a population of more than 1 million, Thu Duc City has a scale of a small province in Vietnam. It is, therefore, not exaggerate nor illogical to say that the city should have a provincial jurisdiction.

However, since Thu Duc City is a class-1 city under HCMC (a municipality), it is only equivalent to a district of a province, which might limit its potential growth to a large extent.

Until present, HCMC has been approved to be autonomous in certain fields according to Decree No.93/2001, and has applied a specific mechanism as stated in Resolution No.54. Therefore, Thu Duc City should enjoy its own specific jurisdiction in order to better implement HCMC’s specific mechanism.

The new administrative unit of Thu Duc District should be more active and innovative to fulfill the assigned establishment goals.

Since a merger of small administrative units into a larger one means a jurisdiction upgrade, it is clearly insensible for such a city with over 1 million residents and a surface area of more than 210km2 to merely have the same jurisdiction as District 4 (with only 200,000 residents on an area of 4.2km2.

Undoubtedly, it is the central Government who will make this decision. Yet it is suggested that this decision be carefully considered so that Thu Duc City can effectively prove its innovation and attract more investments while minimizing possible barriers to development.

The new jurisdiction should allow Thu Duc City to implement special policies, preferential methods and to simplify business forming procedures in order to create a friendlier environment for startup activities and the innovative economy. This will in turn make the city the startup center of the whole country.

Proper policies for financial promotion and tax exemption (value added, income, property) should also be considered to boost the growth of hi-tech parks, scientific parks, and automatic manufacturing centers. The liberation of investment flows and profits should be encouraged to attract more financial activities in Thu Thiem New Urban Area.

Customs-related procedures should be simplified to better exploit the strengths of Cat Lai Port. The use of traffic facilities, infrastructure and land should be boosted to build an innovative key center inside Thu Duc City.

Without any doubt, if being appropriately empowered, this new city is able to exploit its comprehensive advantages to the fullest to boost the economic growth of even the whole southern region, let alone HCMC.

In the ceremony to formally announce Resolution No.1111 by the Standing Committee of the National Assembly about the arrangement of administrative units and the establishment of Thu Duc City on December 31, 2020, Vice President of the National Assembly Uong Chu Luu affirmed that this is the first time in Vietnam a model of ‘city inside a municipality’ is introduced, so HCMC should propose a corresponding specific mechanism for this city to the Government for approval.

Chairman of HCMC People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong also informed that after May 23, 2021 (election day for deputies of the National Assembly in the period from 2021-2026), HCMC will continue to perfect state units in Thu Duc City and prepare a detailed proposal for such a specific mechanism.

Sa Pa resort welcomes 65,000 visitors during New Year holiday


The resort town of Sa Pa in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai received approximately 65,000 arrivals over three days during the New Year holiday.This is equivalent to 95 percent of the last year’s figure, but is a good signal for recovery of the local tourism sector.
 
The occupancy rate at local hotels and guest houses was at 100 percent during the first days of the year.

To attract more tourists to Sapa, the resort town has worked with relevant companies to organise events promoting local tourism in numerous localities.

Located 350km northwest of Hanoi capital city, Sa Pa is 1,600m high above sea level, with the average temperature of 15-18°C. The whole town is dominated by the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, which is famous with Indochina’s highest mountain of Fansipan at a height of 3,142m above sea level.

Discovered in 1903 by the French, Sa Pa has many natural scenic sites such as Ham Rong Mountain, Thac Bac (Silver Waterfall), Cau May (Rattan Bridge), Bamboo Forest and Ta Phin Cave.

Sapa targets to welcome 3 million visitors this year./.

Financial aid for disaster-caused housing damage in central Vietnam

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has decided to allocate 89.11 billion VND (3.86 million USD) sourced from the central budget reserves for five central provinces hit hard by natural disasters in October to help address housing damage.

The beneficiaries consist of Nghe An (1.26 billion VND), Ha Tinh (8.43 billion VND), Quang Binh (4.89 billion VND), Quang Nam (69.81 billion VND), and Binh Dinh (4.72 billion VND).

The support is provided under the Government’s Resolution No. 165/NQ-CP, issued on November 5 last year, on financial aid for some central and Central Highlands localities to settle housing damage caused by natural disasters in October.

In the decision, the PM assigned the People’s Committees of these provinces to base on the resolution to use funding from the central budget, their local budgets, and other legal financial sources in line with regulations.

They were also requested to ensure the support is used in a timely, effective, and transparent manner and benefits the targeted groups while preventing wrongdoings and strictly handling violations.

Back-to-back storms and prolonged flooding took devastating toll on the central and Central Highlands regions in October.

Natural disasters had claimed 280 lives and caused total losses of approximately 29.9 trillion VND in Vietnam from the beginning of 2020 to mid-November, according to a report by the National Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control.

They had also injured 856 people and left 66 missing. Torrential rain, floods, and landslides had destroyed 3,420 houses, damaged over 327,700, and submerged nearly 509,800, affecting the livelihoods of millions of people./.

Hanoi’s students to enjoy nine days off for Tet

VIETNAM NEWS JANUARY 7

Students in the capital city of Hanoi will have nine days off from February 8 to 16 to celebrate the 2021 Lunar New Year holiday (Tet) – the biggest traditional festival of Vietnamese people.

That means their holiday is two days longer than the standard period approved by the Prime Minister, which spans from February 10-16, or from the 29th day of the 12th lunar month of the Year of the Rat to the fifth day of the Year of the Ox.

Under an official dispatch from the Hanoi People’s Committee, the municipal Department of Education and Training has sent documents to its units at district- and town-level on the local students’ holiday leave.

The students consist of those at kindergartens, primary, secondary and high schools, and centres for vocational training and continuing education./.

Binh Phuoc exhibition promotes southeast region’s culture, tourism, food

An exhibition to promote the culture, tourism, and specialties of southeastern localities is taking place in Phuoc Long town in the southeastern province of Binh Phuoc from January 3 to 6.

The exhibition is being hosted by the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

According to Deputy Director of the department Nguyen Khac Vinh, the exhibition is the highlight of a series of events to celebrate the 46th anniversary of the liberation of Phuoc Long (January 6, 1975-2021) and the 24th year of the re-establishment of Binh Phuoc province (January 1, 1997-2021).

The exhibition features 20 booths from southeastern localities introducing the culture, tourist destinations, and typical dishes of the region.

It offers a chance for Binh Phuoc province in general and Phuoc Long town in particular to promote their potential for tourism development.

The holding of the exhibition is part of a plan to implement the tourism cooperation agreement of southeastern localities in the 2020-2025 period. The plan, signed last year, aims to stimulate tourism demand and strengthen cooperation between regional localities for sustainable tourism development./.

State to spend 518 billion VND on Tet gifts for revolution contributors

The Prime Minister has submitted a proposal to the State President on presenting gifts to people who made contributions to the revolution on the occasion of the upcoming Lunar New Year (Tet) with a total value of nearly 518 billion VND (over 22.4 million USD).

Beneficiaries will include those who engaged in revolutionary activities, and people who are honoured as Heroic Vietnamese Mother, Hero of the Armed Forces and Labour Hero in the resistance war period. 

War invalids losing at least 81 percent of working capability, along with resistance war veterans who were contaminated with chemical toxics and lost 81 percent or more of work capability, other contributors to the revolution, martyrs’ families, and those worshipping martyrs are also expected to benefit from this proposed plan under certain criteria.

Presenting Tet gifts to revolution contributors has become an annual tradition demonstrating the State and people’s gratitude to the ones who dedicated to the struggle for national independence and reunification./.

Thailand posts almost 400 traffic deaths in New Year holiday

Nearly 400 people died in road accidents across Thailand during the country’s seven-day New Year road safety campaign from December 29, 2020 to January 5, 2021.

A total of 392 people were killed and 3,326 others were injured in 3,333 accidents in the period, the Road Safety Directing Center reported on January 5.

Speeding was the major cause of accidents (33.6 percent), followed closely by drink-driving (33.1 percent).

The riskiest behaviours were not wearing helmets (59.3 percent) and drink-driving (25.1 percent).

Thailand's roads are the deadliest in Southeast Asia and among the worst in the world, according to the World Health Organisation. About 20,000 people die in road accidents each year, or about 56 deaths a day.

Meanwhile, as from January 2020 to date, the country posted just 65 deaths caused by COVID-19./.

 

Pre-Tet gifts sent to soldiers, people in Truong Sa

A large number of farm products have been presented to soldiers and people stationed in the island district of Truong Sa (Spratly) by members of the business association of the Central Highlands’ Lam Dong province in the hope of bringing them a happier Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday.

Including tea, coffee, confectionary, macadamia and cashew nuts, roselle juice, and pandan ginseng green tea produced in Lam Dong, the gifts were handed over to Brigade 146 of the Naval Zone 4 High Command, who will then send them to islanders and soldiers in Truong Sa and the DK1 offshore platform.

This is part of a programme toward Truong Sa island district initiated by the Lam Dong business association.

Senior Lieutenant Colonel Luong Xuan Giap, Secretary of Brigade 146’s Party Organisation, said the gesture is a great source of motivation for soldiers and people in Truong Sa to stay united and overcome the challenges to safeguard Vietnam’s sovereignty./.

More effort needed to renovate National Assembly's operations: Top legislator

National Assembly (NA) Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan underlined the need for more effort to renovate the NA’s operations while addressing a conference in Hanoi on January 5 to review the NA Office’s performance in 2020 and define tasks for 2021.

2020 witnessed vibrant, effective, and reformed operations at the NA, with the adoption of a large number of laws and resolutions as well as consideration of important policies.

Q&A sessions and supervision activities continued to be conducted effectively, creating positive changes in State management and society, the NA leader said.

She noted that the NA successfully organised the 10th and 11th sessions with fruitful outcomes, showing renovation in its organisation and discussion content, fully reflecting requests from voters and putting forward feasible solutions.

Last year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the NA held important external relations events in flexible and creative formats, including video conferences, during its AIPA Chairmanship Year 2020.

The NA leader clarified that 2021 will be a transitional year to a new tenure, so the NA Office will undertake important tasks with higher requirements and targets in the context that the country continues to face many difficulties and challenges.

Many major events will be held throughout the year, including the 13th National Party Congress slated for January 25, and the election of deputies to the NA and People’s Councils at all levels on May 23. The 15th legislature will also elect and approve high-ranking positions in the State apparatus and decide five-years plans for the period from 2021 to 2026.

She asked the NA Office to enhance the quality of its consultation and coordination to serve its operations, and strengthening the application of information technology to complete the building of e-parliament as well as e-office./. 

IT application bolstered in State audit activities

The State Audit of Vietnam (SAV) has bolstered the application of information technology (IT) in its activities, as 18 types of auditing software have come into use and remote audits are on the horizon, Auditor General Ho Duc Phoc said on January 5.

He made the statement during a SAV conference in Hanoi to launch tasks in 2021, attended by Vice Chairman of the National Assembly (NA) Phung Quoc Hien.

In his remarks, Hien spoke highly of the efforts of the SAV last year against a backdrop of COVID-19, calling on it to promptly implement the strategy for audit development to 2030 and the State Audit Law.

He also urged the auditing sector to promote the application of IT, raise the capacity of auditors, and closely work with relevant agencies and foreign partners.

The SAV is projected to conduct 181 audits this year while continuing with administrative reform and IT application to raise efficiency.

It will also further bolster international cooperation and integration to affirm its role and position in the region and the world, especially as Chair of the Asian Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI) for the 2018-2021 term.

In addition to major audit cases at home, it is also working with other countries in a cooperative environmental audit on water management in the Mekong River basin, Phoc added.

The SAV handled 174 cases last year and completed a report of audit results in 2019. It also suggested the NA and the Government amend, remove, or replace 198 documents out of tune with regulations or reality, in a bid to prevent losses and curb waste.

As of the end of 2020, SAV had proposed settlement of irregularities involving an estimated 60.03 trillion VND (about 2.6 billion USD) during the year and detected five violation cases that were transferred to competent agencies for legal action.

It also provided relevant agencies with 131 dossiers to serve inspection, investigation, and supervision work, as well as information for meetings of the Government, the NA, and agencies./.

Thailand, Philippines report hundreds of new COVID-19 cases

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage several Southeast Asian countries, with hundreds of new cases reported in a single day.

On January 5, Thailand confirmed 527 new infections, most of which were reported among Myanmar migrants living in the central province of Samut Sakhon.

Thailand has so far reported 8,966 confirmed cases of COVID-19, of whom 6,900 were local infections and 2,066 others reported in people in quarantine, the Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) spokesperson Taweesin Visanuyothin said.

Of the total, 4,397 patients have fully recovered and been discharged from hospitals while 4,504 others are currently being treated in hospitals. A total of 65 fatalities have been reported, he added.

The same day, the Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines reported 937 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the country's total tally to 479,693.

The DOH has reported less than 1,000 daily increase for three straight days since Sunday. However, the department reiterated that the lower figures were due in part to a decrease in test samples submitted to COVID-19 laboratories during the New Year holiday, adding that a rise in cases in the coming weeks is possible.

The toll rose to 9,321 after 58 more patients died from the pandemic on the day, the DOH said, adding that 114 more patients have recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 448,375.

Meanwhile, Cambodia’s provincial administrations along the Thai border are planning to seek intervention from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to postpone the re-opening of schools scheduled for January 11 as some have been converted to quarantine sites for migrant workers returning from Thailand.

Battambang deputy provincial governor Soeum Bunrith said that from December 28 to January 4, some 1,815 people returned from Thailand through the province’s international border checkpoints. They are currently in quarantine with some sites located at schools.

Banteay Meanchey deputy governor Ly Sary said that people were arriving to the province every day, and over 1,000 migrants had been quarantined so far.

According to Sary, if the circumstances of COVID-19 community transmission in Thailand cannot be brought under control, provinces bordering the neighbouring country must implement safety policies such as preventing large gatherings, while school re-openings could be postponed.

Education ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said plans to re-open schools and resume the 2020-2021 academic year on January 11 would proceed in accordance with safety measures.

The ministry will make a public announcement at an appropriate time, if anything changes, he said.

From late December 2020 to January 4, 6,465 Cambodian workers returned home from Thailand. Of the total, 17 returning Cambodians had tested positive for COVID-19./.

Food safety requested during Tet festival

VIETNAM NEWS JANUARY 7
Officers of HCM City's food safety management board inspect invoices of a store in a traditional market in District 4.


Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has requested the ministries of health, agriculture and rural development, industry and trade and People's Committees of provinces and cities work to ensure food safety during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday.

He also requested that they focus on directing the management and ensuring food safety to ensure all food for domestic consumption reaches the same standard as exported goods.

Traceability of basic food products on the market is also required, while prestigious products must have geographical indications and be protected in accordance with the law.

The ministries need to set up plans, roadmaps and measures to direct the application of food standards for domestic consumption and traceability.

The Ministry of Science and Technology was asked to work with ministries and People's Committees to develop a mechanism and support programmes to protect reputable and quality goods on domestic and international markets.

The Ministry of Health will work with the ministries of agriculture and rural development and industry and trade to put the food safety information system into operation.

In 2020, food safety inspections were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, violation cases were still detected and handled in many different forms, ensuring compliance with the law and promptly publicising the results to help people choose safe food.

In 2020, the Ministry of Health worked closely with other ministries to strengthen the management of advertising on food and food supplement. Establishments, organisations and individuals that publish advertising improperly were sanctioned.

The health sector inspected 406,278 establishments and discovered 58,317 violations of food safety and handled 10,077 establishments with total fines worth 48.6 billion VND. A total of 2,737 establishments were fined 19.1 billion VND by the agriculture sector.

By October 2020, the market management forces nationwide had inspected 12,240 cases and handled 7,158 cases of food safety violations with fines of 27.9 billion VND and seized goods worth more than 28.5 billion VND.

A total of 8,529 cases on food safety violations were detected by the environmental police and fines of 52.6 billion VND were levied.

Prosecutions were brought in seven cases of violating food safety regulations./.

Vietnam sets example of people’s trust in Government: Russian expert

Vietnam provides a typical example of people’s trust in the Government, said Prof. Dr. Vladimir Kolotov from the Ho Chi Minh Institute at the Saint Petersburg University, during a recent interview with Sputnik.

He believed that the success of the fight against corruption in Vietnam is guaranteed by the high confidence in the Government of society. This trust is also vividly shown through the fight against COVID-19.

“While most countries were forced to restrict economic activity, Vietnam continued to succeed,” he affirmed.

The Russian scholar pointed out that an increasing number of major foreign firms are channelling investment into Vietnam, adding that it offers opportunities for the country to quickly integrate into the global supply chain./.

Cho Ray Hospital meets Westgard Sigma testing standards again

Ho Chi Minh City-based Cho Ray Hospital received the Six Sigma certificate of the US Westgard Sigma Verification of Performance (VP) Programme for its testing system for the third time at a ceremony on January 5.

More than 75 laboratories around the world have been awarded this certification, for which errors in test results must be minimal, with less than four errors in a million occurrences.

Founded in 1900, the Cho Ray Hospital has 35 clinical, 11 subclinical and 8 functional departments.

It organises practice and postgraduate training for more than 2,500 medical students and 600 doctors each year.

The hospital has 1,200 beds, employs 2,270 health workers including 500 medical doctors and pharmacists, and provides treatment for about 457,000 outpatients and 67,000 inpatients per year.

Previously, the hospital also got the certificate in 2017 and 2019./.

COVID-19 prevention work in concentrated quarantine facilities tightened

The Health Department of Hanoi on January 5 coordinated with the Tourism Authority and the Capital Military Command to inspect and strengthen COVID-19 prevention and control measures at concentrated quarantine establishments after a returnee from the US was confirmed positive for the SARS-CoV-2 after being allowed to leave the quarantine facility.

According to the Hanoi Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the student entered Vietnam on December 21 through Noi Bai International Airport, and was quarantined at a facility in Hanoi. He tested negative for the coronavirus once while in quarantine there.

However, when the result of his second test was yet to be announced, he was allowed to leave the quarantine centre to return home in the northern coastal province of Quang Ninh on January 4 morning.

In the evening of the day, his test result came out positive. The student later was hospitalized in Quang Ninh.

Immediately after receiving the information, the capital city’s Health Department set up three delegations to inspect quarantine facilities.

Ho Chi Minh City’s Centre for Disease Control said that four people who had had contact with the patient at the quarantine facility in Hanoi tested negative for the SARS-CoV-2. They will continue to be quarantined for the next 14 days as regulated.

The Health Department of southern Dong Nai province on January 5 sent an urgent message to local hospitals and health clinics asking them to reassess disease prevention and control measures, and strictly conduct screening, quarantine and tests for all suspected cases./.

Quang Nam working to protect endangered animals

A number of valuable fauna species were recently spotted on Hon Do Mountain in Nui Thanh district, central Quang Nam province, head of the provincial Forest Protection Sub-department Tran Van Thu said on January 5.

Of particular note, some individuals were sightings of pygmy slow loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus), which is listed in the IB group of endangered and critically-endangered animals according to the Government.

The mountain is currently home to other rare animals such as the Asian palm civet and wild mouse deer (Tragulusversicolor).

The sub-department has joined hands with local authorities to devise a plan to protect the animals from poaching.

Quang Nam authorities are also trying to change at least 150 ha of production forest to special-use forest and grow native plants to ensure sustainable food supplies and living conditions for the endangered creatures.

In 2018, about 50 grey-shanked douc langurs, also in the IB group, were found on Hon Do Mountain.

A study conducted in October last year by GreenViet, a non-profit organisation focusing on biodiversity conservation in the central and Central Highlands regions, showed that natural forests on 30 ha in Nui Thanh district’s mountains are home to a total of 68 grey-shanked douc langurs in six families.

This is the sole visible population in the world, Thu noted./.

Seven more relics recognised as special national ones

VIETNAM NEWS JANUARY 7
Da Dia reef in Phu Yen province


Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has approved the recognition of seven special national relics, including the architectural relic of Ha Hiep communal house in Hanoi capital city’s Phuc Tho district.

The others include President Ho Chi Minh memorial complex in Thua Thien-Hue, Nguyen Xi tomb and temple in Nghe An, and Da Dia reef in Phu Yen in the central region; the Hiep Hoa Safety Zone II historic relic in Bac Giang and An Xa shrine in Hung Yen in the north.

The Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu’s Cai Chanh base was also named in the list.

The Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism and local authorities are asked to manage the relics in line with the Law on Cultural Heritage.

With the new seven special national sites, Vietnam now has about 120 relics and landscapes granted with the status./

Thailand extends state of emergency until February

A committee under the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on January 4 approved the extension of the Emergency Decree nationwide until the end of February.

The decree is currently in place until January 15. However, the CCSA committee proposed another extension for another period of 45 days since the country has documented an increasing number of COVID-19 infections after the latest wave hit the Samut Sakhon shrimp market last month.

The proposal will be put into account at the cabinet meeting on January 5.

As of January 4, Thailand documented total 8,439 COVID-19 infections, including 65 deaths. The country confirmed a new high of coronavirus infection at 745 cases on the day.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) halted table services from 19:00 to 6am from January 5. Meanwhile, schools in the city are closed in one month.

However, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha rejected the BMA’s decision, and announced that restaurants are allowed to provide services until 21:00, starting from January 5./. 

Traffic accidents and traffic jams remain problematic

Traffic accidents and traffic jams have remained problematic for society, affecting the economic, cultural, social development of Việt Nam, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the National Traffic Safety Committee Trương Hoà Bình has said.

Speaking at the launching ceremony of the Road Traffic Safety Year 2021 yesterday, Bình said 2020 was the year with the lowest number of traffic accidents in the past 10 years.

The number of traffic accidents had decreased by nearly 18 per cent compared to average, while the number of injured people had decreased by nearly 20 per cent.

For the first time, the number of deaths due to traffic accidents decreased to less than 7,000 people in the year which saw fewer people on the roads due to social distancing and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Notably, in the first three days of this year, traffic accidents decreased by nine cases and deaths by 16 compared to those of last year.

Bình said many political events would take place this year, including the 13th National Congress of the Party, the election of the 15th National Assembly and the People's Councils at all levels.

The committee has focused on improving the effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement to ensure traffic safety, targeting to decrease the number of traffic accidents and fatalities by between 5 and 10 per cent compared to last year and solving traffic congestion in big cities.

Bình has asked all levels and sectors to enhance the dissemination of traffic safety laws for people, strengthen supervisions and fight against wrongdoings of agencies in managing traffic safety and order, and applying high technology in organising and managing traffic.

Bình has required ministries and sectors and localities to prepare plans for the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, with safety the priority.

He also said the inspection and control of the market to effectively prevent smuggling, trade fraud must be implemented. 

New COVID-19 wave in Thailand drives over 100,000 out of work

More than 100,000 employees in Thailand have lost their jobs or been suspended from work as over 6,000 businesses in 28 red-zone provinces closed in the wake of the new COVID-19 outbreak.

Thai Minister of Labour Suchart Chomklin said that insured workers left unemployed due to the pandemic could begin applying for compensation payments from January 4.

The payment system has been improved to ensure employees receive compensation more quickly than the first outbreak early last year, he added.

Thai authorities and health workers are racing to curb the spread of a new wave of local infections. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has imposed a new set of restrictions on business activities and gatherings in Bangkok and 27 of its worst-affected provinces from January 4 to contain the outbreak.

The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) plans to reassess Thailand's economic outlook in 2021 as stronger state measures against the new outbreak have begun to affect employment in at-risk provinces.

A surge in daily infections since late last year, with a record of 745 new cases on January 4, illustrated that several business sectors, particularly restaurants, are suffering.

The situation prompted the JSCCIB to reconsider the impact of the pandemic on the economy, said Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

Last month, the JSCCIB said it expected a better economic outlook in 2021, with exports expanding by 3-5 percent, GDP growing by 2-4 percent and inflation to be kept at 0.8-1.2 percent.

As of January 4, Thailand had logged a total 8,439 COVID-19 infections, with a death toll of 65./.

Indonesia takes financial, medical measures as COVID-19 cases rise

Given the surging number of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia, local authorities have continued its cash aid programme and issued a plan to increase the number of hospital beds by up to 30 percent.

The number of COVID-19 active cases in Indonesia soared to 110,679 as of January 3.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, on January 4, kicked off a nationwide launch of a cash assistance programme that was set to reach the country's 34 provinces.

"In 2021, we will continue the distribution of social assistance. In the 2021 State Budget, the government has allocated a budget of 110 trillion Rp (nearly 8 billion USD) for all recipients from Sabang to Merauke and from Miangas to Rote Island," the president remarked as quoted by Indonesia’s national news agency Antara.

He said the aid is disbursed to assist the public to tackle the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in boosting their purchasing power.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian government is set to increase the number of hospital beds by up to 30 percent to address a rise in COVID-19 active cases.

"The government is encouraging the optimum use of beds at state-owned hospitals, regional government-owned general hospitals, and private hospitals by increasing their bed capacity by 30 percent," Airlangga Hartarto, chief of the country’s Committee for COVID-19 Handling and National Economic Recovery, said at a press statement in Jakarta on January 4 as quoted by Antara.

According to Hartarto, the government will increase the number of medical workers employed at health service facilities.

The government will also strengthen the implementation of COVID-19 handling procedures, particularly at non-referral places, and increase surveillance of cases through testing, tracing, and self-quarantine," he added./.

Indonesia targets elimination of extreme poverty in 2024

The Indonesian Government will reform the social welfare system with the aim of erasing extreme poverty in 2024, said Minister for National Development Planning Suharso Monoarfa.

The Southeast Asian country’s current extreme poverty rate ranges between 2.3 percent and 3 percent. However, President Joko Widodo has ordered to suppress it to zero percent by 2024, said Suharso

To achieve this target, he explained that the government will focus on social assistance programmes targeting groups of people who are categorised as vulnerable and poor.

Besides, the government is determined to reform the social protection system, the minister said.

Indonesia will update data on social protection to define people subjected to benefits without paying premium.

The country will rearrange and integrate various social assistance programmes under some ministries and institutions and place the programmes under a strategic programme of social assistance, he added.

Indonesia’s social protection scheme as part of the National Economic Recovery (PEN) Programme has been implemented effectively, helping 3.43 million people get rid of poverty. As of November 18, 2020, Indonesia had disbursed 82.4 percent of its budget for the scheme./.

Source: VNA/VNN/VNS/SGGP/VOV/NDO/Dtinews/SGT/VIR   

 
 

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