Ninh Thuan greenlights tourism projects
Ninh Thuan Province People’s Committee has granted principle approvals for two large-scale tourism projects, worth a total VND2.5 trillion (US$107.3 million).
Financed by Royal Ninh Thuan development and investment joint stock company, the 87.5ha tourism complex will be developed at Phuoc Diem Commnue, Thuan Nam District. It will comprise a five-star hotel with 500 rooms, 100 high-end villas and a convention centre, restaurants and an entertainment area.
The complex, worth VND2 trillion, is slated for completion in June, 2022.
Meanwhile, the second project — invested by Ninh Thuan international tourism joint stock company — will cover 6.56ha at Khanh Hai Town, Ninh Hai District. Worth VND550 billion, the complex will include a five-star hotel providing between 200-300 rooms, villas and food streets. It is expected to be finished in December, 2021.
Ninh Thuan is seeing rising interest from investors thanks to its potential for tourism.
The central coastal province is home to 61 tourism projects with total registered capital of nearly VND20 trillion.
This year, Ninh Thuan aims to attract 2.35 million visitors, including 100,000 foreigners, and expand its luxury and ecotourism offerings.
Up to 2.19 million holiday-makers travelled to the province in 2018, a year-on-year increase of 15.3 per cent. It earned VND1.05 trillion from tourism services, a yearly increase of 18.9 per cent.
Tien Giang attracts two new projects
A seafood processing facility in Tien Giang Province, which attracted two new multi-million dollar projects in industrial parks in the first two months of the year.
Tien Giang Province has attracted two new investment projects to its industrial parks, with a combined registered capital of VND5.4 trillion (US$232.58 million).
Nguyen Thanh Liem, deputy head of the management board for Tien Giang’s industrial parks, said that the province has 101 projects with total registered capital of VND47.8 trillion renting over 529 hectares of land (which covers about 70 per cent of the available land at its four industrial parks).
The industrial production value of the companies at these parks within the first two months of the year was more than VND12.2 trillion, 14.56 per cent higher than last year’s period. Exports were $423 million, more than 8 per cent higher than the same period last year.
The companies at the industrial parks are targeting more than VND77 trillion of industrial production and $2.74 billion of exports for 2019.
Tien Giang aims to attract 10 more projects this year and will further improve the investment climate, simplify procedures, inform companies of regulations, and help existing companies with their problems, authorities have said.
VND5.2 trillion to be invested in wind power in Quang Tri Province
A wind power farm in Huong Hoa District, Quang Tri Province. — Photo baotainguyenmoitruong.vn
Quang Tri Province People’s Committee gave its approval to two companies to develop wind power projects worth a total of VND5.2 trillion (US$221.2 million) in the central province.
Huong Phung Wind Power Company Limited will be allowed to develop Huong Phung 3 Wind Power Plant with a designed capacity of 30MW and a total investment of more than VND1.58 trillion. Covering nearly nine hectares in Huong Phung Commune, Huong Hoa District, the plant is expected to be completed in 2021 and operate for 50 years.
Quang Tri GELEX Energy Company will invest in building three wind power plants – GELEX 1, 2 and 3. Each has a designed capacity of 30MW. These plants, with a total investment of nearly VND3.66 trillion, will be built in Huong Hoa District’s Huong Linh Commune and Dakrong District’s Huong Hiep Commune between now and 2021. They will also operate for 50 years.
Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chinh said one wind power project was already operational in the province while four 30MW projects were going to be put into operation.
The province has targeted a total wind power output of 800 MW. Under its plan, the province has three zones for wind power development with a total area of more than 6,700 hectares, including two in Huong Hoa District and one in Con Co District. Quang Tri has targeted becoming an energy centre for the central region.
Nghe An calls on investment in western area
Rice fields in the highlands of Tuong Duong District in Nghe An Province. — Photo baonghean.vn
Nghe An Province is taking many measures to improve the quality of its business environment, hoping to attract more investment in the western area of the province.
Currently, the region is home to more than 163 projects with total registered capital of VND64.1 trillion (US$2.8 billion). Among them are big projects including $1.2 billion TH dairy farm of TH Milk Food JSC, high-tech pig-breeding farm Masan Nutri – Farm of Masan Group worth VND1 trillion and some key hydropower plants.
The provincial authority has said it will continue to promote investment to the western area by providing information to investors about the potential, strengths and policies, especially the list of projects calling for investment in the west.
It will also accelerate the construction of planned industrial zones and clusters to attract big investment projects.
Vi Van Son, chairman of Con Cuong District People’s Committee said the district has organised many meetings with large enterprises to call for investment, including Muong Thanh Group, TH Group, Hoang Quy Tourism Co Ltd and T-Tech Group.
As a result, some projects have been implemented in the district such as Muong Thanh Con Cuong hotel and commercial centre and Thien Son 2 orange farm project.
Hoang Phu Hien, chairman of Thai Hoa Town People’s Committee also said 50 projects worth combined registered capital of VND2.2 trillion were invested in the town thanks to the province’s efforts in calling for investment.
However, big projects in the area are mostly from domestic investors and the province is aiming to attract foreign direct investment, as well as increase the number of large capital projects.
Western Nghe An has an area of nearly 13,800 square kilometers, accounting for more than 83 per cent of total natural area of the province. With five border gates with Laos, the area has strategic importance in economic development and security.
Hoa Phat’s steel pipe to be exported to India
Hoa Phat Steel Pipe Company Limited will make its first shipment to India in March.
Hoa Phat Steel Pipe Company Limited has announced the first order to export around 1,000 tonnes of galvanised steel pipe worth US$600,000 to India.
This would be the first time Hoa Phat steel pipe has been exported to the market. The export volume includes 400 tonnes from its Hung Yen plant with the remainder from its Binh Duong plant. The shipment would be delivered in March 2019.
India is considered a key market in the Asian region. The export also realised Hoa Phat’s target to diversify its markets.
Hoa Phat’s steel pipe products meet strict requirements imposed by foreign countries such as the US, Canada, South Korea, Cambodia and Myanmar.
It also received orders from US and Canada last month.
Hoa Phat’s total steel pipe output in 2018 reached nearly 800,000 tonnes, posting a 15 per cent year-on-year increase. Of which, its exports rose by 40 per cent from the previous year to 18,300 tonnes.
The company targeted an export turnover increase of 150 to 200 per cent this year.
Vietnam’s pepper output estimated at 200,000 tons in 2019
Vietnam is predicted to produce roughly 175,000 tons of black pepper and 25,000 tons of white pepper over the course of 2019, maintaining its spot as the largest producer and exporter of pepper, according to the International Pepper Association (IPC).
The IPC also predicted the nation’s pepper output would decrease along with other leading global exporters such as Brazil, Indonesia, and India during 2019 against 2018’s figures.
In January, Vietnam raked in US$46 million from overseas shipments of 15,000 tons of pepper, up 13.5% in value and a 19.5% rise in volume compared to the previous month.
The price of pepper exports in January stood at US$3,067 per ton on average, a 5% drop against last December and 23.5 per cent on year.
Vietnam now exports 95% of its annual pepper produced. Therefore, experts warn that the quality of pepper exports must remain a top priority with regard to the production chain.
Greater efforts must be made to foster alliances between domestic firms, importers, and the World Spice Organisation for the purpose of increasing sales and improving product quality.
Close linkages yield profits for agricultural sector
Increased linkages and processing investments have proved beneficial to agricultural production, which is expected to map out the right path for the sector’s overall growth amidst global integration.
A combined 600 tons of farm produce ordered by Japan and the Republic of Korea in early 2019 is exciting news for Tan Huong farm produce and food processing company (Tan Huong Foods), located in the northern province of Hai Duong.
Tan Huong Foods is viewed by many as a testament to a fruitful model in which close linkages between the firm and its network of farmers, as well as increased processing investments, have enabled their products to achieve greater domestic and overseas market penetration.
Nguyen Duc Menh, director of Tan Huong Foods, said that his company annually buys and stocks up thousands of tons of fruit and vegetables from local farmers, then partly sells them to the domestic market. The firms also does lots of business abroad with demand increasing from importers, such as Japan and the Republic of Korea.
The close connection between the business and local farmers has allowed it to assure the quality and food safety of products, especially those shipped abroad, whilst maintaining a stable supply and business as well, thus helping the firm to profit.
Having undertaken a fact-finding tour of a zone specializing in carrot cultivation and processing in Cam Giang district of Hai Duong province, Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, stressed the effective alliance between agricultural firms, co-operatives, and farmers as a key element in building trust among the stakeholders.
If combined together, fragmented fields could be turned into cultivation areas that allow linkages between farmers and enterprises in sales and processing. Production links could be enhanced, depending on the participants and size of each cultivation area with the aim of maximizing capacity and slashing costs.
According to Nguyen Quoc Toan, Acting Director of the ministry’s Department of Agro-product Processing and Market Development, international economic integration has forced the domestic agricultural sector to rearrange its production on par with value chains.
In addition, improving the processing capacity and collaboration among stakeholders is another way to boost exports. Meanwhile, they have to regularly note consumer trends, market fluctuations, and relevant regulations as well as technical barriers set by importing countries.
Recent statistics point out that investors have a large appetite for the processing industry as 16 large-scale firms poured a combined VND8.7 trillion (US$379.69 million) into installing fruit processing lines during 2018, whilst 17 processing factories valued at totally VND10 trillion (US$436.43 million) took shape and were inaugurated in the same year.
The agricultural sector is striving to reap an annual growth rate of at least 3 per cent and US$42 billion in export turnover as assigned by the Prime Minister at a recent conference setting forth the missions for the sector ahead in 2019.
For a long-term approach, the sector looks to enter the world’s top 15 countries with the largest farm produce exports in the next 10 years.
Efficiency improvement crucial for cement industry: experts
Production and sales of cement and clinkers of Vietnam have risen in recent years. But to maintain the growth, experts suggested that the industry should make comprehensive reforms, apply advanced technology to improve production and optimise the efficiency of natural resources.
In 2018, cement exports hit a record of more than 30 million tonnes, along with about 64 million tonnes sold at home, raising the total supply of the industry to about 95 million tones.
Le Thanh Long, Director of Vicem Hoang Thach Cement Company Limited, the surge in cement exports was due to a rise in demand in foreign markets like China and the Philippines.
Meanwhile, the price of cement and clinker in the world market also rose from 31 USD to 41 USD per tonne in late 2018, encouraging firms to increase their exports.
Last year, the Vietnam Cement Industry Corporation (VICEM) operated at 95 percent of its capacity, with an output of 29.2 million tonnes, up 10 percent year on year.
VICEM exported 18 percent of its total production, with 70 percent cement, enjoying a 10 percent rise in total revenue to 37 trillion VND and an 11 percent increase in profit at 3 trillion VND.
The promotion of cement exports has helped ease domestic sales pressure.
Nguyen Quang Cung, Chairman of the Vietnam Cement Association, said that currently, the cement industry’s supply is no longer overwhelming. The increase in domestic sales and exports has helped balance the market, he said.
However, Cung said the industry will face risks if it sees export as a major future plan as many importers apply defence measures, causing difficulties for Vietnamese firms.
Experts said cement production should be kept at 14-15 million tonnes per year. Meanwhile, in 2019, the industry plans to export 20-25 million tonnes of cement and clinker.
However, cement is an energy-costing industry which uses resources that are not renewable. Last year, the sector had to import coal for its production due to a shortage of domestic supply. In the year, coal prices increased twice, while the price of Vietnamese cement in the global market remained low to maintain competitiveness. The situation requires the sector to renovate its technology to cut costs.
VICEM General Director Bui Hong Minh said the firm is taking steps to apply modern technology, save natural resources and protect the environment.
The Ministry of Construction has built plans to increase the use of trash from thermal power plant as well as chemical and fertiliser factories as materials for construction.
Domestic firms’ efforts to modernise their production chain are expected to enhance the efficiency of the industry and help it grow sustainably.
Statistics sector works to further improve efficiency
The General Statistics Office (GSO) will continue improving the quality of its statistics and increasing information sharing with ministries and sectors, thus better serving the Government’s management over the macro-economy and socio-economic development, GSO General Director Nguyen Bich Lam said.
Accordingly, the sector will focus on better performance in analysing and forecasting socio-economic situation, while proposing timely solutions to deal with changes in the global market, especially the financial, monetary and trading market, Lam said at a working session of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc with the Ministry of Planning and Investment in Hanoi on February 19.
In order to serve the economic restructuring and the reform of growth model in the 2016-2020 period, the GSO built a supervision and evaluation criteria framework for the period, Lam said, adding the GSP has piloted the implementation of the process of economic restructuring and growth model reform in the 2016-2018 period.
He noted that along with launching major projects in improving statistics quality, strengthening IT application and development, and international integration, in 2017, 2018 and early 2019, the GSO has built growth scenarios for each quarter of the years as well as solutions for each period.
At the same time, the sector has coordinated with ministries and sectors to give advice to the Minister of Planning and Investment and the Government in price management.
Lam said that in the future, the sector will continue promoting the implementation of the Statistics Law and the Vietnam statistics development strategy in the 2011-2020 period and other major projects, focusing on improving its operation and completing its organisation for better efficiency.
Ministry to help big cities achieve breakthrough growth
The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) will work harder to give a boost to the country’s economic locomotives, especially Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and four key economic regions to achieve breakthrough growth in 2019, Minister Nguyen Chi Dung has said.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (standing) addresses the working session with the Ministry of Planning and Investment in Hanoi on February 19
Dung outlined the MPI’s goals during a working session with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi on February 19.
To obtain breakthroughs targeted in the resolutions of the Party Central Committee, the National Assembly and the Government, the MPI will augment efforts in certain areas, including developing the private sector strongly and creating a fair business environment, he said.
The ministry will push on with accelerating economic restructuring and growth model reform, and promoting growth quality, labour productivity and competitiveness of the economy, Dung stressed.
The MPI will also look to create strong changes in the structure of each sector and public investment, while developing synchronous infrastructure on the basis of effective public-private partnership, he said.
Dung added that stronger actions will be made to form national innovation centres and boost activities of the Vietnam Innovation Network, thus helping to develop human resources and encourage innovation in the country amid the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The ministry will also create favourable conditions for smart production models, smart cities, green growth and clean energy and improve communities’ resilience to climate change, Dung noted.
Particularly, the MPI is committed to making breakthrough improvements in its governance efficiency by building a lean apparatus, enhancing policy implementation efficiency at all levels, and promoting transparency and accountability, he said.
According to the minister, the three decades of reforms have given a facelift to the economy, turning Vietnam into a middle-income country. The total gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018 grew by 38-fold from 1989 while per capita GDP surged by 26 times.
However, certain problems in the economy still need much time to be resolved, he admitted.
The path of innovation and development is still long, and the MPI is willing to listen to opinions and take more drastic actions to help with the fast and sustainable development of the country, he affirmed.
National one-stop shop mechanism’s operation in 2018 reviewed
Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue, who is also Chairman of the National Steering Committee on the National One-Stop Shop (OSS) Mechanism, the ASEAN One-Stop Shop Mechanism and Trade Facilitation (Committee 189), chaired a conference in Hanoi on February 19 to review the implementation of the tasks by the committee in 2018 and discuss its operation orientations for 2019.
Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue addresses the conference
The committee reported that by the end of January, as many as 173 administrative procedures of 13 ministries and sector had connected to the national OSS system. The system processed nearly 1.9 million records from approximately 27,000 enterprises.
The Prime Minister had requested ministries and sectors to have 139 new administrative procedures processed on the national OSS system.
By the end of 2018, ministries had completed the implementation of 106 new procedures, accounting for 77 percent of the set target.
The OSS administrative mechanism has been applied at seaports, on inland waterways, and at international airports across the country.
Finance Deputy Minister Nguyen Thi Mai said that in 2018, ministries and sectors made positive changes and breakthroughs as 100 new procedures were implemented in the last five months of the year, bringing benefits to people and businesses.
The Ministries of Transport, Industry and Trade, and Natural Resources and the Environment, as well as the State Bank have made great efforts and showed good performance in implementing administrative procedures on the national OSS system. In particular, the Ministry of Transport and the State Bank have completed 100 percent of their plan.
Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Doan Duy Khuong said that the surveys conducted by the VCCI, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the General Department of Customs showed that businesses that have applied the process of administrative procedures on the national OSS system have come to recognize advantages from the mechanism.
The conference heard that 2018 recorded fundamental breakthroughs and changes in national and ASEAN OSS connection and trade facilitation.
However, Deputy PM Hue pointed out difficulties and limitations in implementing the work.
The coordination between units remains limited, while the progress of developing and upgrading the network’s infrastructure and equipment has not kept up with the deployment, leading to an overload, he said.
He stressed the need to propose orientations related to the design and operation of the system in order to overcome inconsistencies and correct errors.
The Deputy PM also noted that trade facilitation must work alongside the fight against commercial frauds, adding that some ministries and sectors have met requirements in these fields.
He asked for more attention focused on cutting down more business conditions and conducting well-executed specialised inspections, thus making it easier for enterprises in their export-import activities.
MB among strongest banks in Asia-Pacific
The Military Commercial Joint Stock Bank (MB) ranked third among 14 Vietnamese banks in the list of 500 strongest banks (AB500) in Asia-Pacific recently released by The Asian Banker.
AB500 is an annual study of the financial and business performance of the commercial banking industry in Asia-Pacific. The study comprises two different lists: the first ranks the top 500 banks in the region by asset size, while the second ranks the same banks by strength, or long-term profitability from its core businesses.
In the 2018 ranking, MB jumped one place domestically and 32 places in Asia-Pacific compared with 2017.
Along with strategic programmes for customers, targeting major businesses, small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and individuals, MB hit its business targets for 2018, with profits up 56 percent to 7.7 trillion VND (331.1 million USD) and turnover hitting 1 billion USD.
Apart from MB, the Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) and the Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (VietinBank) were also listed in the AB500 ranking.
US remains largest export market of Dong Nai
The US is now the biggest importer of the southern province of Dong Nai, accounting for 25.7 percent of the locality’s total export turnover.
According to the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, Dong Nai’s export turnover to the US hit 451.7 million USD in January 2019, 7.4 percent higher than that of December 2018, and a year-on-year rise of 7.2 percent.
Commodities exported to the US with large export value in the month included footwear with 127.8 million USD, wood and wood-based products at 86 million USD, textiles-garment at 77.4 million USD and steel products worth 30 million USD.
China and Japan are also key importers of enterprises in Dong Nai.
Statistics show that Dong Nai’s export turnover in February is estimated to reach 1.19 billion USD. The figure is expected to surge in March as many local firms have received orders for the whole year.
FTA helps fuel Vietnam-Russia trade growth
A worker at a steel factory. Steel and steel products made up 16.6 percent of Vietnam’s exports to Russia in 2018
Trade between Vietnam and Russia was estimated at 4.57 billion USD in 2018, up 28.6 percent year on year, partly thanks to the enforcement of the free trade agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
Food accounted for 32.4 percent of Vietnam’s shipments to Russia, automobiles and machinery 20.7 percent, and steel and steel products 16.6 percent, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.
Last year, Russia invested in eight new projects and added capital to one existing project in the Southeast Asian nation. It also purchased shares of Vietnamese businesses through 40 projects.
It registered a total of 42.63 million USD of investment capital in 2018, ranking 28th among 112 countries and territories investing in Vietnam for the year.
The FTA between Vietnam and the five EAEU countries of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan took effect on October 5, 2016.
Time for resuming fee collection at Cai Lay tollgate still under discussion
A view of Cai Lay toll station in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang. When the toll station’s operations resume is still unknown though three meetings have been held to discuss the issue so far this year
The Ministry of Transport, authorities of Tien Giang Province and the operator of Cai Lay toll station have yet to reach a final decision on a specific date to resume fee collection at the station, though they have held three meetings so far this year.
Nguyen Nhat, Deputy Minister of Transport, told the Saigon Times on February 16 that the date for resuming toll collection had yet to be finalized, following a meeting discussing the issue on February 15 in HCMC. The build-operate-transfer (BOT) Cai Lay toll road station project had to be reviewed, he noted.
The project will still be under discussion in the coming days, according to Nguyen Phu Hiep, director of National Highway No. 1 Tien Giang Co., Ltd, which manages and operates the Cai Lay BOT toll gate.
The ministry previously organized two meetings, on January 25 and January 31 this year, on the resumption of the tollgate’s operations, but the involved parties have yet to decide on a specific date.
At the meeting on January 25, Deputy Minister Nhat suggested the project investor finish renovating a bypass for the BOT Cai Lay project before resuming toll collection, apart from giving local residents more details of the project’s operations. Also, a nonstop electronic toll collection system should be set up at the tollgate, Nhat remarked.
The deputy minister also asked the provincial Department of Transport and the project investor to revise the number of vehicles that are eligible for fee reduction or exemption among the eight communes near the tollgate.
The BOT project includes the 12-kilometer bypass around Cai Lay provincial town and an improved section of National Highway 1 across Cai Lay. It was developed by a joint venture between Bac Ai Construction Investment Consultation JSC and Transport Construction and Investment Trading JSC No.1.
Work on the project started in 2014 and was completed in 2017. Fee collection took effect from August 14, 2017, but faced many suspensions as drivers objected to the location of the tollgate on National Highway 1 rather than on the bypass.
PM sets socio-economic development tasks for MPI
Workers operate equipment at a Samsung factory in Sai Dong Industrial Park in Ha Noi.
PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc yesterday asked the MPI to plan for the coming decades by building an innovative economy, encouraging start-ups and creating trust among people and businesses.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc instructed the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) to continue to make breakthroughs for socio-economic development at a meeting in Ha Noi on Tuesday.
Phuc asked the MPI to plan for the coming decades by building an innovative economy, encouraging start-ups, and creating trust among people and businesses.
“The ministry must propose a policy mechanism to go in this direction.”
“The ministry needs to provide solutions to help Viet Nam avoid middle income, cheap labour, low value processing and technology waste-dump traps, so that no one is left behind,” Phuc said.
“The ministry also needs to elevate Viet Nam into the top four ASEAN members and reach the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s standards on its business environment. We have resolutions but they are not completed. The MPI needs to look at how to implement them to reach the earliest results,” he added.
Phuc also urged the ministry to make the private economy an important driver for the country’s development, especially small and medium enterprises, household economies and co-operative economies.
Phuc said the MPI had gained many achievements and assessed risks in the context of the complicated global changes.
The Prime Minister appreciated the MPI’s proposal to remove regulations that easily led to an ‘asking and giving’ mechanism [bribery], such as abolishing investment registration certificates for Build-Operate-Transfer and Build-Transfer projects and abolishing golf course planning.
“Abolishing the ‘asking and giving’ mechanism is the direction of progress, which is our main direction,” Phuc said.
Speaking at the meeting, Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung said to achieve the breakthroughs set out in resolutions of the Party Central Committee, National Assembly and Government Resolution No.01/NQ-CP, the ministry would focus on production, especially in the private sector, while improving access to resources associated with innovation and creativity and setting up a fair business environment.
Dung said the ministry would promote economic restructuring and enhance growth quality, labour productivity and economic competitiveness.
“We will make a strong change in the restructuring of each sector, area and public investment, thereby creating conditions for synchronous development of infrastructure on the basis of effective public-private partnerships,” Dung said.
The ministry would also set up national innovation centres and promote the operation of the innovation connection network in Viet Nam, contributing to human resource development and innovation associated with the application of the 4.0 Industrial Revolution, developing smart production models, smart urban areas, green growth, clean energy, increased resilience and adaptation to climate change.
“In particular, we will improve the efficiency of State governance in line with a modern market economy and international integration as well as the effectiveness of policy implementation at all levels and in all sectors, raising transparency and accountability,” Dung said.
He also said the achievements of 30 years of doi moi (renewal) had fundamentally changed the appearance of the economy with high growth and improved life. Viet Nam had become an average-income country. Viet Nam’s GDP had increased by 38 times and GDP per capita rose by 26 times in 2018 in comparison with 1989.
Fruit, flower prices rise on full moon
A fruit shop at Ba Chieu Market in HCM City’s Binh Thanh District. Fruit and flower prices have skyrocketed ahead of the year’s first full moon, which is marked by a festival.
Demand for fruit and flowers usually increases sharply on the occasion of the lunar year’s first full moon, and a short supply this year has caused their prices to spiral upwards.
Tet Nguyen Tieu (New Year Full Moon Festival) is a major festival, and on this day many people prepare offerings, especially fruits and flowers, to the Buddha and ancestors.
At some traditional markets such as Thi Nghe and Ba Chieu in Binh Thanh District and Ben Thanh and Tan Dinh in District 1, fruit prices shot up on February 17 and 18 to VND70,000-80,000 for a kilogramme of green skin pomelo, VND60,000-70,000 for dragon fruit and VND130,000-140,000 for mangosteen.
Flower prices too rose steeply to VND40,000 for a bunch of lisianthus, VND60,000-70,000 for marigold and VND80,000 for gladiolus, while daisy and gerbera were priced at many times their normal rates.
Tran Kim Mai, a fruit trader at Thi Nghe Market, told Viet Nam News that since Tet fruit prices have remained high due to high demand and low supply.
But many people do not pay much attention to the prices because they want to prepare the offerings properly to show respect to their ancestors and pray to God, she said.
According to the management board of the Dam Sen Flower Market in District 11, some 30 tonnes of flowers came on February 17, significantly lower than normal.
As a result, prices have doubled or tripled from normal days, it added.
Tuoi tre (Youth) newspaper quoted Ly Phu Qui, a member of the market management board, as saying that a large volume of flowers had been harvested earlier for the Lunar New Year and demand has increased sharply in the central region this year, and flower growers in Lam Dong Province are unable to meet the demand.
Flower prices in Da Lat City, one of the country’s largest flower growing areas, has gone up significantly, with some varieties priced higher than even during Tet.
In addition to flowers and fruits, demand for vegetarian food also increases during the festival since many people turn vegetarian.
To meet the increasing demand, local businesses have improved the quality and design of their products and come up with new ones.
There is a wide range of vegetarian foods at various prices available at supermarkets, traditional markets and shops.
Dong Thap guest workers learn skills overseas
Workers on their way abroad to work. In Dong Thap Province in the Mekong Delta, such workers have helped develop household businesses and change the local economic landscape.
“Went as employees but return as entrepreneurs” is the motto of Dong Thap Province’s labour export programme and it is proving to be effective.
Tran Duy, 25, of An Long Commune in Tam Nong District, for instance, was from a large, disadvantaged family, and after finishing high school decided to go and work in Japan.
He worked in the food industry for three years until November 2018 for an average monthly salary of VND30 million (US$1,300).
He managed to save VND500 million by the time he returned. He said with the knowledge and skills he had acquired, and the money, he is ready to start a business in his hometown.
On average, a person working abroad sends home VND20-30 million a month, helping change the financial condition of their family.
Bui Thi Tre of Gao Giong Commune in Cao Lanh District said her son and daughter-in-law went to work in Japan right after the birth of their first child. She had to borrow over VND300 million to send them.
“At first they said it was difficult since they missed home and their child, and the working hours were demanding. But now they are used to it and send me around VND40 million a month.
“Thanks to the money, I have paid off the debt and now have a savings account.”
Le Van Thuong of Doc Binh Kieu Commune, Thap Muoi District, has two children, both with pharmaceutical intermediate degrees, working in Japan now.
“At first I did not agree [to let them go to work in Japan], but they told me they wanted to go there to learn new things and not just to make money. Then I said ‘yes’.”
His children send home around VND40 million a month, which Thuong has been saving up for them so that when they return they will have capital to start their own businesses.
At a year-end meeting recently with more than 500 parents whose children are working in Japan, Le Minh Hoan, the provincial Party Secretary, said the programme of sending guest workers abroad under fixed-term contracts has been quite successful as clearly shown by the increase in the number of household businesses.
He said the goal of working abroad is not solely earning money but also, more importantly, acquiring skills and knowledge to become entrepreneurs after returning home.
This is a way to generate jobs, improve incomes, stabilise people’s lives and contribute to socio-economic development, he said.
“You can spend all the money you have earned but knowledge is something that still stays with you and helps you earn more money.”
According to statistics from the province Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, last year 2,007 workers were sent overseas, double the target, including 1,400 to Japan.
More than 500 locals are now attending language classes and waiting for their turn to go. Tam Nong, Cao Lanh and Lap Vo are the three leading localities in terms of sending abroad guest workers.
Nguyen Thi Minh Tuyet, director of the Dong Thap Province Employment Service Centre, said the most attractive places for workers are Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Malaysia. The most popular industries to work in are interior decoration, mechanical engineering, seafood processing, and electronics.
She said her centre is working with the department and the local administration to find ways to enable workers return after working for a few years in Japan to contribute to the province’s development.
“To do this, it is necessary to have policies and an environment that enable workers to start their own businesses or attract Japanese enterprises to invest in Dong Thap.”
Dong Thap has pioneered a policy that allows workers to get unsecured loans for going abroad to work. Last year more than 1,600 people borrowed 90-100 per cent of the money they required for this from the Viet Nam Bank for Social Policies.
Besides, the province’s employment service centre offers VND6.6 million each to 1,400 people to attend vocational and language training classes and getting medical checks and visas to go abroad.