By Thanh An – Translated by Uyen Phuong
Do i need japanese encephalitis vaccine for vietnam
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
Vietnam willing to support India in fighting COVID-19: Deputy FM
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung on April 27 hosted a reception for Indian Ambassador to Vietnam Pranay Kumar Verma, during which he affirmed Vietnam’s solidarity and readiness to stand side by side with the Indian government and people in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dung expressed his sympathy over hardships and damage caused by the second COVID-19 wave in India, voicing his belief that the country will soon overcome this difficult time and challenges.
He also conveyed the sympathies of Vietnamese leaders and people to their Indian counterparts.
In reply, the Indian Ambassador briefed his host on the COVID-19 situation in the South Asian nation and voiced his gratitude for the sentiments and support of the Vietnamese Government and people for India.
He affirmed that the Indian government will create the best conditions and exert efforts to ensure safety for Vietnamese citizens living, working and studying in India./.
Vietnamese nationals must not return home illegally: Vietnamese embassy
The Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand has called on Vietnamese nationals to strictly follow COVID-19 prevention measures in the host country in the face of increasing infections recorded in the country over recent days.
In an announcement on April 27, the embassy said it is working with Vietnamese and Thai authorities to arrange repatriation flights for Vietnamese citizens and has asked them not to return to the homeland illegally.
The Thai Government is introducing new restrictions to halt the country’s spiralling outbreak, the embassy said.
Wearing a face mask is now compulsory in Bangkok and 46 other provinces. Those not doing so risk a fine of up to 20,000 THB (640 USD).
Vietnamese nationals are advised to avoid public spaces and travel, and to contact Thai authorities for support if they exhibit symptoms of the coronavirus disease.
They should contact the embassy via its citizen protection hotline on ( 66) 898 966 653 or ( 66) 2650 8979.
The embassy will continue keeping a close watch on COVID-19 developments in the country, and stay in touch with Thai authorities to remain updated.
Thailand reported 15 new fatalities from the pandemic on April 27 – a new record for the third time in four days during a growing third wave of infections.
Some 2,179 new infections were reported on the day, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 59,687. Fatalities now stand at 163.
The Thai Government will adopt a single command system to improve the efficiency of the national COVID-19 vaccination drive, with the aim of vaccinating about 30 million people over the next three months and 50 million by the end of the year.
According to a post on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s official Facebook page, he has met with advisers at the Government House to discuss ways to ramp up the distribution of vaccines, which is a top national priority.
The Government will do everything in its power to procure more doses to support the national vaccination drive, with a target of purchasing 10-15 million doses a month from several manufacturers, according to the post./.
Information ministry calls for use of COVID-19 tracing tools
The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) has issued a document guiding the use of tools to prevent, control, and trace COVID-19 cases in the community, as travel demand is forecast to soar during the April 30 – May 1 holiday.
The set of tools comprise the Bluezone app, which issues alerts on any contact with suspected cases, and the NCOVI app, which manages voluntary health declarations and a COVID-19 tracking map.
According to the MIC’s Authority of Information Technology Application, QR scanning in public places plays an important role in the fight against the pandemic. It should be carried out on Bluezone, NCOVI, and Vietnam Health Declaration.
The ministry affirmed that the widespread use of these tools will help to precisely trace areas with suspected cases.
Vietnam had reported no new COVID-19 infections for 12 hours as of 6am on April 27, with its tally unchanged at 2,852 cases, according to the Ministry of Health.
The ministry’s Medical Examination and Treatment Department said that a total 2,516 COVID-19 patients have been given the all clear. The death toll remains at 35./.
CAAV orders tightened aviation security at airports
The aviation security control must be tightened and raised to Level 1 before, during and after the four-day holiday of Southern Liberation and National Reunification Day (April 30) and International Labour Day (May 1), the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) has recently requested.
Accordingly, security measures will be enhanced at all units in the sector, including airport authorities, airports, aviation service providers and air traffic service suppliers.
They are asked to increase personnel for aviation security control, examine and supplement necessary equipment, while preparing measures to improve service quality which helps meet travel demand of people.
Under current regulations, when there are high risks to aviation security, security control measures can be tightened in three levels.
Level 1 is applied in case of nationally important socio-political events, or complicated situations of political security and social order.
Level 2 is applied when there is intelligence information about an illegal interference plot in civil aviation activities with places, targets and time undetermined; or in case of serious political insecurity and social disorder in localities.
Meanwhile, level 3 is applied when there is verified information about an illegal interference plot in civil aviation activities with specific places, targets and time; or in case of extremely serious political insecurity and social disorder in localities.
Travel demand during public holiday is expected to increase significantly.
According to a survey conducted by the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board and VnExpress.net in March, of 3,500 respondents, 53.4 percent had plans to travel between May and September while 30.2 percent said they were ready to go on holidays in March and April.
The top 10 getaways are Da Nang, Kien Giang, Lam Dong, Lao Cai, Khanh Hoa, Quang Ninh, Binh Dinh, Binh Thuan, Ha Giang, and Quang Nam, the survey revealed.
Meanwhile, travel firms said that up to 60 percent of tours have been booked for the four-day holidays. Tourists are booking mostly short-distance trips and brief stays in Sa Pa, Ha Long, Phu Quoc, Da Nang, Da Lat, and Con Dao Island.
Vietravel said that around 60 percent of its vacation packages, which include flights, car rentals, and hotels, have been bought.
Condolences extended to Indonesia over submarine sinking
State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc has extended condolences to Indonesian President Joko Widodo over the recent submarine sinking.
Media in Indonesia reported that KRI Nanggala-402 became untraceable on April 22 during live torpedo training exercises off the Indonesian holiday island of Bali.
The 40-year-old submarine was found split into three pieces on the sea bed after five days of search efforts. All the vessel’s 53 crew have been confirmed dead.
The same day, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh also cabled a message of condolences to President Joko Widodo over the tragedy./.
Hanoi, Hai Duong reinforce COVID-19 prevention efforts
|A woman passes through a “face mask required” sign on downtown Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake|
In an official dispatch, the Party Committee of Hanoi ordered the suspension of festivals and pedestrian zones in the city, and restriction of non-essential events with mass gatherings. In case the events are held, preventive measures must be in place.
If COVID-19 infections are detected, contact tracing and quarantine must be promptly rolled out to curb the spread of the pandemic.
Local people are asked to closely follow the 5K message and wear face masks in public places.
Meanwhile, leaders of Hai Duong proivnce requested relevant agencies to bolster communications to raise public awareness.
Hai Duong police will work with departments, sectors, localities and inspection groups in illegal entry prevention and supervision at concentrated quarantine facilities and homes.
People are recommended to refrain from travelling to crowded places and those with high COVID-19 risks, especially as the National Reunification Day (April 30) and May Day holidays are approaching.
Non-essential services in the province like massage parlors, karaoke, bars and discotheques will continue to be suspended until further notice, while vaccinations are asked to be sped up.
As of 5 pm on April 27, Hai Duong has neither COVID-19 patients under treatment nor people staying in quarantine for having close contact with infected people.
The province reported 726 cases in the resurgence of COVID-19 outbreaks that began on January 27./.
VBS requires strict following of COVID-19 prevention measures at places of worship
The Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS) has called for the mandatory wearing of face masks and strict adherence to COVID-19 prevention regulations at pagodas and monasteries nationwide amid the ongoing complex developments of the pandemic.
Vice President and General Secretary of the VBS Executive Council, Venerable Thich Duc Thien, stressed that COVID-19 prevention measures must be enhanced at places of worship around the country.
VBS chapters in all 63 cities and provinces have been asked to strictly implement requirements, he said.
The Ministry of Health’s 5K message – khau trang (face masks), khu khuan (disinfectant), khoang cach (distancing), khong tu tap (no gatherings), and khai bao y te (health declarations) – must be seriously observed, he added.
He also called on people to report any instance of illegal entry, in order to effectively contain the spread of the virus./.
Da Nang tops ICT Index for 12th straight year
The central city of Da Nang has maintained its leading position in terms of readiness for information and communications technology (ICT) development and application, after topping the Vietnam ICT Index rankings for the 12th consecutive year.
In the rankings for 2020, the city led the way with a total score of 0.9238, followed by the neighbouring province of Thua Thien-Hue.
Compiled by the Ministry of Information and Communications since 2005 and based on UN criteria, the Vietnam ICT Index assesses technical infrastructure, IT application, online public services, and the IT industry.
It has secured a prestigious reputation over the years and serves as a foundation for the ministry and local authorities to adopt appropriate decisions and policies to develop the ICT sector and the IT industry./.
Vietnam treasures comprehensive strategic partnership with Russia
Vietnam always attaches importance to the comprehensive strategic partnership with Russia, Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on April 27.
During his phone talks with the Russian minister, Son affirmed that Russia is among leading important partners in Vietnam’s foreign policy, and congratulated the country on its success in containing COVID-19, especially in vaccine research and production.
Despite the pandemic, Vietnam and Russia have maintained exchanges, with many phone talks held between their high-ranking leaders, contributing to promoting the bilateral cooperation across spheres, Son said.
The ministers discussed Vietnam-Russia collaboration, covering politics-diplomacy, security-national defence, economy-trade, investment, energy-oil and gas, and COVID-19 prevention and control.
They also compared notes on cooperation between the two foreign ministries and coordination between the two countries at multilateral forums, including the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and ASEAN.
Both expressed their hope to well organise activities during the Vietnam-Russia and Russia-Vietnam Year in 2021.
Minister Son used the occasion to thank Russia for supporting Vietnam’s ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020, and non-permanent membership of the UNSC for 2020-2021.
Vietnam is willing to closely coordinate with Russia and other ASEAN countries in organising activities marking the 25th anniversary of the ASEAN-Russia relations (1996-2021), Son said.
For his part, the Russian minister lauded Vietnam’s performance in external affairs, as well as the country’s increasingly impressive role in regional and international arena.
On this occasion, Lavrov invited Son to visit Russia at a convenient time. The Vietnamese minister accepted the invitation with pleasure.
Religious communities offer support to Cambodia, Laos amid COVID-19 spread
The Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City on April 27 called on followers to make contributions to present 4 million face masks to people in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in a bid to ease their difficulties amid the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
Most Venerable Thich Tri Quang, Deputy Patriarch of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha and Chairman of the Executive Council of the HCM City Buddhist Sangha, donated 100 million VND (over 4,300 USD) while a charitable group of the HCM City Buddhist Sangha presented 500 million VND to support disadvantaged Buddhist followers and people hit by COVID-19 in Laos and Cambodia.
Phnom Penh capital of Cambodia has been hardest-hit by COVID-19 in recent weeks, with hundreds of new cases being reported daily.
By the afternoon of April 27, Cambodia had logged 11,063 COVID-19 infections and 82 fatalities.
Meanwhile, a total of 511 COVID-19 cases were reported across 15 out of 18 provinces and cities of Laos./.
Working group heads to Truong Sa island district
A working group headed to Truong Sa (Spratly) island district and DK1 Platform on April 26 from Cam Ranh city in the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa.
A farewell ceremony for the group, including officers and soldiers of the Naval Zone 4 High Command, representatives departments and agencies, and journalists, was held by the Naval Zone 4 High Command and the provincial People’s Committee.
The delegation will present necessities to soldiers and residents in the island district, according to Rear Admiral Phan Tuan Hung, Deputy Commander of the Naval Force.
They are scheduled to visit DK1 Platform and several islands in the Truong Sa archipelago, where they will meet with officers, soldiers, and local people.
On this occasion, the delegation of National Assembly deputies of Khanh Hoa province will also present certificates of merit from the provincial People’s Committee to collectives that performed strongly in fulfilling national defence and security tasks in 2020./.
Photo exhibition marks 46th anniversary of National Reunification Day
Twenty-one prize-winning photos in a contest named “Tu Hao Mot Dai Bien Cuong” (Pride in the frontier strip) are on display at an exhibition launched in Ho Chi Minh City on April 26.
These works vividly reflect daily life and the beauty of distinctive architectural works, festivals and folk arts of ethnic minority people living along the border; and life of on-duty border guard officers who stay ready to defend the country’s sovereignty and border security.
The exhibition will run through May 7./.
Localities intensify COVID-19 prevention measures ahead of holidays
Increased pandemic prevention measures have been noticed in cities and provinces nationwide, as the Reunification Day (April 30) and Labour Day (May 1) holidays approach.
Strict fines are imposed on people without facemasks in public places in Ho Chi Minh City, the local authorities said in an urgent direction issued on April 26.
Accordingly, public-awareness-raising communications on COVID-19 and pandemic prevention and control measures have been ordered, with restrictions in place for mass gatherings. Those involved in organising illegal entries in the city also face strict punishments.
The same day, Vice Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Chu Xuan Dung emphasized a high risk of new outbreaks during and after the upcoming holidays at a meeting of the municipal Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control on April 26.
He urged the active implementation of pandemic measures that prioritise early detection, quick quarantine, and effective treatment. Wearing facemask is a must in public areas and on public transport vehicles; and events that gather a large number of people are restricted.
The capital will continue its vaccination drive correctly, safely, and efficiently, according to Dung.
Also on April 26, Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long had a working session with the Can Tho People’s Committee, asking the Mekong Delta city to soon complete its national-level COVID-19 treatment hospital and prepare for complicated developments of the epidemic in the future.
For the work to be done, he assigned the Can Tho General Hospital to collaborate with localities and the Can Tho University of Medicine and Pharmacy.
Can Tho also needs to establish a 400-bed COVID-19 treatment hospital in Phong Dien district that is capable of accommodating up to 800 beds when necessary, the minister underscored./.
Nation to enjoy sunny April 30-May 1 holidays
All regions across the country are expected to see sunny weather on the upcoming National Reunification Day (April 30) and May Day (May 1) holidays, according to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.
In the northern and north-central region, rains are forecast to reduce on April 29. From April 30, the weather will be good again with cool temperature, according to the centre. However, high temperature is forecast in certain areas such as northwest as well as northern and central mountainous regions.
From April 30 to May 3, the northern region is expected to enjoy sunny weather, but a hot spell is forecast for the northwest region in the daytime and rains at night.
Hanoi is predicted to enjoy sunny weather in the daytime but whirlwinds and rains at night. The central coastal, central and Central Highlands regions are expected to experience the same developments of weather.
Meanwhile in Ho Chi Minh City, the weather will be good with sunlight in the morning and potential rains, thunder and whirlwinds in the afternoon and night./.
Multiple tourism products, services launched in HCMC
HCMC is launching a series of tourism introduction programs between April 25 and August 15 to attract domestic visitors to the city, while many three- to five-star hotels are also lowering room prices by up to 65% during the period.
Apart from many tourist destinations and special eateries, various new check-in points and street food in HCMC will be introduced through these tourism programs, according to the HCMC Department of Tourism.
The city will be offering new tours, including “Throwing back at the history-Silent Footprints-Saigon Army Rangers”, telling visitors about the stories of HCMC, “Can Gio- a different Saigon” and “Back to sacred place”, in which tourists will be taken to Binh Chanh to explore historic fights against French troops.
The “Talking with typical three-generation families of artists in HCMC” program will also bring new experiences to tourists.
In addition, traditional plays of hat boi, a genre of Vietnamese traditional drama, which is over 500 years old, will be performed at the Lang Ong Ba Chieu Temple, where the tombs of Le Van Duyet and his wife lie, or the Saigon Zoo & Botanical Garden.
Aside from reducing room prices, many hotels such as Nikko Saigon, Park Hyatt Saigon and Le Meriden are rolling out staycation packages for the city’s residents.
Report claims right to autonomy and self-determination
Nearly half of women in 57 developing countries are denied the right to bodily autonomy, said a report released on Thursday.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)’s 2021 flagship report – State of World Population – was launched in cooperation with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the HCM Central Youth Union.
For the first time, a UN report focuses on the topic of bodily autonomy, without fear of violence or having someone else decide for you.
The report shows that in countries where data is available, only 55 per cent of women are fully empowered to make choices over healthcare, contraception and sexual relations.
Only 71 per cent of countries guarantee access to overall maternity care.
Only about 56 per cent of countries have laws and policies supporting comprehensive sexuality education.
Addressing the launch, Nguyễn Tường Lâm, Secretary of the Central Youth Union, said: “The theme of this year’s World Population Report “My body is my own” turns the spotlight on bodily autonomy. With the focus on comprehensive sexuality education and gender equality, the report calls for joint efforts in strengthening awareness among young people and rights to ensure that they are equipped with knowledge and skills to make their own decisions about their health.”
Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Việt Nam, said: “A woman who has control over her body is more likely to be empowered in other spheres of her life. She is more likely to thrive, and so is her family, her community and her country.”
Bodily autonomy is measured through two sustainable development goals (SDGs) indicators, including 5.6.1 and 5.6.2. In the report, Việt Nam is cited, among 75 countries which have data, for the measurement of SDG indicator 5.6.2 – the existence of laws, regulations, or policies that guarantee full and equal access to women and men aged 15 years and older to sexual and reproductive healthcare, information and education.
Việt Nam has the indicator value of 54 per cent out of 100 per cent achievement, which is higher than Nepal (48 per cent) but lower than Cambodia (98 per cent) and Myanmar (75 per cent).
Việt Nam does not yet have a full data set for SDG indicator 5.6.1 about proportion of women aged 15-49 years who make their own informed decisions regarding sexual relations, contraceptive use and reproductive healthcare, but plans to make it available in the coming years.
The Sate of World Population report is UNFPA’s annual flagship publication. Published yearly since 1978, it shines a light on emerging issues in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Job market shows strong signs of recovery
Vietnam’s job market showed strong signs of recovery in the first quarter of 2021, opening up various opportunities for workers, especially highly-skilled workers.
Sectors seeing an increase in hiring demand in the quarter included Engineering and Manufacturing, Energy, IT, E-commerce, Electronics, Semiconductor Design, Civil Engineering, and Industrial Construction.
The combination of global supply chain shifts and the positive impact of free trade agreements will offer new prospects for Vietnam’s economy into the future, leading to a significant increase in employment opportunities and hiring demand, said Nguyen Thi Thu Phuong, Adecco Hanoi’s Recruitment Manager.
In Ho Chi Minh City, the labour market in Q1 was livelier than in the same period last year, according to the municipal Centre for Human Resources Forecasting and Labour Market Information (FALMI).
Its figures show that there were over 44,000 job vacancies and nearly 19,500 jobseekers in the southern economic hub during the period, increasing local human resources demand by 13.14% year-on-year. The majority of vacancies (70.38%) were in the services sector, followed by industry (29.51%) and agriculture (0.11%).
The centre forecasts that the city will need between 68,600 and 73,500 workers, mostly in the fields of IT, electronics and electricity; mechanics and automation; healthcare and medicine; accounting and auditing; finance, banking and securities; real estate; and tourism, lodging and catering services.
Adecco Hanoi Office Director Nguyen Thu Ha explained three main reasons contributing to the current situation. The first is the Government’s successful efforts in virus prevention and containment, she said. Second, businesses have gradually ramped up their operations and are eager to bounce back after a period of economic stagnation. Third, in terms of psychology, people now are better able to take care their health and cope with coronavirus anxiety.
FALMI said that demand for trained workers in HCM City made up 85.72% of the total, including 22.19% for university graduates or higher.
Commenting on the labour market outlook for 2021, Andree Mangels, General Director, Adecco Vietnam believed that the recovery of the economy and the global trends of digitalisation will open up opportunities for skilled workers.
A recent survey from the Adecco Group on shifts in workplace expectations in the post-pandemic world indicate that 82% of participants appreciate the strict hygiene regulations at work.
Other noticeable expectations among workers are flexibility (80%), adequate facilities for remote working (79%), investment in technology (77%), financial support policies (77%), and regular updates on business plans and performance (75%).
Kien Giang acts to protect Phu Quoc from Covid-19 transmission
The Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang has adopted multiple measures to prevent the Covid-19 transmission from hitting its island city of Phu Quoc, as scores of Vietnamese citizens working in Cambodia and other countries, which share the border with Vietnam, are forecast to return home through the Cambodia-Ha Tien border gate after these neighboring countries lifted Covid-19 lockdown.
At a recent meeting reviewing the efforts to control and prevent Covid-19 infection throughout the province, Lam Minh Thanh, chairman of the provincial government, said that the province will face more difficulties in fighting the disease in the coming time since it shares a long borderline with Cambodia, where the pandemic is at its peak, and has many border crossings.
Therefore, aside from receiving and taking anti-epidemic measures for Vietnamese citizens returning home from Cambodia, Thanh asked local border guard forces to ramp up efforts to monitor vehicles operating in the locality and increase the frequency of patrols at border areas to prevent illegal entry.
The chairman also required the local competent forces to check the compliance with Covid-19 safety protocols in the province and monitor fishermen and those living and trading in border areas in order to promptly detect and prevent illegal immigrants.
Besides this, sea patrol police were asked to team up with the competent forces to direct boats operating at sea to combat Covid-19 and quickly deal with problems arising on the island.
Phu Quoc Island is a popular tourist destination in Vietnam. Recently, many local carriers have launched new air services to this island city to meet the rising travel demand among passengers after the coronavirus outbreak in the country has been brought under control.
Son La receives rice support for between-crop period
Deputy Prime Minister Le Minh Khai has signed a decision assigning the Ministry of Finance to provide over 59,800 tonnes of rice to the northern mountainous province of Son La during the between-crop period of 2021.
The rice, sourced from the national reserves, aims to support local residents in order to ensure no one suffers from hunger during the period.
The Deputy PM assigned the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs to allocate the rice to the locality, while asking the provincial authorities to ensure timely delivery to right beneficiaries in line with regulations.
In case Son La still faces difficulties after receiving the aid, the local authorities are advised to report to the two ministries for further assistance./.
Hai Phong’s Flamboyant Festival to draw tourists
Various cultural, economic, sport and tourism activities will be held in the northern port city of Hai Phong between May 11 and 15 during the annual Flamboyant Festival of the northern port city.
An art show titled Hai Phong – A Successful Destination on May 11 will be a highlight of the programme with a fireworks show.
The event aims to celebrate the anniversary of the Liberation Day of the city from French occupation (May 13, 1955).
Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was not held to spare funding to fight the virus. This year, with the pandemic under control, authorities decided to host the festival at a cost of some 20 billion VND (869,000 USD) contributed by local individuals and enterprises.
Local authorities of all culture, sport, tourism and art sectors in 15 districts in the city will host 66 activities during the festival.
They include photo exhibitions, a virtual contest titled “Check-in Hai Phong, My Beloved City” on Facebook; ca tru (ceremonial singing) performances; a golf tournament; exhibition of Hai Phong’s achievements in socio-economics; a cooking contest; a tourism fair; a singing contest on Hai Phong; an ao dai (traditional long dress) festival; a women’s beach volleyball tournament, and a classic car show.
According to Le Khac Nam, deputy chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, the event will promote the city’s image as a smart developing city, which is friendly to international visitors and also a successful destination for investors.
Hai Phong is 100km to the northeast of Hanoi. Flamboyant trees are planted in many streets in the city, which come into full bloom in summer (May-June), hence the name of the festival./.
Man arrested for illegal deforestation
The investigation police agency at the Police Department of the northern mountainous province of Son La on April 26 decided to arrest a 43-year-old man for his illegal deforestation.
Lo Van Quy, from Co Noi commune, Mai Son district, Son La province, will be arrested for his violation of regulations on exploitation and protection of forests and forest product management in line with Article 232 of the Penal Code.
The decision has been approved by the provincial People’s Procuracy.
Investigators said Quy hired a group of people to illegally exploit forest products and they were caught red handed in a forest in Na Pan hamlet, Chieng Dong commune, Yen Chau district.
The case is under further investigation./.
HCMC Transport Dept proposes restricting vehicles with over 30 seats downtown
The HCMC Department of Transport has proposed restricting vehicles with more than 30 seats in downtown areas, including districts 1, 3, 5 and 10.
The restriction will not be applied to buses that transport students, workers and tourists and vehicles for special purposes.
The department also proposed increasing the number of cameras installed in downtown areas and around the Mien Dong Bus Station in Binh Thanh District as many coaches frequently stop on the streets in these areas to pick up or drop off passengers.
The pickups and drop-offs of passengers have worsened traffic congestion and caused dangers to commuters in these areas. The city will publish the list of locations that allow coaches to pick up or drop off passengers.
Besides that, the HCMC Transport Department proposed that the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam upgrade the data analysis system for dashcams to effectively detect and punish vehicles that violate traffic regulations.
HCMC currently has over 110 stops for coaches to pick up and drop off passengers.
Project launched to protect children in coffee production
A project on enhancing capacity and bolstering the protection of children working in coffee production in Dak Lak was officially launched in the Central Highlands province on April 26.
Implemented from October 2020 to March 2023 at a total cost of nearly 5.7 billion VND (248,000 USD), the project covers the six communes of Ea Tan and Dlie Ya in Krong Nang district, Ea Drong and Ea Tul in Cu M’Gar district, and Cu Bao and Ea Drong in Buon Ho township.
Objectives include improving the living conditions of children in coffee growing and processing areas, to ensure they are protected and their rights are observed.
About 2,000 children are expected to benefit from the project, most of whom are from ethnic minority groups.
According to Vice Director of the Dak Lak Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Pham Phuong, Dak Lak is an agriculture province and nearly 70 percent of its population are farmers.
Coffee is the major crop, he said, adding that the project will contribute to improving awareness among children, parents, businesses, and local authorities about children’s rights, realising targets set regarding their care, especially in preventing them from leaving school during the harvest season.
Along with strengthening communications, the department will support poor children to return to school while assisting local authorities to inspect workplace safety at coffee production facilities, Phuong said.
At the same time, the department will coordinate with the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union to organise contests on technology application in coffee production, with the aim of erasing work involving child labour, while cooperating with the Health Department to prevent children being injured during production.
The capacity of units in the coffee supply chain to protect children will be enhanced, he said, adding that training courses will be held for relevant parties while communications on child protection laws will be strengthened. Businesses will be encouraged to sign agreements on not using child labour and ensuring workplace safety./.
Commune on Phu Quoc Island to hold elections early
The National Election Council recently issued Dispatch No 533/HDBCQG-VP dated April 20, allowing Tho Chau island commune of Phu Quoc city to hold the elections of deputies to the National Assembly and all-level People’s Councils for the 2021-2026 tenure on May 21, two days earlier than the national election day.
This was reported by the Election Committee of the Mekong Delta’s Kien Giang province, to which Phu Quoc belongs.
Covering over 1,395 ha, Tho Chau island commune consists of eight islands and islets: Tho Chu, Hon Tu, Hon Cao Cat, Hon Nhan, Hon Kho, Hon Xanh, Hon Cai Ban, and Hon Da Bac.
Tho Chu is the largest and only inhabited island in the commune.
The elections are being held early due to difficult access and extreme weather conditions here./.
New NA Chairman receives more congratulations
Parliamentary leaders of foreign countries continued to send letters of congratulations to National Assembly (NA) Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue on his election as the top leader of the Vietnamese legislature.
NA Chairman Hue received congratulations from President of the Senate of Romania Anca Dana Dragu, President of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives Eliane Tillieux, and Speaker of the National Assembly of Mozambique Esperanca Laurinda Francisco Nhiuane Bias./.
Japan-funded project to help mitigate COVID-19 impacts on vulnerable populations
The Japanese Government will provide Vietnam with more than 2.8 million USD to finance a project on “Mitigating COVID-19 Impacts on Vulnerable Populations”, which was launched in Hanoi on April 26.
The project aims to aid the Vietnamese Government’s ongoing efforts to mitigate the negative impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations and ensure national progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It plans to intervene in four areas: gender-based violence, improvements to elderly care, sexual and reproductive health care, and support for returning Vietnamese migrants.
The project will be conducted from April 2021 to March 2022 in 14 cities and provinces: Thai Nguyen, Dien Bien, Lao Cai, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Da Nang, Quang Tri, Quang Nam, Dak Lak, An Giang, Can Tho, Vinh Long, and HCM City.
Addressing the launch of the new project, the Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam said the COVID-19 pandemic proved the importance of mutual understanding, the sharing of resources, and, above all, solidarity and cooperation between communities, societies, and nations in tackling the unprecedented challenges. The new project also demonstrates the good relationship between Vietnam and Japan, he added.
Though Vietnam responded to COVID-19 better than most countries, the social and economic consequences it has caused are of great concern, the ambassador went on, and vulnerable groups such as women and girls, the elderly, and adolescents have been hit hardest.
Naomi Kitahara, representative of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Vietnam, said the challenges facing Vietnamese people, especially vulnerable groups, have become more complex due to COVID-19, which has deepened existing inequalities and exposed social gaps.
For Vietnam to achieve the SDGs, it is necessary to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and ensure that all people are part of the sustainable development process so that no one is left behind. She expects the project will represent a great leap forward for Vietnam in remaining committed to fulfilling the SDGs.
The project plans to establish three one-stop shop service centres, hold 10 creative and innovative campaigns on the prevention of gender-based violence amid COVID-19, and provide training for around 500 men and women on preventing and responding to gender-based violence.
Under the project, about 1,000 elderly citizens in selected cities and provinces will be provided with high-quality health care and support services, while some 58,000 others are expected to benefit from telehealth services.
About 5,000 ethnic minority women will benefit from a mobile application offering information and consultation on sexual and reproductive healthcare, while 45 district-level public clinics will receive medical equipment to protect their health workers from COVID-19.
It will also register returning migrant workers for training courses on soft skills and comprehensive gender education, and provide them with counselling in sexual and reproductive health, the prevention of gender-based violence, and future careers./.
Vietnam ready to help Laos respond to COVID-19
Vietnam is ready to provide support within its capability to Laos in overcoming difficulties that Laos faces in COVID-19 prevention and control work, standing member of the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat Vo Van Thuong said.
The official made the pledge during a reception in Hanoi on April 27 for Lao Ambassador to Vietnam Sengphet Houngboungnuang.
Thuong expressed his delight at the development of the special solidarity between Vietnam and Laos, and affirmed that Vietnam will work together with Laos to protect and foster the ties between the two countries.
He offered sympathy to the Lao Party, State and people over the loss caused by the pandemic, noting his belief that under the leadership of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, the governance of the Lao Government and the solidarity of the entire political system and Lao people, the country will be able to contain the spread of the pandemic in the shortest time possible, thus ensuring the implementation of socio-economic development tasks.
The Party official appreciated the important role of the Lao Embassy in Vietnam and asked the embassy to continue working as a bridge to connect ministries, sectors and localities of the two countries towards more effective bilateral cooperation.
Ambassador Sengphet Houngboungnuang congratulated Vietnam over its great and comprehensive achievements and voiced his belief that the Vietnamese people will continue to reap even greater accomplishments in their Doi Moi (Renewal) cause and successfully realise the resolution of the 13th National Party Congress.
The ambassador also thanked the Vietnamese Party, State and people for their whole-hearted and effective help for Laos, and took the occasion to update Thuong on the situation in Laos, especially developments of the COVID-19 pandemic./.
Five COVID-19 cases recorded on April 27
Vietnam recorded five cases of COVID-19 during the past 12 hours to 6pm April 27, raising the national total to 2,857, according to the Health Ministry.
Among the new patients, four are Vietnamese citizens returning from abroad and have been quarantined immediately after arrival. The fifth patient was a staff member at a hotel which is used as a quarantine facility in the northern province of Yen Bai, where several Indian experts are quarantined after arriving in Vietnam. This staff member has also been under medical monitoring since the first day he made contact with the Indian experts.
Meanwhile, 2,516 COVID-19 patients have been given the all clear, and the death toll remains at 35.
Among patients still under treatment, 13 have tested negative for the novel coronavirus once, 15 twice and 20 thrice.
A total 38,266 people are being quarantined across the country./.
Government committee meets foreign religious practitioners in Vietnam
The Government Committee for Religious Affairs held a meeting with foreign religious practitioners on April 27 to inform about legal regulations on beliefs and religions, and the realisation of the right to freedom of belief or religion of foreigners legally residing in Vietnam.
The event was attended by officials of the Government committee, the Ministry of Home Affairs, relevant ministries and agencies, and localities’ committees for religious affairs, along with dignitaries representing 43 places and groups for concentrated religious practices of foreigners.
Vu Chien Thang, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Chairman of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, said Vietnam’s strong integration into the world has attracted a large number of foreign entrepreneurs and businesses. Many of foreigners working, studying, and living in the country have beliefs or religions, thus having the demand for religious practices.
He emphasised Vietnam’s policy of respecting and protecting all people’s right to freedom of belief or religion, noting that the 2013 Constitution recognised the right as one of the fundamental human rights while the Law on Belief and Religion, adopted by the National Assembly on November 18, 2016 and coming into force on January 1, 2018, detailed this right of all people, including foreigners legally residing in Vietnam.
In fact, foreigners legally residing in the country have had their right to freedom of belief or religion ensured in line with legal regulations, Thang went on.
Local authorities have created conditions for tens of foreigners’ places and groups to practice religions at legal sites in Vietnam. Meanwhile, foreign dignitaries are allowed to preach at places or groups of concentrated religious practices. Foreigners are also permitted to bring religious publications and items to serve their practices, according to the official.
He expressed his hope that the dignitaries and representatives of foreigners’ places and groups for religious practices will not only help introduce the land, people, and religious life in Vietnam, but also correctly present the country’s relevant policies and legal regulations to other foreigners.
At the meeting, participants learned about the basic contents of the Law on Belief and Religion, the rules on exit from and entry into Vietnam, and the provision of online public services related to belief and religion.
They also discussed issues relevant to the realisation of foreigners’ right to freedom of belief or religion to help build a healthy religious life in the country./.
Kien Giang readies medical infrastructure in face of COVID-19 risk
The Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang is working to establish a temporary hospital for COVID-19 treatment in its border city of Ha Tien amid complex developments of the coronavirus in neighbouring Cambodia and illegal border crossings.
Based at the centre for culture, information, and sports in My Duc ward, the hospital will be capable of handling about 300 patients with mild symptoms in the initial phase, according to Director of the Kien Giang Department of Health Ha Van Phuc.
He noted that if the number of Vietnamese people in Cambodia returning home via the Ha Tien International Border Gate keeps increasing, the province will add 200 beds to the temporary hospital.
Eleven rooms for COVID-19 patients in a critical condition will be set up at the Healthcare Centre of Ha Tien city, while the second storey of this centre will be able to provide treatment for 39 patients in fair condition.
After new infrastructure at the Kien Giang General Hospital opens in early May, the old facilities will serve as another temporary hospital if the COVID-19 situation becomes more complex, Phuc added.
On April 19, a quick response team from the Cho Ray Hospital in HCM City was sent to assist Kien Giang in its COVID-19 response.
Dr Tran Thanh Linh, deputy head of the resuscitation and emergency department at the Cho Ray Hospital, said local authorities have thoroughly prepared pandemic prevention and control plans, including the arrangement of treatment sites, as the border areas of Ha Tien city are facing a high risk of COVID-19 transmission.
As of the morning of April 27, Vietnam had recorded 2,852 cases of COVID-19, including 2,516 recoveries, while fatalities remain at 35, according to the Ministry of Health./.
Vietnam’s largest man-made crystal lagoon to be launched
Final touches are being put on the 6.1-hectare salt-water lagoon in Hanoi’s Vinhomes Ocean Park, which will be launched during the upcoming public holiday this weekend.
Constructed by US-based Crystal Lagoons, the project is holding a national record as Vietnam’s largest salt-water lagoon recognised by the Vietnam Record Association. It is also the sixth largest man-made crystalline lagoon in the world.
Dubbed as a jewel in the city, Vinhomes Ocean Park’s crystal lagoon offers its residents and visitors a unique and exciting beach life experience with beautiful turquoise waters surrounded by 35-metre-wide white sand beach.
The sand has been brought here from Nha Trang whose beach was listed in the top 50 most beautiful white sand beaches in the world.
Once operational, the lagoon is expected to help create a unique living space for Hanoians and realise the dream of enjoying beach life every day right in the hustle and bustle capital city.
Vietnamese people will enjoy four days off during the upcoming public holiday from April 30 to May 2 to celebrate the National Reunification Day (April 30) and May Day (May 1)./.
Da Nang starts legal proceeding against illegal entry organisers
Police in the central city of Da Nang have started legal proceedings and detained 14 suspects involving in a ring of brokering and organising illegal entry to Vietnam for Chinese people.
According to Major General Vu Xuan Vien, Director of the Da Nang Department of Public Security, the suspects reside in different northern localities such as Ninh Binh, Ha Nam, Hoa Binh, Hanoi and Hung Yen.
He highlighted the joint efforts of the police of Da Nang and other localities in raiding the ring, saying this is important amid the current COVID-19 situation.
In December 2020, the police of Da Nang discovered four illegal Chinese immigrants in a seven-seat car driven by Dinh Xuan Hien, a resident of Thai Binh province. Expanding investigation into the case, the police arrested additional 14 suspects.
The investigation results showed that from December 21-29, the ring managed to bring 49 Chinese people to Vietnam and then to Cambodia for 28-30 million VND for each person.
Meanwhile, authorities in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang, which shares sea border with Cambodia, are tightening control over illegal entry to Vietnam, especially during the upcoming April 30- May 1 holidays and the upcoming general elections as part of efforts to prevent COVID-19 pandemic to enter Vietnam.
Senior Lieutenant Colonel Doan Dinh Tranh, Vice Political Commissar of the provincial Border Guard High Command said that Kien Giang has set up 30 posts, eight mobile teams and 11 checkpoints in Phu Quoc Island to prevent COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 23-24, local forces discovered four illegal immigration cases with 23 illegal immigrants to Phu Quoc./.
16 teams progress to next round of Bamboo Airways National Cup 2021
A total of 16 teams have made it into the round of 16 of the Bamboo Airways National Cup 2021, which is scheduled to take place in July.
The results were announced following the conclusion of two final matches as part of the national cup’s qualifying round on April 25.
Phu Dong FC and Khanh Hoa FC became the final two football clubs to have their progress to the round of 16 confirmed after recording a 1-0 win over Hue FC and a 2-0 victory over Phu Tho FC, respectively.
The most notable match in the next round of the competition will be between Hoang Anh Gia Lai FC and SHB Da Nang FC, with both teams being placed in first and second positions in the current V.League 1 table.
Hanoi FC, the current National Cup champions, are exempt from competing in the qualifying round, therefore they will face Pho Hien FC in their first match in the following round.
As V.League 1 champions of the 2020 season, Viettel FC will play Hai Phong FC in their first match of the competition.
The tournament’s next round is set to get underway in July, with the winner being granted a sum of VND1 billion, equivalent to US$43,000, in prize money, whilst also earning a place in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup 2022.
The first and second runners-up will be given VND500 million, equal to US$21,500, and VND200 million, equivalent to US$8,600, respectively.
Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes
The red flags will be out in force for the long weekend coming at the end of April. It’s going to be busy with people on the move to hometowns to celebrate two holidays this weekend.
April 30 marks the end of the American war in Vietnam, as Westerners sometimes call it.
The date is known among Vietnamese as Reunification Day – one of the final moments in the process of north and south becoming reunified.
The names surrounding April 30 can be confusing. It is sometimes also called ‘Victory Day’ or ‘Liberation Day,’ depending on whether it is used in an official title or as locals prefer to name it.
Foreigners sometimes confuse the occasion with ‘National Day’ or ‘Independence Day,’ which occurs on September 2 and celebrates Vietnamese independence declared by President Ho Chi Minh on September 2, 1945 following the end of the Japanese occupation of Vietnam.
Got all that?!
It’s handy to remember if you’re trying to impress people in a pub with your knowledge of the local history!
The long holiday weekend basically runs from April 30 until May 3 and if you haven’t made any travel bookings yet then you’re stuck! Trains will be full, already the two major airports in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are experiencing major crowding problems and buses will be full, too.
But probably the best way as usual with Vietnamese events is to stay close to home and just enjoy life where you are with family and friends. There’s no better demonstration of peace than that, hey?
Unlike Independence Day, which very official and serious, Reunification Day is a more celebratory occasion with the parades, festivals, and public festivities we’re familiar with prior to COVID-19. You could see the military parades but there’s also a very strong visual emphasis on Vietnam’s long history, its variety of ethnic groups, and the traditional songs and costumes of the nation.
Looking around a bit at the posters strung across the top of the roads will give you a good clue to local events associated with Liberation Day.
With both Reunification Day and May 1, or International Workers’ Day, coming back to back, this creates quite a long weekend for the population with many heading to the beaches, taking rural holidays or just sleeping over it! I like the upbeat mood at this time and for sure, anyone who has the opportunity and money will do their best to enjoy it after so much stress during our ongoing COVID-19 situation in Vietnam. It’s the perfect time to travel anyway before the sweltering heat of high summer hits. I do feel, having lived here for fourteen years, that it’s just getting hotter every year so it’s best to get your suntan early.
For Hoi An and Da Nang, it should be a very revitalizing time for the tourism industry with lots of bookings from the local area as well as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. While wearing masks and social distancing are still recommended, I doubt it will feel over-bearing for most visitors.
I guess you could also celebrate Vietnam’s continuing success at keeping the coronavirus at bay and managing to still grow the economy in the middle of so much financial pressure on both the general public and the nation’s purse strings. I’ll ‘mot, hai, ba, yo!’ (one, two, three, drink!) to that!
Last year, I wrote about this day, commenting at the time on Vietnamese resilience during times of crisis and the ability of this country to work together on common goals without people going off in multiple directions on how to handle the resolutions of social problems. That this still holds true is unsurprising given what I have experienced of Vietnamese toughness, often with far less grumbling and complaining than in the Western world. Solidarity, albeit a dirty word in Western culture, is sorely needed worldwide and at least Vietnam is showing a good example of that.
Vietnam’s future, in spite of the health crisis escalating around the world, looks pretty rosy at the moment to my eye. We all know that millions have lost jobs and businesses and it will be some time before life gets back to anything near normal. However, it’s growing economically faster than most of the developed world. Industry is picking up customers again and it’s rapidly attracting foreign investment and manufacturing to shift here as world supply chains reposition themselves against the economic fallout from the virus.
I think Liberation Day will feel much more special this year since the nation celebrates this achievement after such a rough time last year. So there’s a lot to be thankful for if you’re Vietnamese. And if you’re not Vietnamese? You’re still lucky to be living here than anywhere else!
|Vaccine passport remains a difficult project (source: freepik.com)|
After the expanded vaccination programme was first implemented in early March, the Prime Minister assigned relevant ministries to research and reopen international routes and prepare a plan to deploy vaccine passports based on the proposal of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MoCST).
Hopes for vaccination
Over the past month, Vietnamese tourism businesses have still been looking forward to new moves of the authorities, while many countries around the world such as Thailand, Japan, China, and countries in Europe have already approved plans to issue vaccine passports.
According to Chung Sye-kyun, South Korean Prime Minister, the vaccine passport will be provided through an application on a smartphone. While waiting for the parliament to approve the proposal to apply the model solution in the plenary session in June, a number of member countries of the European Union have also begun issuing certificates of COVID-19 vaccination.
Vietnam also plans to use the vaccine passport and develop QR code management software. However, the deployment of vaccine passports in Vietnam will be done step by step, balancing benefits and risks.
Dr. Dang Quang Tan, director of the General Department of Preventive Medicine, said that there are many vaccines circulating in the world and many countries use different COVID vaccines such as from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna, each with different protection.
However, there is no consensus of common standards at the international level to improve the effectiveness of vaccine passports. The question is which vaccines Vietnam will accept, and what other countries will do.
Currently, the EU has proposed to accept only vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), but due to a lack of supply, some member countries have found themselves buying vaccines from Russia and China. Meanwhile, the Chinese vaccine passport only allows foreigners to enter if they get a Chinese vaccine.
“Currently, the vaccination rate in Vietnam has not met the requirements due to the shortage of vaccines and many other reasons. Therefore, the community immunity of the Vietnamese people is exceptionally low. Deploying the vaccine passport but not strictly managing people’s vaccination can spread the virus into the community, and the risk would be uncontrollable,” said Tan.
The Ministry of Health is considering a plan to deploy vaccine passports for three target groups. In the first are Vietnamese people stuck abroad, who are vaccinated and return to their home country. The second group consists of foreigners entering Vietnam to invest and do business. The third group is made up of international tourists from disease-controlled countries, which have deployed vaccines to achieve community immunity.
Although vaccine tourism is expected to be put into operation soon, many tourism businesses also know that these certificates need a tight roadmap to ensure the pandemic prevention measures are followed and the domestic tourism market kept safe. Nguyen Quoc Ky, chairman of Vietravel Holdings, said that providing enough vaccines cannot guarantee that the pandemic will not spread to the community.
The tourism industry needs to build a corridor including all attractions, areas, hotels, and resorts, which are accredited and recognised by the health and tourism agencies. Visitors on entry can only travel within such corridor to minimise any risks.
Regarding the selection of localities to pilot the welcome return of international tourists, according to Ky, there is no need for choosing separate places. Instead, those with airports, tourist facilities and services, and enough healthcare coverage should be chosen, according to Ky.
Thus, Vietnam is currently studying experiences from countries to come up with experimental models in areas such as golf courses or small tourist resorts.
Tran Trong Kien, chairman of the Tourism Advisory Board, said that in the early stages of the pilot’s implementation, Vietnam’s tourism should only welcome visitors on a narrow scale and at appropriate locations such as southern Hoi An in Quang Nam, which owns large coastal tourist resorts that are isolated and far from residential areas, while offering a full set of resort services and independent entertainment areas.
The number of existing rooms in southern Hoi An can accommodate groups from more than 1,000-2,000 guests. If the pilot is successful, by the end of the year, at the tourism peak season, Vietnam could experiment in a wider area such as on islands. Quang Nam was selected by the MoCST to welcome international visitors from July to September this year, focusing on sea resort products and golf tourism for visitors from South Korea, who could stay at Hoiana Complex Resort in Duy Xuyen district and Tui Blue Nam Hoi An in Nui Thanh district for a stay of 5-10 days.
Le Tri Thanh, chairman of Quang Nam People’s Committee said, “Quang Nam has registered for the first pilot phase while learning from experience to move to the second phase with the participation of more tourist resorts and expanding to other international markets.”
Danang’s tourism industry has also prepared plans to welcome international visitors with vaccine passports by choosing suitable destinations and selecting 10 businesses with organisational capacity and economic potential to serve foreign visitors. Meanwhile, Phu Yen has also proposed and built a programme to welcome isolated foreign delegations who can travel the provine to stimulate tourism demand.
Like many other countries, Vietnam is also facing challenges from the demand to reopen and revive the tourism industry, while at the same time, continuing to prevent pandemic from spreading and avoiding any imported viruses from outside.
By Luu Y
The Standing Committee of the National Assembly (NA) has agreed to extract VND12 trillion ($520.44 million) from an amount of VND64.76 trillion, which Vietnam has saved from last year’s spending, to buy vaccines.
The NA’s Finance and Budget Committee said it is necessary to serve an urgent issue, and complies with State Budget Law.
Besides, the government has also asked for the NA’s approval to use a sum of VND1.237 trillion left from a pandemic prevention fund for 2020 of the Ministry of Health to buy vaccines.
The Finance and Budget Committee said the government proposal is reasonable given the complicated, unpredictable development of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, since the State Budget Law does not allow such a sum to be transferred from one year to the next, a final decision would be taken at the coming NA meeting in July.
Vietnam has secured a deal to have Vietnam Vaccine JSC (VNVC) buy 30 million doses from British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca. Of these, 117,600 doses have been delivered.
Through the Global Covid-19 Vaccine Facility (Covax), Vietnam will be provided 38.9 million doses of the vaccine.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said Tuesday authorities need to ensure greater access to Covid-19 vaccines through international collaboration.
The Health Ministry last month said local firms were in talks with companies in the U.S. and India for diversification of vaccine sources as Vietnam seeks to obtain a total 150 million doses this year to immunize 70 percent of its population.
The nation is also developing four Covid-19 vaccines in various stages of testing.
Besides frontline medical workers, medical staff, the military, and police, Vietnam’s priority list for Covid-19 vaccination includes teachers, diplomatic personnel, customs and immigration officers, those working in essential services like transport, people aged 65 and above, the poor, and those with chronic diseases.
People seeking to study or work abroad or living in pandemic-hit areas are also on the list.
The ministry has reported the nation now has 19.4 million people in priority groups, with Ho Chi Minh City accounting for the most at 1.56 million.
Demand for the free vaccine among priority groups, however, could be lower than expected because some are reluctant to receive it following global reports of side effects, the ministry noted.