Judges at the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year photo contest, an annual event sponsored by UK-based The Food Awards Company, has selected several submissions by Vietnamese photographers to take home top prizes in the 2021 iteration of the event.
The contest – launched in 2011 to “celebrate the very best in food photography and film from around the world” – accepts photo and video submissions of foods for its various categories, including photographs of food styled for magazines, as well as family themed, food production, and even food in politics categories.
With the competition now in its 10th year, judges sifted through almost 10,500 entries from more than 70 countries before announcing the winners online during a live-streamed event on April 28.
|‘Taste’ shows a young family preparing food in their home in Lichang, Shanxi, China. This photo won the Grand prize at Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2021. Photo: Li Huaifeng|
Chinese photographer Li Huaifeng took home the grand prize with her submission, titled ‘Taste,’ depicting a young family preparing food in their home in Lichang, Shanxi.
|‘Enjoying’ depicts a street vendor selling che (sweet soup) and tao pho (soya bean curd) in Hoi An City, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam. The photo won the ‘Street Food’ category at Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2021. Photo: Tran Viet Van.|
Meanwhile, Vietnamese lensman Tran Van Viet triumphed in the ‘Street Food’ category with his submission ‘Enjoying’ – a magnificent shot of a street vendor selling che (sweet soup) and tao pho (soya bean curd) in Hoi An City.
“[Hoi An City is] an old town and popular tourist destination in central Vietnam where there are many sweet soup sellers,” Viet said.
“Watching these four young girls passionately eating soup made me feel that life is beautiful despite the ongoing pandemic.”
Thong Nguyen, another Vietnamese photographer, was awarded first prize in the ‘Food at the Table’ category with his photo ‘Breakfast at Weekly Market,’ which depicts locals in a mountainous area of northern Vietnam enjoying pho for breakfast at a local weekly market.
|‘Feeding the Ducks’ shows a farmer feeding a flock of ducks in Vietnam. This photo won second prize in the ‘Food in the Field’ category at Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2021. Photo: Nguyen Phuoc Hoai|
A photo named ‘Feeding the Ducks,’ snapped by Vietnamese photographer Nguyen Phuoc Hoai, won second prize in the ‘Food in the Field’ category.
Other works by Vietnamese candidates made a shortlist highlighted in a gallery on the contest’s official website.
This year, the finalists’ images will be exhibited at The Royal Photographic Society in Bristol as part of a free exhibition set to run from November 20 to December 12.
|‘Winter Breakfast’ shows locals in a mountainous area of northern Vietnam enjoying breakfast at home. This photo is part of the commended gallery at Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2021. Photo: Nguyen Huu Thong.|
|‘Lychee Season’ shows a Vietnamese woman arranging lychees in a basket after a harvest. This photo is part of the commended gallery at Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2021. Photo: Nguyen Huu Thong.|
|‘Fishing Net’ shows fish harvesting in Vietnam. This photo is part of the commended gallery at Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2021. Photo: Nguyen Phuoc Hoai.|
Jakarta (VNA) – A workshop entitled “Turning Adversity into Opportunity: ASEAN’s Participation in Global Value Chains in a-Post COVID World” took place via videoconference on May 5, drawing representatives of 21 ASEAN bodies from the ASEAN Economic and Socio-Cultural Communities.
Held by the ASEAN Secretariat, the event was within the framework of the Accelerated COVID-19 Economic Support programme which was funded by the UK and kicked off last year to bring analytics and data to inform decision-making, and support acceleration of post-COVID economic recovery.
In partnership with the Boston Consulting Group, the workshop aimed to provide greater understanding of ASEAN’s global value chain challenges and opportunities in the post-pandemic recovery and discuss ways forward to advance the region’s global value chain agenda.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Satvinder Singh highlighted that ‘’despite external shocks such as COVID-19 and global trade tensions, global value chains are here to stay, and will continue to be an important growth strategy for ASEAN.’’
‘’These shocks have transformed the GVCs, making them more regionalised, promoting more diversification, and putting resilience and sustainability considerations to the forefront. Fresh GVC growth of activities will help the economies of ASEAN recoup, and replace job displacements and bring sustained recovery growth to the region and ASEAN stands a good chance in reaping the benefit from these emerging trends,” he further added.
However, Singh warned that this endeavour will not come automatic, and ASEAN should focus its efforts to improve its overall competitiveness through good regulatory practice, critical infrastructure development, better connectivity, and human capital development.
On his part, UK Ambassador to ASEAN Jon Lambe indicated that AEC’s focus areas this year – recovery, digitalisation, and sustainability – are priorities that the UK shares. Together, the UK and ASEAN will not only overcome the pandemic, but also stimulate a rapid, inclusive, and sustainable recovery, he said./.
Deputy Minister Health Tran Van Thuan said during the press conference on May 5 that Vietnam would try to import Covid-19 vaccines from Russia, Japan, and the UK via international programmes, embassies and organisations. They will also start the process to receive the newest Covid-19 vaccine production technologies.
Deputy Minister Health Tran Van Thuan speaks at the conference
“Vietnam will have 38.9 million doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine via the COVAX Facility, and 30 million more doses via Vietnam Vaccine JSC. We are negotiating with Pfizer for 31 million doses and 2 million doses of Sputnik V vaccine from Russia,” he said.
Thuan will visit Japan and another Deputy Minister of Health, Tran Quoc Cuong, will visit Russia for technology transferring and negotiation over Covid-19 vaccines.
In early May, the World Health Organisation said that the Future mRNA vaccine technology will be transferred to Vietnam. More details will be discussed in May.
In regards to domestically-made vaccines, two manufacturers will complete vaccines in mid and late 2021 with governmental support. If the Covid-19 outbreak becomes too severe, the vaccines will be issued licenses for emergency cases.
During a regular meeting in April, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh urged the Ministry of Health to be proactive in searching for more sources to secure Covid-19 vaccines for Vietnam and speeding up the immunisation programmes so that the vaccines will not be expired.
The ministry was also asked to build a plan about import, produce and roll out the vaccines to the government in May.
Vietnam’s production rises at fastest pace since Nov 2018
|People work at an auto plant. The improvement in Vietnam’s manufacturing sector in April 2021 was the strongest since November 2018 – PHOTO: VNA|
New orders rose at a sharper rate, with firms responding by upping their rate of job creation and ramping up purchasing.
Input costs continued to rise sharply, leading to the fastest increase in selling prices in nearly a decade. Meanwhile, there were some signs that supply-chain disruption had started to ease during the month.
The Vietnam Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) increased for the third straight month, posting 54.7 in April following a reading of 53.6 in March. The manufacturing sector was boosted in April by signs that customers were willing to commit to larger orders than they previously did, given the general improvement in demand and control of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The total new orders increased for the eighth straight month running and at the fastest pace in close to two and a half years.
New export orders also continued to rise amid an improving international demand climate. Higher new orders led to a similarly-sized expansion of manufacturing output, with production also up at the fastest pace since November 2018.
Companies boosted production by increasing workforce numbers. Staffing levels were expanded for the third month running and to the greatest extent since December 2018.
This increased capacity, however, was not sufficient to prevent a first rise in backlogs of work in 15 months due to the strength of new order growth.
Besides raising staffing levels, firms also posted a sharp and accelerated expansion of purchasing activity. Respondents indicated that the increase in input buying was both in response to higher new orders and as part of efforts to build reserves to support production growth in the months ahead.
Efforts to expand inventory holdings were generally successful in April, with both stocks of purchases and finished goods increasing. In both cases, the rate of accumulation was solid and faster than at the end of the first quarter.
There were some signs that recent severe disruption to supply chains eased in April. While suppliers’ delivery times continued to lengthen, the latest deterioration in vendor performance was modest and the softest since last September.
Supply shortages and rising shipping costs continued to feed through to higher input prices. The rate of cost inflation remained substantial and was only slightly slower than that seen in March. In turn, firms raised their selling prices sharply, with the rate of inflation quickening to the fastest for close to a decade.
Expectations that the pandemic will remain under control led to higher demand, and the introduction of new product lines, supported ongoing confidence among firms regarding the 12-month outlook for production.
“The Vietnamese manufacturing sector hit the ground running at the start of the second quarter. Output and new orders each rose to the greatest extent since late 2018, and there were encouraging reports that customers were often happy to place larger orders amid greater confidence in the sustainability of the current expansion,” said Andrew Harker, economics director at IHS Markit.
“Inflationary pressures remained elevated, with output prices increasing at the fastest pace for almost a decade. There were some signs, however, that the severity of the difficulties in supply chains may be easing, which will hopefully reduce some of the upward pressure on prices,” Harker added.
Binh Phuoc seeks to bolster investment from US
The Becamex IDC Corporation together with the People’s Committee of southern Binh Phuoc province held an online conference on May 5 with investors from the US.
Addressing the gathering, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Huynh Anh Minh said trade and investment promotions remain restricted as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc across the world.
The conference, therefore, holds significant and practical meaning for Binh Phuoc and the US business community and affirms the province’s determination to expand cooperation and attract investment and the attention from US firms.
Binh Phuoc hopes to bolster cooperation with US investors in the fields of industrial engineering, electromechanics, the agricultural processing industry, supporting industries, and high-tech agriculture, among others, he said.
He also pledged that Binh Phuoc will improve its investment climate to ensure transparency, revise policies, and create favourable conditions for businesses operating in the province.
At the conference, Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Ha Kim Ngoc underlined that the US is among Vietnam’s leading trade partners, with bilateral economic and trade cooperation maintaining growth levels despite the adverse impact of COVID-19.
Binh Phuoc is currently home to 13 industrial parks (IPs) covering 4,686 ha. To satisfy economic development demand and attract investment in the 2021-2030 period, the province eyes the expansion of three IPs and the establishment of four others, raising the total area to 10,000 ha.
Prominent among these will be the Becamex – Binh Phuoc Industrial and Urban Complex in Chon Thanh district, which has drawn 49 projects with registered capital of nearly 1 billion USD.
Becamex Binh Phuoc is set to build the 1,000-ha Dong Phu Urban IP in the time to come./.
115 trillion VND for tax payment extension
The total value of taxes and land lease fees under the Government’s recently-issued decree on the extension of deadlines for tax payment is 115 trillion VND (4.97 billion USD), heard a press conference of the Government on May 5.
Minister-Chairman of the Government Office Tran Van Son said Decree No. 52/2021/ND-CP aims to support enterprises, organisations, family businesses and individuals who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the Decree, a five-month extension will be given to value-added tax of the assessment periods of March, April, May, June, the first quarter and the second quarter this year. This means the payment of VAT of March assessment period will be extended to September.
Timeframe for payment of value-added tax of July and August will be extended by four and three months, respectively.
Payment of corporate income tax in the first and second quarters will be extended by three months, according to the Decree.
A six-month extension will be given to payment of land rent fees, starting from May 31, 2021.
This is the third time the Government has introduced tax and land rent payment deadlines since the first COVID-19 cases reported in Vietnam on January 23, 2020.
Earlier, the Government promulgated Decree No. 41/2020/ND-CP dated April 8, 2020 on extension of deadlines for tax and land rent fee payment and Decree No. 109/2020/ND-CP providing the extension of time limits for excise tax payment for domestically manufactured or assembled cars.
In implementing the two previous Decrees, a total of 184,900 dossiers on tax and land lease payment extension were passed with a total sum of 87.3 trillion VND./.
Capital injections loom in finance M&A
Although the pandemic is still taking a serious toll on the economy, foreign investors are banking on cross-border mergers and acquisitions in the financial industry, especially in consumer finance and retail banking, illustrating the urgency to acquire new capabilities.
Japanese financial group Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG) – parent of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) and consumer arm SMBCCF – was last week reportedly to acquire 49 per cent in FE Credit, Vietnam’s largest consumer finance company under VPBank.
Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh told Masahiro Yoshimura, general manager of Business Development Department at SMFG, at a reception last week that he welcomed SMBC’s investment in FE Credit, and noted his belief that the cooperation will be a success.
SMFG will pay $1.4 billion to buy 49 per cent at FE Credit, making it the largest deal conducted by a Japanese bank in Vietnam’s financial institution landscape. “The looming acquisition comes as Vietnam’s consumer loan market rapidly expands on the back of strong and sustained economic growth,” reported Nikkei Asia. “Sumitomo is aiming to widen its business in Asia by leveraging its digitalisation and customer management expertise.” FE Credit, after the deal, is now valued at $2.8 billion.
A representative of VPBank told VIR, “Through this transaction, FE Credit is expected to receive additional support and international expertise in capital resources, as well as management skills from SMFG, especially from SMBCCF.
“At the same time, this transaction will inject a large amount of capital to VPBank, bolstering the bank’s solid growth fundamentals and enhancing its financial capabilities to explore its huge potential as well as capitalise on the emerging financial industry in Vietnam,” the representative added.
VPBank’s Board of Directors initially forecast that a successful initial public offering could triple FE Credit’s share price compared to the book value after equitisation.
The $1.4 billion bet on FE Credit is part of SMFG’s strategy to increase its footprint in Asia. The mega deal will offer mutual benefits, where the Japanese lender fund could jump on the lucrative consumer finance bandwagon in Vietnam, and FE Credit could enhance its operations to international standards.
SMBC Group is one of the three biggest banking and financial groups in Japan, with total assets of over $2.1 trillion as of December 31 last year. The group operates in retail banking, corporate banking, and investment banking worldwide, and is present in over 40 countries.
Last December, SMFG was allegedly planning to acquire an Asian lender, specifically in Vietnam, the Philippines, and India. Accordingly, the bank would cooperate with a global investment bank on US deal-making activities.
Elsewhere, international banks including DBS Group, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, OCBC, and Standard Chartered are allegedly vying to each other to buy Citibank’s retail banking business in Asia after the latter’s announcement to shut down this arm in 13 markets a fortnight ago.
“The sale process will start within a couple of weeks, they added, declining to be named as they were not authorised to speak to media. Potential bids from the regional banks and Standard Chartered, which makes most of its profit in Asia, underscores their growing appetite for businesses like credit cards and mortgages in a push to lock in long-term income growth,” Reuters noted.
“Asia is critical to our group’s strategy, and we will allocate resources to drive profitable growth,” a Citi spokesman in Hong Kong said.
At the same time, Japanese banks MUFG and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, along with Brit-based Standard Chartered, are mentioned as other potential bidders. In South Korea, financial institutions OK Financial Group and DGB Financial Group are strong candidates if a bidding war to acquire Citibank’s retail subsidiary takes place.
Specifically, DBS – the Singaporean multinational banking and financial services corporation – is reportedly mulling over buying Citibank’s retail business in India, according to The Hindu Times.
“DBS has always been open to exploring sensible bolt-on opportunities in markets where we have a consumer banking franchise and where we can overlay our digital capabilities,” DBS said in a statement.
Besides DBS, Standard Chartered and Kotak Mahindra Bank and Axis Bank also show their interest in the deal in India. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported the Bank of the Philippines – the country’s oldest lender – is mulling over acquiring Citibank’s retail arm domestically.
“We have told them that as soon as there is any information, we will take a look at it and most likely, we will be interested,” the bank’s president TG Limcaoco said, referring to Citigroup’s retail banking business.
In Vietnam, Citibank has been one of the most prestigious foreign lenders for years, providing a wide range of services from credit cards to wealth management, among others.
Citibank’s representative in Vietnam previously said that the withdrawal will not affect to its long-term commitment in this country. Citigroup’s consumer banking business in 13 markets made up for $4.2 billion of the bank’s revenue in 2020 of $74.3 billion.
Developers work around foreign cap
To meet the increasing demands of non-nationals on owning a property in Vietnam, many real estate developers are moving such buyers towards a long-lease term of 50 years instead after using up their restriction of 30 per cent of foreign ownership per project.
In the event of an area with geographical boundary equivalent to ward level with many apartment buildings for sale or lease purchase, those organisations and individuals may own no more than 30 per cent of the total units of each apartment building, and not more than 30 per cent of the total units of all the apartments.
Some projects, however, have used up the limitation such as Gateway Thao Dien, Nassim, and Thao Dien Pearl. In response, the project developers are persuading their overseas buyers to a long-lease term of 50 years instead.
According to Le Hoang Chau, chairman of Ho Chi Minh City Real Estate Association (HoREA), in several projects that that reached the ownership rate ceiling, non-nationals are being offered two options for short-term rent or long-term home lease. “In reality, there is not much difference between being in or out of the 30 per cent limitation. Foreign buyers who are consistent in wanting a property in their target projects will choose the long-lease term,” Chau said.
While current regulations include the 30 per cent cap for foreign ownership in Vietnam, no such limitation is applied for long leasing.
Some nations are currently tightening foreign ownership policy to avoid speculation, like South Korea, or trying to limit the number of homes being bought by foreigners, causing prices to soar and making it difficult for local middle- and low-income people to acquire accommodation, like in Australia.
Chau stressed that housing needs and housing ownership are different. “Most of the foreigners living in Vietnam would choose to rent a house instead of buying. This is because if they stay in Vietnam for more than 180 days each year will have to pay personal income tax. They will not buy fixed assets and then waste half a year of not using them,” Chau said.
Keeping the limitation of 30 per cent does not affect the target of attracting foreign investment while ensuring the advantage for Vietnamese in the luxury segment, he added.
According to unofficial figures, more than 320,000 foreigners live and work in Vietnam, mainly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Ho Chi Minh City has recorded the highest percentage of foreign buyers nationwide. According to HoREA, 17 leading real estate groups and corporations in Vietnam have sold more than 12,000 homes to foreign individuals and enterprises during the past five years.
The majority of overseas buyers come from China, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, while leasers are mainly from Europe, the US, Australia, and Japan. Nationwide, the HoREA predicts that around 16,000 units have been sold to non-Vietnamese buyers during this time.
Among the 17 real estate groups, 85 per cent of the total units belong to five leading ones with more than 10,000 units. Of those, Vingroup occupies around 40 per cent, with more than 5,000 units sold to foreigners.
Figures from the Ministry of Construction said that more than 4 million units were built in Vietnam in the last 10 years.
Under Decree No.99/2015/ND-CP to guide to the implementation of Law on Land 2013, the ministries of defence, public security, and construction work with local authorities to set up a list of projects eligible for foreign buyers. Developers must propose those projects and meet the required conditions so as to not harm national security.
However, many localities have not released their list of eligible projects for them, causing a prolonged process in handing out red books for buyer certification.
Only localities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong, Khanh Hoa, Danang, and Ba Ria-Vung Tau have offered up lists so far.
“This slow process is confusing and brings risks to buyers if they bought a project but has not had it permitted yet,” said Nguyen Van Minh, a consultant in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 4.
Beer battle ahead shakes up goals
The country’s biggest brewers, SABECO and HABECO, have been quizzed over their ambitious profit targets and possible solutions at their annual general shareholders’ meetings as tough competition and beer consumption figures stand in their way.
Although domestic brewers have been faced with social restrictions during the pandemic and stricter regulations on road traffic to keep beer lovers safer, this year’s revenues and net profit targets show an attempted direction towards economic recovery.
The publicly-listed Hanoi Beer, Alcohol, and Beverage JSC, or HABECO (code BHN), approved its business plan at last month’s annual general shareholders’ meeting. Revenues from its main product lines of beer and UniAqua water was presented, reaching VND5.3 trillion ($230.4 million), while profits after tax amounted to VND225.4 billion ($9.8 million), down 8.5 per cent and 59.2 per cent on-year, respectively.
Although the beermaker holds the largest market share in the north, HABECO predicted that its business situation this year will still face many difficulties as the global fight against the pandemic persists.
In the context of the generally weak demand due to lowered consumers’ purchasing power, HABECO also must deal with pressure from competitors that are concentrating large resources on continuous promotions, investing heavily in their distribution systems, and bringing new products to the market that directly compete with popular segments of the company.
Ngo Que Lam, general director of HABECO, said that in the northern and north-central regions, which are the company’s main markets, the beer industry has experienced a stronger decline compared to other markets.
Despite being subject to stiff competition from international and local beer brands, HABECO however still maintains its position as the leading brewer in the market and recovered its business in the summer season and by the end of 2020 as a whole.
According to a report conducted by SSI Securities Corporation, the beer sector’s recovery momentum will continue but the demand is forecasted to not return to pre-pandemic levels before 2022.
Although Vietnam has handled the pandemic well, with catering and entertainment improving, the overall performance of the food and beverage sector is still a long way off pre-pandemic levels, and customer frequentation at restaurants, cafes, shopping centres, theme parks, and museums remains weak, representing an overall decrease of 10 per cent compared to the average rates.
Meanwhile, SABECO (code SAB) set a target revenue of VND33.5 trillion ($1.33 billion) with net profits of VND5.2 trillion ($208 million) for 2021, a 20 per cent and 7 per cent on-year increase, respectively.
Explaining the figures, Bennett Neo, general director of SABECO shared, “Our business plan for 2021 was made in January, but the goal of increasing sales by 20 per cent is not easy. Even so, the Management Board still maintains its commitment and strives to fulfil it.”
Despite the challenges from the pandemic, new regulations, and natural calamities last year, SABECO was able to post better-than-expected bottom-line results by implementing cost savings, leveraging new sales opportunities, and expanding the market by introducing new brands such as Lac Viet and Saigon Chill. With this, SABECO has also been able to meet its previously-approved 2020 dividend plan which maintained a rate of 35 per cent.
At the company’s presentation of its 2020 financial results, SABECO highlighted that while revenues and profit after tax went down 26 per cent and 8 per cent from the previous year, respectively, SABECO still managed to surpass its targets by 17 per cent and 52 per cent, respectively. In absolute figures, SABECO exceeded its revenue target by VND4.1 trillion ($178.2 million) and its net profit goal by VND1.6 trillion ($69.6 million).
“We were able to weather headwinds in 2020 by remaining fiscally prudent and operationally nimble,” said Neo. “We focused our spending on the essentials and continued to find efficiencies, where possible, while making sure that we are able to leverage on market opportunities.”
The spirit of accepting tough trials is rooted in the company’s transformation strategy that started three years ago after Thai Beverage acquired a majority stake in the state-owned brewer.
Both SABECO and HABECO showed solutions to shareholders to reach their targets, including improving the distribution network and adjustments to customer tastes, resulting in a larger market share.
Although the beer sector faced the dual pressure of the pandemic and regulations on drink-driving last year, the newly-introduced product lines could be utilised to increase market share as Vietnamese consumers begin to pay more attention to such products thanks to quality and taste, and thus are more willing to pay higher prices.
Pushing agricultural product consumption through e-commerce
A number of localities in Son La province have recently supported agricultural product consumption via social networks and e-commerce sites. The move has brought initially positive results compared to traditional methods of consumption.
One hour of livestreaming attracted more than 500,000 views, and after two days the number had increased to more than 3 million, with a total of 20 tonnes of plums sold. Online sales have contributed to promoting the Tam Hoa plum brand among many more people throughout the entire country.
Tam Hoa plums are a high yield crop, and in recent years there have been many localities planting the variety as their main crop. But due to a lack of communications and promotional efforts, they were still mostly consumed locally or in neighbouring areas. To remove the obstacles, the local government established a campaign committee to support the promotion and consumption of plums and of agricultural products in general through social networks and e-commerce sites.
Selling goods online and through e-commerce sites has many benefits, but quality must be ensured when products reach consumers. In order to guarantee the fair sale and uniform quality of agricultural products, authorities at all levels in Son La have created specific lists, giving priority to households that do not use fertilisers or chemical pesticides in the growing process./.
Questions over air titans’ funding plans
While Vietnamese airlines are looking at fundraising on the stock market as a way to shelter from financial storms, the possibilities of making it a success remain narrow.
According to Pham The Anh, chief economist at the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research, airlines plan fundraising on the stock market as favourable conditions in the stock market are in reach. This may therefore be a good solution for them to access more financial sources for operations amid the pandemic.
However, many experts warn that it will not be easy for air carriers to mobilise tens of trillions of VND in the stock market at this time because their tickers are simply less attractive than others.
In a specific case, the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange decided to issue warnings to HVN, the ticker of Vietnam Airlines, from April 15 due to business losses. An expert at FPT Securities told VIR, “HVN has fallen in recent days due to serious concerns over COVID-19.”
Also, VJC – the ticker of Vietjet – also saw a downtrend from over $5.66 per share on April 22 and $5.53 on April 27 to $5.47 on April 28.
Bamboo Airways is currently selecting an international auditing company to prepare for its initial public offering (IPO) in the United States, planned for the third quarter.
Chairman Trinh Van Quyet, also the chairman of private-run property developer FLC Group, said that the airline aims to raise $200 million in the IPO by offering 5-7 per cent of stake at a starting price of VND60,000-80,000 per share ($2.60-3.47), thus increasing its market capitalisation to $4 billion.
“The IPO in the US is part of Bamboo Airways’ efforts to expand its services globally,” Quyet said. “This is the latest development of the airline and the IPO on a local stock exchange is a backup plan, depending on market conditions.”
In similar moves, Vietjet offered nearly 18 million treasury shares on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange from March 30 to April 28 to increase its working capital. Elsewhere, national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, in which the state holds 86 per cent, has received government approval to issue additional shares worth VND8 trillion ($348 million) regardless of the issuance schedule.
Together with issuance plans, airlines are seeking government support policies on loans after Vietnam Airlines earlier received refinancing loans worth VND4 trillion ($174 million) with interest rates for refinancing loans set at zero per year.
Specifically, Vietjet seeks a loan of VND4-5 trillion ($174-217 million) with a term extending to 2023 and lending rate of 4 per cent annually. In the meantime, Bamboo Airways also seeks a loan of VND10 trillion ($435 million).
While Anh said that the government should have similar credit supporting policies for airlines to ensure equal treatment, others suggested careful consideration to ensure fair treatment, as aviation is not the only sector badly hit by COVID-19.
As a result of the uncertainty, airline expansion and restructuring plans are inevitably placed on the back-burner. Market analysts forecast that the struggling sector will start recovering at the end of this year, with expectations pinned on regular international flights for those with “vaccine passports”. But numerous obstacles abound in terms of adequacy of evidence, effectiveness, technology, and vaccine efficacy.
Vietnam emerges as top alternative for global supply chain shift
The number of US-based companies seeing Vietnam as a top sourcing market has doubled over the past four years as a result of the global investment relocation trend from China.
Hong Kong-based QIMA specialised in providing supply chain compliance solutions has just released a survey of over 700 companies across the globe. Of this, the number of US-based respondents selecting the Southeast Asian country as the leading sourcing location has doubled against four years ago, to 43 per cent in early 2021.
Similarly, 25 per cent of EU companies also listed Vietnam as one of the three leading sourcing markets in this year’s first quarter, down 15 per cent on-year but up 11 per cent against the same period of 2019.
Of all establishments switching to suppliers in new geographic regions last year to avoid COVID-19 impacts, nearly one-third revealed that the 100-million population country is one of their best options. For US-based business, the rate was even higher, at 40 per cent.
QIMA also forecast the trend to continue this year. Of the companies asked for finding new suppliers over the next 12 months, 38 per cent of US-based establishments and 28 per cent of those from the EU stated that they are planning to relocate some sourcing to Vietnam or buy more from current suppliers there. On the other hand, only 6 per cent of US-based brands and 11 per cent of those from the EU were looking for suppliers in China.
Also, US-based respondents showed some signs of dissatisfaction with Chinese sourcing. While one-third of them are planning to purchase more from Chinese suppliers in 2021, almost as many reported plans to completely stop buying from the market.
Nevertheless, words and actions often differ. Pointedly, in the survey, 73 per cent of companies said they had plans to look for new suppliers in 2020 but only 38 per cent were able to follow through on those schemes. For brands headquartered in the US, 93 per cent declared to diversify supply chains in early 2020 but only 49 per cent carried out these plans.
Indonesia speeds up foreign investment appeal with Vietnam and Singapore
Indonesia is stepping on the gas in the race for foreign investment with Vietnam and Singapore, with new incentives targeting the production of electric vehicles and batteries.
To compete with Vietnam and Singapore, Indonesia is offering plenty of made-to-measure inducements, including the latest programmes accepting carbon offset, according to Bloomberg newswire.
The 270 million population country is reviewing its carbon-offset programmes to promote investment. The Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board is drawing up a list of peatlands which can store huge volumes of CO2 emissions, and also artificial lakes that could house solar panels, according to Nurul Ichwan, deputy chairman for Investment Planning at the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board.
Bloomberg stated that the moves aimed to lure in electric vehicle and battery makers who want to source nickel from the country.
The Indonesian government has attempted to attract South Korea-based LG Chem that is present in Vietnam, China-based battery manufacturer Amperex Technology, and US-based electric car maker Tesla to set up shop in the country.
Ichwan said that Vietnam and Singapore offer similar incentives for overseas investors, however, Indonesia will draw in many big investment projects on account of its natural resources, large market, economic efficiency, and the directions of the country’s government.
The Indonesian administration late last year approved the Omnibus Law creating jobs for labourers in the nation. Accordingly, the law favours foreign investors pouring in large capital to develop industries, said Ichwan.
Similar to Vietnam, Indonesia has found that its traditional growth engines have all seen a downturn during the COVID-19 pandemic and the country is looking for investment into more modern industries such as manufacturing electric vehicles and batteries.
The competition for foreign capital has been heating up in Southeast Asia like Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines which are all lowering tax rates and rolling out other incentives for foreign companies. As a result, Indonesia – the region’s largest economy – has accelerated policy reforms to encourage investment for years now.
The efforts have been paying off: in 2020, the country received Rp826 trillion ($57.2 billion) in total investment capital, up 2 per cent on-year. This is a positive sign as the nation has experienced the first recession over two decades due to the pandemic. Indonesian government targets to get Rp900 trillion ($62.5 billion) in investment this year.
Southern provinces brace for high temperature
The Hydrometeorological Forecasting Center for Southern Region stated that the southern provinces will witness hot weather throughout May, with temperatures expecting to reach 35 degrees Celsius or even higher.
May 4 was a sunny day for many areas within the Southern region as the Eastern provinces and some areas in the Western provinces experienced hot weather, with the temperature oscillating between 35 and 36 degrees Celsius at 1.00 p.m.
Throughout May 5, most southern provinces will experience sunny weather, which will gradually intensify in the afternoon, the local media reported.
The intensity of the heat in the Southern region will decline as the areas affected by the hot weather will narrow down compared to yesterday.
The highest temperature for today is predicted to oscillate between 33 and 35 degrees Celsius, with some places experiencing temperature over 35 degrees Celsius. Convective clouds are likely to develop gradually, causing thunderstorms at approximately one third of the affected area, while local areas will have moderate to heavy rain in certain areas.
Vietnam identifies three locally-infected cases of Indian coronavirus variant
Three locally-transmitted Covid-19 cases linked to Sunny Club in Vinh Phuc Province have been found infected with the Indian coronavirus variant.
The Ministry of Health today, May 4, released the results of a genetic analysis of the virus from the locally-infected cases which have been reported recently in Vinh Phuc, Ha Nam, Hung Yen and Ha Tinh provinces.
Three samples of three employees of Sunny Club in Vinh Phuc Province tested positive for the Indian variant, while six samples in Ha Nam, two samples in Hung Yen and two others in Ha Tinh came out positive for the UK coronavirus variant.
On May 2 and 3, Vinh Phuc Province reported 14 community-transmitted Covid-19 cases related to Sunny Club, which were suspected to have caught the virus from Chinese experts. After these Chinese experts completed their quarantine period at the same quarantine facility as a group of Indian experts in Yen Bai Province, they travelled to Vinh Phuc Province.
The Indian coronavirus variant is said to be more transmissible than others and reduce the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, the local media reported.
Danang imposes ban on beach swimming, events to prevent Covid-19 wave
Earlier this morning, May 4, a warning tape fence was placed along the over 20-kilometer-long Danang coastal road, stretching from the Nam O beach (in Lien Chieu District) to the Marble Mount area.
This is in response to the official letter by the Danang People’s Committee last night on strengthening prevention measures against Covid-19 after a case was discovered in the central city on the same day.
Specifically, gymnastics, sports, bodybuilding at the gym, yoga, billiards, indoor sports activities, sports and martial arts and swimming on the beach were banned from May 4 until further notice.
Nguyen Van Loi, owner of an establishment offering freshwater bathing and parking services near My Khe beach in Son Tra District, said that earlier this morning, many people went to the beach as usual, but they had to return because it was forbidden by the local authorities.
This is the latest beach swimming ban in Danang after the first two in March and August 2020 when the Covid-19 waves broke out.
In addition to swimming activities being banned, some other activities in Danang were also suspended, including cultural and entertainment festivals.
Those running entertainment and beauty establishments, bars, pubs, discos, karaoke and massage parlors, video game arcades, movie theaters, casinos and public internet services must also remain shut. Activities at walking streets, night markets or dining with more than 30 people have also been prohibited.
Public passenger transportation services are available, but they must carry no more than half of the allowed number of people for each type of vehicle, ensuring safety.
This morning, Le Trung Chinh, Chairman of the Danang People’s Committee, signed an official letter, proposing all students take 4-5 days off school until further notice.
Previously, the Steering Committee for Covid-19 Epidemic Prevention in Danang had announced a Covid-19 case.
Phu An Hotel where the patient worked has been shut down, while 11 people working there have also been quarantined at the hotel.
In another development, the government of Hoi An City in Quang Nam Province also suspended visits to the ancient town, traditional crafts villages and pedestrian streets from May 4.
Prices of consumer goods about to climb
The promotional program to stimulate the purchasing power on the occasion of the Reunification Day and the International Workers’ Day is going to end, while the prices of input materials have been climbing sharply, significantly affecting the pressure of increasing the selling prices of many essential goods.
Although there have not any official statistics from the authorities yet, according to some retailers and enterprises, the purchasing power in the last holidays increased by two times compared to normal days. Many retailers reduced prices sharply on thousands of products. Particularly, fresh food discounted 10-20 percent, kitchen utensils dropped 21-47 percent, and health care products offered a discount of 50 percent for the second item.
According to the representative of Co.opmart supermarkets, because the holiday of the Reunification Day and the International Workers’ Day this year lasted for four days, the purchasing power at Co.opmart supermarket network, on average, rose two to four times higher compared to normal days. The highest increase in the purchasing power focused on fresh foods, some types of processed foods, frozen goods, beer, and soft drinks. Other products, such as household appliances and garments, were being strongly discounted, so the purchasing power also doubled compared to before.
Similarly, at Lotte Mart, Emart, and MM Mega Market An Phu, in recent days, the purchasing power has also increased significantly and increased drastically in the afternoons and evenings of the holiday, focusing on fresh food products, including meat, fish, seafood, fruits, and vegetables. Items, such as confectionery, canned food, and garments, were also interested by consumers. Ms. Nguyen An Nhien, a resident in Thu Duc City said that the holiday is a “golden” opportunity for her family to buy many items at the best prices. For instance, Emart currently offers promotions for hundreds of essential items with attractive combo gift packages applicable to food, beverages, cosmetics, clothing, and household appliances. To meet the increasing shopping demand on the occasion of the holiday, supermarkets have also enhanced their staff of all stages, at the same time, increased the source of goods to best ensure the demand of customers.
Shopping centers in Ho Chi Minh City, especially Vincom Center, Takashimaya, and Giga Mall, were always highly patronized. Besides the need for window shopping, entertainment, shopping, and dining, a large number of visitors go to the shopping centers to escape the heat, contributing to making the atmosphere of these places bustling during the holiday.
In terms of prices during the holiday, retailers had worked closely with suppliers to reduce prices by up to 50 percent for various products to stimulate consumer demand, so they have created a stable common ground of selling prices. The supply of goods for the market is plentiful and diverse. At traditional wet markets, many small traders said that the selling prices of all kinds of goods were fairly stable. The groups of items that were bought heavily at the markets included fresh food, fruits, and ready-made clothes.
According to forecasts of the domestic market management unit, in May and the coming time, the market of essential goods will not have any major fluctuation in supply and demand. However, the impacts of the global prices or the increase in import duties on some input materials in the first months of the year will affect the prices of some commodities, such as agricultural products, milk, and processed foods.
It is recorded that the prices of some items retailed at grocery stores, such as instant noodles, seasoning powder, spice powder, cooking oil, and cake flour, increased by 7-10 percent compared to those at the end of last year. Some cake flour producers explained that the prices of many input materials increased by up to 20 percent. Currently, the purchasing power in the market remains weak, if they increase the selling prices of finished products based on the prices of raw materials, it will be difficult to convince consumers. Therefore, for these manufacturing enterprises, increasing the selling prices at this time is a necessary evil.
The group of fresh food products, such as poultry meat and eggs, also increased by 10-15 percent compared to the beginning of 2021. This situation is because the price of animal feed surged by more than 20 percent and that of packaging went up by about 15 percent. Besides, the pressure to increase the selling prices of many fresh foods also comes from the increasing gasoline prices, which affected freight rates from provinces to HCMC.
A representative of the purchasing department of one of the major distribution network in HCMC said that although suppliers sent requests to increase the selling prices, mainly the group of fast-moving consumer goods, from May, to harmonize the interests of all parties, the supermarket will carefully consider the possibility of increasing the selling price of each item, as well as the group of goods, avoiding causing a disturbance in the general price level of commodities, affecting consumer psychology. Besides the increase in the prices of input materials, the prices of many product groups are higher than before because the promotional program has ended.
The selling prices of some products may increase slightly, but essential goods will certainly be plentiful and diverse. Even the group of items serving the prevention of the Covid-19 pandemic, such as hand sanitizers and masks, are also fully prepared.
To continue stabilizing the goods and services market, the domestic market management unit recommended ministries, industries, and localities to continue to closely coordinate in the management of market and prices of goods and propaganda to create consensus in public opinion with the State’s administration, and stabilize the commodity market.
Chili price sinks heavily, farmers forsake harvesting
According to the journalist of Sai Gon Giai Phong Newspaper, farmers in Phu My District and some midland and mountainous districts of Binh Dinh Province have entered the harvest of chilies. This year, thanks to favorable weather, chili plants give more fruits than in previous years. Because farmers harvest chilies at the same time, the price of chilies drops steeply.
In Phu My District, traders are buying bird’s eye chilies for only VND3,000-VND5,000 per kilogram while at the beginning of the season, the price was VND15,000 per kilogram. Many chili farmers even cannot find any trader to sell. Many households with a large area of chilies have to leave the ripe chilies in the field because they cannot afford to hire workers to pick them.
The representative of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Phu My District said that the growing area of chilies in the whole district this year was about 1,262 hectares, an increase of 30 hectares compared to last year. This year, the yield of chilies is extremely high, from 1 to 1.5 tons per 500 square meters. Currently, the price of chilies is too low, so the locality has reported to the higher level to find a solution to help farmers.
Vietnam trade turnover records 10-year high growth to US$207 billion in Jan-Apr
Vietnam posted a trade surplus of US$1.29 billion during the four-month period, a positive result amid difficult global trade environment as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Vietnam’s trade turnover in the January-April period rose by a 10-year high growth of 29.5% year-on-year to reach US$206.5 billion, the General Statistics Office (GSO) has said in a monthly report.
Upon breaking down, the country’s exports during the period surged by 28.3% year-on-year to US$103.9 billion, while imports were estimated at US$102.61 billion, up 30.8%.
As Vietnam reported an estimated trade deficit of US$1.5 billion in April, the overall trade surplus in the first four months of 2021 was narrowed to US$1.29 billion, but remained a positive note amid difficult global trade environment as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the GSO, the foreign-invested sector made up 75.2% of the total exports with US$78.14 billion, representing an increase of 34.4% year-on-year, while the domestic-invested sector exported US$25.76 billion, or 24.8% of the total.
Among Vietnam’s key export staples, phones and parts earned the largest export turnover during the January-April period of US$18.4 billion, up 19.4% year-on-year and accounting for 17.7% of Vietnam’s total exports.
In addition, electronic products, computers and components have earned an estimated US$15.9 billion, up 30.8% year-on-year; followed by equipment and parts (US$12 billion and up 76.9%); garments (US$9.5 billion and up 9%).
Deputy Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Import and Export Department Tran Thanh Hai attributed Vietnam’s effective measures against the Covid-19 pandemic to its strong performance in trade.
“No disruption to business and production activities was key to help local traders fulfill their their foreign peers’ orders,” said Hai.
Meanwhile, efforts from Vietnamese enterprises in adjusting to the new situation during the pandemic have also been decisive, he noted.
On the trade outlook for this year, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai warned any resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic would cause negative impacts on trade activities.
“Given the current context, safety measures to combat the pandemic continue to be the utmost priority,” said Hai.
Amid growing uncertainties surrounding the pandemic situation, Head of the Macroeconomic Policy Department under the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) Nguyen Anh Duong called for enterprises to focus on markets having free trade agreements (FTAs) with Vietnam.
In the first four months of the year, the US, China, EU, ASEAN and South Korea remained Vietnam’s largest five export markets.
Meanwhile, China continued to be Vietnam’s largest supplier, selling US$33.1 billion worth of goods to Vietnam, or an increase of 47.8% year-on-year.
South Korea claimed the second place by exporting US$16.9 billion worth of goods to Vietnam, up 16.9% year-on-year, followed by ASEAN countries with US$14.1 billion, up 48.2%.
COVID-19 developments remain complicated in regional countries
The Lao Ministry of Health confirmed 46 new COVID-19 cases on May 5, mostly in Vientiane and Bokeo province with 19 and 15 cases, respectively.
According to the ministry, the decreased number of newly-confirmed cases showed the efficiency of drastic measures applied by the Lao Government.
From May 4, the Lao government decided to apply lockdown for additional 15 days until May 20.
So far, Laos has discovered 1,072 COVID-19 cases, including 99 recoveries and no death.
Meanwhile in Thailand, the pandemic is still developing complicatedly with 2,112 new cases confirmed on May 5 and 15 deaths, raising the total cases to 74,000 cases, with 318 deaths.
Bangkok is still a hot spot of COVID-19 with 789 cases.
In Indonesia, 155,000 soldiers and policemen will be deployed within the framework of Operation Ketupat Jaya 2021 from May 6-17 to minimise the spreading of COVID-19 during the Muslims Eid al-Fitr holidays from May 13-14.
Some 4,276 personnel will be stationed in the capital city and its adjoining areas. The Jakarta Police will deploy these personnel at 14 isolation points and 17 check points.
The Operation Ketupat Jaya 2021 is being conducted to block access to and from Jabodetabek, to maintain security, and to monitor the implementation of health protocols to stem the transmission of the coronavirus disease before, during, and after Eid al-Fitr, among others.
Meanwhile, spokesperson for the COVID-19 Handling Task Force Wiku Adisasmito affirmed that all forms of homecoming activities, including the local homecoming, are banned during Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr to lower the rate of COVID-19 infection.
At the same time, Malaysia’s capital city of Kuala Lumpur will re-apply movement control order (MCO) from May 7. This will be the third time the city is placed in MCO to control the COVID-19 pandemic.
Malaysian Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that the order is given after 17 new clusters were recorded.
The order will be applied until May 20. Food premises, such as restaurants, food trucks, hawkers and kiosks, are allowed to operate from 6am to midnight only. Dine-ins are not allowed and food served are for delivery and takeaways only.
Malaysia on May 5 logged 3,744 new cases in the last 24 hours to bring the total to 424,376. There were 17 more deaths, bringing the total fatalities to 1,591.
The MCO was applied for the first time on March 18, 2020 and the second time on January 13, 2021.
The same day, Executive Secretary of the Philippine Presidential Office Salvador Medialdea said that the Southeast Asian country will ban tourists from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh from May 7-14 as part of efforts to prevent the entry of SARS-CoV-2 variants found in India.
Earlier, the Philippines banned travelers from India from April 29 to May 14.
On May 5, the country confirmed 5,685 new COVID-19 cases and 178 deaths, raising the count to more than 1 million with 17,800 deaths.
In Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 5 ordered to vaccinate more than 52,000 people in all areas in the red zones of Phnom Penh with COVID-19 vaccines, with the administration of the first dose to be completed soon and the second dose to commence once the stipulated time frame has been reached.
To date, more than 1.5 million people have been vaccinated with either Sinopharm, Sinovac or Covishield (AstraZenacca vaccines) since February 10.
The same day, the Cambodian Ministry of Health confirmed 672 new cases, raising the total cases to 16,971, including 110 deaths./.
Party chief commends role of banking sector in growth
Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong lauded efforts and achievements made by the banking sector during the national cause of economic development as he delivered a speech at a ceremony marking the sector’s 70th founding anniversary (May 6).
Describing the sector as the lifeblood of the economy, he hoped it to continue contributing to the nation’s reform, industrialisation and modernisation.
The Party leader recommended the sector enhance the efficiency of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV)’s management and monetary policy, while ensuring the security, safety, and effectiveness of credit organisations’ operations.
The sector should keep up its efforts to control inflation, stabilise the macroeconomy, mobilise and meet demand for credit, and offer banking services serving socio-economic growth, Trong said.
At the event held on May 5, State Bank Governor Nguyen Thi Hong underscored the SBV will closely follow orientations and policies issued under the 13th Nation Party Congress’s Resolution in directing and managing banking activities in contribution to realizing targets set in the 2021 – 2025 plan and 2021 – 2030 strategy for socio-economic development as well as the vision toward 2045.
The SBV will boost the effectiveness of its monetary policy monitoring and its capacity to adapt to domestic and global economic fluctuations so as to realize the goals of inflation control, stable macroeconomics, helping enhance the economy’s independence and autonomy amid international integration, she noted.
Restructuring, completing legal frameworks, diversifying services, and promoting administration reform and innovation are also other tasks of the sector, the SBV governor added.
On the occasion, the SBV was conferred with the Labour Order, first class./.
Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes
Hai Phong to have new alternate airport
The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam has proposed a new international airport in Hai Phong City to support the Cat Bi Airport by 2050.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam said they had completed the evaluation report on airport network planning during the 2021-2030 period with a view to 2050. The report has been sent to the Ministry of Transport and the evaluation board for review. In the report, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam suggested keeping all 28 airports until 2030. Cao Bang Airport would be built later by 2050. Vietnam would have a total of 14 international airports and 15 domestic airports.
In March, Hai Phong authorities proposed construction of a new international airport in Tien Lang District, Hai Phong City, as a major airport for Hanoi and to replace Cat Bi Airport in the future since Cat Bi Airport can’t be expanded. The new airport will be 120 km from Hanoi and connected to the Hanoi-Hai Phong Highway.
However, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam proposed to keep the plan in which an alternate airport would be built in Hai Phong to support Noi Bai and Cat Bi airports as per prime ministerial directives issued in 2011.
By 2030, the airports in Vietnam must be able to serve 278 million passengers and 4.1 million tonnes of cargo per year.
Vietnam reports 26 new COVID-19 cases on May 5 evening
Vietnam recorded 26 new COVID-19 cases, including eight imported and 18 domestically-transmitted infections in the past 12 hours to 6pm on May 5, the Ministry of Health (MoH) said.
The domestically-transmitted infections include one case in central Quang Nam province, one in the capital city of Hanoi, one in southern Dong Nai province, one in northern Hai Duong province and 14 others at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi’s Dong Anh district.
The new patients brought the total number of COVID-19 infections in the country to 3,022, including 1,626 domestically-transmitted cases. Of them, 56 cases were detected since the latest outbreak hit the country on April 27.
According to the MoH’s Medical Service Administration, a total of 2,560 patients were given the all-clear from coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, while the death toll related to the disease remained at 35.
Among active patients undergoing treatment at medical establishments, 24 tested negative to the virus, 12 twice and 38 thrice.
As many as 40,736 people who had close contact with COVID-19 patients or entered Vietnam from pandemic-hit regions are currently quarantined across the country, including 560 in hospitals, 21,733 in state-designated establishments and 18,443 at their residences.
The MoH also decided to extend the compulsory concentrated quarantine period to 21 days instead of 14 days as previously, Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said at a regular meeting of the Government on May 5 morning.
The decision came into force right on May 5, the minister said.
The local centres for disease control must be accountable for monitoring and medically supervising people who complete the concentrated quarantine period for the next seven days.
In a related move, the MoH’s Medical Service Administration has asked the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi’s Dong Anh district to take drastic measures to prevent transmissions among its staff after 14 of its members tested positive to the virus and the establishment was put under lockdown on May 5.
The hospital was requested to devise plans to maintain its medical checkup and treatment for inpatients who are currently quarantined and treated at the facility./.
Kim Chung facility of national tropical diseases hospital under lockdown
The Health Ministry has directed placing the second facility of the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Kim Chung commune in Hanoi’s outlying district of Dong Anh under lockdown from 8am on May 5, after several medical staff tested positive to SARS-CoV-2.
After a doctor of the hospital was confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 on May 4, the hospital immediately collected samples of staff members and patients in certain departments for testing, some of which turned out positive. The hospital suspected that it is a cluster of infections from an inpatient treatment area.
During the lockdown period, the hospital will only admit new COVID-19 patients for treatment.
The Health Ministry instructed that only severe cases of COVID-19 should be moved to the Kim Chung facility, while patients who had received treatment at the facility within the past 14 days must be traced and put under quarantine./.
COVID-19 fight, NA election high on Cabinet meeting’s agenda
The fight against COVID-19 and National Assembly election are among issues which are at the top of the agenda of a regular monthly Cabinet meeting held in Hanoi on May 5.
Dozens of infections have been detected in Vinh Phuc, Ha Nam, Hanoi, Da Nang, Hung Yen, Yen Bai, Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai, with some carrying the variant B.1.1.7 originating from the United Kingdom and the variant B.1.617.2 originating from India.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh earlier criticized several cities and provinces for lax management that has led to fresh outbreaks in the community.
Cabinet members are scheduled to discuss drastic measures to halt the spread of the virus.
They are also set to examine preparations for the upcoming elections of deputies to the National Assembly and local People’s Councils slated for May 23.
They will review national socio-economic development for April and the first four months of the year, while looking at measures to implement the dual goal of epidemic prevention and economic recovery.
Vietnam documents no COVID-19 infections on May 5 morning
Vietnam logged no new COVID-19 infections in the past 12 hours to 6am on May 5, making the nation’s tally unchanged at 2,996 with 1,608 locally-transmitted cases, according to the Ministry of Health.
The ministry’s Department of Medical Examination and Treatment Department said the country has seen 2,560 recoveries so far.
A total 40,736 people who came in close contact with COVID-19 patients or arrived from pandemic-hit areas are under quarantine nationwide, including 560 at hospitals, 21,733 other quarantine sites, and 18,443 at home.
Among patients under treatment, 24 have tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 once, 12 twice, and 38 thrice.
A total of 585,539 frontline medical workers and members of community-based anti-COVID-19 groups in Vietnam had been injected with COVID-19 vaccine as of 4pm on May 4. The country began its COVID-19 inoculation campaign on March 8.
In a bid to live safely with the pandemic, people should strictly follow the Ministry of Health’s 5K message: khau trang (facemask), khu khuan (disinfection), khoang cach (distance), khong tu tap (no gathering), and khai bao y te (health declaration)./.
VFF: holding election campaigns in line with COVID-19 control regulations
The standing board of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee asked localities to hold election campaigns in accordance with requirements of COVID-19 prevention and control.
In a guideline issued on May 4, Vice Chairman of the VFF Central Committee Ngo Sach Thuc urged standing boards of VFF chapters at all levels to coordinate with election committees at the same level to decide the number and the form for meetings with voters based on the situation in their respective localities.
Localities in normal state or under social distancing measures could hold conferences with voters either offline or online.
For localities under lockdown, local VFF committees should work with Party Committees and election committees at their corresponding levels to select the suitable methods to hold election campaigns, with priority given to campaigning via the mass media.
In case candidates are infected with COVID-19 or under quarantine, the standing boards must reach consensus with election committees on the way to organizing election campaigns, with priority given to campaigning via the mass media.
Throughout a five-step process with three rounds of close, democratic, cautious, and non-discriminatory consultations, the lists of candidates for the elections of deputies to the 15th legislature and all-level People’s Councils for the 2021-2026 tenure have been finalised.
Voters nationwide will cast their vote to choose 500 out of 868 candidates for the 15th National Assembly on May 23./.
Vinh Phuc, Ho Chi Minh City police deal with illegal entries
|Illegal Chinese immigrants|
Accordingly, Nguyen Thi Hong Hanh, 36, residing in the province’s Vinh Yen city, was charged with organising the illegal entry and residence of 52 Chinese nationals in the locality.
The same day, the Ho Chi Minh City’s police reported that they found 11 illegal immigrants, all foreigners, in the city, and detained two involved persons.
As many as 69 officers were also deployed to ensure security and order in two places under lockdown.
During the four-day holiday, local police also increased inspections to ensure traffic order and create favourable conditions for travelling./.
Up to 39 suspected illegal immigrants found in Vinh Phuc
Thirty nine allegedly illegal foreign immigrants were detected in Vinh Yen city in the northern province of Vinh Phuc on May 3 night as local police are stepping up efforts to contain coronavirus outbreaks which have become more complicated in recent days.
The foreigners were found residing in four locations in Khai Quang and Lien Bao wards.
Local authorities seized personal belongings of the foreigners for further investigation, and disinfect their lodging facilities.
Many foreigners are residing in Vinh Yen city, which houses a lot of industrial parks and lodging facilities.
Local authorities are examining and classifying foreigners with illegal entry and residence in the province so as to have effective settlement measures.
The Ministry of Health said on May 3 that Vinh Phuc province documented eight COVID-19 local transmissions, all making close contact with Chinese experts who earlier tested positive for the virus.
Provincial authorities have ordered a halt to meetings and other events with gathering of more than 20 people, as well as non-essential services such as karaoke and massage parlours, bars and dance clubs as part of COVID-19 prevention measures./.
Quiz on Army Games launched
The People’s Army Newspaper together with the Ministry of National Defence’s Department for External Relations held a press conference in Hanoi on May 4 to introduce a quiz on the International Army Games.
Speaking at the press conference, deputy head of the department Pham Manh Thang said the contest aims to promote the games, which encourage international defence cooperation between nations, and to honour the People’s Army of Vietnam’s achievements at previous events.
Vietnam is actively preparing itself to host a number of competitions within the games this year, he said, adding that meetings have taken place to discuss options for organising these activities at the Mieu Mon training centre in Hanoi in line with COVID-19 prevention and control measures.
Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the People’s Army Newspaper Le Ngoc Long said the contest, held weekly from May 6 to August 8, features multiple choice tests and requires that contestants submit their predictions of the numbers of people with correct answers.
In addition to weekly prizes, there will be one first prize worth 20 million VND (865 USD), two second prizes worth 10 million VND each, three third prizes of 5 million VND each, and 10 consolidation prizes of 3 million VND each.
The International Army Games 2021 is scheduled for August 22 – September 4, with 13 host nations, including Russia, Armenia, Belarus, India, Kazakhstan, Qatar, China, Mongolia, Serbia, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. Of the 34 competitions, Vietnam will host the rescue and sniper events./.
Ba Ria-Vung Tau: Early voting held for soldiers, fishermen
Officers, soldiers and fishermen working for days at sea off the coast of the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau cast their votes to elect deputies to the 15th National Assembly (NA) and People’s Council at all levels on May 4 – earlier than scheduled.
The early voting was held in five constituencies in the provincial capital of Vung Tau for naval and coast guard officers and soldiers, fishery surveillance forces, workers on offshore oil platforms, and fishermen, nearly three weeks before the national polling officially takes place on May 23.
Two working groups were also dispatched from the wharf of Brigade 171 to organize advance polling for voters at offshore economic, scientific and technical service stations on the southern continental shelf, known as DK1 platforms, and on ocean-going naval vessels.
Bidding farewell to the working groups, Tran Dinh Khoa, Secretary of the municipal Party Committee and head of Vung Tau city’s steering committee for elections, requested the groups to ensure all forces on duty at sea cast their votes and exercise their rights as citizens.
According to the Naval Region 2’s High Command, there are 378 officers and soldiers on duty at 15 DK1 platforms and on naval vessels at sea.
The groups are set to return to the mainland before May 23./.
Foreign parliamentary leaders congratulate new Vietnamese NA Chairman
Parliamentary leaders of Switzerland, Chile, Saudi Arabia and Israel have cabled messages of congratulations to Vuong Dinh Hue on his election as Chairman of the Vietnamese National Assembly.
The messages were sent by President of the National Council of Switzerland Andreas Aebi, President of the Senate of Chile Yasna Provoste Campillay, Speaker of the Consultative Council of Saudi Arabia Dr. Abdullah Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Sheikh, and Speaker of the Parliament (Knesset) of Israel Yariv Levin./.
Long An’s Asia-Pacific tourism membership funded
The Long An Golf Investment – Development JSC and Hoan Cau Group will fund the southern province of Long An’s 130th membership of the Tourism Promoting Organization for Asia-Pacific Cities (TPO).
The contract signing ceremony took place in the province on May 4.
Accordingly, they will fund the membership cost of 500 USD and the annual fee of 3,000 USD during the province’s membership.
Speaking at the event, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Pham Tan Hoa said via its membership, Long An could connect with other TPO member cities to develop tourism together through discussing strategies and grasping tourism trends in the region, amid the era of the fourth Industrial Revolution.
He asked relevant agencies and units to work closely with the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism to explore the possibility of expanding cooperation between the tourism sector and firms to tap existing potential and strengths.
Hoa also suggested paying attention to resort tourism and supplying tourism value chains.
TPO is an inter-city network aimed at promoting exchange and cooperation among major cities, with key projects such as information sharing, marketing tourist sites, developing new tourism products, and training human resources.
It now groups 130 member cities from 15 countries and 50 tourism organisations./.
Amnesty must be carried out strictly, transparently: State President
State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc has directed that the implementation of amnesty measures follows a strict, open, and transparent process in accordance with the law, to avoid any possible negativity.
He made the comments while working with leaders of relevant agencies on the enforcement of the 2018 Law on Amnesty, on May 4.
Amnesty is a major policy of the Party and State, demonstrating the humanity of the regime and holding great political, economic, social, and diplomatic significance, Phuc said, adding that it affirms the special policy of clemency held by the Party and State for inmates with good results in studying, training, and rehabilitation.
Amnesties on special occasions, holidays, or major national events aim to encourage prisoners to rehabilitate themselves and qualify for amnesty policies, and the implementation of the law on amnesty demonstrates the orientation towards building a law-ruled Socialist State of Vietnam, he stated.
The President asked the Ministry of Public Security and relevant agencies to propose major regulations on amnesty in the time to come.
According to an assessment from the Ministry of Public Security, the 2018 Law on Amnesty has basically addressed the shortcomings in the 2007 version in order to improve the effectiveness of amnesty work.
After the National Assembly adopted the Law on Amnesty in 2007, Vietnam’s State President has granted seven different amnesties, under which a total of 87,000 inmates have been freed ahead of their scheduled release dates./.
Vietnamese students in Laos get support amid COVID-19
The Vietnamese Embassy in Laos on May 4 handed over gifts to Vietnamese students at the National University of Laos (NUOL) who are facing difficulties from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Presented by Vietnamese Counsellor of Culture and Education Tran Dai Thang and the officer in charge of community work, Vu Tu Oanh, the gifts include 1,000 medical masks and foodstuff.
Amid the complex developments of the pandemic, Lao medical staff in cooperation with the Vietnamese Association in Vientiane conducted COVID-19 testing on Vietnamese living and working in Thatluang, Naxay and Sisangvone wards and the area around the NUOL.
Those showing symptoms will be placed in quarantine and receive timely treatment./.
Journey to share love with border guards, policy beneficiaries, the poor
A programme entitled “A Journey to Share the Love” was launched in the Mekong Delta province of Long An on May 4.
Jointly organised by the provincial Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, the Ministry of Public Security’s Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, and the Phu My Hung Development Limited Company, the programme targets border guards on duty in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and also policy beneficiaries, the poor, and poor students with good academic results in Duc Hoa, Duc Hue, Can Giuoc, Ben Luc, Thu Thua, and Tan Tru districts.
With total capital of 2 billion VND (86,500 USD), the programme will present 230 gifts worth 500,000 VND each to policy beneficiaries, young workers, and the elderly, grant 120 scholarships worth 500,000 VND each to local students, and give gifts worth 1 million VND each to 12 Heroic Mothers.
Twenty-five houses worth 70 million VND each will be built and handed over to families living in extremely difficult circumstances, while daily necessities, solar lighting, and cash totalling 35 million VND will be presented to two border stations in Duc Hue district./.
Universities turn to online learning as pandemic continues
In light of rising concerns about the spread of Covid-19 and calls to contain the virus, a growing number of public and private universities in Vietnam have shut down in-person classes after April 30 and May Day holidays.
Specifically, Hanoi University of Science and Technology asked lecturers and students to use Microsoft Teams for online teaching and learning from May 4 to 9 while experimental sessions and practice are paused until further notice.
Similarly, Foreign Trade University required students in campuses in Hanoi and the Northern Province of Quang Ninh to take online classes from May 4 to 16. The school must ask for permission from the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control if it opens in-person classes.
The management board of the Academy of Journalism and Propaganda also decided to switch to online learning from May 4 until there is a new announcement. Students at the Transportation University also made the switch to online classes instead of face-to-face classes from May 3.
The University of Transport Technology, the Faculty of Law of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Natural Sciences, University of Thuyloi, Hanoi University of Education 2, Banking Academy, University of Commerce, University of Business and Technology followed suit.
Prior, the Hanoi University of Natural Resources and Environment, Hanoi University of Finance and Banking, Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education had announced teaching and learning via the internet to prevent and fight against Covid-19.
Hanoi strives to create 160,000 new jobs despite Covid-19
Strengthening cooperation and linkage in the development of tourism products with businesses, industries, localities in the country and foreign countries will be a measure to boost job generation in the city.
The Hanoi People’s Committee will put effort into creating some 160,000 jobs for workers by the end of 2021 despite the negative impacts of Covid-19 pandemic on almost aspects of life, according to the city’s job creation plan in 2021.
To accomplish the above-mentioned target, the municipal authorities will promote the application of science and technology and take a number of measures to tighten the linkage between vocational education and businesses to develop the labor market.
Hanoi will also apply new technologies to build a system connecting supply and demand for training model with the participation of schools, enterprises and students.
Under the plan, the city expects to effectively roll out industrial programs and projects, lure more investment projects into industrial zones as well as fostering craft villages in the direction of improving quality, efficiency and competitiveness.
Hanoi’s authorities will step up industry restructuring, promoting the development of hi-tech agriculture and organic agriculture to stimulate consumption markets.
The city will also concentrate on improving investment environment, solving difficulties for production and business, and thoroughly addressing petitions of enterprises, especially those on administrative procedures reform.
“Hanoi will perform synchronous solutions to support the development of small and medium enterprises in the period of 2021-25, promoting start-ups and innovation,” noted the plan.
Strengthening cooperation and linkage in the development of tourism products with businesses, industries, localities in the country and foreign countries is also a measure to boost job creation to be taken by Hanoi city.
In early 2021, the Hanoi Employment Services Center under the Hanoi Department of Labor – Invalids and Social Affairs launched Vietnam Employment Service Portal (ESIP) and the Information Technology (IT) Job Transaction Floor, with the expectation of helping local companies to find highly qualified human resources, analyze and forecast the market outlook in 2021 and the subsequent years.
The job transaction floor targets units and enterprises; vocational training schools; IT students from vocational facilities, and those who have the need for finding jobs, learning, and labor export.
“Hanoi is one of the largest labor markets in the country. With the launch of the ESIP, we highly value the city’s creativeness in coordinating with the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs,” said Vu Trong Binh, director of the Employment Department under the MoLISA.
Besides, the city used the Anti-Unemployment Fund to train employees working in enterprises. This is considered as a preventive solution to combat unemployment and ensure social security.
The city also provided more information on the labor market, supports job seekers to post job resumes, and helps enterprises to post recruitment announcement through website: vieclamhanoi.net.
Vietnamese students to compete at int’l science, engineering contest
Seven projects of Vietnamese students are to compete at the 2021 International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), which will be held virtually from May 16-21.
The projects all came first in their respective fields at the national high school Science and Engineering Fair for the 2020-2021 academic year recently held in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue.
The 2021 ISEF is to see the participation of 2,000 ninth through twelfth graders from over 80 countries and territories across the world, with about 1,500 projects in 21 fields.
The contest has a total prize value of over 5 million USD in the form of scholarships, internships and awards./.
Quang Nam’s flood-hit residents receive new houses
The skinny woman trembled, seemingly unable to stand still because of her happiness to receive a house thanks to the work of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Vietnam and local people’s generosity.
Luu Thi Phuong, 56, in Que Thuan Commune, Que Son District, Quang Nam Province, saw her house destroyed by a storm in October 2020.
She was one of the thousands of people who lost nearly all of their assets due to the storms of 2020 in central Vietnam.
Her husband died when she gave birth to her fourth child 16 years ago, so Phuong alone raised her four small children.
“Life is so hard. I work alone in the field as a hired labourer to support these children,” she said.
Now, her two eldest daughters have their own families and work in a local factory. However, her two sons have health problems, so they still live at home and can only work as hired labourers around the commune.
In the new two-storey house, she reserved the most solemn area on the second floor as an altar for her husband. On the first floor, she presented a set of wooden tables and chairs bought from money saved by children.
“I give my thanks to the UNDP, the provincial People’s Committee and the Red Cross. Without this support, I don’t know when we would have been able to build such a house,” she said.
“I will pick up local neighbours to live at my house if there are floods and storms in this area,” she added.
The house with a ground area of 16sq.m and worth 110 million VND (5,000 USD) was one of more than 430 storm-resistant houses provided by the UNDP in five provinces in central Vietnam.
This assistance activity is part of the project ‘Responding to natural disasters in Vietnam’ funded by the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).
At the end of April, the UNDP handed over 10 houses to people in Quang Nam Province as part of the UNDP’s 2021 plan to build flood-resistant houses.
In addition to building more than 430 new houses, the UNDP in collaboration with the People’s Committees of central provinces that suffered heavy damage in the storms last October (Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue, Quang Nam and Quang Ngai) and the Red Cross completed the repairs and reinforcement of more than 3,300 damaged houses.
Some 3,300 household kits have also been provided to poor households. Household items, including kitchen equipment, blankets, curtains, personal protective equipment, and chemical disinfectants were all necessary for people to get back on their feet.
UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam, Caitlin Wiesen, said that more than ever, affected people, especially the poor, women and girls were in need of safe houses and essential items to deal with the damage.
“Our safe homes have saved thousands of people during the historic floods and storms that devastated central Vietnam,” she said.
“However, there is still a long way forward to be able to assist those in need of safe homes.”
Tran Van Tan, Deputy Chairman of the Quang Nam Provincial People’s Committee, said there were still many poor households, lonely mothers and disabled people suffering difficulties in life and some had lost their homes in last year’s floods.
“This makes the poor, who already struggle so much, in even greater difficulties without community support.”
Tan said the local authorities appreciated the UNDP’s efforts and timely support to build and repair the houses.
“It is very practical and meaningful support for local people. We hope to continue to receive this support so that people living in areas affected by storms and floods have a warmer life,” he said.
At a house handover ceremony at Que Thuan Commune last week, Nguyen Van Tien, Deputy Chief of the Standing Office of the Central Steering Committee for Disaster Prevention and Control, said: “I appreciate the co-ordination of UNDP that help people in the disaster area.
“This assistance not only solves immediate post-disaster recovery but is also sustainable for local residents living in frequent disaster areas such as central Vietnam.”
The UNDP is also organising a crowdfunding campaign titled ‘Safe House, Peace of Life’ to support the construction of 100 new safe houses in vulnerable locations in Quang Binh Province and further construction of safe houses in Que Son District, (Quang Nam Province) and Ly Son island district (Quang Ngai Province).
“In particular, our safe homes in Ly Son Island will have a new design and enhanced resistance to special wind conditions, and rooftop solar systems are capable of providing sufficient lighting systems for households,” said Wiesen.
Central Vietnam was battered by strong storms and floods last October. According to the Central Steering Committee for Disaster Prevention, more than 230 people were killed or went missing. At least 380,000 houses were flooded, damaged or collapsed./.
Brazilian films to be screened in Hanoi
A Brazilian film week will take place in Hanoi from May 10 – 14, hosted by the Brazilian Embassy in Vietnam.
Five outstanding Brazilian movies, including Nise: The Heart of Madness, Jules and Dolores, Trinta, Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury, and Buddies, will be screened free of charge at the National Cinema Centre.
Through the event, the embassy wants to introduce unique characteristics of Brazilian culture to local audiences.
All the movies will be shown in their original language whilst featuring both English and Vietnamese subtitles./.
Newly established firms grow at fastest pace since 2017
The number of new enterprises established in the first four months of 2021 rose 17.5 percent from a year earlier, the fastest growth since 2017, and it increased in all economic sectors, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).
Between January and April, nearly 44,200 new firms were set up with 627.7 trillion VND (27.2 billion USD) worth of capital and 340,300 employees registered, up 17.5 percent, 41 percent, and 7.8 percent, respectively, from the same period last year.
The registered capital averaged 14.2 billion VND per business, rising 20 percent year on year.
The total capital poured into the economy topped 1.42 quadrillion VND in the first four months, including 792.9 trillion VND of additional capital from 14,900 existing businesses.
Besides, nearly 19,300 enterprises also resumed operations, growing by 8 percent from a year earlier, the GSO reported.
In April alone, the number of newly established firms approximated 14,900, registering 179.9 trillion VND worth of capital and 94,600 employees. These figures respectively went up 33.1 percent, 59.1 percent, and 30 percent from the previous month.
The registered capital averaged 12.1 billion VND per business, rising 19.6 percent month on month and 1.7 percent year on year.
As many as 5,745 companies resumed operations in April, up 50.8 percent year on year.
The GSO held that these are positive signs for enterprise development in the time ahead.
To create further momentum, Director of the GSO’s Industrial and Construction Statistics Department Pham Dinh Thuy said it is necessary to stimulate investment among export manufacturers so as to ready goods supply once global markets are reopened and to capitalise on chances generated by free trade agreements, especially the one between Vietnam and the EU.
He also pointed out the need to swiftly develop supporting industries to ease the burden on the import of input materials.
Businesses expect the Government will invest more in the transport system to boost the connectivity between key production areas and international ports of entry, develop the logistics network, set up technical centres to help companies meet export standards, and push ahead with strongly improving the business climate, Thuy added./.
Dong Thap striving to preserve intangible cultural heritage
The Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap recently released a plan on preserving and bringing into play the art of “Don ca tai tu” music and song and “Ho Dong Thap” (Dong Thap singing), both of which are national intangible cultural heritages, so as to improve awareness and raise a sense of responsibility in the community and the political system regarding the task.
Not only a national intangible cultural heritage, “Don ca tai tu” music and song was inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013.
Evoking people’s lives and work on the land and rivers of the Mekong Delta, it is an indispensable part of spiritual activities and the cultural heritage of local people and helps to foster amateur cultural activities.
Meanwhile, “Ho Dong Thap” is a type of folk singing that reflects the thoughts and sentiments of local residents.
Authorities have worked on studying and revitalising the art. In particular, training courses have been held in all district-level localities, while classes and extra-curricular activities have been organised at all schools province-wide so as to inspire a love among students for the cultural heritage.
Ngo Hoang Viet, Deputy Director of the centre for culture, sports, and radio broadcasting in the province’s Cao Lanh city, said 47 “Don ca tai tu” clubs with 530 members have been set up around town.
Vice Chairman of the Dong Thap provincial People’s Committee Doan Tan Buu noted that local authorities are striving to have “Don ca tai tu” and “Ho Dong Thap” clubs established in 50 to 70 percent of all communal-level localities.
They are also encouraging each commune, ward, and township to form one club and maintain festivals on the arts annually at the provincial level and biennially at the district level.
The province is also stepping up communications in the media to help turn “Don ca tai tu” and “Ho Dong Thap” into typical tourism products of Dong Thap./.
Parents struggle to find semi-boarding schools for their children
Many parents want to enroll their children in semi-boarding schools, which keep students for a full day.
Mai Nguyên, whose child is in the first grade at Lê Văn Thọ Primary School in HCM City’s District 12, said that she was looking for a full-day school as she had been suffering from hiring someone to pick up and take care of her child every afternoon.
Many parents in HCM City, especially from large migrant areas, are in a similar situation in which their children can only be at school for half a day.
Lê Anh Tuấn said that this was the second year that his family and other parents had had to rent a car together to pick up their children, who then would go to their teacher’s house afterwards.
“The teacher is responsible for taking care of all of the students until late when their parents are then able to pick them up after work. I want to find a semi-boarding school which would allow my child to stay at school for the whole day in Bình Thạnh District,” Tuấn said.
He said that his child was under stress from having to travel between different places during the day.
In the 2020-2021 academic year, many primary schools have given priority to two study shifts or a semi-boarding session for all first-grade students, while reducing the rate of two study shifts or semi-boarding sessions for second graders and upper grades.
According to the HCM City Department of Education and Training, 18 out of 24 districts are relatively stable in terms of arranging two study shifts per day for first graders.
Some districts such as Gò Vấp, Bình Tân, Tân Phú and District 12, however, are not able to do so, due to the large number of children entering the first grade.
At Lê Văn Thọ Primary School in District 12 which has over 4,500 students with about 90 classes, all students have switched to one study shift per day to avoid overcrowding.
In mid-May, many districts in HCM City and Thủ Đức City will announce early entry enrollment for students in the area. Parents should take note of each area’s enrollment regulations to prepare necessary documents for their children.
Even though parents have the tendency to apply for resident registration in District 1, the number of students who are able to attend the first grade in this area is calculated based on the number of fifth graders graduating from the schools.
“Students’ resident registration has been carefully reviewed in recent years. Children who are not from the area are not usually accepted to schools in District 1,” a representative of District 1 said.
According to the city People’s Committee’s early enrollment regulations, parents need to pay attention to important timelines and submit documents on time for their children.
Reading culture promoted in Cầu Giấy District apartment building
For more than 20 years, the space under the stairs of the first floor in the A3 apartment building in Nghĩa Tân Ward of Hà Nội has been home to bookshelves.
Newcomers or those who first visit the building may be surprised as the bookshelves and reading materials there belong to no one. They are shared and look after by the residents of the building.
The mini library has bookshelves, tables and chairs and books of all genres shelved in different areas such as classics, fiction, non-fiction, history, healthcare, science, law, memoirs as well as daily newspapers.
Đào Thị Anh Tuấn, a resident of the building, has spent many years voluntarily arranging newspapers and books at the library.
Tuấn said before 1999, people usually parked their motorbikes, ran small business stalls or occupied the stair area for personal purposes.
“Some retired people and veterans living in the building had an idea to set up a public library there, making it the first special cultural stair in the city,” Tuấn said.
It was then turned into a common cultural area for the community where people can go to read books, newspapers and talk to each other.
“We called on the residents to donate newspapers, books, tables and chairs,” she said, adding they set some rules to ensure the reading corner runs effectively. For example, every household takes turns to clean the stair daily, remove advertisements or drawings on walls and funds are raised by the residents to buy more books and newspapers.
“For over 20 years, the stair has been a familiar place for the building’s residents to gather and share their reading habit,” she said, adding that such activities also helped tighten the relationship of the different generations, neighbours and solidarity of the community.
While the young find interesting or useful resources for their studies or reading pleasure, older people enjoy reading news and events from daily newspapers. Many of them come to read and discuss news and events together.
Đỗ Trung Minh, a retired official who helps run the library, said the space under the stairs at the A3 building was quite large – about 20 sq.m, so it used to be used for parking.
Some people even left garbage there, he said.
“Since we cleaned up and opened a reading corner there, the area looks much better and residents have a place to meet, read and talk,” he said.
Another resident, Nguyễn Thị Hát, said she found many useful medical books and materials at the small library under the stairs.
“I usually read books and articles about how to stay healthy and avoid illness,” she said.
Đào Tùng Dương, a secondary school pupil, said he usually went to the library to read after school.
“Reading printed books and magazines is better for my eyes rather than using a mobile phone,” Dương said.
In the era of the internet, tablets and e-readers, reading culture is still maintained and promoted here, thanks to the “cultural stair”.
From this model, many community activities have been organised such as the weekly cleaning of the whole building, fundraising for people suffering from natural disasters and cooking competitions.
The success of the “cultural stair” of the A3 apartment block has even been spread to dozens of other neighbouring apartment buildings in Nghĩa Tân Ward.
The ward’s authorities have called on other buildings to implement the same model which has proved effective in promoting the reading culture and community connection.
Vietnam Airlines employees return about US$43,417 to passenger
Flight attendants of the flight VN7177 from Hanoi to the Central City of Da Nang on April 24 discovered and promptly returned valuable property to a passenger, Vietnam Airlines said yesterday.
Vietnam Airlines employees found a wallet in the seat 1A with US$45,000 and VND50 million, ATM card and other important personal papers with the total value of over VND1 billion (US$43,417). Flight attendants informed the lost-and-found counter which returned the wallet to the passenger.
The passenger later sent a thank-you letter to the flight attendants and employees of the lost-and-found counter.
Every year, Vietnam Airlines flight attendants and ground staff pick up and return many of valuable assets left on aircrafts to passengers.
The airline advised that passengers can go to the Lost and Found counter, or contact the airline’s representatives and airport security for assistance if they leave their property in planes.
Thousands of new COVID-19 cases reported in Southeast Asian countries
The Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand on May 3 reported thousands of new COVID-19 cases, while Indonesia announced that it detected several new infections of a new SARS-CoV-2 variant in Jakarta.
The Health Ministry of the Philippines confirmed 7,255 new cases, lifting the country’s tally to 1,062,225, including 17,525 deaths.
The Southeast Asian country started its COVID-19 vaccination programme from March, giving over 1.9 million doses of vaccine to its people. The Philippine government planned to vaccinate 70 million people this year to achieve the community immunity.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Ministry of Health reported 2,500 new cases, including 2,496 domestic infections, bringing its national count to 417,512. As many as 1,551 deaths related to COVID-19 were confirmed in the country.
The Public Health Ministry of Thailand on the same day reported a new daily high of 31 deaths and 2,041 new infections. This took the total number of cases in the country to 71,025 since the pandemic began last year. The death toll stands at 276.
Prasit Watanapa, a professor of medicine, warned that the country faces a crisis if the number of deaths continues to rise. He urged people to be strict about wearing face masks, to follow all measures advocated to curb the latest outbreak and to accept vaccination.
Indonesian Minister of Health Budi Gunadi announced that his country recorded two cases in Jakarta infected the B.1.617 variant, which was firstly detected in India.
An infection of the SARS-CoV-2 variant found in South Africa was reported in Bali, he added.
So far, Indonesia has recorded 1,677,274 cases, including 45,796 deaths.
The Cambodian government has announced its decision to lift the lockdown in Phnom Penh and the city adjacent to the capital – Ta Khmao in Kandal province from May 6./.
Exhibition on National Assembly opens in HCM City
More than 200 photos and documents featuring the development of the National Assembly of Vietnam are being displayed at the Southeastern Armed Forces Museum in Ho Chi Minh City.
The exhibition, which opened on May 4, is to welcome the elections of deputies to the 15th legislature, and all-level People’s Councils for the 2021-2026 tenure.
It gives visitors an insight into the formation of the legislative body, the first general election on January 6, 1946, the 75-year journey of the NA, and the leadership of President Ho Chi Minh in the legislature.
Among the documents on the display are those regarding regulations of the Constitution and laws towards the NA and People’s Councils at all levels, as well as documents relating to the elections.
The exhibition also highlights contributions of the armed forces of Military Region 7 to preparations and organisation of the elections.
In his opening remarks, Colonel Thai Thanh Duc, Deputy Chief of the Department of Politics of Military Zone 7, stressed the significance of the exhibition, saying it aimed to raise the awareness of Vietnamese people, especially young officers and soldiers of Military Zone 7, about the NA and elections.
The event will last until the end of May./.
Hanoi detects new COVID-19 infection at Times City
An Indian expert, who works for local automaker Vinfast, has been confirmed with COVID-19 in Hanoi, the municipal Centre for Disease Control said on May 4.
The man, born in 1984, arrived in Vietnam on April 17 and was immediately put under 14-day quarantine at a hotel in Hong Bang district, the northern city of Hai Phong.
He tested negative for the coronavirus twice during the mandatory quarantine period, and left for Hanoi on May 1 to stay with his wife and children at Park 10, Hoang Mai district’s Times City.
He visited Vinmec Hospital on May 3 for a commercial COVID-19 test and his test result turned out positive. He is now under treatment at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi’s Dong Anh district.
Authorities are actively tracing people having close contact with him for COVID-19 test and quarantine to prevent the virus spreading further.
A day earlier, Hanoi reported one case of COVID-19 in Bac Tu Liem District. He was on the same flight from Da Nang to Hanoi last week with two Chinese experts, who had later been found infected with COVID-19./.
Central region closes entertainment venues, schools to fight COVID-19
Local authorities in central Việt Nam shut down various entertainment venues from midnight on Monday after a community COVID-19 case was confirmed in the region.
All bars, discotheques, karaoke parlours, entertainment areas, internet, massage parlours and mass gatherings in public in the cities of Đà Nẵng, Hội An and Thừa Thiên-Huế, and Quảng Nam and Quảng Ngãi provinces were shut after a spa ticket salesman at a hotel in Đà Nẵng was found to be positive on Monday.
Since then, a massage therapist who works at the same hotel has also tested positive.
Health officials have been tracing the contacts of the two new patients and have listed 21 sites including restaurants, bars, karaoke parlours and bus stations in Hội An and Đà Nẵng that the salesman visited between April 21 and May 2 so people who visited them can submit health declarations.
Kindergartens, schools and universities in Đà Nẵng and Quảng Nam were also closed from Tuesday morning until further notice from education authorities.
Quảng Nam Province has asked all residents returning from Hà Nội and HCM City and Yên Bái, Hưng Yên and Hà Nam provinces to report their health status and destinations they visited during the four-day holiday (April 29 to May 3) through the national online health declaration system.
Đà Nẵng has also ordered all taxis and public buses to only carry half of their passenger capacity, while a safe distance (2m) and face mask-wearing is a must for all in public.
Medical staff of a lab in central Việt Nam tests samples for SARS-COV-2. Photo courtesy of Thiện Nhân Health Centre
Trade centres, accommodation sites and restaurants are still open, but strict virus prevention measures are required, including hand-washing stations, face masks and temperature checks.
Sunny Club staff in Vĩnh Phúc infected with Indian coronavirus variant: health ministry
Staff working at Sunny Club in the northern province of Vĩnh Phúc contracted the Indian variant of coronavirus, the health ministry said on Tuesday.
The National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology took samples of COVID-19 patients in Vĩnh Phúc, Hà Nam, Hưng Yên and Hà Tĩnh provinces to trace the origin of the virus.
Samples taken from three female staff of Sunny Club showed they had contracted B.1.617.2, the Indian variant, known as a ‘double mutant’, which has been found in at least 17 countries.
They are among six bar staff confirmed as having COVID-19 last week after being in close contact with a Chinese expert who came to the bar and tested positive earlier.
Six samples in Hà Nam, two in Hưng Yên and two in Hà Tĩnh (taken from two patients traveling from Laos to Việt Nam by road) showed they were infected with UK variant B.1.1.7.
The health ministry on Tuesday morning reported a man living in Hà Nội, who was on the same flight as two Chinese experts, tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
Associate Professor Trần Đắc Phu, a senior advisor at the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre, said a case deemed to have had close contact with an infected person on a flight is someone sitting within two rows of that person. The man in Hà Nội indeed sat two rows from the two Chinese experts.
The environment on the plane is an enclosed space. If passengers do not strictly comply with protective measures, the risk of infection is high, he said.
Việt Nam has reported flight attendants infected with COVID-19. It is compulsory for passengers to wear masks on the plane, but sometimes they take off the masks. Coughing, talking, and sneezing on the place can spread the virus. Pathogens can be found on the surfaces of chairs and toilet door knobs. If a person touches those surfaces then touches their eyes, nose or mouth, they can be infected, he said.
In a related move, seven provinces and cities in Viet Nam have closed schools from Tuesday amid the high risk of COVID-19 community infection.
Children at kindergarten and students at primary, secondary and high schools in Hà Nội, Đà Nẵng, Quảng Nam, Hưng Yên have been off from schools since Tuesday until further notice after community cases were detected in these areas.
Most universities in Hà Nội have turned to distance learning.
Schools in Yên Bái City, Nghĩa Lộ Town, Văn Chấn and Trấn Yên districts of northern Yên Bái Province and Hà Nam Province will remain shut until May 9.
Schools in Vĩnh Phúc Province will be closed until May 8.
Border provinces step up efforts to stop spread of COVID-19
Provinces and cities across Việt Nam, especially border areas, are stepping up their COVID-19 prevention and control efforts.
Đồng Tháp provincial border guards are making efforts to prevent people from entering the province illegally from Cambodia to stop the virus from entering the community.
At about 4.30am on Monday, during patrol duty on the Sở Thượng River in Thường Thới Hậu A commune, Hồng Ngự District, the border guard discovered 14 people, including 11 adults and three children, on seven wooden boats, preparing to illegally enter Việt Nam.
Previously, on Saturday and Sunday, they discovered 55 people travelling in 23 vehicles to the border on the Tiền River to prepare to illegally enter the country.
On Đồng Tháp southern province’s 50.5km long border with Cambodia, comprising 40km of the river border and 10.5km on the mainland, the border forces deployed 21 fixed posts and 18 mobile control teams on patrol duty.
Meanwhile, in the northern mountainous province of Hà Giang, hundreds of soldiers have been deployed on the Việt Nam-China border for border management and protection and COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control.
Colonel Lưu Đức Hùng, Political Commissar of the Hà Giang Border Guard Command, said the provincial border guards have worked with other forces to maintain operations of all fixed control posts, mobile teams on the border, supplement the establishment of posts when necessary to ensure tight control at the border gates and trails.
“We are determined to fight the pandemic from the border and carry out the ‘dual task’ of managing and protecting the sovereignty and preventing and combating the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
Hà Giang has more than 277km of border with China. Due to the complex terrain and long border, illegal entry and exit activities are very complicated to handle.
Major Tạ Tấn Hoàng, director of the Xín Cái Border Guard Station in Méo Vạc District, said pandemic prevention has been activated at the highest warning level.
In all 69 medical posts across the province, in addition to measuring body temperature and sterilising surfaces, people from other provinces and cities entering Hà Giang are instructed to make a medical declaration.
On Monday, chairman of the Lạng Sơn Province People’s Committee Hồ Tiến Thiệu checked prevention and control activities in a number of key units and areas in the province.
At the Hữu Nghị International Border Gate, Thiệu said the pandemic was developing in a complex manner with many cases of community infection in some provinces and cities. Therefore, the forces on duty at the border gate must uphold their sense of responsibility, promote vigilance and strictly comply with pandemic prevention measures.
At Tân Thanh Border Gate, many drivers still do not wear masks and many people gather at restaurants and yards with a potential risk of spreading the disease. Thiệu asked the forces on duty here to take measures to prevent and control the pandemic under the Ministry of Health’s guidance.
He called for pandemic checkpoints on both access roads to the Tân Thanh bus station to ensure strict control of people and vehicles entering and leaving, and require all people entering and leaving the area to be medically examined, wear masks and keep a safe distance.
Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes