Project launched to foster environment security in Vietnam, Laos hinh anh 1

A project aiming to foster water and environment security in the Ma and Neun - Ca river basins and related coastal areas in Vietnam and Laos was launched in Hanoi on March 12.

The event was co-hosted by the Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Department of Water Resources Management (DWRM), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Lao Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Department of Water Resources and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Speaking at the event, DWRM Deputy Director Ngo Manh Ha said the Water Resources Law, passed by the 15th National Assembly on November 27, 2023 and effective from July 1, 2024, replaces the 2012 version, with many provisions designed to improve water source security and promote cross-border cooperation.

The project perfectly aligns with the Vietnamese Government’s orientations and vision for sustainable water resources development. Its overall goal is to assist Vietnam and Laos in managing freshwater resources and ecosystem health in the transboundary basins of the Ma and Neun-Ca rivers, as well as related coastal areas, by creating an environment conducive for cross-border cooperation activities.

Inthavy Akkharath, Director General of the Lao Department of Water Resources, said the Vietnamese and Lao Governments will work closely with the IUCN, FAO and other partners in both countries to address challenges posed by climate change and improve natural resource management in the two river basins.

FAO Representative in Vietnam Rémi Nono Womdim said the project closely aligns with FAO's 2022-2031 strategic framework, promoting better production, nutrition, environment and overall quality of life for communities in Vietnam and Laos.

Scientists, managers and foreign partners also discussed project activities at the event./.

Party leader chairs meeting of personnel sub-committee of 14th National Congress

Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong chaired a meeting of the sub-committee on personnel affairs of the 14th National Party Congress in Hanoi on March 13.

Members of the sub-committee, including Politburo members: President Vo Van Thuong, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue, Permanent member of the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat and Chairwoman of the Party Central Committee’s Organisation Commission Truong Thi Mai, and Secretary of the Party Central Committee and Chairman of the Party Central Committee’s Inspection Commission Tran Cam Tu, attended the meeting.

Stressing the importance of personnel preparations for the coming congress, General Secretary Trong, who is also head of the sub-committee, said together with making arrangements for all-level congresses, the Party is also preparing for the 14th National Congress, scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2026.

At its 8th session in October 2023, the Party Central Committee decided to establish five sub-committees to prepare for the 14th National Congress, namely the ones on documents, socio-economic affairs, the Party’s statutes, personnel affairs, and organisation.

The two most important parts of each congress are discussing and deciding the political lines and tasks of the Party (also called adopting documents), and electing leadership bodies of the Party (or working on personnel affairs). These two contents are closely connected with each other and must be well prepared. In particular, making personnel preparations for the congress holds critical importance as it is the decisive factor of the congress’s success and the successful implementation of the congress’s resolutions, he noted.

The Party chief emphasised that the Party Central Committee is the supreme leadership body during the interval between two national Party congresses, and serves as the centre of solidarity and unanimity of the entire Party and people. It consists of strategic-level officials who are the quintessence of the Party. They must be truly steadfast while possessing sufficient mettle, virtues, wisdom, and high prestige to resolve strategic-level issues as well as complicated situations related to national construction, development and defence and the regime’s survival in a timely, righteous, and effective manner.

Therefore, the sub-committee's members must thoroughly grasp the role of this extremely important issue in not only the organisation of a Party congress but also the Party’s destiny, the regime’s survival, and national development, the Party leader stressed.

The General Secretary demanded the Politburo and the Party Central Committee make good preparations to submit personnel plans to the 14th National Congress for consideration and decision.

The Party Central Committee, the Politburo, the Secretariat, and the entire political system must show the highest sense of responsibility, strong determination, and great efforts while working in a truly impartial, objective, and scientific manner and putting interests of the nation, the Party, and the people above all, he requested.

At the meeting, the leader also gave instructions for personnel affairs of the 14th National Party Congress./.

Vietnam Coast Guard attends 18th ReCAAP ISC Governing Council Meeting

Vietnam has showed its responsibility in participating in the ReCAAP Agreement and effectively combating maritime crimes, affirmed Major General Vu Trung Kien, Deputy Commander in charge of law of the Vietnam Coast Guard (VCG) at the 18th ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC) Governing Council Meeting in Singapore on March 13.

The meeting saw the participation of members of the governing council, officials from 21 member countries of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), and guest delegates from 10 maritime organisations, shipping associations, international and regional research institutes.

In his remarks, Kien underscored the need for countries to enhance awareness of the overall situation and instability in maritime security caused by piracy and armed robbery at sea.

It is important to continue timely and effective cooperation and information sharing, and to enhance coordination among countries and with the ReCAAP ISC to ensure security and safety across all maritime routes regionally and globally, he said.

On the sidelines of the function, the VCG delegation held meetings with leaders of law enforcement forces at sea from the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and India, exchanging information and coordinating efforts to combat various crimes and protect the marine environment.

In particular, Vietnam reiterated its significant efforts to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities and urged partners to cooperate with and assist the country in quickly getting the "yellow card" warning imposed on Vietnamese seafood products by the European Commission lifted.

Phu Quoc removes fish cages around international cruise ship port project

Authorities in the southern province of Kien Giang have asked fish farmers around the Phu Quoc International Cruise Ship Port project to remove their cages as the port will open later this month.

Vice chairman of Phu Quoc City People's Committee, Doan Van Tien, announced on Tuesday that all the fish cages that were located in front of the port and affect the operation of ships should be removed by March 20 for the opening of the port on March 25.

According to the committee, most of the project construction work has been completed.

"We've urged contractors and concerned partners to speed up the progress of the project to meet the deadline," the committee said. "We're targeting to start the provisional operation of the port from August."

The project, which covers approximately 180 hectares and has an investment of VND1.60 trillion (USD64.80 million), was kicked off in 2015 and is scheduled to be fully completed in 2025.

When operating at full capacity, the port can receive cruise ships accommodating up to 5,000-6,000 passengers or vessels with capacity of up to 20,000 DWT.

The port is expected to attract investors and international travellers to the island.

73 per cent of central-level localities disclose land pricing frameworks on portals: UNDP review

About 73 per cent of central-level provinces and cities in Việt Nam have disclosed land pricing frameworks on their web portals as of October 2023, according to a review released on Tuesday by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Việt Nam, Real-Time Analytics and the Centre for Education Promotion and Empowerment of Women.

This demonstrates significant improvements in the transparency of disclosing land use plans and land pricing frameworks on the web portals of provincial and district governments.

The review studied the disclosure of land information by local authorities in Việt Nam from 2021 to the present. It aims to measure adherence to Vietnamese laws on land and access to information, which specify responsibilities, processes, forms and deadlines for disclosing information on provincial land pricing frameworks, district-level land use master plans and annual plans, as well as an obligation to provide these types of information at the request of citizens.

According to the study, by October 6, 2023, out of a total of 705 district units nationwide, 65.4 per cent have disclosed district-level land use master plans for the period 2021-2030, an increase of 16.5 per cent compared to 2022.

However, the review pointed out that the proportion of district-level government agencies that did not respond to citizens’ requests for information remained high.

By the end of 2023, 23.7 per cent of the requested agencies had provided the information, 1.1 per cent rejected the requests, while 5.3 per cent responded but did not provide information, and 67.9 per cent did not respond.

The research group recommended relevant agencies at provincial and district levels fully implement the disclosure of land information both online on the agencies’ web portals and at their headquarters in order to promote the disclosure of land information by State agencies.

Hoàng Thị Vân Anh, former head of Legal Department under Việt Nam General Department of Land Administration, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, said the disclosure of land information is directly linked to local people’s rights. Disclosing land use master plans will help local residents know the future of their land lots, while publicising land pricing will let them know their financial obligations and the level of tax they will have to pay.

Nguyễn Thị Kim Thoa, former head of Department of Criminal and Administrative Legislation under the Ministry of Judicial Affairs, said it is necessary to ensure citizens’ access rights to land use information following the Constitution. Everyone has the rights to get access to the land information for the places where they are living.

UNDP Resident Representative Ramla Khalidi said the transparent disclosure of land information is crucial in mitigating the risks of land-related complaints and conflicts.

Tracking performance in implementing laws regarding land information disclosure to the public becomes particularly important as we approach the enforcement of the 2024 Land Law from January next year, she said.

Lê Đặng Trung, Real-Time Analytics’ director, said: “We hope that the Government will soon include the procedure for information provision at the request of citizens in the current set of administrative procedures of all sectors and fields, including land administration.”

Quang Ngai cracks down on IUU fishing

Agencies in the coastal central province of Quang Ngai are simultaneously implementing measures in a crackdown on illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

At fishing ports in the province, border guards and staff from the ports’ IUU Fishing Control Offices are coordinating to oversee fishing vessels that enter or leave the ports, ensuring that all vessels have all the required papers and operating VMS equipment before setting out to sea, as well as checking the origin of catches before issuing certificates.  

Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Ngoc Thanh, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Quang Ngai Border Guard said that they closely check all the vessels that are 15 metres long or more or those that go for offshore fishing to see if they have enough licenses and technical safety equipment, especially the vessel monitoring system (VMS). Without the required papers and equipment, the vessels are not allowed to leave the ports.

He emphasised that fishermen’s awareness of IUU fishing plays an important role in the fight against IUU fishing. All local fishermen commit to saying "No" to IUU fishing.

Director of Quang Ngai Fisheries Sub-Department Nguyen Van Muoi said that being aware of the significance of the next inspection by the EC, the provincial Steering Committee on combating IUU fishing has proposed many solutions.

According to statistics of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, as of February, the province had 3,643 vessels with fishing licences. A total of 2,947 vessels with a length of 15 metres or more are required to install VMS.

Since the beginning of 2023, the local authorities have handled 249 fishing vessels for losing VMS connection, and 33 vessels for passing allowed sea boundary. Fifty-six vessels committing 58 violations were fined more than 10 billion VND (405,600 USD).

Conference reviews five-year cooperation between legislative, front bodies

A conference took place in Hanoi on March 13 to review the implementation of the coordination regulations between the National Assembly (NA)’s Standing Committee and the Presidium of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF)’s Central Committee over the past five years.

The function was co-chaired by Politburo member, NA Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue and Secretary of the Party Central Committee, President of the VFF Central Committee Do Van Chien.

In his remarks, Chien stated that the two bodies have fully and effectively performed their responsibilities as outlined in the coordination regulations.

He said both sides have collaborated in organising voter contacts and promptly collecting opinions and suggestions from voters and the people, contributing to promoting democracy, fostering higher social consensus, and upholding the great national unity.

For his part, Hue highlighted some of the sides’ coordinated efforts, including organising the elections of deputies to the 15th NA and to People's Councils at all levels for the 2021-2026 term, and conducting vote of confidence targeting officials elected or approved by the NA during the 15th legislation’s 6th session.

The top legislator recommended strengthening coordination in consolidating the great national unity, handling petitions, and collecting opinions and suggestions from voters, among others.

He also noted the importance of the sides maintaining regular and ad hoc joint meetings to discuss coordination matters, sharing information, and coordinating external affair tasks./.

PM hopes for more fruitful Vietnam-ADB partnership

Vietnam and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have cooperated fruitfully over the past 30 years, and their cooperation is expected to grow further in the next three decades, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said on March 13.

Addressing a ceremony in Hanoi marking the 30 years of the partnership, the PM appreciated the bank’s support to Vietnam, especially in infrastructure development, poverty reduction, education and health care, particularly in remote, border and island areas.

It is the ADB that has inspired other partners to cooperate and support Vietnam in development, he stressed.

As a developing country with an evolving economy, a modest economic scale, and limited resilience to shocks, Vietnam needs both financial aid and policy consultation from the bank, as well as its assistance in institutional building and perfection, especially the institution for the socialist market-oriented economy, Chinh said.

He suggested the two sides choose specific, focused, key cooperation programmes and projects to help Vietnam grow rapidly, sustainably and inclusively, with no one left behind.

Collaboration priorities should be given to climate change response, green transition, digital transformation, green economy, circular economy and sharing economy, along with emerging sectors like semiconductors, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and new energy, the leader suggested.

According to a report presented at the event, the ADB has financed about 600 programmes and projects in Vietnam with total funding of nearly 18 billion USD, covering agriculture, rural areas, education, health care, energy and urban infrastructure.

It has also provided 6.45 billion USD for trade transactions through commercial banks in Vietnam.

During the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the ADB granted non-refundable aid worth hundreds of millions of US dollars to help Vietnam purchase protective equipment, upgrade medical equipment, churn out pharmaceutical products, and support small and medium-sized and women-led businesses.

Earlier the same day, PM Chinh received ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa, who is in Vietnam for the celebration.
The PM affirmed that the Vietnamese government always considers the ADB an important, close and reliable development partner, and attributed Vietnam’s achievements to the bank’s effective cooperation and support.

For his part, Asakawa emphasised that the ADB always pays attention to and supports Vietnam in socio-economic development, and wishes to work together with the country to launch result-oriented cooperation projects.

The bank can provide financial aid for Vietnam to implement projects in green transition, energy transition and infrastructure, and help the country in emerging industries, he said, suggesting the Vietnamese government work to speed up the implementation of cooperation projects.

Lauding ADB's efforts in mobilising resources of up to 3 billion USD for about 23 projects in Vietnam in the 2023 – 2026 period, the PM called on the ADB to coordinate with Vietnamese ministries and agencies to quickly put in place specific projects in 2024.

He also proposed the establishment of a joint working group to push ahead with capital cooperation and policy support for Vietnam./.

HCM City to build 4,500 classrooms by 2025

HCM City authorities have issued a decision to build 4,500 classrooms spanning from nursery to high school levels by 2025 to achieve the goal of 300 classrooms per ten thousand people.  

HCM City has set a goal to ensure 300 classrooms per ten thousand people

HCM City now has 50,650 rooms to serve around 1.70 million pupils from nursery to high school.

Many secondary and primary schools have student numbers exceeding the stipulated limits of 45 students per class for secondary schools and 35 students per class for primary schools.

Classroom shortages are mostly in District 12, Go Vap, Tan Binh, Tan Phu, Binh Tan, Binh Chanh and Hoc Mon and Thu Duc City.

By August 2023, the city had 294 classrooms per ten thousand people compared to the target of 300 classrooms for every ten thousand people by 2025.

According to the HCM City Department of Education and Training, the city sees an annual rise of 10,000-15,000 students per grade. So it is essential for the city to prioritise classroom construction. And they will need over 8,000 new classrooms to meet the number of students by 2025.

National park releases rare wild animals back to the wild

The Management Board of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in the central province of Quang Binh on March 12 said that it has released some rescued rare animals back to the wild.

Specifically, on March 9, the Hanoi Wildlife Rescue Centre transferred to the park three northern pig-tailed macaques (Macaca leonina), a rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta), four small Indian civet (Viverricula indica), a hoary bamboo rat (Rhizomys pruinosus) and two great hornbills (Buceros bicornis).

On March 6, the park also received a stump-tailed macaque (Macaca arctoides) and two rhesus monkeys from people in Tuyen Hoa district and Minh Hoa district, Quang Binh province.

The animals are all on the list of endangered, precious, and rare animal species listed in Decree No. 84/2021/ND-CP of the Government on management of endangered forest plants and animals and implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

They were taken to the rescue centre under the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park Management Board where they were cared for and rehabilitated to restore their natural behaviours before being released back into nature.

Citizens rescued from forced labour in Cambodia repatriated

Border guards at the Moc Bai international border gate in the southwestern province of Tay Ninh on March 12 received 15 Vietnamese citizens who had been rescued from forced labour in Cambodia.

Of the Vietnamese nationals, 10 have passports while the others fail to show any personal identity papers. They are between 18 and 30 years old and most of them are from northern provinces.

The border guards coordinated with Tay Ninh's public security officers to verify the returned citizens’ identification and then brought them home.

To carry out citizen protection work, from March 8-11, the Vietnamese Embassy in Cambodia worked with the General Department of Immigration under the Cambodian Ministry of Interior to interview and verify information about the 15 Vietnamese citizens who were being detained at the department's custody centre. Representatives of the Vietnamese Embassy discussed and requested the Cambodian authorities to ensure living conditions, quickly coordinate to complete procedures, and support the repatriation of these citizens to Vietnam.

Beauty of ‘ao dai’ promoted to international friends

Through promotion activities, the image of Vietnamese ‘ao dai’ (long dress) has had its presence increased at international and diplomatic events.

‘Ao dai’ has been also chosen by many heads of state, leaders, and diplomats of other countries and their spouses when they come to Vietnam.

Most recently, foreign Consuls General and their spouses wore this costume while attending a seminar themed "Vietnamese ao dai and international integration", held within the framework of the 10th Ao Dai Festival in Ho Chi Minh City.

Tri Astuti Sofjan, wife of the Indonesian Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, said that this is the third year she has experienced wearing ‘ao dai’. When wearing ‘ao dai’, a woman can show her charisma and confidence, she added.

On this occasion, delegates had an opportunity to listen to the history of ‘ao dai’, attend an exhibition on ‘ao dai ngu than’ (five-part long dress) and the steps of measuring and sewing handmade ‘ao dai’, and see ‘ao dai’ shows.

During the current international integration process, models with new design ideas and materials are more impressive, clearly demonstrating the spirit of integration.

Designer Duc Vincie shared he always wants to spread the beauty of ‘ao dai’ to international friends through collections made based on environmentally friendly materials, traditional materials, and national characteristics. This time, he chose to make a collection from silk, ordered from craft villages such as Nha Xa and Bao Loc.

Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism, affirmed that through 10 years of the Ao Dai Festival, the city wants to make ‘ao dai’ become a special image in cultural diplomacy, helping foreign friends understanding more about the Vietnamese land and people as well as bringing the country closer to the world.

Alisha Movent, a US tourist, said she and her friends were very excited to experience wearing ‘ao dai’ together when they came to Ho Chi Minh City. When she returned to her country, she bought many sets of this costume as souvenirs for her family and friends./.

Vietnam, UNICEF bolster cooperation in child care and protection

Vice State President Vo Thi Anh Xuan had a meeting with Catherine Mary Russell, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on the occasion of her attendance at the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in New York on March 12 (local time).

At the meeting, Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan hailed UNICEF's cooperation and support for Vietnam over the past 50 years in developing and implementing guidelines and policies on child care, education and protection.

Xuan briefed the UNICEF official on Vietnam's achievements in socio- economic development, including ensuring child rights through a series of synchronous policies and measures, including the National Fund for Vietnamese Children (NFVA

She also pointed out the coming challenges in striving to achieve the goals of national development, as well as comprehensive development, enabling children to become owners of the country and global citizens.

Xuan asked UNICEF to increase technical support and mobilize resources to help Vietnam fine-tune the legal system and effectively carry out the National Action Program for Children for the 2021-2030 period, the UNICEF Viet Nam Country Programme 2022-2026,, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, and projects on clean water and sanitation, medicine, health care, education, especially Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), combating violence against children.

She suggested helping the nation build a set of indicators to evaluate child protection and care that are close to international standards, and pay attention to supporting 6.7% of children under 16 years old who are living in difficult circumstances and need frequent subsidies, especially those in remote and ethnic minority areas.

In response, the UNICEF Executive Director highly appreciated and thanked Vietnam for actively implementing a broad array of cooperation activities in recent times with positive results for Vietnamese children, including those with specially difficult circumstances as well as Vietnam's strong international commitments on child rights.

She affirmed that UNICEF will fully cooperate and support Vietnam in actively implement the UNICEF Viet Nam Country Programme 2022-2026, and better ensure child rights, especially in education, health, nutrition, access to clean water and sanitation.

Russell applauded Vietnam's initiative to propose to the United Nations observe June 11 every year as "Play Day", saying that this will contribute to promoting the comprehensive development of children around the world, even in conflict areas.

The two sides agreed to actively step up the cooperative partnership between Vietnam and UNICEF with a view to supporting Vietnam in recording more achievements in the cause of child care and protection, as well as contributing to global efforts in this field, consistent with Vietnam's increasingly rising position.

Nhổn-Hà Nội Railway Station elevated urban rail to completed trial operation next month

The test operation of the elevated section of the Nhổn-Hà Nội Railway Station urban rail project will be completed by April, according to the Hà Nội Metropolitan Railway Management Board (MRB).

This is the final step in the eight-step process of testing and calibrating the system before putting the project into commercial operation.

MRB stated that trial operation simulates line operation without passengers to check the operational readiness of the entire system.

The trial operation includes 57 scenarios over seven weeks, from March 11 to April 26. It encompasses activities such as checking train schedules, testing services under operating conditions, verifying the completeness and effectiveness of operating and maintenance instructions and emergency procedures, ensuring customer care and commercial processes with well-trained staff and available equipment, and integrating emergency and safety services in preparation for commercial operations.

Thus far, MRB has instructed the French consultancy firm Systra and contractors to complete installation, testing, and coordination with the Hà Nội Railway Company to train operation and maintenance personnel for the trial operation.

Construction and system testing of the bidding packages have been completed. Systra has issued certificates of acceptance and handover for each bidding package. Meanwhile, training for all personnel to ensure trial operation readiness has been completed.

MRB is collaborating with consultants to develop a plan to train additional personnel to compensate for those on leave or maternity leave.

Operation and maintenance procedures have received temporary approval from MRB for the trial operation phase. These procedures will continue to be improved during the trial operation process before commercial operation.

In February, MRB, Systra, contractors, the Hà Nội Metro, and the Hà Nội Department of Transport completed the asset count at the site to prepare for handover according to regulations.

MRB is coordinating with contractors and Systra to carry out system safety certification and inspection consulting as planned. 

Health ministry proposes supplementary health insurance package

The Ministry of Health has proposed a supplementary voluntary health insurance package applicable to those who have participated in compulsory health insurance.

Trần Thị Trang, head of the ministry’s Health Insurance Department, said the goal is to provide patients with advantages that go above and beyond what their compulsory health insurance covers, as well as to lower their costs.

It is expected the package will be a form of voluntary insurance for those who have participated in compulsory health insurance, she said.

It will cover additional values such as co-payments, additional benefits that patients need and additional services currently not covered by health insurance.

"The fee for supplementary health insurance will be determined by insurance businesses," Trang said.

"However, the State will regulate the principles for establishing the fee to ensure that patient’s benefits and coverage scope must not overlap with compulsory health insurance.”

Insurance companies are required to include all individuals with needs and conditions. They are not allowed to pick and select individuals, nor may they impose rules that would prevent certain groups of healthy people from signing contracts.

There are now two types of health insurance available in Việt Nam: compulsory health insurance and commercial health insurance.

Compulsory health insurance is managed by the State under the Health Insurance Law for social, not for profit purposes.

All are required to participate in health insurance following the Health Insurance Law.

The health insurance fund pays medical examination and treatment costs covered by health insurance for subjects following the Health Insurance Law. Service users must pay for the portion beyond the benefit level and scope of benefits.

Meanwhile commercial health insurance is provided by insurance businesses following the Law on Insurance Business.

The commercial health insurance is designed to suit all wishes of the signers and not compulsory like social and health insurance managed by the State. The insurance contract is based on each person's conditions and needs.

The Ministry of Health assesses that the commercial health insurance has many options for participants thanks to a variety of benefit packages. However, the scope of benefits covered by the commercial health insurance often overlaps with those already paid by compulsory health insurance.

Commercial insurance providers tend to choose services to cover, affecting the participants' benefits. Because the State does not intervene but depends on the insurance contract developed by the company itself, patients' rights are not fully protected.

In practice, health insurance participants still have to co-pay for services within the benefits scope and pay in full for services outside the scope of benefits, even though health insurance in Việt Nam generally covers a wide range of benefits.

In the context of increasing people's income and need for comprehensive care, the provision of additional health insurance is essential, said the health ministry. 

Hot weather threatens losses for Bình Phước cashew farmers

Prolonged hot weather has caused cashew trees in Bình Phước Province to wilt at a time when prices of the nut are also low, causing farmers severe losses.

Phạm Đại Số, a farmer in Bù Gia Mập District who owns 35 hectares of cashew trees, said he has only harvested around five tonnes of kernel since Tết (Lunar New Year) in mid-February.

In the next few months he hopes to harvest another 10 tonnes, but the output is down by more than 70 per cent compared to last year when he harvested more than 55 tonnes, he said.

The hot weather has damaged the nuts, he said.

He spent more than VNĐ100 million (US$2,350) in fertilisers and pesticides costs to protect his trees, and so he faces the risk of heavy losses, he said.

“In the past few years the weather has regularly affected the cashew trees in this area, but this year is the worst.”

Hoàng Thanh Thao of Bù Gia Mập District has harvested only 200 kilos of cashew in his two-hectare farm this year, 90 per cent down from last year, due to the extreme weather.

Farmers in Bình Phước are also hit by the lowest prices in recent years.

The nut is currently selling at VNĐ24,000 ($1) per kilogramme.

High input costs and wages are also causing cashew farmers to be worried.

Phan Văn Hà, Deputy Director of the Bù Gia Mập District Agricultural Extension Centre, said this year's crop had been excellent, with farmers taking care against few pests and diseases, until the hot weather arrived.

Cashew yields depend greatly on the weather.

Bình Phước has more than 152,000 hectares under cashew, nearly 50 per cent of the country’s total area.

The localities with the largest cashew growing areas include Bù Đăng, Bù Gia Mập, Đồng Phú, and Phú Riềng districts. 

Khánh Hoà seeks to boost tourism in 2024

The coastal province of Khánh Hoà plans to host dozens of festivals, cultural events, and new tourism products in 2024 to lure more tourists and boost tourism.

According to Đinh Văn Thiệu, deputy chairman of the provincial People’s Committee [administration], this year, the province’s most important event will be a programme to mark the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the city of Nha Trang (1924-2024).

The programme will include a series of seminars in April focusing on the historical and cultural values, and people of Nha Trang, and its socio-economic development and green growth.

The main meeting will be held on April 2 and live broadcast on Việt Nam Television’s channel VTV1.

The province will host the first-ever Jazz International Festival in Nha Trang from April 27 to May 2, attracting hundreds of jazz musicians and singers across the country and from all over the world.

The Sea Tourism Fair will open at the Square 2/4 in Nha Trang, featuring 200 stalls to introduce tourism products, cuisine, and speciality products of Khánh Hoà and coastal provinces.

The fair will also offer tourism seminars, a street carnival, and live music and dance performances.

It is expected to attract 150,000 visitors.

The province will launch an art light festival with the theme of “Ever Glamour Nha Trang 2024” every Saturday from June 29 to July 20 at Nha Trang Bay.

The event will have participants of four teams from Việt Nam, China, South Korea and India, who will present drone performances featuring the themes of "Hello Việt Nam, Glorious Ocean, Stories of Heritage, and Glamour Nha Trang".

Thiệu said the province is expected to welcome 9 million visitors, including 3 million foreigners, in 2024, and earn tourism revenue of more than VNĐ40.1 trillion.

In order to reach the goal, he asked local authorities, agencies and tourism businesses to promote tourism activities to ensure that Nha Trang – Khánh Hoà will be a safe and exciting destination for visitors inside and outside Việt Nam. 

Online programme promotes cải lương

Seventeen artists of HCM City have performed in a new art project on YouTube to promote cải lương (reformed opera), a 100-year-old genre of Vietnamese theatre. 

The project, called Học Viện Cải Lương (Learning Vietnamese opera), encourages its participants, aged between 16 and 45 years old, and viewers to discover and learn cải lương. 

It offers online training courses for young people, including students of art schools and those who are working for drama troupes and theatres. 

It was launched by People’s Artist Bạch Tuyết, a guru of cải lương. 

The first participants were selected by Tuyết and her staff before commencing training.  

They have studied cải lương singing, Vietnamese music and dance. 

They have also trained at different performance levels with cải lương stars such as Thanh Hằng and Châu Thanh, as well as People’s Artist and musician Thanh Tuấn. 

Their performance on YouTube has attracted more than 26,000 views after three weeks of its release in February.

 “We are working to improve our art. We will introduce new tastes of cải lương in the next performances on YouTube,” said young artist Lâm Nguyễn of Thế Giới Trẻ Drama Club, who was selected to join the project. 

Nguyễn has seven years working in theatre. He performed for private drama troupes and art clubs before working as a lead actor for Thế Giới Trẻ Drama Club managed by the HCM City University of Theatre & Cinematography. 

“I love cải lương. I decided to challenge myself by joining Tuyết’s project Học Viện Cải Lương,” said 26-year-old Nguyễn. 

“Cải lương is an unique form of Vietnamese theatre in the South. So I offer online courses to help Vietnamese people worldwide, particularly youngsters, learn and improve their love for the art,” said the project’s creator Tuyết, who has 60 years of experience.

Tuyết said her project Học Viện Cải Lương would also help viewers discover Vietnamese culture and lifestyle through cải lương.

Tuyết was a theatre star in the 1960s-70s and performed for several leading cải lương theatres in the region. 

She has performed in several hundred plays and TV shows and recorded albums featuring both traditional and modern styles of cải lương.   

She has worked with HCM City Television (HTV) and several film studios to produce TV shows, videos and albums featuring quality cải lương plays on social issues.

She has also offered training courses providing young participants with performance skills in singing vọng cổ (nostalgia tunes) and cải lương, and has wrote and released many books and documents on the operatic art form.

In 2018, Tuyết began offering her art on YouTube. In her videos, she combines cải lương with pop and rap music. 

In 2022, she launched a project called Tinh Hoa Cải Lương (Beauty of Vietnamese Theatre) on TikTok. The project offers clips featuring famous extracts from dramatic and historical plays performed by Tuyết and her younger colleagues. 

Last year, Tuyết and rapper Wowy of HCM City began their cooperation with an online project of music videos combining rap and cải lương. 

The two artists have worked to write, compose and produce a series of songs featuring the topics of love and life. Their first video is complete and is expected to be released on YouTube and TikTok late this year. 

Điện Biên Province ready to receive visitors during flower festival

Households in Điện Biên Phủ City in the northern province of Điện Biên have registered to offer accommodation for visitors during the ban (Bauhinia) Flower Festival, a highlight of Visit Vietnam Year – Điện Biên 2024, which is set to open in the province on March 16.

Some 40 households are located in Nam Thanh and Him Lam Ward in Thanh Minh and Pá Khoang Commune. These local houses, some of which are traditional stilt houses, have a total of 160 vacant rooms equipped with necessary amenities, ensuring safety and accommodation for hundreds of tourists.

Many households can also offer meals upon request of the tourists, and do not charge accommodation fees for veterans.

The number of tourists to Điện Biên during the festival is forecasted to increase significantly. However, the accommodation infrastructure of the locality is still limited and lacks the capacity to accommodate such a high influx of visitors.

Therefore, the provincial People's Committee and the People's Committee of Điện Biên Phủ City are encouraging households in the area to be prepared to support accommodation for tourists. The communes and wards continue to inspect, review, and compile a list of households that have suitable conditions and are willing to provide lodging and food services for tourists. Based on this information, the city will coordinate, support, and allocate tourists in a reasonable manner, ensuring that they have safe and friendly accommodation and dining options.

Spanning from March 13 to 18, the ban (Bauhinia) Flower Festival boasts a diverse lineup of activities, including an incense offering ceremony at the Điện Biên Phủ martyrs' memorial temple, the launch of Visit Vietnam Year – Điện Biên 2024, featuring a music extravaganza and a high-altitude fireworks display, and a photo contest showcasing the resplendent ban flower landscape. The event also includes a show of traditional costumes of ethnic groups, an ethnic sports competition, an exhibition featuring cultural and tourism products, and activities to connect tours and travel routes. 

Watabe secures first win, Mai takes blue jersey in tough stage

Kasuga Watabe won the sixth stage while Nguyễn Thị Thu Mai stole the blue jersey for the best point classification rider at the Bình Dương International Women's Cycling Tournament on March 11.

It was a tough stage as riders had to overcome three passes during the 130km distance from Đà Lạt City of Lâm Đồng Province to Phan Rang City of Bình Thuận Province.

Among 93 competitors at the start line, 27 did not finish this stage.

Watabe of Japanese Gerbera Club proved her strong physique, finishing first with a time of 3hr 26.46min.

Nur Aisyah Mohammad Zubir of Malaysia and Mai of Lộc Trời Group were second and third, respectively.

Vietnamese Mai left behind Thai rider Maneephan Jutatip, who dominated the blue jersey race since the first stage, to win both two sprints in this stage.

With 15 points awarded, Mai jumped over Jutatip in the ranking and will wear the blue jersey in the next stage.

In the overall ranking, Russian competitor Natalia Frolova of Biwase Bình Dương was in the top spot. She clocked in at 17:33.37 and forged a seven minute gap with the nearest rival, Gulnaz Khatuntnseva of ION Gold Biwase.

As the race only has four stages left, Frolova has nearly ensured her victory at the tournament if nothing unusual happens.

After one day dropping out of the top three, Biwase Bình Dương came back to the top spot. Lộc Trời Group and Thailand national team were closed behind.

The seventh stage will be from Phan Rang to Phan Thiết for 135km. 

Hanoi metro trains on final trial runs

Trains on the Nhon-Hanoi Train station metro lines have just been put on the last trial run period before official operation which is scheduled in July.

The Hanoi Urban Railway Management Board (MRB) announced on Wednesday that they started on March 11 the final test on the line which would last one and a half months.

"The trial run will be carried out between 7.45 am-4.45 pm from Monday to Friday," MRB said. "This is the eighth and also the last test on the line's elevated metro section. And if things go on smoothly, the section is expected to be open for commercial operation from July this year.

According to MRB, the overall construction of the Nhon-Hanoi Train station metro project has reached nearly 78 percent, with the progress of the elevated section at over 99 percent, and the underground section at over 37 percent.

The 12.50-kilometre line starts from Nhon in Nam Tu Liem District and ends at the Hanoi Station in Dong Da District, and includes eight elevated stations and four underground.

The trains will be able to run at 35km per hour and the trains could reach 70km per hour at the middle of the two stations, the MRB said.

Each train is designed to carry between 944 and 1,124 passengers.

The project has cost about VND30.10 trillion comes from official development assistance of the French Development Agency and loans from the French government.

Local female cyclist wins seventh stage of Biwase Cup

Nguyen Thi Be Hong won the yellow jersey in the seventh stage of the 14th Binh Duong International Women’s Cycling Tournament, the Biwase Cup, which took place on March 12 after overcoming two foreign cyclists from Kazakhstan and Iran.

During the seventh stage of the event saw the cyclists compete in the route around Phan Rang and Phan Thiet cities.

In the final 70-km race, Be Hong defeated Solovyeva Anzhela of Kazakhstan and Anujin Jinjiibadam of Iran to become the winner of the seventh stage of the cycling tournament.

The Dong Thap native represents the second Vietnamese winner at the Biwase Cup 2024 after Nguyen Thi Thu Mai of Loc Troi Group who won the second stage.

After a total of seven stages, Natalia Frolova of Russia came first in the overall ranking, followed by Jutatip Maneephan of Thailand and Nguyen Thi Thu Mai of Vietnam.

The 14th Binh Duong International Women’s Cycling Tournament began on March 6 and is scheduled to last through to March 15.  The competition has attracted the participation of 11 domestic and nine foreign teams.

With a total length of 1,158 km, the female cyclists compete in 10 stages, starting from Binh Duong and travelling through to Dong Nai, Lam Dong, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan, and Ba Ria-Vung Tau.

Individuals will compete for three jerseys, with the yellow jersey being given to the overall winner who will receive a cash prize of VND45 million, the green for the best sprinter receiving a cash prize of VND30 million, and the pink being given for the Miss Biwase Cup with a cash prize of VND10 million.

Meanwhile, the winning team who ultimately go on to secure the championship trophy will be awarded VND42 million. In addition, the organisers will also give special gifts to disadvantaged children during the race.

Australia emerges as promising market for Vietnamese tourism industry

Australia represents both a potential and promising market for the Vietnamese tourism industry, said Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Ho An Phong at a recent seminar in Hanoi.

He added that the number of Australian visitors to the nation during the first two months of the year reached nearly 97,500, equaling to 25% of the figure for the entirety of 2023.

Darrell Wade, president of Intrepid Travel, emphasized that the country has rapidly emerged as a very popular destination among Australian visitors due to offering a wide range of diversified experiences.

He noted that the company has initially focused on adventure tourism in Vietnam and has further plans to provide additional cultural and culinary tours moving forward.

Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Andrew Goledzinowski, said there remains ample room for further tourism co-operation between Vietnam and Australia, especially after the two countries recently moved to upgrade their relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership along with the launch of multiple direct flights.

Furthermore, there are growing numbers of Vietnamese students studying in Australia, with their families paying regular visits.

People-to-people exchanges between the two countries have become increasingly strengthened, he noted.

MoT requests fund allocation to eliminate self-opened paths across railway

The Transport Ministry yesterday asked that localities accommodating railways must allocate money to build fences, collector roads and remove self-opened paths to minimize traffic accidents.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Transport (MoT) directed the People’s Committees of concerned provinces and cities where railways pass through to urge relevant functional agencies in their area to prepare documents for the construction of fences and collector roads along these ways in order to eliminate self-created paths.

After the construction is approved, localities should allocate fund from local budget sources to implement the plan.

During the construction time, the local authorities must assign proper human resources to safeguard the self-opened paths with a high risk of traffic accidents. These people must receive professional training from the railway industry and sufficient equipment to perform their duty.

Vietnam Railways (VNR) informs that traffic accidents related to the railway have repeatedly happened recently. The latest was a collision between a train and a tractor truck at the section passing Nghi Long Commune of Nghi Loc District in Nghe An Province on March 11, 2024. That was the fourth accident at this exact section this year.

Free screenings of classic films celebrate Vietnamese Cinematic Revolution Day

Three classic Vietnamese films, Truyện Vợ Chồng Anh Lực (The Story of Mr and Mrs Lực), Ngọn Đèn Trong Mơ (The Dream Lamp) and Giải Hạn (Relieving the Limit), will be screened for free at Ngọc Khánh Cinema from March 13-15.

The screening, organised by Vietnam Film Institute under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, aims to commemorate the 71st anniversary of Vietnamese Cinematic Revolution Day on March 15.

The Story of Mr and Mrs Lực was directed by Trần Vũ and produced by Vietnam Film Studio in 1971, starring actors Tuệ Minh, Trần Phương and Trịnh Thịnh. The film won the Golden Lotus Award at the second Vietnam Film Festival in 1973.

In the film, its main character named Lực, the head of a cooperative, decides to demolish his own house and free the land for the cooperative to dig canals. He sacrifices his personal interests for the collective and has to face and overcome numerous difficulties, including his wife's disapproval, the challenges of raising children, unfavourable weather and the collapse of their house.

Other villagers contribute to building a new house for Lực and his wife, but he selflessly donates it to the co-operative to use as a kindergarten.

The Dream Lamp, directed by Đỗ Minh Tuấn and produced by Vietnam Feature Film Studio in 1987, features main actors Tuấn Dũng and Tuyết Ngân. A renowned family drama that deeply touched both domestic and international audiences, won the Silver Lotus Award at the 8th Vietnam Film Festival in 1988.

The film portrays a small-scale story within a family, but it reflects the larger social landscape of its time, when the power of money started infiltrating and eroding family values.

The last film, Relieving the Limit, was directed by Vũ Xuân Hưng and produced by Truyen Vietnam Film Company in 1996. It won the Silver Lotus Award at the 11th Vietnam Film Festival in the same year. Actress Lê Vy received the Best Actress award at the festival for her outstanding performance in the film.

It tells the story of Triệu, an orphaned girl who gets married to a man in a long-standing weaving village. Her husband, Đại, goes abroad to work. Upon his return, despite opposition from his mother and his younger brother Thiện, Đại demands a divorce from Triệu to live in Hà Nội and engage in business with his lover.

As life becomes increasingly difficult, Triệu and Thiện face the pressure of low prices imposed on their woven goods. They exhaust their money and energy, trying to revive the traditional crafts of their village. Their weaving complex gradually becomes prosperous.

Over years of working together, Thiện develops affection for his sister-in-law, Triệu. The relationship between Triệu, Thiện, and Đại becomes tangled and complicated when Đại falls into debt. Triệu pays off the debt to save her husband from the clutches of loan sharks. Thiện, feeling disillusioned, leaves the village without notice. Triệu holds the letter Thiện left behind and chases after the departing bus carrying him, fading away in the distance.

The three films are screened at Ngọc Khánh Cinema, 523 Kim Mã Street, showing at 9am, through tomorrow. 

Vientiane's Hanoi-funded administrative complex inaugurated

Dinh Tien Dung, Secretary of the Hanoi Party Committee, and delegates from Hanoi inaugurated the headquarters complex of the Vientiane Municipal Department of Justice and the Vientiane People's Procuracy on March 12. 

Financed by Hanoi, the US$3-million project is a milestone in the traditional friendship between Hanoi and Vientiane. 

Work on the complex commenced in August 2022. It covers an area of 2.5 hectares and consists of three buildings. Two are the headquarters of the Department of Justice and the Vientiane People's Procuracy, while the other is a shared facility.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Hanoi Party leader Dinh Tien Dung said that Vietnam and Laos are two brothers who share the mighty Mekong River and the great Truong Son Mountains.

The two nations have a great history of close relations, he stated, adding: "Looking back at our achievements, we have every right to be proud of our loyal and unique relations."

He said the complex symbolizes the close relationship between Vietnam and Laos and is an important part of the 2022-2025 cooperation agreement between the two capitals.

"The complex is one of the projects that will help Vientiane complete its facilities to further develop its administrative organization," Dung said.

On the occasion, Secretary Dung hoped that Lao officials would make the best use of the facilities, remain creative and innovative, improve their performance, and make great contributions to the development of their nation and their capital.

He strongly believed that local officials would make greater achievements, and strive to develop a healthier, stronger, and closer relationship between Vietnam and Laos.

Japan provides non-refundable aid for four projects

A ceremony to sign a non-refundable aid contract of the Japanese Government worth over US$230,688 for four projects under the Grassroots Grant Program (GGP) took place yesterday.

Accordingly, the aid will be invested into the rice milling systems for Vung Liem District of Vinh Long Province worth US$81,463; electroencephalogram (EEG) machine for Khanh Hoa Provincial Psychiatric Hospital worth US$27,610; traditional medicine and rehabilitation equipment for Tinh Bien Town Medical Center in An Giang Province worth US$51,881 and a digestive endoscopy system for the Medical Center of Hoa Binh District, Bac Lieu Province worth US$69,734.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Japanese Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Ono Masuo said that Japan is Vietnam's biggest donor in cooperation and implementation of large-scale infrastructure projects, notably expressway projects.

The Japanese Consul General hoped that localities would continue to contact with the Consulate General of Japan for projects that bring benefits and contribute to improving the quality of life for residents in the coming time.

HCMC's book fair collects books for underprivileged students

A book fair themed “Spreading Knowledge - Sharing Dreams” takes place in HCMC Book Street on March 13-17.
The event attracts leading publishing houses in the country, such as Tre (Youth) Publishing House, Nha Nam, Dinh Ti, Thai Ha Books, Saigon Books, and Minh Long Books to present to readers more than 16,000 titles on various topics including psychology, business, marketing, children's books, comics, literature, history, culture, and science.

The book fair also includes a program on building libraries at the Boarding Ethnic Primary and Ba Tang Secondary School in Huong Hoa District of Quang Tri province. Readers could donate books in various genres, such as children's books, literature, skill-building books, and reference books to the organization board of the book fair to present to the schools.

HCM City hopes to boost cooperation in digital transformation with Sweden

Ho Chi Minh City is ready to create the best possible conditions for Swedish enterprises to explore investment and business opportunities in the city, especially in digital transformation, green and sustainable development.

The statement was made on March 13 by Vice Chairman of the municipal People's Committee Vo Van Hoan while hosting Håkan Jevrell, State Secretary to the Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade of Sweden, who is in the city to attend a Sweden – Vietnam business roundtable meeting on innovation and sustainable development.

Hoan said that the largest economic hub of Vietnam is also willing to cooperate with Swedish businesses in promoting bilateral trade and collaboration in the field of innovation.

Emphasising the importance of transitioning to green and renewable energies in production, Hoan expressed his wish that Sweden will further strengthen coordination in organising exchange programmes and meetings between Swedish and Vietnamese businesses, including those from Ho Chi Minh City, to promote collaboration in human resources development. He added that the two sides’ enterprises need to consider cooperation in the production of products and goods that meet Swedish and EU standards as a shared responsibility, bringing benefits to them and contributing to fostering bilateral economic and trade ties.  

Håkan Jevrell affirmed that Sweden has experience, technology and resources, and is ready to cooperate with Ho Chi Minh City and share development experiences in areas that the city is prioritising such as digital transformation, green growth, and sustainable development.

He also showed his desire to tap the potential for cooperation between Swedish firms and HCM City in the fields of innovation, small- and medium-sized enterprise development, digital transformation infrastructure and data management, and in increasing energy use efficiency, smart electricity transmission as well as water management, and waste and wastewater treatment.

Sweden is willing to share experience with Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City on solutions to increase the use of green energy in production so that products can meet export standards to Europe, and make the most of benefits of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) for trade and economic growth.

On the same day, Hoan and Håkan Jevrell co-chaired the Sweden – Vietnam business roundtable meeting on innovation and sustainable development./.

Source: VNA/SGT/VNS/VOV/Dtinews/SGGP/VGP/Hanoitimes