Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong in the phone talks with LDP President and Prime Minister of Japan Suga Yoshihide on March 22

Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong on March 22 held phone talks with President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Prime Minister of Japan Suga Yoshihide.

On behalf of the LDP and the Government of Japan, Suga offered congratulations on the success of the 13th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and on the Vietnamese leader’s re-election as General Secretary of the CPV Central Committee for the 13th tenure.

He expressed his belief that under the leadership of the CPV, headed by General Secretary and State President Trong, Vietnam will harvest even greater achievements in the Doi moi (Renewal) process.

The LDP President and Prime Minister of Japan affirmed that that he attaches importance to the extensive strategic partnership with Vietnam and is determined to further contribute to the development of the bilateral relations.

Amid complex developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan will continue working with Vietnam in the disease prevention and control, he said, voicing his hope for close coordination to promote the bilateral relations in a comprehensive, practical, and effective manner, towards the 50th founding anniversary of their diplomatic ties in 2023.

For his part, Party General Secretary and State President Trong thanked the LDP and Suga for their congratulations to the CPV’s 13th National Congress and himself.

He emphasised Vietnam’s consistent foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, friendship, cooperation and development, diversification and multilateralisation of external relations, active and proactive integration into the world, and being a trustworthy partner and an active and responsible member of the international community.

Highlighting the flourishing ties between Vietnam and Japan, as well as between the CPV and the LDP, he said that Vietnam consistently views Japan as a leading, long-term, and highly reliable strategic partner.

The Vietnamese leader asked both sides to increase all-level exchanges and meetings, call on Japan to continue assisting Vietnam to successfully implement the strategies and socio-economic development plans adopted at the 13th National Party Congress, and enhance connectivity between the two economies.

During their talks, the two leaders also discussed regional and international issues of shared concern./.

One imported COVID-19 case reported on March 23

Vietnam logged one imported case of COVID-19 in the past 12 hours to 6pm of March 23, bringing the national tally to 2,576, according to the Ministry of Health.

The patient, a 25-year-old man, had been quarantined since his arrival at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport on March 9. He is being treated at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases.

Of the total patients, 1,601 were locally transmitted cases, including 908 since January 27.

On the same day, 12 patients were given the all-clear, raising the total number of recoveries to date to 2,246.

Among the patients still under treatment, 42 have tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 once, 29 twice and 66 thrice. Death toll remains at 35.

Currently, 37,754 people are being quarantined nationwide, including 490 at hospitals, 18,620 at concentrated quarantine facilities and 18,644 at their accommodations.

The Ministry of Health advised people to continue preventive measures, including the “5K message” (in Vietnamese) - Khau trang (facemask) - (Khu khuan) disinfection - (Khoang cach) distance - (Khong tu tap) no gathering – (Khai bao y te) health declaration./.

Vietnam records no new COVID-19 cases on March 23 morning

Vietnam recorded no new COVID-19 cases over the past 12 hours to 6am on March 23, said the Ministry of Health.

So far, the total number of infections has remained at 2,575, of which 1,601 were locally-transmitted cases.

The ministry’s Department of Medical Service Administration reported that as of March 20, as many as 2,234 patients were given the all clear from coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

Among patients under treatment at medical establishments, 36 tested negative to SARS-CoV-2 once, 17 twice and 55 others thrice.

Up to 37,754 people who had close contact with patients or entered from pandemic-hit areas are under quarantine.

According to the National Expanded Programme on Immunisation, an additional 2,060 people were vaccinated against the disease on March 22, raising the total to 36,082, mostly front-line health workers and staff of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.

From March 8-22, vaccinations were conducted in 16 cities and provinces, including 17,248 in Hai Duong, 6,545 in Hanoi, 376 in Hai Phong, 2,665 in Hung Yen, 2,533 in Bac Ninh, 2,904 in Bac Giang, 887 in Hoa Binh, 176 in Ha Giang, 244 in Dien Bien, 117 in Da Nang, 105 in Khanh Hoa, 380 in Gia Lai, 916 in Ho Chi Minh City, 87 in Ba Ria – Vung Tau, 645 in Binh Duong and 224 in Long An.

Between now and late March, training courses will be held in the remaining 44 provinces and cities to help them ready when the next shipment of COVID-19 vaccines arrives in the country.

The Health Ministry advised residents to continue following 5K regulations after being inoculated./.

Three people prosecuted for organising illegal entry into Vietnam

Police in HCM City have prosecuted three people for organising illegal entry into Vietnam.

Three people who were prosecuted on March 22 are Tran Anh Tai, born in 1974, Dong Duy Tri, born in 1981, and Trinh Minh Hoang, born in 1987 and the owner of Symphony Hotel. The prosecution has been approved by the HCM City People's Procuracy.

The police were tipped off that Tai, Tri and Hoang had received money to illegally bring Chinese people into Vietnam and let them stay at Symphony Hotel before bringing them to An Giang Province and then Cambodia.

On March 6, the police in HCM City, and District 1 found and detained 35 Chinese people at Symphony Hotel. They were all transferred to quarantine centres.

Tai, Tri and Hoang also admitted to their violations. The investigation of case is being expanded.

Traffic accident in Thanh Hoa kills seven people

A traffic accident in the northern central province of Thanh Hoa has left seven people dead.

The incident occurred on Road 530 in Lang Chanh District’s Tri Nang Commune on Monday evening when a truck transporting wood crashed into a slope.  

As a result, all seven people, consisting of four women and three men aged between 37 and 48 died, including the driver and the assistant.

The police quickly came to the scene to investigate the accident and control traffic at the area.

The truck has been seriously damaged.

Digital transformation expected to help Da Nang with smart city building

Da Nang is drafting a plan on digital transformation which is viewed as momentum for the central city to address bottlenecks in development and complete its smart city building by 2030.

Experts gathering at a workshop on March 22 recommended Da Nang to focus its digital transformation plan until 2025, with a vision to 2030, on digital economy, digital society, and digital administration.

It should develop a digital foundation, digital data, digital infrastructure, digital personnel, and cyber safety and security, which are considered driving forces of digital transformation, they said.

Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Nguyen Van Quang said the national digital transformation programme, issued under the Prime Minister’s Decision No. 749/QD-TTg on June 3, 2020, is key to implementing the Politburo’s Resolution No. 52-NQ/TW on some guidelines and policies for proactive participation in the fourth Industrial Revolution.

“Da Nang must carry out digital transformation to help national digital transformation be successful,” he stated.

Quang noted that digital transformation is momentum for removing bottlenecks that have hampered the city’s development over the last years and helping to achieve the goal that by 2030, Da Nang will complete its smart city building and be uniformly connected with the smart cities networks of Vietnam and ASEAN.

It will also support Da Nang to become an ecological, modern, and worth-living city as targeted by the 12th-tenure Politburo in Resolution No. 43-NQ/TW on the development of Da Nang until 2030, with a vision to 2045, he added.

Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Le Quang Nam said Da Nang identifies its people and businesses as the centre of digital transformation, adding that to reap successes, it is necessary to have right, clear, and feasible strategies, visions, targets, tasks, and solutions, as well as resolutions and plans reflecting municipal leaders’ political resolve.

Also at the workshop, the municipal People’s Committee announced a decision to set up the city’s digital transformation advisory council and designated August 28 as the digital transformation day of Da Nang.

Covivac coronavirus vaccine to be tested on 30 more volunteers

n additional 30 volunteers participating in human trials for Covivac, the second locally-produced novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, are due to be given the first shot on March 23 and 25.

The recipients are among a group of 120 healthy volunteers who have registered to receive a dose of the experimental vaccine as part of the first phase of trials, said Vu Dinh Thiem, director of the Center for Clinical Trials under the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.

The volunteers, aged between 18 and 59, are not suffering from any underlying health conditions, infectious diseases, or allergies, with each person receiving either two doses or a placebo 28 days apart.

They will then be divided into five groups before being given either vaccine doses of one mcg, three mcg, 10 mcg, one mcg with adjuvant supplementation, or alternatively a placebo.

Providing the first phase yields positive results and meets required safety standards, the second phase will then be carried out with a larger sample size.

Earlier, the initial six volunteers received a dose of the experimental vaccine on March 15. Only a few cases witnessed mild side-effects such as a headache or muscle pain around the injection site.

Duong Huu Thai, director of the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC), said the Covivac vaccine has generated antibodies that can protect recipients against variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus originating from the UK and South Africa.

In addition to Nano Covax, Covivac is the second COVID-19 vaccine produced in Vietnam to reach the clinical trials stage.

Vietnam – US relations to develop more strongly: officials

Permanent Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son talked over the phone with the Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs at the US National Security Council, Kurt Campbell, on March 22.

Son reiterated Vietnam’s foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, and multilateralisation and diversification of external relations, and that the country attaches importance to the development of cooperation with the US.

He appreciated Campbell’s contributions to the growth of the US – Vietnam relations over the past many years, expressing Vietnam’s readiness for close cooperation to further promote their comprehensive partnership for the sake of the two countries' people, thus helping to consolidate regional and global peace, security, development, and prosperity.

For his part, Campbell affirmed that the US continues treasuring its relations with Vietnam and also highly values the latter’s role when the Southeast Asian nation successfully served as Chair of ASEAN in 2020 and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2020 – 2021.

He expressed his wish that the two countries will work together more closely on issues of common concern at regional and international mechanisms.

The two officials shared the view that the Vietnam – US ties have attained many important strides in all aspects and kept developing stably and substantively.

On the basis of the relations that both sides have made efforts to built up over the past years and the principles of “respecting each other’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political regimes” and "mutual benefit”, bilateral ties will develop more strongly in the time ahead, they added./.

Tuan Minh and Thien Ngan crowned national blitz champions

The 2021 National Chess Championships kicked off in Ho Chi Minh City on March 21, with Tran Tuan Minh and Nguyen Thien Ngan claiming the men’s and women’s blitz titles, respectively.

On the men’s side, no. 5 seed Tuan Minh (Hanoi) showed stable form, earning 7.5 points from nine matches and taking the top honour thanks to having better auxiliaries than teammate Le Tuan Minh.

Despite being considered the odds-on favourite for the crown, top seed Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son did not live up to expectations. He performed well in the first seven games but slipped in the remaining two with successive defeats against Le Tuan Minh and Ngo Duc Tri, settling for seventh place overall with six points.

No. 2 seed Cao Thanh Sang (Lam Dong) and no. 3 seed Tu Hoang Thong (Ho Chi Minh City) also performed below par, ending up in 15th and 53rd position, respectively.

The women’s competition saw brilliant form of young talents. 16-year-old Nguyen Thien Ngan (Thai Nguyen) – 2019 world U14 champion – clinched the gold medal with eight points in total, half a point clear of 20-year-old runner-up Nguyen Hong Anh (HCM City). In particular, she was invincible in the first eight games, including wins against seniors in the national team such as Nguyen Thi Mai Hung and Pham Le Thao Nguyen, before losing to 16-year-old Luong Hoang Tu Linh (Bac Giang) in the last round.

Top seed Pham Le Thao Nguyen settled for sixth place overall with 6.5 points.

The annual championship has brought together 130 players from 15 cities, provinces and sectors nationwide, who are battling for the men’s and women’s titles in the blitz, rapid and standard chess categories. It aims to select prominent members for the national teams in preparation for upcoming international competitions, including the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games which are to be hosted in Vietnam later this year.

The tournament will continue today with the rapid matches (on March 22-23) before concluding with the week-long standard competition.

Text message campaign to support TB patients launched

A text message campaign to support Tuberculosis (TB) patients was launched on March 22 by the National Lung Hospital, the National Programme against Tuberculosis and the Patients Support Foundation to End Tuberculosis (PASTB) and the National Humanitarian Portal 1400.

Accordingly, from 00:00 on March 22 to 24:00 on May 21, mobile service subscribers can text TB to 1402 to contribute 20,000 VND (0.87 USD) to the fund.

Each message will provide funds to help TB patients overcome the disease and reduce infection risks in the community.

Ending TB would mean saving 11,000 lives each year and ease the worry of infection for hundreds of thousands of people.

At present, more than 20,000 TB patients in Vietnam do not have health insurance cards yet. For health insurance card holders from poor and near-poor households, treatment fees are also a problem.

In 2020, Vietnam ranked 11th among the 30 countries that account for nearly 90 percent of the world’s TB burden. It is also one of the most common communicable diseases in the country.

Each year, it is estimated that 170,000 people become sick from TB in Vietnam, but only around 100,000 are accounted for in the National TB system, leaving around 50,000 community TB cases undiagnosed, and the remaining 20,000 diagnosed but not reported.

As of late December 2020, the PASTB, set up on March 16, 2018, had supported 2,560 patients, with the total amount of over 5.7 billion VND (247,100 USD)./.

Earth Hour 2021 promotes joint efforts to ease burden on natural world

The Earth Hour 2021 campaign, initiated by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) with the theme “Speak up for nature”, will take place in Vietnam on March 27 evening to raise public awareness of the relationship between human activities in the natural world and the causes of epidemics and pandemics, especially COVID-19.

Jointly organised by the WWF, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), and the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the event also aims to encourage initiatives on community building and promoting sustainable economic development and integration with nature, protecting biodiversity, and effectively responding to climate change.

The campaign in Vietnam this year will focus on communications activities via social networks.

MoNRE has called for action by each individual and organisation to reduce the burden on the environment by rejecting, minimising, reusing, and recycling waste, especially plastic waste and disposable plastic products; using environmentally-friendly public transport; investing in energy-saving equipment; and turning off or unplugging devices when not in use and encouraging the use of renewable energy.

As Vietnam’s contribution to Earth Hour in 2021, MoNRE proposed agencies, organisations, and individuals “turn off lights and unnecessary electrical equipment” from 8.30pm to 9.30pm on March 27.

Starting as a symbolic “lights out” event in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour has grown to become one of the world’s largest grassroots movements for the environment. It has inspired and empowered individuals, communities, businesses, and organisations in 190 countries and territories to take action on climate change and environmental loss.

Earth Hour was first organised by WWF in Vietnam in 2009. Since 2012, the campaign has been organised annually to bring people together to reduce the impact of climate change and protect the environment./

Final NA session set to elect key personnel of State apparatus

The 14th National Assembly (NA) is scheduled to launch its last session this week with a primary focus on the voting of key positions for personnel to the State apparatus for the 2021-2026 tenure.

The last session of the 14th National Assembly is scheduled to elect the State President, Prime Minister. National Assembly chairperson and some other key leaders of the State apparatus next week.

NA deputies will dismiss State President Nguyen Phu Trong, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, and Chairperson of the legislative body Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan before subsequently electing personnel to hold these positions by secret ballot.

Following this, the new leaders will then be sworn in shortly after the conclusion of the voting.

The deputies will also dismiss and elect other leaders to the State apparatus, including the positions of Vice State President, Vice Chairpersons of the NA, the State Auditor General, the NA General Secretary, a number of Deputy Prime Ministers and Cabinet members.

Moreover, they will dismiss and elect a new Chairman of the National Election Council, a number of members of the National Election Commission, along with personnel to positions such as Vice President and some members of the National Defense and Security Council.

The NA is scheduled to work on the dismissal and voting of high-level personnel on March 30.

The final session is due to last until April 8, according to information released by Nguyen Hanh Phuc, incumbent NA General Secretary. 

Vietnamese people will cast their ballots this May in order to elect 500 deputies to the new NA for the 2021-2026 tenure.

Election preparations carried out effectively: NA Chair

Preparations for the upcoming elections have been carried out across the country in line with laws and in a timely manner, said National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan while chairing the fourth meeting of the National Election Council (NEC) in Hà Nội on Monday.

Inspectors from five inspection teams of the NEC found that all localities have taken full responsibility and carried out preparation works as guided, she said.

Ngân asked for stronger communications about the election of deputies to the 15th NA and People’s Councils at all levels on mass media.

At the meeting, participants discussed some key contents, including building scenarios for COVID-19 prevention and control and ensuring food safety and hygiene during the elections and organising voting for those in centralised quarantine areas.

Chairwoman Ngan said it was also necessary to account for the possibility of natural disasters in May when voting is held and all scenarios must be studied carefully.

She also asked for more attention to guiding the establishment of election teams and election training as well as dealing with denunciations and complaints related to the elections.

NA General Secretary, Chairman of the NA Office and head of the NEC Office Nguyen Hanh Phuc reported that the NEC has so far received dossiers of 1,136 nominated candidates to the NA and for 7,495 nominated candidates to the all-level People’s Councils. 

Hailstorm causes damage as cold snap strikes

The northern mountainous province of Lao Cai has been hit by the first hailstorm of the year after a cold snap struck the locality on March 21.

The hail lasted between five and seven minutes in Ham Rong ward of Sa Pa town and Ton Sanh commune in Bat Xat district, with the ground covered in hailstones ranging from 0.3 cm to 0.5 cm in diameter.

A period of heavy rain and hailstorm also damaged and flooded several homes before destroying 3ha of newly transplanted rice, 14 ha of corn, and 2.7 ha of watermelon and cucumber, causing total losses of VND400 million.

The adverse weather phenomenon also occurred in Muong Khuong district in Lao Cai province and in neighbouring Dien Bien province.

Local authorities immediately deployed forces in an effort to support local people impacted by the heavy hails.

According to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, downpours and thunderstorms are forecast to hit north-central and central regions at this time of year. Local authorities are therefore requested to regularly update forecasts, warnings, and instructions, as well as getting ready to help localities with search and rescue missions if necessary.

The northern region will continue to experience a cold spell, with temperatures dropping to between 15 to 18 degrees Celsius. Local residents, especially elderly people and children, are advised to don warm clothes to protect their health.

Official calls for action to sustainably tap into water resources

Vice Director of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Department of Water Resources Management, Nguyen Thi Thu Linh, has called for practical action to sustainably protect and tap into water resources.

In an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22, with the theme “Valuing Water”, Linh said Vietnam has abundant sources of water, with a total volume of around 9,434 cu m per capita each year - higher than regional and global standards.

However, due to reliance upon external sources, the domestic annual volume is only 4,200 cu m per capita, lower than the average of 4,900 cu m per capita per year in Southeast Asia, she added.

As Vietnam is one of the countries hit hardest by climate change, water resources will be severely and quickly affected by uncertain rainfall and rising sea levels.

In recent years, countries in upstream areas have been stepping up the exploitation of water on trans-national rivers, especially in the basins of the Mekong and Red Rivers.

The construction of dykes and hydropower plants on the upper reaches of the two rivers is a direct threat to water flows in Vietnam and to the country’s water security.

According to the World Bank, demand for water during the dry season in Vietnam will increase 32 percent by 2030. Eleven out of 16 major basins in the country will face tension relating to a lack of water, especially the four basins of the Red, Thai Binh, Mekong, and Dong Nai Rivers and basins in the southeastern region.

Data shows that for each cu.m of water, Vietnam generates only 2.37 USD in GDP, or about one-tenth of the world average of 19.42 USD.

Vietnam has so far built a comprehensive set of laws meeting the need for water management in the immediate future, including reviewing and amending the Law on Water Resources, encouraging economic sectors to develop water resources and services, and raising public awareness on the effort.

The country has also approved national planning of water resources, including those in the basins of the Red and Mekong Rivers and other major basins.

Linh called for enhancing international cooperation in water resources, especially in improving the efficiency of cooperation with other countries in the sustainable use and exploitation of trans-national water resources./.

NA Standing Committee, VFF Central Committee’s Presidium boost coordination

National Assembly (NA) Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan and President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee Tran Thanh Man co-chaired a conference on March 22 to discuss ways to further strengthen coordination between the NA Standing Committee and the Presidium of the VFF Central Committee.

Participants highlighted the effective coordination between the two agencies during the 14th-tenure legislature, saying that they have stepped up the implementation of regulations on coordination, especially in law-making, building and implementing supervision programmes, supervising the settlement of voters' opinions and petitions, and collecting social comments and feedback on draft laws, ordinances and resolutions.

Reports summarising up opinions and recommendations of voters and people prepared by the two agencies to submit to NA sessions is increasingly authentic, profound, comprehensive and objective, the participants heard.

President of the VFF Central Committee Tran Thanh Man said voters and people highly appreciated the 14th National Assembly’s innovations to improve its operational efficiency, meeting the country’s requirements of rapid and sustainable development and international integration.

The NA has effectively implemented supreme supervision and decided important issues of the country, and questioning and debate activities were trusted by voters and people, he stressed.

Meanwhile, NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan said the NA Standing Committee and the VFF Central Committee’s Presidium have strengthened coordination in mobilising, building and promoting the strength of great national solidarity, as well as in patriotic emulation movements.

The two agencies have effectively coordinated in building laws, she said, noting that the VFF has actively contributed opinions to draft laws and ordinances related to rights and obligations of people from all walks of life, and rights and responsibilities of the Fatherland Font.

In 2021, the two agencies need to coordinate more closely, regularly and effectively to complete their assigned tasks, she said.

NA Chairwoman Ngan suggested that the two agencies should continue to actively coordinate in directing the upcoming elections of deputies to the 15th National Assembly and People's Councils at all levels for the 2021-2026 term.

They should also focus more on strengthening the great national unity bloc, promoting democracy in society, closely coordinating the monitoring of contents in accordance with the supervision programmes of the NA and the NA Standing Committee, she stressed./.

Thai Nguyen university’s exhibition sheds light on gender violence

An exhibition on gender violence opened at the Thai Nguyen University’s School of Foreign Languages in the northern province of Thai Nguyen, as part of a project on gender-based violence prevention in universities in Vietnam.

Focusing on harassments, works by Vietnamese amateur and professional artists on display touch upon familiar and strange topics such as disdain over others’ appearances, victim blaming, sexual abuse, and psychological trauma.

The exhibition also gives insights into the thoughts of people who have been victims of gender violence.

Co-organised by the university and the Centre for Education promotion and Empowerment of Women (CEPEW), the event remains open to the public until March 30./.

Two prosecuted in Homebank loan sharks ring in HCMC

Investigators of HCMC’s Tan Phu District today, March 22, decided to prosecute and detain Nguyen Binh Tuan, aged 27, and Nguyen Ba Diep, aged 23, for allegedly offering loans at extremely high interest rates from 240% to 810% per year.

Earlier, the local police had arrested seven people in an apartment on Hoa Binh Street in the district after pursuing them for a while, and discovered 51 files linked to usury activities in Tan Phu and other districts in the city.

Preliminary findings from the police revealed that Tuan moved to HCMC from Hanoi in May last year to work as a loan shark. He created and used a Facebook account named “Homebank-Ngan hang tai nha” (Bank at home) to find potential borrowers.

In September 2020, Tuan asked some others to pool their money to offer loans at high interest rates. When a customer asked for loans, Tuan, Diep and some others in the group would verify the customer’s address, keep a photocopy or the original version of his or her identification card, the household registration book and related documents.

After completing the verification step, Tuan would transfer money to the borrower’s account and collect daily installment payments.

The police are working on the case.

Libraries help ethnic students improve Vietnamese language

Ethnic minority children in the Central Highlands Province of Gia Lai have significantly improved their Vietnamese language skills thanks to a new project on expanding "friendly libraries" in local classes and schools.

Setting up libraries in schools was one of the tasks to strengthen Vietnamese language for pre-school and primary school students in ethnic minority areas.

Since it was launched five years ago, speaking, reading and writing skills of ethnic minority students in many districts improved.

In the 2020-2021 school year, Gia Lai Province has 300 primary schools and more than 600 small-scale school branches over several remote mountainous areas with a total of 6,000 classes and 165,000 students, of which half were ethnic minority.

These children suffer many difficulties and disadvantages, and have little opportunity to access advanced society, so their language skills are limited.

And because they are used to speaking in their own languages, and rarely attend kindergarten classes before school, lessons are difficult to understand.

Gia Lai’s education sector is upgrading facilities and teaching equipment in primary schools.

Many schools set up their own libraries with a variety of books, comics and magazines to help students.

Schools also organised after-school activities such as singing competitions, reading festivals, drawing contests and stationery making competitions.

These activities were helpful and created excitement for ethnic students.

Trần Quốc Tuấn Primary School in Chư Drăng Commune of Krông Pa District which has five branches and nearly 600 ethnic students has seen improvements in the classrooms.

Đoàn Thị Thúy, school principal, said: “In order to make students more interested in going to class, the school was constantly creating a beautiful environment, especially with the library.

“We bought new books, magazines and comics to attract students to come and read, improving their language skills.”

Since the project was launched, the school found that students had developed well, and the quality increased year by year.

Ksor H’Bươi, a fourth grader, said: “After class, my friends and I often went to the library to read books.

“Many of my friends read faster and wrote better thanks to reading books and stories in the library.”

Developing libraries in schools and classrooms is a practical move by the local education sector. However, funding is limited so the books are modest with little supplementation and renewal every year.

Right now, only the main schools have built libraries but small branches have not been able to because of lack of funds.

Nearly 300 of Jrai ethic minority at Ia Jip school branch in Trần Quốc Tuấn Primary School don’t even have basic learning equipment, let alone a library.

The branch is 10km away from the main school and isolated from residential areas and has no internet access and little reading material.

This means students speak only in their mother tongue and were reluctant to talk in Vietnamese.

Fortunately, the school will soon have a small library thanks to the Đinh Hữu Dư Bookcase Initiative set up by Vietnam News Agency’s Youth Union.

Chu Sỹ Lin, deputy head of education and training department of Krông Pa District said over the last five years, reading habits and quality improved year by year.

However, in schools in remote and isolated schools, there was a lack of resources, so the education department often called for sponsors to help the children. 

Ceremony marks 60th anniversary of Vietnam sending public security experts to Laos

The Ministry of Public Security on March 22 held a ceremony to mark its six decades of sending experts to Laos (March 22, 1961 - 2021) to help the nation in ensuring political security and social order and safety.

Speaking at the event, Lao Ambassador to Vietnam Sengphet Houngboungnuang highlighted the important contributions of Vietnamese public security experts in building a strong public security force of Laos during the period.

He affirmed the successful cooperation between the Vietnamese and Lao public security ministries has helped ensure political stability and social safety and order, creating favourable conditions for socio-economic and cultural development in both nations.

Minister of Public Security General To Lam took the occasion to thank the Lao Government, State, and people for their support for and collaboration with Vietnamese experts in completing their missions for the sake of the two countries' people.

He also thanked the generations of experts for excellently fulfilling their assigned tasks and hoped they would continue making contributions to the two nations’ revolutionary causes.

Lam noted that the effective and comprehensive cooperation between the two ministries will be further expanded across all areas in the future, particularly in building forces and providing equipment and tools serving the work of ensuring national security and social order and safety of each country./.

Cao Bang Province accelerates rural development programme

After 10 years of implementation, the northern mountainous province of Cao Bang has gained a number of achievements in its New Rural Development Programme.

The province now has 17 communes reaching the new rural area criteria.

The programme has breathed new life into many poor villages and communes in Cao Bang Province, bringing improvement to local people’s lives.

Participating in the programme, Chu Văn Trường's family in Huy Giáp Commune of Bảo Lạc District has become one of the leading households in the application of science and technology in bamboo tree production.

Realising the economic efficiency brought about by bamboo, Trường and his family members registered for training courses on bamboo planting techniques and invested in 12ha of ​​bamboo.

Every year, Trường earns over VNĐ400 million (US$17,300) and creates jobs for 20 local labourers.

For Nông Hứa Vĩ’s family in Chu Trinh Commune of Cao Bang city, the new rural development programme had changed the awareness of the family members.

Recognising the purpose of the new rural development programme, Vĩ's family voluntarily donated more than 2,000 sq.m of cultivated land to build roads.

“I donated lands for building roads because I knew when the road was completed, my family and people in the commune could travel more conveniently, creating conditions for economic development,” Vĩ said.

After 10 years, Huy Giáp Commune of Bảo Lạc District completed the new rural criteria last year.

Lương Văn Mão, chairman of Huy Giáp Commune, said: “With a low starting point in building a new countryside, Huy Giáp Commune determines to promote its internal strengths.”

“Therefore, the commune encouraged people to change the structure of crops and animal breeding towards commodity production with the promotion of science and technology and intensive farming,” said Mão.

“Since then, many models of economic production were born and brought high economic values, such as raising black pigs and cows, planting bamboo and growing hybrid corn and rice,” Mão said.

As a result, the poverty rate of the whole commune decreased to 8 per cent so far and average income of people reached VNĐ36.2 million (US$1,600) per person per year, according to the chairman.

Meanwhile, Chu Trinh Commune of Cao Bằng city reached the targets of the rural development programme in 2019.

The change in rural infrastructure was beneficial to the people of Chu Trinh commune.

Đàm Việt Hùng, chairman of Chu Trinh Commune, said: “Nearly 10 years after implementing the programme, the commune had invested VNĐ20 billion (US$867,000) and mobilised local people to donate more than 6,000sq.m of residential land, cultivated and forestry land and contributed over 7,000 working days in building essential infrastructure so as to meet production and people's living needs.”

Thanks to the programme, the appearance in Cao Bằng Province has been changing day by day and people's awareness has improved markedly. People not only agreed to contribute workdays and build essential infrastructure, but they also helped each other develop their economy, preserve friendship, and promote the traditional cultural values ​​of the locality.

The programme has helped to bring about remarkable changes in rural socio-economic infrastructure. When implemented, projects will bring efficiency, helping people, especially the poor, have opportunities to develop production and business, create jobs by themselves to increase their income and stabilise their live.

In the 2021-2025 period, Cao Bằng continues to promote information dissemination about the programme to reach the target of five more communes and five hamlets of the poorest border communes meeting new rural criteria this year.

Nông Thanh Mẫn, deputy director of the provincial Rural Development Department, said: “The province continued to implement the programme in the direction of improving quality and sustainability.”

“We would review and adjust projects as well as propose a plan to balance the local budget and the central budget and mobilise the maximum resources to implement the programme,” said Mẫn. 

First Batch Of COVID-19 Vaccine Doses From COVAX Facility Set To Arrive This Week

The first batch of 1.3 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX Facility will be delivered to Viet Nam on March 25, according to the Ministry of Health.

The Southeast Asian country is set to receive 30 million doses through the COVAX Facility – a global pooled procurement mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines through which COVAX will ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines for all 190 participating economies, using an allocation framework formulated by WHO. 

The next delivery of 2.8 million doses is expected on April 25, said the ministry.

Viet Nam began the first wave of vaccination program on March 8 after receiving 117,600 AstraZeneca vaccine doses, with 32,361 front liners in 13 cities and provinces vaccinated to date.

These localities have been hit by the third wave of local transmissions since January 27, 2021.

The program has been placed under strict supervision of the Ministry of Health.

Last week, the ministry released guidance on health screening before COVID-19 vaccination for people aged 18 and above.

Accordingly, the following people will not be vaccinated against COVID-19: People with acute diseases; Pregnant women, breastfeeding women; People with impaired immune responses, end-stage cancer patients, patients with decompensated cirrhosis; Users of high-dose corticosteroids, chemotherapy and radiation treatment within 14 days; Recipients of immunoglobulin and COVID-19 plasma treatment within last 90 days; Recipients of other vaccines within 14 days; Those infected with COVID-19 within last six months; People aged 65 or above; People suffering thrombocytopenia or blood clotting disorders.

As of 6:05 am on Monday, Viet Nam confirmed 2,572 COVID-19 infection cases, including 2,198 recoveries and 35 fatalities./.

PM requests emulation, commendation activities be practical, transparent

The Central Emulation and Rewards Council held a regular meeting in Hanoi on March 22 under the chair of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

The council members and participants in the event shared the view that 2020 was a very special year when there were a number of major events and anniversaries of the country, the COVID-19 pandemic seriously affected socio-economic aspects, and emulation and commendation activities also became even more important.

Emulation movements in the COVID-19 combat attracted joint efforts by the entire political system and people as seen in the figure of over 2 trillion VND (86.6 million USD) worth of donations and such initiatives as “rice ATMs”, “face mask ATMs”, and “zero-dong supermarkets”.

Rewards were presented in a timely manner to serve political tasks, the council reported, noting that it verified and submitted nearly 2,900 commendation proposals to the PM and carried out nearly 1,700 commendation decisions issued by the State President and nearly 1,000 others by the PM.

At the meeting, PM Phuc, who is also Chairman of the council, highlighted contributions by all-level authorities and sectors’ emulation and commendation activities to the country’s achievements last year.

Pointing out certain shortcomings, he requested emulation movements be implemented in a more practical and effective manner in line with the Party General Secretary and State President’s directions, as well as the five emulation topics that the PM launched at the 10th National Patriotic Emulation Congress last year.

Asking for communications to be stepped up and effective campaigns and role models expanded, the Government leader also demanded the all-level emulation and rewards councils reform activities and improve their performance while commendation activities be carried out in line with regulations and in a timely and transparent fashion./.

Country's biggest rice producer raises production efficiency with new farming models

The Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang in recent years has seen a rise in production efficiency after it began rotating rice cultivation and shrimp breeding on the same fields and switching to other crops on unproductive rice fields.

The switch was part of the province’s agricultural restructuring plan and Government Resolution 120 issued in 2017, which called for sustainable and climate-resilient development of the delta.

The province, the country’s largest rice producer, made the switch on 32,864ha of rice in the 2017 – 20 period, improving production efficiency and farmers' incomes, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Of that amount, 21,688ha of rice fields that grew two rice crops a year in U Minh Thượng and Long Xuyên Quadrangle areas shifted to growing rice and breeding shrimp on the same rice fields in rotation. 

The remaining rice farming areas in Giang Thành, Hòn Đất, U Minh Thượng, Châu Thành districts and Rạch Giá City, which had grown three crops a year, turned to rotating rice and vegetables, or switched completely to growing vegetables and other crops.

During the period, the province also used alum - affected, unproductive rice fields in these same areas to grow fruits, pepper, pineapple and banana.

Quảng Trọng Thao, deputy director of the department, said that advanced techniques and machines have been used to increase yield and quality and reduce production costs.

The province planted 725,863ha of rice with an output of 4.5 million tonnes last year, up 2.2 per cent of the target set for the growing area and up 5 per cent of the target set for output last year.

Last year, the province had 100 large – scale rice fields with a total area of 30,672ha in which farmers had contracts with rice companies that guaranteed outlets.

Under the province’s restructuring plan, Kiên Giang established intensive rice-farming areas that grow three rice crops a year in areas near closed flood – prevention dykes west of the Hậu River and the Long Xuyên Quadrangle.

It has also created new rice varieties that have short – term maturity, are resistant to saltwater and disease, have high yield and quality, and meet export requirements. The new rice varieties include GKG1, GKG9 and GKG35.

Nguyễn Thanh Nhàn, deputy chairman of the province’s People’s Committee, said that farmers have faced saltwater intrusion, drought and disease in recent years.

To cope with the problems, the province has increased cultivation of rice varieties with high yield and quality, and adapted to climate change and natural conditions in each area.

The province will also set up more large- scale rice fields to serve export requirements. Two key agriculture products, rice and seafood, will be the focus of its restructuring plan.

Farmers will also receive vocational training to improve their production techniques and the operation of agricultural co-operatives.

The province had an average crop production value of VNĐ100 million (US$4,300) per hectare and VNĐ130 million ($5,600) per hectare in aquaculture production last year, according to the department.

Kiên Giang in recent years has developed shrimp breeding suited to different areas under industrial, semi-industrial, advanced extensive farming, or shrimp – rice farming models.

The province harvested more than 264,100 tonnes of seafood last year, up 7.6 per cent against 2019. Of the amount, shrimp accounted for 92,490 tonnes, according to the department.

Thao, deputy director of the department, said the achievement of the province’s aquaculture last year was the successful breeding of white-legged shrimp under two – stage industrial farming.

The two – stage breeding model, which adapts to climate change and produces clean shrimp, requires various ponds for breeding shrimp and treating water. 

Shrimp breeding ponds are equipped with oxygenation facilities, anti-sunlight nets, and plastic sheets for covering their beds.

The breeding model has an average yield of 20 – 30 tonnes per hectare, offering high profits for farmers.

The province plans to breed brackish-water shrimp on a total of 136,000ha with an estimated output of 98,000 tonnes this year.

Most of the shrimp farming areas are bred under industrial, semi-industrial, advanced extensive farming and rice-shrimp rotation farming models.

“The breeding of brackish-water shrimp is expected to face challenges like complicated weather, disadvantageous temperatures, salinity and environmental conditions this year,” said Thao.

The impact of the COVID 19 pandemic has also caused difficulty in breeding, trading and processing shrimp for export, so shrimp cultivation must be done in a safe, sustainable and effective manner.

The province’s Fisheries Sub-department has set up shrimp breeding schedules for each area this year and has worked with localities to urge farmers to follow the schedules in order to prevent disease and natural disasters.

The province’s agencies are also carefully inspecting production of shrimp feed and trading of shrimp fry, medicines and other products used for breeding shrimp and treating waste from shrimp cultivation.

Shrimp farmers have been told to apply Vietnamese good agriculture practices (VietGAP) standards and other international standards to meet domestic and export requirements.

Farmers in the province have bred more than 69,700ha of brackish-water shrimp so far this year. No disease outbreak has occurred this year, according to the department.

Top legislator chairs National Election Council’s 4th sitting

Preparations for the upcoming elections of deputies to the 15th National Assembly (NA) and People’s Councils at all levels for the 2021-2026 have been made in line with law and on schedule, with no problems affecting the elections, NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan told the National Election Council’s fourth session in Hanoi on March 22.

Regarding early elections, the NA Chairwoman asked the National Election Council’s Office to inform localities seeking to register for such, as the council is in charge of making decisions on early elections.

At its fourth session, the National Election Council discussed a draft report on the results of the preparations for the elections of deputies to the 15th NA and all-level People’s Councils.

Delegates exchanged views on how to build scenarios on COVID-19 prevention and control, and food safety and hygiene control, how to organise elections at concentrated quarantine facilities, and how to prevent any activities aimed at undermining the elections.

The council approved two resolutions on resolving cases in which candidates running for seats at People’s Councils are vacant for uncontrollable reasons, and on the principle of allocating candidates from central agencies and organisations to run for election to the NA in localities./.

All plastics banned on Cham Islands

There’s more to Chàm Islands than meets the eye. The central island is the only place that has successfully banned the use of plastics. Residents are also encouraged to classify waste at homes to take the pressure off the islands’ landfill.

VNG Corp sponsors IRONMAN 70.3 Vietnam triathlon 

The Vietnamese tech firm VNG Corporation is the title sponsor for the IRONMAN 70.3 Vietnam triathlon race, which will be held in Đà Nẵng on May 9.

The annual race will return after one year of delay due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

Fifty outstanding triathletes will be chosen to take part in the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, held in the US on September 17-18.

The IRONMAN Foundation, through the Women for Tri program, will choose 25 excellent female triathletes to join the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship.

As part of the IRONMAN 70.3 Viet Nam, many separate events including the Sunrise SPRINT Viet Nam, a mini triathlon for those wishing to test their skills before taking on a 70.3 distance, and IRONKIDS Viet Nam, a race for youth 5 – 14 years old, will be organised.

The IRONMAN 70.3 Viet Nam was first held in Việt Nam in 2015, attracting 50 triathletes. The figure increased to more than 1,000 in 2019.

VNG has sponsored many programmes, including drowning prevention at the Swim Vietnam Organisation and others.

This year, the corporation is providing VNĐ550 million (US$23,778) for the national triathlon team to practise for the SEA Games. 

Ca Mau expands forest coverage, improves farmers' incomes

The southernmost province of Ca Mau in recent years has developed its protection and commercial forests, which provide much-needed household, export and tourism revenue.

Last year, the province planted 506ha of new forests, and replanted 4.2ha of replacement forests and 100ha of special-use forests. It also replanted more than 3,000ha of commercial forests that harvested wood last year.

Ca Mau has more than 94,000ha of concentrated forests, including about 52,000ha of commercial forests, 18,000ha of special-use forests, and 23,000ha of protection forests.

In U Minh Ha forest, the area of high-quality commercial forests totals 22,300ha. The cultivation of forests under intensive growing methods in U Minh Hạ has offered farmers a wood output of 150-200 cu.m. per hectare.

Wood is one of five key agricultural products in the province’s agriculture restructuring plan. The other key agricultural products are shrimp, high-quality rice, mud crabs and bananas.

This year, the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development plans to grow 312ha of new forests, aiming to increase the province's coverage rate to 26.2 per cent by the end of this year and to 27 per cent in 2025.

To meet the coverage rate, the province will plant more than 29 million trees, or 10,892ha of new forests, from now to 2025.

Le Van Su, deputy chairman of the province's People’s Committee, has told departments and localities to protect existing forests, especially special–use and protective forests.

The cultivation of commercial forests has offered a good income for farmers in recent years. Under the instruction of local authorities and forestry companies, farmers have grown acacia trees for wood as the large tree has a high yield and high quality.

In U Minh District’s Khánh Thuận Commune, farmers have used intensive cultivation methods to grow forests and have switched from cajuput to acacia. It takes about five years to harvest acacia trees.

Farmers can earn VNĐ100-500 million (US$4,300-21,600) by harvesting wood from one hectare of commercial forest.    

Đào Thị Nhỏ in Khánh Thuận’s Hamlet 18 said she moved the hamlet in 1990 and was poor at that time, but she began planting forests in recent years.  

“Life is now more comfortable,” she said.

The commune’s average income per capita has increased to VNĐ45 million ($1,940) a year, up 15 per cent against 2015.

Besides forests, farmers in the communes grow other short-term crops and animals to improve income, which provides funds while they wait to harvest the wood.

Farmer Nguyễn Văn Mẫn grows 4ha of commercial forests and 3ha of banana trees in Khánh Thuận’s Hamlet 18. He earns an income of more than VNĐ10 million ($430) a month selling bananas.

With its mangrove forests, national park forests, nature preserves and bird sanctuaries, Cà Mau has rich resources for tourism services, according to the province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Tourists can visit mangrove forests in the Mũi Cà Mau National Park, plant trees on alluvial grounds in coastal areas, and visit bird sanctuaries and gardens.

Lê Văn Hải, head of the province’s Forest Protection Sub-department, said the province has many bird gardens, most of which are owned by households that offer ecotourism services. 

Trương Minh Thắng, owner of the 10ha Tư Sự bird garden in Thới Bình District’s Biển Bạch Đông Commune, began offering tourism services in 2018 with the support of the province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Thới Bình People’s Committee.

Local authorities have also helped him renovate the garden canals and taught him how to tend to bird species. His garden attracts a large number of visitors each year.

“During the last Tết (Lunar New Year) festival, the number of visitors fell by 60 per cent compared to normal because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the garden still received about 1,000 visitors,” Thắng said.

This year he will build a homestay area separate from the bird garden.

The province has offered support to households that offer homestay services, and has called for more investment in key tourism destinations such as the Cà Mau Cape Tourism Area in Ngọc Hiển District.

The province has attracted more than 1.5 million tourists each year to its major tourism destinations since 2018, according to the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

It targets receiving 2.8 million tourists a year by 2030, including 110,000 foreign tourists. 

Meeting highlights development of ethnic and mountainous areas for 2021-2030

The steering committee for the national target programme on socio-economic development in ethnic and mountainous areas for 2021-2030 convened a meeting on March 22 under the chair of Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh.

As heard at the function, the feasibility study of the programme has been completed and preliminarily assessed by the State Appraisal Council.

According to Do Van Chien, Minister-Chairman of the Government Committee of Ethnic Minority Affairs, the National Assembly’s Resolution 88/2019/QH14 on approving the master plan on socio-economic development in ethnic minority-inhabited and mountainous areas for 2021-2030 sets an ambitious goal for the average income of ethnic minorities to double in 2025 compared to 2020.

Meanwhile, 99 and 90 percent of the group will get access to electricity from the national grid and hygiene water, respectively.

Addressing the meeting, Binh said in the 2016-2020 period, the average economic growth rate of ethnic and mountainous areas stood at 7 percent, higher than the national average.

The economic structure shifted in the right direction, initially forming commodity agro-forestry production areas, while gradual infrastructure perfection met demand for socio-economic development.

The number of poverty households decreased sharply, while pressing issues on free migration and religious activities were basically tackled.

He also pointed to a number shortcomings, including slow implementation of a number of policies due to a lack of investment as well as low quality of health, education, and culture services.

The official ordered all ministries, sectors and localities involved in the programme to build detailed plans for prompt implementation of related projects right after they are approved by the National Assembly and the Prime Minister in terms of capital and investment decision./.

NA official receives France’s National Order of the Legion of Honour

Nguyen Thuy Anh, member of the National Assembly Standing Committee and Chairwoman of the NA’s Committee of Social Affairs, was presented the French State’s National Order of the Legion of Honour, Class Knight, at a ceremony in Hanoi on March 22.

Authorised by the French President, French Ambassador to Vietnam Nicolas Warnery gave the noble order to Anh, who is also President of the Vietnam-France Friendship Parliamentarians’ Group and Chairwoman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophone (APF)'s Vietnam Sub-Committee.

He said the awarding is the French State’s recognition and high evaluation of her contributions to deepening the friendship between France and Vietnam, as well as to developing the Francophone movement./.

2,750 dignity kits presented to women affected by COVID-19

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) received an additional 2,750 dignity kits from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) during a ceremony on March 22.

The assistance aims to support women at high risk of gender-based violence in regions hardest-hit by COVID-19.

Speaking at the event, MoLISA Deputy Minister Nguyen Thi Ha spoke highly of the efforts of UN agencies in Vietnam, particularly the UNFPA, in joining hands with Vietnamese ministries, sectors, and organisations in the launch of activities to eliminate violence against women and girls amid COVID-19.

The kits are hoped to help women staying in quarantine or those facing high risk of violence ensure their personal hygiene and health, making it easier to adapt to changes in living environments.

They will be promptly delivered to the northern localities of Hai Duong, Quang Ninh, and Hanoi, which have been worst-hit by the pandemic, Ha affirmed.

For her part, UNFPA Chief Representative in Vietnam Naomi Kitahara said the handover is the continuation of similar activities held previously by the UNFPA, the MoLISA, and the Vietnam Farmers’ Union Central Committee.

More than 16,240 women have received such kits to date.

It is part of a project to support interventions aimed at wiping out violence against women and children in Vietnam in the context of COVID-19 funded by the Australian Government, Kitahara said./.

Vietnamese leaders congratulate newly elected leaders of Laos

Top Vietnamese leaders on March 22 offered congratulations to newly elected leaders of the State, Government, and National Assembly of Laos.

Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, and State Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh sent congratulatory messages to State President Thongloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh, National Assembly Chairman Saysomphone Phomvihane, and Vice State Presidents Bounthong Chitmani and Pany Yathotou, who were elected at the first session of the 9th-tenure National Assembly of Laos.

In their messages, the Vietnamese leaders said the elections demonstrated the Lao parliament and people’s trust in and high evaluation of the new leaders’ capacity, prestige, and important contributions to the revolutionary cause and the national construction, defence and development of Laos.

They expressed their beliefs that the new leadership will effectively direct the implementation of the resolution issued at the 11th National Congress of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party as well as the socio-economic development plan for 2021 – 2025, thereby successfully building Laos into a country of peace, independence, democracy, unity, and prosperity with an increasingly important role in the region and the world.

The leaders of Vietnam also affirmed the continuation of close cooperation with their Lao counterparts to unceasingly consolidate and develop the great friendship, special solidarity, and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Laos, for the prosperity and happiness of the two countries' people.

The same day, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh sent congratulations to Saleumxay Kommasith on the latter’s re-election as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Laos.

Minh expressed his belief that Saleumxay Kommasith will continue leading the Lao Foreign Ministry to effectively carry out the country’s foreign policy of peace, independence, friendship, and cooperation for development, in which the special Laos – Vietnam relations and the two foreign ministries’ cooperation will be further promoted./.

Prime Minister meets generations of youth union officials

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on March 22 had a meeting with generations of officials of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union (HCYU) on the occasion of the union’s 90th founding anniversary (March 26, 1931 – 2021).

Expressing their delight at the nation’s development, incumbent and former officials of the union said they support the Party’s and State’s policies and orientations, particularly in building Vietnam into a strong and prosperous country in 2045.

They hoped young people nationwide will continue making contributions to such progress.

Highlighting his gratitude to former HCYU officials, of whom many were soldiers making significant contributions to Vietnam’s revolution for independence and national construction cause, PM Phuc said the Party and State always attach importance to the role and position of the youth.

They are the vanguard force of the revolution and are placed at the centre of the nation’s human resources development strategy, the Government leader said, adding that the Vietnamese government in different periods issued many policies to ensure the youth’s rights and legitimate interests, he added.

To realise the Party’s Resolution on youth-related affairs, he asked the union to further taking care of its members and young people, particularly in personal training and career building.

Each member of the HCYU should prepare to defence themselves in the 4th industrial revolution and from the dark side of the market economy, he noted, saying the youth must take the lead on the forefront of innovation, creativity and start-up.

He recommended the union come up with new ways to attract the participation in youth movements and strengthen education on revolutionary ideology, morality and lifestyle among young people, especially in remote areas.

The PM stressed that the entire political system must pay attention to the HCYU and affairs related to young people./. 

Bac Giang applying good practices in administrative reform

Local authorities said Bang Giang will promote the implementation of new and innovative models and solutions, applying sound and effective measures in administrative reform. The province will also focus on improving the quality of public employees and reforming State administrative agencies at all levels, building e-government and raising the quality of public services.

Bac Giang will also promote the reform of administrative procedures, reduce the time and cost facing people and businesses in settling procedures, maintain and improve the Public Administration Reform Index (PAR INDEX), the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI), the Provincial Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI), the People’s Satisfaction Index and the Agency for the Service of State Administration Authorities (SIPAS) in the province.

It will enhance the online settlement of administrative procedures according to Government Decree No 45/ND-CP dated April 8, 2020, and will also focus on institutional reform; the reform of the State administrative organisations and public services; improving the quality of public employees; public finance reform; and developing e-government.

Last year, Bac Giang introduced a range of initiatives and solutions to improve the quality and efficiency of administrative reform to serve people and businesses. Agencies and localities registered a total of 44 new initiatives and solutions that have helped them achieve outstanding results, including deploying “five on-site” administrative procedures (receiving, evaluating, approving, stamping, and returning results) at the provincial Public Administration Service Center. The implementation of administrative procedures on the spot aims to contribute to ensuring they are handled quickly and conveniently, reducing the cost and time facing citizens and organisations. Document processing was implemented in a public and transparent manner, avoiding bureaucracy. Administrative procedures were digitised, processed, and approved online, and results determined right at the provincial Public Administration Service Centre.

The province has shortened time in handling many administrative procedures in the province have been cut, for instance reducing from three days to half a day the time needed for the registration of private enterprises, the establishment of one, two, or more member limited companies, joint stock companies, and partnerships, and the re-issuance, change, adjustment of health insurance cards; and reducing from 3 days to 60 minutes the re-issuance of business registration certificates and corrections to business registration information, among others.

The Bac Giang Provincial People’s Committee has set up a working group to receive complaints and petitions from local people and businesses on administrative procedures. The province has also built an app to receive feedback from people, businesses, and investors. This can be installed by local residents, businesses, and investors on a smartphone, for sending feedback anytime, anywhere, which is forwarded to the working group of the Chairman of the Provincial People’s Committee for handling or to advise the Chairman to assign relevant agencies for handling. The results will be sent to enterprises and investors through the app, thus creating a new information channel connecting enterprises and investors with the Chairman of the Provincial People’s Committee.

The Bac Giang Department of Information and Communications has piloted the integrated solution Smart e-KYC (remote customer identification). Instead of asking residents, businesses, and organisations to meet directly to cross-check submitted documents, Smart e-KYC performs identity checks entirely on a digital platform, with dynamic processes and artificial intelligence technology. This solution has helped save labour and shortened the time for handling administrative procedures for citizens, organisations, and enterprises as well as officials at “one-stop shops”./.

Numerous activities in response to Youth Month

The Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union (HCMCYU)’s chapters nationwide have been carrying out a wide range of activities to mark the union’s 90th founding anniversary and respond to the Youth Month in March.

In Hanoi, voluntary activities, programmes to provide free check-ups and medicines to poor people, and sports and cultural activities have been organized along with the establishment of youth union organisations in enteprises and residential areas throughout the month.

During the month, the HCMCYU chapter of the Hanoi’s business bloc presented a charitable house worth 150 million VND (nearly 6,500 USD) to a war veteran with difficult circumstance in the locality.

Meanwhile, photo exhibitions kicked off in Ho Chi Minh City and Da Lat city of the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong on March 21, highlighting the 90-year development of the HCMCYU and milestones in the youth work and movement in the localities

The same day, the youth union of the northern province of Thai Nguyen held a ceremony to receive the first-class Labour Order, which recognised it’s pioneering role and creativeness in emulation movements.

A programme to present gifts and national flags to fishermen was held in the central province of Quang Tri by the provincial Military Command and youth union.

In the northern province of Yen Bai, a meeting was held to mark the 90th founding anniversary of the HCMCYU and review activities of the local youth union.

Accordingly, through youth activities, 177 kilometres of rural transport roads and 80km of electric line were developed, while hundreds of houses were presented to local disadvantaged families.

Youth in the northern province of Lai Chau participated in a so-called Green Sunday on March 21, collecting garbage and holding sport events./.

Former HCMC vice chairman faces prison term of 5-6 years

The HCMC People’s Procuracy on March 22 suggested a jail term of five to six years for Nguyen Thanh Tai, former vice chairman of the municipal government, for his alleged involvement in the illegal exchange of public land.

Duong Thi Bach Diep, director of Diep Bach Duong Real Estate Co., Ltd, was proposed to be sentenced to life in prison. According to the procuracy, Diep had repeatedly claimed her innocence but it had enough evidence to prove her violations, the local media reported.

Former director of the HCMC Light Music Center in District 3 Vy Nhat Tao faced the same jail term as Tai.

Seven others, who are ex-leaders of some municipal departments and agencies, face a probation of three to six years behind bars.

In the land exchange, the defendants were indicted for their alleged violations in the exchange of a land lot at 57 Cao Thang Street in District 3 for another one owned by the city government at 185 Hai Ba Trung Street in the same district, causing losses of VND186 billion for the State.

According to procurators, Diep pleaded not guilty but later admitted to exchanging the land lots to merge the land lots at 181, 183 and 185 Hai Ba Trung Street to build a five-star hotel.

She knew the 57 Cao Thang land lot was being used as a mortgage to borrow a loan at the HCMC branch of the Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development but deliberately provided false information to appropriate the 185 Hai Ba Trung land lot. Therefore, the charge of swindling to appropriate the public asset is reasonable.

Although she is old and not in good health, the punishment should be appropriate as the consequences of her violations are huge.

The procuracy also proposed taking back the 185 Hai Ba Trung land lot for the State.

As for Tai, he was not assigned to handle State assets but approved the exchange of the two land lots.

However, he was under severe work pressure and believed his subordinates so he did not check the legality of the 57 Cao Thang land lot.

Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes