Legislators gather at a plenary session on March 26 to scrutinise a draft working report of the 14th National Assembly.


Legislators gather at a plenary session on March 26 to scrutinise a draft working report of the 14th National Assembly, along with working reports of the Standing Committee, the Council for Ethnic Affairs and committees of the legislature.

The session is broadcast live by Radio The Voice of Vietnam, Vietnam Television and the NA’s television channel.

Over the past five years, under the leadership of the Party and the supervision of voters, the NA has represented the great national unity bloc, raised the sense of responsibility and acted for the interests of people and the nation.

The legislature has proven its role as the highest organ of State power and the highest representative body of the people.

Decisions and policies made by the NA have created significant changes to the socio-economic life, national defence and security, and external affairs, contributing to accelerating the reform process as well as national construction and defence.

During the 14th tenure, the NA has worked to improve the legislative work, creating a synchronous foundation for the country’s rapid, sustainable development, national independence, sovereignty and security, and international integration in peace, friendship and equal cooperation.

It has also stepped up supervision, focusing on issues of public concern, and made major decisions for the country, which have greatly impacted the socio-economic life and the development of mountainous and ethnic-inhabited areas.

The NA’s external work has played a significant part in the success of external affairs of the Party and the State, contributing to maintaining a peaceful and stable environment for national construction, defence and development, and improving Vietnam’s position in the international area./.

Five issues of concern sent to National Assembly

Based on thousands of opinions from voters and the public submitted to the 14th National Assembly’s 11 session, the Presidium of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee has made recommendations on five major issues.

“The Presidium of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee, in coordination with the NA Standing Committee, has collected 2,278 opinions from voters and the public from the 14 National Assembly’s 10 session,”said President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee Tran Thanh Man when presenting a report to the 14th NA’s 11 session on March 25.

On the basis of the submitted opinions, the Presidium of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee proposed five major issues to the NA.

Firstly, the NA, the Government, ministries, sectors and localities should soon issue a specific programme to bring the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress to life.Personnel work regarding State leadership positions must ensure democracy, objectivity, strictness, solidarity and unity among the Party and the entire people.

Secondly, it is suggested that the NA and the Government continue to strengthen direction, inspection and supervision to successfully organise the election of deputies to the 15th National Assembly and People's Councils at all levels for the 2021-2026 tenure while ensuring the election will be conducted in a democratic, lawful, and thrifty manner.

Thirdly, it is proposed that the NA and the Government continue to have solutions to renew and improve the quality of the organisation and operation of the State apparatus and to effectively implement the prevention and fight against corruption and wastefulness. They shouldensure that State agencies are streamlined and operateeffectively, meeting the requirements of innovation and international integration.

Fourthly, it is suggested that the NA, Government, ministries, sectors and localities continue implementing solutions to recover and promote socio-economicdevelopment and ensure social security amid the complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fifthly, the NA, the Government, ministries, sectors and localities should continue to realise the recommendations of voters, the public and the Presidium of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee, as sent to the sessions at the 14th National Assembly.

President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee Tran Thanh Man said that the people expressed their delight at the success of the 13th National Party Congress and hoped that the election of deputies to the 15th NA and the People’s Councils for the 2021-2026 tenure will also be a success.

Voters and the public also appreciated the Party and State for their drastic and effective direction of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the maintenance of socio-economic development.

Vietnam Airlines resumes international commercial flights

Vietnam Airlines flight No. VN5571 departing from Taipei (Taiwan) landed safely at Da Nang International Airport on March 25, marking the restart of the national flag carrier’s international commercial flight schedule after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On board the plane were over 200 passengers, mostly Vietnamese citizens returning to the homeland.

They were all required to strictly comply with relevant epidemic prevention and control procedures, including the submission of a negative certificate for the SARS-CoV-2 virus within three days ahead of departure. This is in addition to the confirmation of a quarantine location domestically, the installation of the contact tracing application on smart phones, and the fulfillment of a health declaration form.

All the passengers were also tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus upon arrival before they were transferred to concentrated quarantine facilities.  

Aircrew on the flight all underwent health examinations and were quarantined for a period of 14 days. The aircraft’s passenger sections and cockpit were also thoroughly disinfected from infection risks.

At present, all of the airline’s international flights have obeyed anti-coronavirus measures in line with the standards set by the SkyTeam Airline Alliance.

Vietnam Airlines has partnered with domestic and foreign agencies to draw up plans for reopening international routes in an attempt to meet the passengers’ travel needs and to restore tourism services as well as national economy.

Vietnam, US experts share DNA analysis methods to address war legacies

US experts introduced the latest DNA analysis methods to serve the search of people missing during the war, at a workshop jointly held by the Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Persons (VNOSMP) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on March 25.

“The scientific workshop on DNA identification of human remains from war” was organised on the basis of the Memorandum of Intent (MOI) reached by the two sides last year.

In her remarks, USAID/Vietnam Mission Director Ann Marie Yastishock thanked Vietnam for its close coordination in the search for US personnel missing during the war.

The US is committed to supporting Vietnam with the most cutting-edge technologies to identify human remains, thus helping Vietnam identify remains of fallen soldiers, she affirmed.

Vietnamese experts shared their difficulties in DNA analysis and sought advice from the US side to tackle them.

The biggest obstacles lie with technology and material facilities, VNOSMP Director Le Chi Dung said.

Under the above-said MOI, USAID will provide Vietnam with the best, cutting edge technology for DNA extraction and analysis, work with Vietnam to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their laboratories, and ultimately increase the number of identified fallen soldiers./.

Over 200 Vietnamese citizens return from Taiwan

More than 200 Vietnamese people returned from Taiwan on a Vietnam Airlines flight which landed safely at Danang International Airport on March 25.

This was the first international commercial flight conducted by the national flag carrier since the Covid-19 outbreak. Passengers paid for both air tickets and quarantine fees for Covid-19 prevention following regulations by the Vietnamese government.

To register for the flight, passengers must have certificates showing negative results to SARS-CoV-2 within three days prior to departure, confirmation of a quarantine area in Vietnam, contact-tracing app installed on mobile phones, and health declarations.

After arriving in Vietnam, passengers will be tested again and will be sent to local hospitals and healthcare centres if the results are positive. If negative, they will be sent to the hotels they have registered for and tested for the second time six days later or right after showing suspicious symptoms.

If the second testing comes back negative, they can return home for self-quarantine until the 14th day from arrival.

The flight crew members will also have health check-ups and be quarantined following regulations.

Football fans have tickets refunded for Vietnam-Indonesia match

Football fans who previously purchased tickets for the Vietnam national team’s match against Indonesia in the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup are set to have their tickets refunded due to new changes being put in place by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

The organisers of the fixture plan to refund all customers who bought their tickets online.

For those customers who purchased their tickets through the VinID application, the refund is due to be returned to their VinID e-wallet account, or alternatively the bank account which was used in order to pay when buying the tickets.

For customers who purchased tickets, they need to verify their accounts in order to receive a refund.

This comes after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on March 23 officially announced the locations of the remaining games in the Asian region’s qualifiers due to the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Vietnamese national men’s football team are due to take on their rivals Malaysia, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Group G, with fixtures set to be played in the UAE from June 3 to June 15.

Furthermore, the tie between Vietnam and Indonesia in Group G won’t be held at the My Dinh national stadium in Hanoi as previous scheduled.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup 2022 is due to take place in Qatar and will feature the participation of 32 teams from around the world.

The Vietnamese team are currently leading Group G with 11 points in the second round of World Cup qualifiers in the Asian region. Moving forward, the team are aiming to progress through to the region’s third qualifying round.

Second working day of NA broadcast live on national TV, radio 

The plenary meeting of the 14th National Assembly on the second working day of the 11th session (March 25) was broadcast live on national TV and radio.

Several important reports were presented to the legislature during the day, including working reports of the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuracy and the State Audit of Vietnam in the 2016-2021 tenure.

President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee delivered a report summing up opinions and petitions that voters and people sent to the 14th NA’s 11th session, and the head of the NA’s Ombudsman Committee Duong Thanh Binh spoke about the NA’s supervision of the handling of petitions that voters sent to the 10th session.

The NA also heard a report of the National Election Council on the preparatory work for the election of deputies to the 15th National Assembly and People’s Councils at all levels in the 2021-2026 tenure from the time the council was established to March this year.

In the afternoon, NA deputies discussed in groups working reports of the NA, the NA Standing Committee, the Ethnic Council and committees of the NA in the 14th tenure.

They also scrutinized working reports of the President, the Government, the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuracy and the State Audit of Vietnam in the 2016-2021 tenure.

On March 26, the NA is scheduled to convene at the hall to discuss working reports of the NA, the NA Standing Committee, the Ethnic Council and committees of the NA in the 14th tenure.

The discussion will be broadcast live on national radio and television and the TV channel of the NA.

Nomination of candidates for upcoming elections completed: Official

The nomination of candidates for the upcoming elections of deputies to the 15th National Assembly (NA) and all-level People’s Councils for the 2021-2026 tenure has been completed, Chief of the National Election Council (NEC)’s Office Nguyen Hanh Phuc told the 14th NA’s 11th session in Hanoi on March 25.

Since it was founded at the NA’s 9th session, the National Election Council (NEC) has been preparing for the organisation of the legislative elections and providing instructions on the elections of deputies to People’s Councils at all levels for the 2021-2026 term, in order to ensure they are conducted on schedule and in line with regulations of the existing laws, said Phuc, who is also Secretary General of the NA and Chairman of the NA’s Office.

The 21-member NEC has a chairperson and four vice chairpersons.

The NEC adopted a resolution specifying the number and list of constituencies and the number of legislators to be elected in each constituency of provinces and cities, Phuc noted, adding that the selection of candidates proceeded with caution and was in accordance with regulations.

At related consultative conferences, attention was paid to increasing the number of female, young, non-Party, and ethnic minority candidates and those with excellent professional backgrounds, he noted.

Held on March 19, the second consultative conference reached an agreement on a preliminary list of candidates nominated for the upcoming elections, which are scheduled to take place in May.

The number of candidates running for seats in the legislature now stands at 1,084, which is 2.17 times higher than the number of deputies to be elected. They include 205 candidates nominated by central agencies, 803 by local organisations and units, and 76 who were self-nominated.

A third consultative conference will be held to provide a shortlist of eligible candidates for the elections of deputies to the 15th NA and all-level People’s Councils.

NA well performs parliamentary diplomacy: NA Vice Chairwoman

The National Assembly has well performed parliamentary diplomacy, thus contributing to consolidating and developing Vietnam’s relations with its traditional friends, neighbours, and strategic and comprehensive partners such as Laos, Cuba, Cambodia, China, Russia, the US, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and other Southeast Asian nations.

The assessment was made by Standing NA Vice Chairwoman Tong Thi Phong at a sum-up conference of the NA Committee for External Relations in the 2016-2021 tenure on March 25 within the framework of the 14th NA’s 11th session.

Phong said that in the context of difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislature’s external affairs have been carried out in line with the Party’s guiding viewpoint on foreign policy.

With its coordinating role, the NA Committee for External Relations has promoted activities of the Friendship Parliamentarians’ Organisation and the Young National Assembly Deputies’ Group, and closely coordinated with the Group of Vietnamese Women Parliamentarians in diverse forms and with rich contents.

The committee also recommended the NA to propose the introduction of a Female Parliamentarians’ Conference into the framework of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF), and a Youth Parliamentarians’ Conference in the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) General Assembly framework annually.

The legislature’s external affairs have become an important part of the Party and State’s external relations, she affirmed.

Speaking at the conference, head of the NA Committee for External Relations Nguyen Van Giau reported that over the past years, the committee had chaired the assessment of a draft law revising and supplementing several articles to the Law on Overseas Representative Missions of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and the Law on International Agreements, before them were submitted to the NA for approval.

It has also made evaluation of nine important international treaties before submitting them to the NA for ratification, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, the ILO Convention 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining and the ILO Convention 105 on Abolition of Forced Labour, and four international treaties on border demarcation between Vietnam and Laos, and between Vietnam and Cambodia./.

Government shows solid performance in five years: PM

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc chaired a meeting in Hanoi on March 25 to summarise the Government operations in the 2016-2021 tenure.

Over the past five years, amid the changing regional and world situation as well as well as opportunities and challenges in the domestic situation, the government has worked with the motto of building an action-oriented, development-enabling government of integrity in service of people.

The 2016-2021 tenure was a successful tenure with many important and comprehensive achievements as well as many new outstanding features and highlights, which have been lauded by the Party Central Committee, Party General Secretary, State President and National Assembly.

Speaking at the event, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said that over the past five years, the Government has coordinated closely with other agencies in the political system, and gained numerous achievements.

As of March 30, the Government had finished all documents as scheduled, while the ratio of overdue tasks was only 1.8 percent.

The Government has ensured the law enforcement, focused on the people, and stayed united , while showing strong performance in combating corruption, he added.

He attributed the results to the contributions from the whole Party, people and army, including members of the Government.

He thanked leaders of the Party, State, National Assembly, the Vietnam Fatherland Front, ministries, sectors and localities for supporting and accompanying with the Government over the years.

The PM also thanked media agencies in spreading the development desire to the people.

Train ticket sale for April 30, May 1 opened on March 26

The railway sector has just announced to open train ticket sale for the upcoming holiday from March 26.
In order to meet travel demand of passengers on the occasion of the 46th anniversary of the Liberation of Southern Vietnam and National Reunification Day (April 30, 1975-2021) and May Day (May 1), the Vietnam Railway Corporation will increase more dozens of trains on the routes of Hanoi- Thanh Hoa, Hanoi- Vinh, Hanoi- Dong Hoi.

In addition, the Vietnam Railway Corporation will also increasingly exploit trains connecting famous tourism attractions of Da Nang, Quang Ngai, Quy Nhon, Nha Trang and Phan Thiet.

On the upcoming holiday and the summer vacation, Vietnam Railway Corporation in cooperation with the Hanoi UNESCO Association will perform Charter trains on the routes of Hanoi- Dong Hoi and Hanoi- Hue.
At the same time, the corporation will also cooperate with the People's Committees of Quang Binh Province and Thua Thien-Hue to launch stimulus and preferential packages to the tourism destinations in the Central region during the summer vacation.

Amidst the current complicated Covid-19 pandemic situation, the Vietnam Railways Corporation has maintained anti-pandemic measures to ensure safety for its passengers by spraying disinfectant on all train carriages, conducting distancing among all passengers at the waiting lounges and entrance ways, etc.

Urban planning must ensure residents’ interests: People’s Council ex-chair

HCM City must consider its residents’ interests a priority as it develops urban planning, the former chairwoman of the municipal People’s Council said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the 24th People’s Council session, Nguyễn Thị Quyết Tâm said the city must think twice about the feasibility of plans to ensure they will not be delayed for years.

Homeowners in affected areas, which include all of the city’s 24 districts, for example, have not been allowed to receive permits to renovate or rebuild their homes or even sell their houses because of proposed plans.

While waiting for years, the residents saw the price of land drop sharply.

Some plans have been delayed for 20-30 years, caused mostly by a lack of city funds and problems related to site clearance and compensation (which requires huge capital). 

“In such cases, the interests of the people are not ensured whatsoever,” said Tâm.

She said the city should carefully calculate how many households will be affected when it makes any plan. If not, many people could be adversely affected.

For example, planning for the Bình Quới - Thanh Đa area in Bình Thạnh District has been delayed since 1992. The affected residents “have been waiting for half of their life, but nothing has happened”, she said.

At the meeting, Nguyễn Thanh Nhã, director of the city Department of Planning and Architecture, said the adjusted city master plan by 2040 covers ​​2,095sq.km and 28.7sq.km of Cần Giờ urban encroachment area. 

Under the adjusted plan, the city will be developed into the nation’s largest economic hub for tourism, industrial services, and high-tech agriculture, adapting to climate change and rising sea levels.

The city has set a long-term vision by 2060 to become an international trade and financial centre in the Asia-Pacific region.

The plan also considers the planning of surrounding provinces in the southern key economic region on an area of ​​30,404sq.km, including Bình Dương, Bình Phước, Tây Ninh, Long An, Đồng Nai, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu, and Tiền Giang provinces.

The city is set to be home to 13-14 million people by 2040 and 16 million by 2060. It plans to allocate 100,000-110,000ha of land for urbanisation by 2040.

Under the adjusted plan, one of the city's new urban areas include the new Thủ Đức City which was formed recently by merging districts 2 and 9 and Thủ Đức District.

The new city will have 18,930ha of land for urban construction by 2030, and 19,994ha by 2040.

It currently has a population of more than 1 million. The figure is expected to reach 1.5 million by 2030, and 1.9 to 2.2 million people by 2040 and 3 million by 2060. 

Under the plan, the new city will implement major projects to create an innovative ecosystem.

These include projects to build the Quang Trung Thủ Đức Software Park, Advanced Technology and Innovation Centre (under the Department of Science and Technology), High-Performance Computing Centre, Creative Start-up Centre, Advanced Research Institute (under the National University of HCM City), Centre for Research and Pharmaceutical Production Products, among others.

The new city will also focus on developing quality human resources. HCM City will offer special incentives to attract investment in the projects. 

As the city’s eastern gateway, the new Thủ Đức City covering 21,156ha will be developed into a centre of innovation to assist the growth of HCM City and seven key economic hubs in the South. 

Volunteers get 2nd shot of Nano Covax vaccine in second trial phase

The Military Medical University under the Ministry of National Defence on March 25 began giving the second shots of the Nano Covax COVID-19 vaccine in the second trial phase to 26 volunteers who receive the first jabs between February 26 and March 10.

Nano Covax developed by the Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Company is Vietnam’s first candidate vaccine to reach the human trial stage.

According to Associate Prof. Dr. Chu Van Men, Director of the Military Medical University’s Centre for Clinical Trials and Bioequivalence, after receiving the first shots, volunteers exhibited symptoms such as pain at the injection point, a light fever, muscle aches, joint pain, and fatigue, but did not require medical intervention.

The health of the 560 volunteers remains stable, he said, adding that Nano Covax is safe and the volunteers are ready for their second shots.

The second trial is being organised simultaneously at the Military Medical University and the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City, with volunteers including those with mild background ailments such as hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular issues.

As planned, the Military Medical University will submit the preliminary test results to the Ministry of Health and the National Council for Ethics in Biomedical Research in May for review and evaluation, before conducting the third phase of trials.

Previously, at a meeting of standing members of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, a representative from the Ministry of Health said that the third phase of trials will take place from May to September, with the vaccine then registered for circulation in September, three months earlier than scheduled.

Vietnam expects to have its locally-produced vaccine available by the end of the third quarter.

Second Cricket Award for Children receiving entries until May 15

The second “De Men” (Cricket) Award for Children is now accepting entries in the fields of literature, film, music, fine arts, theatre, photography, comic books, and traditional or online games.

The organising board - the Vietnam News Agency’s The Thao & Van Hoa (Sports & Culture) newspaper - is receiving submissions until midnight on May 15. Entries must have been created, performed, or announced between May 15, 2020 and May 15, 2021.

The awards ceremony is expected to take place on International Children’s Day, June 1.

The organising board will present one major prize called “Cricket Knight” and several “Cricket Desire” prizes.

Images of crickets and the “Adventures of a Cricket” by writer To Hoai were part of the childhoods of many generations of Vietnamese.

Writer Nguyen Quang Thieu said that “De Men” was initiated in the hope of bringing the deepest and purest spiritual life to children. This is not only a prize but also an attitude towards the future.

Last year, the Cricket Knight prize, worth 30 million VND (1,300 USD), was presented to writer Nguyen Nhat Anh for his work “Lam ban voi bau troi” (Make Friends with the Sky).

The organising board also granted four Cricket Desire awards, each worth 10 million VND, to a collection of paintings from 10-year-old Nguyen Doi Chung Anh, a long story by 12-year-old Cao Khai An, a collection of short stories by writer Nguyen Chi Ngoan, and a collection of songs about children by composer Nguyen Van Chung.

Tan Son Nhat airport reserves separate lane for ride-hailing vehicles

Vehicles are parked on lane A at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport. A new lane E will be reserved for ride-hailing vehicles - PHOTO: VNA

The Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCMC will open a new lane for ride-hailing vehicles to make life easier for drivers and passengers but has asked ride-hailing firms to arrange staff to regulate pick-ups and drop-offs to ensure order at the airport.

Pham Vu Cuong, deputy director of the airport, said on March 24 that lane E would be on the ground floor of the TCP multi-level parking lot, which is opposite the airport’s domestic passenger terminal, the local media reported.

BeCar vehicles will be allowed on the lane from April, while Grab is completing procedures to be allowed to pick up passengers on the lane.

A representative of Be Group confirmed the information, saying that drivers will not be allowed to enter a regulated area in the international passenger terminal until they receive orders from customers, and when customers reach lane E, they will drive to the lane to pick them up. This will help prevent traffic jams on the lane and ensure compliance with the airport’s regulation that vehicles are not allowed to stop for more than three minutes on lanes at the airport.

In the initial stage, Be will arrange staff to instruct drivers and passengers. The service price will be higher but not higher than the levels regulated by the airport to ensure competitiveness with rivals.

In front of the Tan Son Nhat International Airport’s domestic passenger terminal, there are four lanes -- A, B, C and D; lane A is used for drop-offs, lanes B and C for personal vehicle pick-ups and lane D for taxis.

Ride-hailing vehicles, such as GrabCars and BeCars, are not allowed on these four lanes. They have access to the third, fourth or fifth floor of the TCP parking lot to pick up customers.

In addition, ride-hailing drivers have to pay VND25,000 to pick up passengers, instead of the previous VND10,000.

The HCMC Department of Transport has asked the Tan Son Nhat International Airport and the relevant agencies to continue ensuring traffic order at the airport. It has also suggested increasing the number of buses operating inside the airport or building pedestrian bridges and tunnels in front of the domestic passenger terminal to reduce traffic congestion.

Next month, two more elevators will be installed in the TCP parking lot, raising the total number of elevators in the parking lot to four.

Long An: 12 foreigners detained for illegally entering Vietnam


Long An has detained 12 foreigners who illegally entered Vietnam (Photo: VNA)

The border guard force in the southern province of Long An has just detained 12 foreigners who illegally entered Vietnam with the purpose of crossing to Cambodia.

Lieutenant Colonel Tran Van Thang, head of the Ben Pho border post in Vinh Hung district said on March 25 that border guards and local police detected the group of foreigners during a patrol early morning the same day and took them into custody.

The foreigners admitted that they illegally entered northern Vietnam on March 20 and moved southward with the intention of going to Cambodia to look for employment.

The Ben Pho border post has coordinated with the district’s steering committee for COVID-19 prevention and control and relevant agencies to handle the case in accordance with regulations.

Since the beginning of this year, the border guard force of Long An has discovered 19 cases of illegal entry and exit involving 109 people. Legal proceedings have been launched into four cases involving 20 people on the charge of organizing illegal exit. The force also handed over to Cambodia five people who entered Vietnam illegally.

Xam singing preserved in Ha Nam province

Xam singing is a traditional art form of the Vietnamese people in the northern region. It is mostly practiced in public venues where people gather, such as wharves, markets and communal houses. Join us to find out more about how the art form is practiced in Ha Nam province.

Pham Trong Luc is often referred to as the person who revitalised Xam singing in the Red river delta province of Ha Nam. Indeed, besides jotting down Xam lyrics from his mother, Luc also travelled around the province to learn more songs from local elders.

He has inspired many local people to preserve and promote the rhythms.

Xam singing in Ha Nam province is mostly practiced in traditional markets with simple musical instruments, including đàn nhị (a Vietnamese bowed string instrument with two strings), drums, and sênh tiền (a combination of clappers, rasps, and jingles made from three pieces of wood and old coins).

 Each song tells a story of a village or a historical period. They all have a positive vibe, expressing the cheerful attitude of local people regardless of the circumstances.

Ha Nam province has approved a scheme on preserving and promoting Xam singing and assigned it to the Provincial Centre for Culture and Arts. The province has also invited artisans both inside and outside of Ha Nam to collect, compose, and popularise traditional Xam songs, not only to adults but also to local primary school students.

National Tourism Year 2021: opening ceremony scheduled for April

The National Tourism Year 2021 is set to kick off in the northern province of Ninh Binh on April 20 in association with the Hoa Lu festival - one of Vietnam’s 100 national intangible cultural heritages.

Secretary of the provincial Party Committee Nguyen Thi Thu Ha unveiled the plan at a meeting with a working delegation from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in the province on March 25.

Ha said the implementation of COVID-19 prevention and control measures will be ensured during the event.

She proposed the ministry hold a forum to stimulate Ninh Binh’s tourism, support the province in hosting the National Tourism Year 2021, and provide financial assistance for the building of the provincial museum and library.

As reported at the meeting, Ninh Binh planned to organise 11 major and 27 others activities in the national tourism year, themed “Hoa Lu - Thousand-year-old Capital”. The ministry and 27 localities nationwide were set to hold two and 103 events in response. However, many of these activities have been canceled, postponed, or scaled down due to COVID-19 complexities.

To deal with such issues, Ninh Binh authorities have focused on hosting suitable events, investing in completing local tourism infrastructure, and stepping up related communications works, among others.

At the meeting, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung took note of good outcomes the province has obtained so far.

He suggested Ninh Binh focus on developing cultural institutions at the grassroots level, increasing tourism quality, and refreshing tourism products.

Hung ordered the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism to organise a tourism stimulation forum in the province prior to the national tourism year’s opening ceremony.

Located in the southern reaches of the Red River Delta, Ninh Binh is known for its wondrous natural scenery, with a labyrinth of waterways, mountains, and plains as well as cross-cultural influences from the north to the south and from the mountains to the plains and coastal areas. It is home to 1,821 relic areas, including 81 national relic sites and a world cultural and natural heritage site.

Ministry joins efforts in environmental protection

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has joined hands with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), enterprises, notably the Vietnam Electricity (EVN) group, and social organisations in the Earth Hour campaign to raise public aware of environmental protection, an official has said.

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.

Starting as a symbolic “lights out” event in Sydney in 2007, the Earth Hour has 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.

The 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.

According to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Dang Hoang An, 63 Vietnamese cities and provinces have responded to the campaign, as compared with only six localities more than 10 years ago.

He said the Government has assigned the MoIT to draw up and roll out policies on greenhouse gas emission reduction in industry, energy and trade, so as to realise Vietnam’s commitments to implementing the Paris agreement on climate change.

For industry, the ministry has focused on major solutions regarding energy saving and efficiency, and renewable energy development, the official added.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has issued the national target programme on energy efficiency with total funding amounting to 4.4 trillion VND (190.41 million USD), An said, noting that the MoIT is carrying out the third stage of the 2019-2030 phase, aiming to cut from 8-10 percent of energy consumption, equivalent to 60-80 million tonnes of oil.

Meanwhile, renewable energy is expected to make up 15-20 percent of the country’s energy output by 2030, and 25-30 percent by 2045, the official continued.

The MoIT is also working to promote high-tech and environmentally friendly industries, instead of energy and labor-intensive ones.

In the sphere of trade, it has organised a range of programmes to encourage the production and consumption of environmental friendly products, according to the Deputy Minister.
Such activities are expected to contribute to implementing the national target of realising the Paris agreement, he said.

Binh Phuoc: Three wild animals released back to nature

The Centre for Rescue, Conservation and Development of Wild Animals of the Bu Gia Map National Park in the southern province of Binh Phuoc said on March 25 that it has recently coordinated with forest rangers to return three animals to nature.

Two northern pig-tailed macaques (macaca leonina) and a reticulated python (python reticulatus) were previously handed over to the centre by local people. They had been treated and taken care of in a semi-wild environment.

After the release, the centre will continue to keep a close watch on the animals’ adaptation to their new living environment.

The northern pig-tailed macaque can be found in forests in South and Southeast Asia. The primate is named in the Vietnam Red Data Book as as “Vulnerable”.

The reticulated python is ranked in Group IB of Appendix II of the Conversion on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), among species in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival./.

Three cases of COVID-19 reported on March 25 afternoon

Three new cases of COVID-19 were detected in the past 12 hours to 6pm March 25, with two locally-transmitted and one imported cases, according to the Health Ministry.

Two local infections were reported in concentrated quarantine facilities in the northern province of Hai Duong, a hotspot in the latest COVID-19 wave since January 27 this year.

The imported case was a Vietnamese citizen returning from the US.

The national count increased to 2,579, with 1,603 local infections.

Meanwhile, 2,265 patients have given the all clear, and the death toll remains at 35.  

Among patients still under treatment, 54 have tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 once, 21 twice and 45 thrice.

A total 36,480 people are being quarantined nationwide, with 485 at hospitals, 18,343 at concentrated facilities and 17,652 at their accommodations.

Olympic Day Run to be held in downtown HCM City

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Culture and Sports and its partners will hold the Olympic Day Run 2021 downtown on March 28.

Participants will compete in the 5km route, which will go through famous sites like the headquarters of the People’s Committee, Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Central Post Office, according to the organisers.

The run will start at 7am at April 30 Park on Le Duan street in District 1.

Participants can register for the run at olympicdayrun.com.

Police to carry out investigation for illicit insurance reimbursement

Phan Van Men, Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Social Security Agency, today said that the agency has passed papers of an illicit insurance reimbursement case to police for further investigation.

As Sai Gon Giai Phong newspaper released, a man in the city who registered to have medical examination in Trieu An Hospital as his first choice has visited different hospitals citywide 80 times from January 1 to March 8. The agency has reimbursed him VND60 million (US$2,602) as medical expenses.

As a result, the agency decided to transfer papers of the case to police for investigation to make it clear in order to deter people from violating the law on medical insurance.

However, Director Men admitted that there has been no legal document to restrict people from visiting hospitals for examination many times. In reality, not everyone who visit infirmaries for many times want to expropriate insurance reimbursement. Patients with chronic diseases may visit a hospital may times a year following physicians’ appointment.

Nevertheless, the agency’s information assessment system has discovered some patients with dubiously increased visits to hospital. Through inspecting and checking, the agency discovered patients have been profiting from the insurance fund. These profiteers must receive punishment as per the present regulation to protect health insurance buyers’ right and show strictness of the law.

Meeting highlights strengthening social work for cohesive, responsive ASEAN Community

A kick-off meeting on the development of a roadmap to implement the Hanoi Declaration on strengthening social work towards cohesive and responsive ASEAN Community took place in Hanoi on March 25.

The event was hosted by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs in its capacity as Chair of the ASEAN Social Work Consortium for 2020 – 2021. The Hanoi Declaration was approved at the 37th ASEAN Summit last year.

Speaking at the meeting, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Le Tan Dung said the declaration has important implications for ASEAN member countries, especially in the context that the sector in charge of social work has yet to meet the needs of people, especially vulnerable groups.

He hoped the implementation roadmap to be submitted to the 38th ASEAN Summit will include strategies, actions, and dates for related commitments.

Jacel Javier Paguio from the ASEAN Secretariat said the roadmap will be a strategic plan, with each step to be scientifically planned, thus promising to bring about expected results.

Rachel Harvey, Rachel Harvey, a regional adviser on child protection at UNICEF, suggested a specific roadmap for an appropriate and capacity-based training on social work to tackle related training gaps and practical demand.

Participating ASEAN member states jointly set a target that the implementation roadmap will be developed with strategies and actions to conduct the commitments outlined, with a focus on integrating the plans of related agencies such as social welfare and development, health, education, and labour, among others.

After the function, a working group on the roadmap was established.

Pop singer My Tam announces her concerts in HCMC, Hanoi

Pop singer My Tam will bring her much-anticipated concerts in HCMC on April 25 and in Hanoi on May 1. 

The singer will be back on stage with the long-awaited music show themed Tri Am (gratefulness) at Military Zone 7 Stadium in the southern economic hub and at My Dinh National Stadium in the capital.

The concert which was previously scheduled to take place on March 7 and 14 was suspened due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

Special guests of the show are singer Ha Anh Tuan, musician-singer Phan Manh Quynh.

My Tam is the first Vietnamese singer to win the “Best-selling Artist” award, one of 25 given to artists from all over the world, at the World Music Awards in Monaco in 2014.

In 2018, the singer’s album titled “Tam 9” beat others to scoop the annual music award. “Tam 9” has been ranked the 10th in the World Albums category of Billboard, making her to be the first Vietnamese singer who gets music product in the international music chart.

The album was sold 20,000 copies after two months from releasing. “Tam 9” climbed to the No.1 position of the top trending iTunes in Vietnam after few days of launching and ranked the 8th on the list of downloaded albums on Amazon.

Dak Nong proposes developing airport, expressway

The Central Highlands province of Dak Nong has suggested developing the Nhan Co airport for both civil and military purposes in Dak R’Lap District and an expressway connecting to the neighboring province of Binh Phuoc.

The Dak Nong government commented on a master plan to develop airports, railways, roads and waterways in the 2021-2030 period with a vision to 2050, Tien Phong newspaper reported.

Explaining the airport development proposal, the provincial government stated that the locality currently has only roads. However, the movement of traffic is inconvenient due to rough terrain, thus hindering its investment attraction and economic and tourism development.

In January, the Ministry of Transport asked the province to study a plan to develop the Nhan Co airport. The ministry instructed the province to work with the Ministry of National Defense to propose developing a military airport first and then developing it into a civil and military airport.

As for the expressway connecting Dak Nong and Binh Phuoc, the section in Dak Nong was meant to have four lanes, while the section in Binh Phuoc may have four to six lanes.

The 212-kilometer road will start at the Serepok River and end at an intersection with the Ho Chi Minh Road, and have a design speed of 80-100 kilometers per hour.

HCMC says no to proposal to stop bus advertising

The HCMC government has turned down the municipal Department of Transport’s proposal to stop bus advertising, asking relevant departments and agencies to negotiate with firms to extend contracts.

HCMC Vice Chairman Le Hoa Binh also assigned the municipal Department of Transport to consult the HCMC government over adjusting bus advertising plans to make them suitable to the public transport network and keep up with the demands of advertising firms, according to a dispatch sent to the municipal departments of Culture-Sport, Transport and Finance by the HCMC government office.

The decision came following the HCMC Department of Finance’s proposal to continue bus advertising, the local media reported.

The HCMC Department of Finance said that since 2018, the city has earned over VND57.3 billion from bus advertising, exclusive of the value-added tax and corporate income tax from the HCMC Public Transport Management Center totaling over VND16.1 billion.

If the city stops bus advertising, transport operators and owners of buses on non-subsidized routes will see their revenues reduce, according to the Finance Department.

Earlier, the HCMC Department of Transport proposed the city stop bus advertising due to low demand. From 2017 to 2019, only one business won the bid for the right to advertise on buses in the city.

Air pollution continues exceeding permissible level in Hanoi

The capital city of Hanoi has recently struggled with poor air quality and alarming dust pollution worse than other urban areas in the country. 

Hanoi has recently struggled with poor air quality and alarming dust pollution. 

Pursuant to the Government's report on environmental protection tasks in 2020, the annual average concentration of PM2.5 and PM10 in Hanoi for the period of 2018-2020 far exceeded the permissible limit while the average concentration of PM2.5 in Ho Chi Minh City has not changed negligibly. 

Dust pollution in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi with a very high concentration of PM2.5 and PM10 fine dust in industrial areas is always one of the current hot issues.

Regarding to water environment, water pollution has been mostly recorded in the Northern river basins of Nhue, Day and Cau; Dong Nai river basin in the Southern region and Central river basins.  As for the Saigon river basin, water pollution has occurred in Tan Hoa- Lo Gom Canal, Tau Hu- Ben Nghe Canal and Tham Luong- Ben Cat- Vam Thuat Canal with its parametric value exceeding the national technical standards for surface water quality. 

Wastewater from urban centers, residential areas, business facilities has not been treated before being discharged into the environment, polluting canals and rivers.

In three recent years, high saltwater intrusion has constantly occurred in river mouths, especially in the downstream Vu Gia - Thu Bon river basin, Vam Co River and other riverbanks in the Southern region impacting on water quality, production activities and people’s life. Additionally, high tides often happen in the Southern urban areas and Ho Chi Minh City. 

As for the land quality, land degradation and landslides in the mountainous area tend to increase in both quantity and scale, affecting people's lives and production activities.

Various activities at Hue Traditional Craft Festival 2021

The People's Committee of Hue City (Thua Thien - Hue Province) has just issued a plan to organise Hue Traditional Craft Festival 2021, which will take place from May 29 to June 26, 2021, with a series of new activities.

Under the theme "Hue Traditional Craft Festival - The quintessence of Vietnamese craft”, the festival is one of the biggest events for Hue City in stimulating tourism demand.

The month-long festival will hold attractive activities and events such as: a design competition for traditional handicraft products, a sculpture camp, an Ao Dai Festival, a cornet festival, Marathon Hue, Century Concert, a book fair and sculpture exhibition, Music Night "Remember Trinh Cong Son", Hue Culinary Festival, boat racing on Huong River, Hue Traditional Craft Festival, an exhibition on traditional handicraft design, Trinh's music night, traditional music performances, and Hue Music Festival.

The space for holding these activities is the pedestrian area along both sides of Huong River and the cultural and artistic space axis of Le Loi Street, Hue City. In addition, in the coming time, Hue City will also open a pedestrian street on the north bank of the Huong River around the Hue Imperial City.

This year, the organisation Hue Traditional Craft Festival 2021 is quite long, nearly one month, in order to create conditions for tourists to come to Hue many times during the festival, contributing to stimulating demand for tourism and promote traditional handicraft products of Hue artisans.

HCMC to spend US$1.6 mln for vocational training

For the 2021-2025 period, Ho Chi Minh City will perform vocational training for around 8,111 workers in rural areas with VND37.14 billion (US$1.6 million). 

The city’s set target aims to meet the current labor demand for the concentrated agricultural production regions, agriculture restructure and new rural development in Ho Chi Minh City; and to ensure that at least 85 percent of employees will have stable jobs with ameliorated income after they complete the training course. 

Besides, the Municipal People’s Committee also proposed to enhance more and more assistances of vocational training for rural workers and open the age of trainees. 

This was a plan for rural workers in period of 2021-2025 that the HCMC People’s Committee submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

NONFLIX film fest at Sàn Art to stream online

NONFLIX, a short and experimental film festival streaming online in Berlin, will be introduced at Sàn Art on April 9-10.

The event will include screenings of 17 films by 11 filmmakers and artists from Germany, Singapore, Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand, China and Việt Nam.

The films provide a closer look on Asia, focusing on a complex encyclopedia of cultures, politics and societies.

The screenings will begin at 6pm Sàn Art, at B616 Millennium Masteri on Bến Vân Đồn Street in District 4.

An online conversation “Pandemic Cinema” on making films and organising events in the pandemic era will be held on Zoom at 7 pm on April 11. 

Music festival to honour Mothers around the world

A music festival to pay tribute to Mothers around the world will be organised by the Vietnam International Trade & Investment Promotion Centre on the Mother’s Day (May 9) at the Vietnam National Convention Centre.

The event will be held in the form of a flight which brings artists to 13 countries to discover their cultures and enjoy the best songs about mothers of Vietnam, the UK, Italy, France, Spain, Russia, Bulgaria, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia, the US, Canada, Cuba and Mozambique.

According to the festival’s general director Le Quy Duong, the event, part of a series of programmes to honour the Mother’s Day, is expected to bring an excellent feast to the audience.

Its music director Do Bao said that the event will draw the participation of famous artists such as Tran Tien, Dang Duong, Phuong Anh, Lam Bao Ngoc, Kyo York, Park Sung-min, Kateryna, Living, and Guillaume, among others.

Police captain honoured among outstanding VIetnamese

For almost a decade, People’s Public Security captain Nguyễn Trung Đức has been a digital detective, investigating primarily high-tech, financial crimes.

And thanks to his dedication and enthusiasm, the 33-year-old and his team have brought many crooks to justice.

His efforts were recognised when Đức was named one of the Outstanding Young Vietnamese in 2020.

Last year alone, his team cracked 14 cases with a total value of over VNĐ27 billion (US$1.2 million).

Many of these centred around Junma Phú Thọ Co Ltd based at the Thụy Vân Industrial Park.

Đức and his fellow officers discovered the company organised the purchase of signage from many business households in and outside the province.

Some business households, when selling goods, received cash or money transferred to personal accounts and did not issue invoices to the company.

In order to validate the origin of the goods, the company used illegal invoices of some unrelated enterprises they have other contracts with it. Junma Company used those invoices to claim value-added tax (VAT) refunds, causing damage to the State budget.

Through verification, Đức and his teammates discovered the company made a false record of the cost of purchasing raw wood from five households in Minh Tiến Commune, Đoan Hùng District, Phú Thọ Province.

The total unpaid expenses in 2018 were more than VNĐ6.2 billion ($267,400), causing losses to the state in income tax of VNĐ1.2 billion ($51,700).

This was just the tip of the iceberg. Đức and his team found more wrongdoings by the company, eventually gathering enough evidence to prosecute.

The good work continued last year, as the investigators also smashed a company involved in counterfeiting at the Bạch Hạc Industrial Zone in Việt Trì City.

Firm faith, strong will

Such crimes are complex and require a determined and intelligent approach and Đức knows this means he must always stay one step ahead of those he investigating.

Đức told the Vietnam News Agency cases vary, with some taking just a few hours to solve, while others can take months and months. Or even years.

After a decade of the job, Đức has lost count of the number of cases he has successfully helped to prosecute.

Many times the dangers of his occupation are clear to see, as criminals attempt to bribe him, or even threaten his life, but nothing will stop him from doing what he does best.

Last year, he received the second class Victory Medal for his achievements in fighting crime, contributing to maintaining political security, social order and safety, successfully completing all assigned tasks.

Huong Pagoda – a unique spiritual destination of the north

The annual pilgrimage festival to Huong Pagoda, a great religious site as well as a scenic complex, some 65km to the west of downtown Hanoi, has officially opened after closing due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Huong (Perfume) Pagoda, located in Huong Son commune, My Duc district, consists of a vast complex of Buddhist temples and shrines built on limestone Huong Tich mountains.

Every year, the site hosts a large number of pilgrims from all over the country. The pilgrimage festival starts from the 6th day of the lunar year, while the peak of the festival falls between 15th day of the first lunar month to 18th day of the second lunar month. Yet the spectacular landscape draws tourists also throughout the year.

Hundreds of pagodas and shrines are scattered along the Yen Stream including Chua Ngoai (Outer Pagoda) and Chua Trong (Inner Pagoda).

The centre of the complex is Huong Pagoda proper deep inside Huong Tich Cave.

Tourists take a boat trip from Duc Dock to Outer Pagoda, which was also named Tro Pagoda.

Huong Pagoda was built at the end of 17th century inside Huong Tich Cave, which was then almost totally destroyed during the French invasion in 1947. In 1988, the pagoda was rebuilt by late monk Thich Thanh Chan.

Visitors will find the phrase “Huong Tich Dong Mon” (The Gate of Huong Tich Cave) carved at the entrance of the cave after taking a stone stairway of 120 steps leading to the cave.

There remain traces of Tinh Do Vuong Trinh Sam (1739-1782), the 8th Lord of Trinh royal reign ruling the north of Vietnam. He ordered to carve on stones five Han Chinese characters when visiting the site in 1770.

Together with spiritual values, the site has lured tourists thanks to its natural landscape.

The Yen Stream with clear water surrounded with greenery of trees and plants. The site has its own attraction in different periods of the year with various flowers like red kapok, orchid and plum flowers in spring, and water lilies in autumn.

HCMC improves career consultation quality for students

To enhance the quality of career consultation at high schools and routing high school and secondary school students, schools in Ho Chi Minh City have had approaches including direct career guidance for students, indirect consultations through brochures, on websites, and career counselling apps.

At the conference on career consultation and introduction of models for career guidance task for the academic year 2020-2021 on Tuesday hosted by the municipal Department of Education and Training, Dr. Dao Le Hoa An from the Vietnam Association of Psychology and Education said that according to a statistics of the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs in the fourth quarter in 2019, 218,000 bachelor's degree or higher were jobless.

Meanwhile, present tuition fee at universities averages at VND25 million (US$1,086) per student yearly. That means a graduate pay for VND100 million for four years of pursuing higher education. “If that amount of money is multiplied by 218,000, VND 21,000 billion was wasted in 2019. This is the huge loss of the society”, Dr. Dao Le Hoa An analyzed.

In another aspect, many sophomores and juniors dropped out of universities and switched to other majors because they realized that they were not well suited to their current majors. Accordingly, Dr. Dao Le Hoa An pointed out that many people have still mistakenly thought career consultation means guidance on choosing a favorite job and a suitable university. In fact, the fundamental essence of the issue is that career guidance - a continuous process - impacts on learners while they are still in schools and experience four to five years of intense training to realize what job is most suitable with them.

According to many career consultants, the Ministry of Education and Training has been using results of the national high school exam for universities and colleges admissions from 2015 till now. In 2020, the rate of students using the national high school exam results for university enrollment made up more than 50 percent, which slightly decreased in comparison with 2019 as universities added different admission approaches including direct admission, assessment of academic performance reports, or aptitude test results. Therefore, students need to learn about all types of admission to make the most suitable choice.

In the project on vocational and separating junior high schoolers with good academic performance and bad academic performance for the 2018 – 2025 period approved by the Prime Minister, the country strives that all of junior and senior high schools deliver vocational education and training program attached with local production, business and service by 2025.

To achieve the goal, Trinh Duy Trong from the municipal Department of Education and Training said that schools need to take heed of renovation in the curriculum, educational approaches and models of vocational training. Specifically, renovation in vocational training can carried out through extra-activities in schools as well as inform students about vocational facility addresses, policies for learners in these special schools and startup opportunities and employment opportunities.

In the coming time, when implementing the educational program, high schools will increase consultation of job.

Bac Giang to boost budget collections

The People’s Committee of the northern province of Bac Giang has rolled out measures to bolster State budget collections by 16-18 percent in 2021-2025.

Domestic revenue is expected to hit 18.5 trillion VND (800 million USD) by 2025. Of which, taxes and fees will contribute 12 trillion VND and collections from land rentals 6.5 trillion VND.

Bac Giang will also work to fund regular spending from the provincial budget, striving to cover 85 percent of expenditure by the next five years, with Bac Giang city and Viet Yen district set to become self-reliant financially.

To realise the targets, the province will focus on seeking new sources of earnings through socio-economic development planning and infrastructure and investment promotions.

In addition, Bac Giang is to effectively carry out administrative reform. Tax agencies are asked to hold dialogue with firms and create optimal conditions for them. The application of information technology in tax collection also needs to be bolstered.

The province will enhance collaboration between the tax sector and other sectors in the time to come to speed up budget collections and prevent tax fraud and evasion.

Bac Giang’s budget collections surpassed 2.92 trillion VND in the first quarter of 2021, a year-on-year increase of 26.1 percent. Collections from land rentals rose 90.8 percent, while those from industry and trade taxes were up 22.7 percent.

Vietnam-Switzerland relations thriving: Ambassador

Relations between Vietnam and Switzerland have developed fruitfully over the past five decades, especially in politics-diplomacy, trade-investment, development cooperation, and education-training, Vietnamese Ambassador to Switzerland Le Linh Lan has said.

Speaking with the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties (1971-2021) and 30 years of the Vietnam-Switzerland development cooperation programme, the ambassador said the two sides have maintained high-level delegations and exchanges on the fringes of the annual World Economic Forum (WEF).

Vietnam and Switzerland have also effectively cooperated and supported each other within international organisations and international multilateral forums such as the United Nations, ASEAN, and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).

They have agreed to support each other when running for seats at many international organisations, most notably non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Lan said.

A responsible member of ASEAN, Vietnam has also backed Switzerland to become the grouping’s sectoral dialogue partner since 2016, she went on.

The two countries have shared views on international issues relating to peace, stability, respect for law, and the implementation of the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Regarding bilateral economic ties, Lan said two-way trade grows 15-20 percent each year, hitting over 3.6 billion USD in 2019. Switzerland is an increasingly important partner for Vietnam, while the Southeast Asian country is Switzerland’s fourth-largest trade partner in ASEAN.

As of 2020, Switzerland had 152 valid projects worth nearly 2 billion USD in Vietnam, ranking it 19th out of 132 countries and territories investing in the country and becoming the sixth-largest European investor in the country.

The ambassador also highlighted bilateral cooperation in education and training, saying the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on collaboration in innovation and creativity during the visit to Switzerland by Minister of Science and Technology Chu Ngoc Anh in October 2019.

Regarding the feasibility of a free trade agreement between Vietnam and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Lan said Swiss leaders have repeatedly expressed their hope of speeding up negotiations towards the signing of the deal, to facilitate economic recovery in the two countries and deal with the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She stressed that Swiss projects on development cooperation have significantly contributed to Vietnam’s socio-economic development, as the latter is on a path towards becoming a modern industrialised country with upper middle incomes.

Lan said she believes that the two countries still have great opportunities and momentum to advance their cooperation, given Vietnam’s elevated position in the global production chain as well as its engagement in new-generation FTAs like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The early conclusion and signing of the FTA between Vietnam and the EFTA would create a driver to boost bilateral trade ties and attract quality Swiss investment in Vietnam, especially in sustainable development, innovation, creativity, and digital transformation, the ambassador said.

Int’l media express shock at V.League 1 horror challenge

Plenty of international media outlets have reported on a horror tackle which occurred during a V.League 1 match on March 23 and resulted in Vietnamese midfielder Do Hung Dung of Hanoi FC suffering a broken leg.

Vietnamese midfielder Do Hung Dung of Hanoi FC suffers a broken leg at the match against Ho Chi Minh City FC
The fixture involved Ho Chi Minh City FC and Hanoi FC in the fifth round of V.League 1 matches with the 27-year-old midfielder suffering a serious injury during the first half after a horribly mistimed challenge by compatriot Hoang Thinh.

The sports website SPORTbible of the UK reported that following a heavy touch from Hung Dung, Thinh jumped in with a reckless and dangerous lunge which caused the midfielder's ankle to buckle upon impact.

According to the media outlet, the slow-motion footage taken from the live feed of the game shows the full horrendous extent of both the attempt to win the ball and the subsequent injury.

“It's one of the worst we have seen for a long, long time and looked like a definite leg break for Hung Dung, who was lay in complete agony,” SPORTbible report.

It went on to state that Hung Dung is now highly likely to miss out on the country’s important upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Indonesia, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in June.

Furthermore, a Spanish newspaper also published an article detailing the incident, adding that Hung Dung’s injury could greatly impact the national team’s hopes of qualifying for a World Cup.

Moreover, numerous Thai publications also reported on Hung Dung’s injury and stressed his importance to both Hanoi FC and the Vietnamese national team.

According to Nguyen Quoc Hoi, Hanoi FC manager, Hung Dung underwent surgery on the morning of March 24, adding that he will probably be on the sidelines for at least one year.

Da Nang people receive certificate recognising Quan The Am Festival as national heritage

The authorities and people of Ngu Hanh Son district, Da Nang city held a ceremony on March 25 to receive the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MoCST)’s certificate recognising the traditional Quan The Am Festival (Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva) as a national intangible cultural heritage.

The festival is held annually on the 17th, 18th and 19th days of the second lunar month to worship Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and pray for peace and prosperity for the people.

The event includes religious ceremonies and festive activities, such as a procession, a peace praying ceremony, tea ceremony, lantern release ritual, boat race, folklore singing performances, and folk games.

Speaking at the event, Chairman of the city People’s Committee Le Trung Chinh stressed that the MoCST’s acknowledgement of the festival is not only a source of pride for the Da Nang’s authorities and people but also a motivation for local tourism development.

He asked the Ngu Hanh Son district’s authorities to pay special attention to preserving and promoting the value of the festival in order to make it a distinct spiritual tourist destination for visitors to the locality.

Mekong Delta’s key transport projects need to be built synchronously

There should not be projects of Trung Luong-My Thuan and My Thuan-Can Tho expressways completing but the My Thuan Bridge 2 has not been finished yet, Deputy Minister of Transport, Nguyen Nhat emphasized at the working session between the Ministry of Transport and authorities of Tien Giang and Vinh Long provinces on March 25.

Deputy Minister of Transport asked governments of the two Mekong Delta provinces to speed up the progress of site clearance and remove infrastructures to urgently implement the My Thuan Bridge 2 project.

Speaking at the meeting, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Tien Giang, Pham Van Trong said that the province will solve obstacles in implementing the project, including the enforcement of land handover for the construction.

As reported, the project has 501 premise-affected households, including 389 households in Tien Giang and 112 others in Vinh Long.

Tien Giang Province has built a resettlement area for 116 affected households in Cai Be District at a total capital of VND57 billion (US$2.8 million). The area is expected to be completed in March. 378 among 389 affected households received compensation for land while the 11 remaining families have not agreed to the unit price for compensation.

The local authorities of Vinh Long have arranged new places for 25 affected households in an existing resettlement area and spent VND4.8 billion on carrying out the resettlement task. 111 among 112 received compensation for land to hand over their premises with the length of 1.06 kilometers to the investors.

The People’s Committee of Vinh Long has also approved an expenditure of more than VND10 billion to remove technological infrastructures. The task will be completed in April.

The construction of the My Thuan Bridge 2 has been kicked off since last August. It is part of the Eastern North-South expressway project construction in the 2017-2020 period. the project costs VND5 trillion (US$216 million) and is expected to be completed in 2023.

The bridge has a total length of 6.61 km, including the 1.9km-long bridge and two approach roads with total length of over 4.7km. The approach road in Tien Giang province is 4.7km and the other in Vinh Long province is 0.4km. It has six lanes for vehicles with a speed limit of 100 kilometers per hour.

The My Thuan Bridge 2 will start from An Thai intersection on the Trung Luong-My Thuan Expressway in Tien Giang province’s Cai Be Dsitrict and end at km107+740, the starting point of the My Thuan-Can Tho expressway in Vinh Long Province.

The project will help reduce the overloaded vehicle on My Thuan Bridge 1 and traffic jams during national holidays as well as create a key transport line from HCMC to Can Tho City to meet travel demand of people.

Construction of the My Thuan - Can Tho Expressway started in January. The 23-kilometer expressway will run from the My Thuan Bridge 2 in Tien Giang Province to Can Tho City. Construction of the 6-lane expressway costs VND4.9 trillion ($208 million).

It is expected to be put into operation in 2023, helping shorten travel time from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho to two hours from the current 3-4 hours.

The main road with a length of more than 51 kilometers of Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway opened to traffic in January, accounting for about 75 percent of the done work volume. The expressway has a total length of 55.1km with four lanes. The project has a total investment of more than VND14 trillion (US$607.3 million) and is expected to be finished in the end of this year.

Tour “Turn off the lights” takes place during the “earth hour” ceremony 

The tour entitled “Turn off the lights” is auctioned openly on Facebook to raise money for environment protection.

The two-day-one-night tour titled “Turn off the lights” includes accommodations at Duong Lam Homestay, which is located in the heart of Duong Lam Ancient Village (some 45 kilometers away from Hanoi), food and other travel costs for four people. The tour starts in the morning of March 27 and ends on March 28 afternoon.

Tourists will have the opportunity to enjoy the specialties of the Red River Delta such as boiled Mia chicken, roasted pork, fried dried radish, among other dishes; ride a bicycle to visit Mia pagoda, Vam temple, Mong Phu communal house, Duong Lam temple and some typical old houses in the ancient villages as well as experience traditional confectionery. In addition, each traveler will be given a tree to plant in Duong Lam village or bring home.

Interestingly, due to the name “Turn off the lights”, all of the tour’s activities at night will take place under the light of oil lamps and candles. All items related to power consumption, including for personal use,  will not be provided.

This tour is auctioned  with a starting bid of VND499,000 (or $20) for four people. Each subsequent bid must be higher than the previous one by VND50,000 ($2). The auction will be closed at 10pm on March 25 and the proceed will be  donated to WWF's Environmental Protection Fund or to be used for environmental activities organized by AZA Travel.

The “Turn off the lights” tour is an initiative of Nguyen Tien Dat, director of AZA Travel- a tour-operator based in Hanoi. The auction is now conducted publicly on his personal Facebook.

Forty-five kilometres to the west of Hanoi, Duong Lam is among a few ancient villages in Vietnam that still keep the majority of its traditional architectures intact.

Located in the namesake commune of Son Tay town, Hanoi, it charms visitors by authentic architecture of typical traditional houses as well as features of Vietnamese rice culture in every corner of this village.

Most vestiges of Duong Lam heritage were built with the laterite, a traditional material of the area, which is believed to help strongly cement the constructions through the time and has a typical antique beauty.

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