Citizens still unfamiliar with online public services
Online public services are meant to help reduce direct contact between citizens and State employees to prevent corrupt practices, yet few people are using such services.
HCMC last year deployed 300 online public services in 24 districts. However, statistics published by the Department of Information and Communications at a meeting on March 15 reveal citizens still keep this group of services at arm’s length.
For labor procedures, the rate of online performance was a mere 1%. The situation was the same with economic, land, construction, civil status and food safety groups, with only 1-2% of public services performed online.
However, while online public services in districts are still largely unknown to people, the performance at certain municipal departments fares much better.
For instance, the percentage was 73% at the Department of Education and Training, 68% at the Department of Industry and Trade and 59% at the Department of Transport.
On the contrary, the Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Welfare and the Department of Planning and Architecture both recorded a zero rate of online application processing.
A number of reasons for the limited use of online public services were identified by some districts and departments at the meeting on March 15, such as the lack of finance, and troubles with the regulations of relevant ministries.
Talking to the press at the meeting, HCMC vice chairman Tran Vinh Tuyen said the city must accelerate the provision of online public services as a basic solution to building a government serving the people, and lessen harassment and trouble for people and the business community.
He admitted the dissemination of information about online public services to people and businesses in the city had remained poor.
Therefore, Tuyen asked districts to set up a consultancy team in each of 332 communes and wards across the city to make people familiar with online public services. In addition, districts need to provide training for enterprises to get used to such services (at least two sessions between now and the end of 2017).
In line with that, the Department of Home Affairs will send the municipal government a petition for the HCMC People’s Council to consider lowering or even removing the charges on online public services to encourage access to these services.
In immediate future, Tuyen requested the Department of Information and Communications to provide municipal departments with digital signatures this April to oblige inter-departmental units and districts to terminate the use of printed matter.
Also in April, the Department of Planning and Architecture together with districts must disclose all the plans of scale 1/2000 online, including population targets, as a source of reference for citizens and businesses.
Envy Club to launch ‘’Rewind the 80s’’ series
The Envy Club in downtown HCMC will hold a “Rewind the 80s” party every Wednesday.
Guests to the ‘’Rewind the 80s’’party can listen to favorite classic jams of the 1980s like Daddy Cool, Cherish, Billie Jean, I love rock and roll, and Cherry Cherry Lady.
The club will treat party goers with performances of some fabulous performers who impersonate the legendary icons of the 80s such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Bon Jovi, and Wham.
Envy Club is open from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. from Monday to Saturday at 74 - 76 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1, HCMC. For bookings, call 08 3913 8168, website: www.envyclub.asia.
Vietnamese, Cambodian young military officers strengthen ties
An exchange was held on March 16 in the southern province of Tay Ninh between young officers from Tay Ninh’s Military High Command and the Military Sub-region 4 under the Cambodian Royal Army, which covers four border provinces of TbongKhmum, SvayRieng, Prey Veng and Otdomenchay.
The event aimed to foster and promote the long-standing traditional solidarity and friendship between the two armies and countries, while raising awareness of the ties to strengthen cooperation in crushing all schemes to harm the nations’ solidarity, creating a peaceful and stable environment for the bilateral ties’ growth.
Addressing the event, Lieutenant General Pham Van Dy, Political Commissar of the Military Zone 7, said that throughout their history, Vietnam and Cambodia have shared close relations and walked hand in hand in the fight against invaders to regain independence and freedom.
Together, the two sides also fought the Pol Pot genocidal regime for the happiness of people and peace in each country as well as in the region and the world, he noted.
In recent years, their comprehensive cooperation has been promoted in an effective way, he said, citing the Military Zone 7 has set up twin relations with theMilitary Zones 2 and 4 as well as the Infantry High Command of the Cambodia Royal Army, while the armed forces of Tay Ninh and Cambodia’s Military Sub-region 4 have also enjoyed sound partnership.
Meanwhile, Chuong So Van Tha, Commander of the Cambodian Royal Army’s Military Zone 2, said that without the support of Vietnamese soldiers in the fight against Pol Pot, there is no Cambodia today.
He called on Cambodian young military officers to be aware ofhostile forces’ plots as well as make every effort to promoting the traditional solidarity and friendship between the two armies, thus defeating all schemes to separate theneighbours.
Initially, the two sides should work together to complete land border demarcation and marker planting to prevent any future conflict, he added.
Honda Vietnam launches global standard driver training centre
Honda Vietnam Company (HVN) launched a driver training centre in Phuc Thang ward, Phuc Yen town, the northern province of Vinh Phuc on March 16.
Minoru Kato, HVN Director General, said covering over 30,000 sq. metres, the centre has a total investment of 3.3 million USD and is expected to train 12,000 people per year.
The facility is designed in accordance with the standards of global Honda with various types of challenging terrain to improve safe driving skills.
It is also installed with a modern-testing system in line with the latest regulations of the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam on training A1, A2, B1, and B2 driving licences.
The centre is equipped with 75 motorbikes and 16 cars, and advanced training machines imported from Honda Japan, such as driving training machines, speeding measuring machines, airbag-testing machines, among others.
The training curricula is compiled using visual aids and consulted with advanced training materials of Honda driver training centres in Japan and Singapore with customisation in accordance with Vietnam’s situation.
HVN also develops a teaching team who has been trained directly by experts from Japan and Singapore.
Over the past 20 years, HVN has continuously been proactive in promoting safe driving and training in Vietnam, the director said, hoping that the facility will contribute to enhancing the awareness of safe driving among traffic participants in Vietnam.
Ministry discusses integrated health service, insurance payment system
The Ministry of Health discussed the implementation of a plan for IT application in the management of health services and insurance payment in 2017 with relevant state bodies during an online conference on March 16.
In his remarks at the event, Deputy Minister of Health Pham Le Tuan said following requests by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to accelerate public administration reforms and improve health service delivery, the ministry has partnered with the Vietnam Social Insurance Agency to install an integrated medical and health insurance database systems.
The effort is to make health insurance payment and assessment much easier and more efficient, Tuan noted.
Though medical information databases of hospitals have already been connected to the system of social insurance agencies, they have not been updated regularly, he said, stressing the importance to speed up the system connection and information updates.
The 2017 plan for IP applications in management of health service and insurance payment focuses on publishing legal documents on related matters, developing a financial mechanism for operation of the IT system, training staff and improve supervision works.
According to the plan, all medical establishments at provincial and national levels will have their database connected to health insurance information and assessment systems before June 30 while all district clinics will complete the work before August 31 this year.
Quang Nam works with Lao province to protect forest
The forest management department of the central province of Quang Nam signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation with its counterpart body in Laos’ Sekong province on March 16.
Quang Nam and Sekong share a 157km border line.
Under the MoU, the provinces will coordinate in managing and protecting forest resources in areas along their shared boundary in the 2017-2020 period.
The two sides will share information and experience in forest management and work together to deal with violations of regulations on forest management and protection.
They pledged to intensify the monitoring of the trade of forestry products and promote local residents’ engagement in forest protection.
The two provinces will maintain joint patrols of forests along the border and hold training for forest rangers to enhance their capacity.
Workshop seeks to expand forest resource monitoring system by tablets
A national workshop was held in Hanoi on March 16 to expand a monitoring system for forest resources by using tablets and Android apps.
This method is more cost-effective, time-saving, and easily used than the traditional one, said deputy head of the Vietnam Administration of Forestry under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Quoc Tri.
It has been carried out in 40 out of the 60 cities and provinces, and is scheduled to be applied across the country upon its completion by the end of March 2017, he added.
Rangers could detect deforestation activities, forest fires, and encroachment of forest land by using supporting equipment, including tablets.
Suzuki Kei, a consultant of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)’s Project for Sustainable Natural Resource Management (SNRM), said the tablet-used system could measure exactly the area of forest variability with the Global Positioning System (GPS) function, collect field evidence and minimize data losses and errors. The Forest Resource Monitoring System (FRMS) mobile software allows users to transfer the data such as satellite photos and maps into the tablets for usage.
A Record of Discussions on SNRM was signed in Hanoi in 2015 by the JICA, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and the five provincial People’s Committees of Dien Bien, Lai Chau, Son La, Hoa Binh, and Lam Dong.
It aims to develop, manage, and protect forests in a sustainable manner, thus reducing poverty, improving local livelihoods, and protecting the environment.
Hungary’s National Day marked in Ho Chi Minh City
The Consulate General of Hungary in Ho Chi Minh Ciy on March 16 held a celebration to mark the anniversary of the 1848-1849 revolution against the Habsburge Empire and the fight for freedom.
Congratulating Hungary on its national day, which falls on March 15, Le Thanh Liem, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, affirmed that Vietnam always remembers Hungarian people’s support during its struggle for national liberation as well as current socio-economic building.
Hungarian Consulate General’s resumption of its operation in early 2016 after 10 years of interruption is clear evidence for two countries’ sound relations, Liem said, adding that scholarship programmes as well as cultural exchanges have consolidated solidarity between Hungarians and HCM City people.
HCM City and Hungary’s Budapest capital inked an agreement to set up friendship and cooperation in 2015 and the two are making efforts to flesh out projects in the fields of healthcare, classical music and water supply and sewerage system management, contributing to developing sound relations between the two countries, Liem highlighted.
For his part, Hungarian Consul General Baloghdi Tobor underscored that traditional friendship between Vietnam and Hungary is a solid basis to diversify collaboration.
Speaking highly of the southern hub’s potential to become a regional trade centre, Tobor said that Hungarian enterprises want to cooperate with HCM City’s partners in water resources management, healthcare, transportation, agriculture, food safety and smart city construction projects.
Cooperation programmes between Hungary and HCM City have gained robust achievements in education, culture and tourism, which helps lift up relations between two countries.
In addition to a plan promoting in-depth training for the city’s doctors, more than 200 medical students are studying at renowned universities in Hungary.
The Hungarian music festival has become an annual cultural event in HCM City with stellar performances delivered by Hungarian music talents.
National Press Festival opens
The National Press Festival kicked off in Hanoi on March 17 to honour the Vietnamese press.
The event was jointly organised by the Commission for Popularisation and Education, the Vietnam Journalists Association, the Ministry of Information and Communication, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Ministry of Finance, and the Hanoi People’s Committee.
The event includes outstanding publications of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, a seminar on journalists’ ethics in the digital era, and an exhibition named “On every path of the country”.
The event will run until March 19 under the theme “Vietnamese press accompanies national renovation”.
Local leaders intimidated for putting brakes on sand exploitation
The chairman of the People’s Committee in the northern Vietnamese province of Quang Ninh has been the victim of threats since launching a campaign to end harmful sand exploitation in a local river.
Nguyen Tu Quynh, chairman of the provincial administration, has sent a letter notifying the prime minister that he and other officers had been threatened for ending a sand dredging project in the Cau River, an 83 kilometer long waterway snaking through Bac Ninh and Bac Giang Provinces.
Speaking with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on March 15, Chairman Quynh stated he had asked the Ministry of Public Security to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the investors behind the detrimental project.
According to the official, three sand exploitation projects along the waterway were approved in 2014 and executed by the Vietnam Inland Waterways Administration (VIWA).
Ha Luu Company, the contractor hired by VIWA to carry out one of the three, was found to be taking advantage of the project to illegally exploit sand, causing serious damage to local dams and riverbanks.
The damage was only exacerbated by local sand thieves also operating in the area, according to the official.
It cost the provincial People’s Committee about VND30 billion (US$1.3 million) to fix the environmental impacts of the project, resulting in the committee putting a ban on similar projects since 2015.
However, a dredging project reappeared in November 2016, with around 40 boats operating on a daily basis, sparking concern from the local public over its threats to the environment.
“Our probe revealed that the People’s Committee in Bac Giang Province approved the plan to be carried out until the end of 2017,” Bac Ninh provincial chairman stated.
Chairman Quynh confirmed to Tuoi Tre he himself had been threatened after trying to interfere with the project.
However, the official refused to reveal further details of the threats and intimidation experienced by him and other officers.
“We have informed the prime minster of the situation. As competent authorities are probing our case, we cannot provide further information regarding the threats,” he elaborated.
Aside from the investigation, the province’s leader has also requested the Ministry of Transport to conduct an evaluation on the river dredging project.
He quoted the suggestion of the Bac Ninh People’s Committee to cease the project due to its negative effects on the environment.
According to the chairman, the fact that the project developer and local sand thieves operate at the same time is creating a significant challenge for competent agencies to identify and prevent the criminals.
Speaking out on child sex abuse
Those who are silent on the sexual abuse of children support the crime, participants agreed at a workshop in Hà Nội on Tuesday.
The workshop’s theme, “Child Sexual Harassment: Staying silent or raising voice”, is a hot-button issue after a series of molestations were reported on social platforms recently.
None of the offenders have been punished, generating public outrage.
According to speakers at the workshop, the main blame lies with the judicial agencies, legal executive agencies, social organisations, media and families who fail to act. Such failure to respond to child sexual abuse creates irreparable psychological and health impact on victims and has long-term consequences for society.
Child pornography or pedophilia are clearly prohibited in Việt Nam’s Criminal Code, however, the punishment is light, said Lê Văn Luân, a lawyer who is consulting on a sexual abuse case in Hà Nội that has attracted recent public attention.
In other countries, those who let children see pornography might be brought to court. In Việt Nam, the Criminal Code has loopholes.
“Our legal process requires physical traces on a victim’s body. That is the reason why a lot of sexual harassment cases do not have enough evidence for prosecution and offenders have not been punished,” he said.
“Why does it [child sexual abuse prosecution] stop? Because of silence from all sectors. The silence of families, the silence of the community, the silence of authorised agencies and many other parties,” Dr Khuất Thu Hồng, director of the Institute for Social Development Studies, said.
The silence originates from Vietnamese culture: fear of talking about sex. In addition, legal systems are not strong enough. Legal executive officers seem to think that women should not go out at night or wear clothes that attract attention. Even children are blamed for not knowing how to protect themselves.
“We cannot solve this problem if this kind of victim blaming continues. How many people would dare to raise their voice to report such cases?”
Family psychological expert Hà Minh Loan said that if the people who dare to raise their voice are supported, the condemnation assumes greater force. Việt Nam has 15 State agencies in charge of child rights protection, but participants agreed that the nation must take advantage of these agencies and strongly collaborate with civil society organisations.
Refusing the right to have personal secrets protected and raising one’s voice about sexual abuse cases requires major courage from victims, said civil lawyer Nguyến Thế Truyền.
Primary school children must be equipped with enough information about sexual harassment to know how to protect themselves, he said.
He suggested that students from grade one to grade five be taught their personal rights to safety of life, health and body.
Wedding van crash: three dead, 14 injured
A wedding turned tragic as a van carrying the groom’s relatives crashed into a truck in Hà Nam Province on Thursday morning, leaving three dead and another 14 injured.
The 16-seater van was on its way to the bride’s home in Phủ Lý City when it collided head-on with a Hà Nội-bound truck delivering construction materials. The accident occurred at a five-way intersection about four kilometres away from Phủ Lý.
The front of the van was completely destroyed in the collision. Two passengers were killed on the spot while another was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
Two remain in critical condition.
Deputy Prime Minister Trương Hòa Bình on Thursday sent condolences to the families of the victims, asking Hà Nam authorities to pull out all the stops to save the injured.
Hà Nam provided support of VNĐ5 million (US$220) to the family of each of the deceased and critically injured, and VNĐ3 million to those undergoing treatment in hospital.
Couple sentenced for making fake imported liquor
The Hà Nội People’s Court on Wednesday sentenced a couple from Ba Vì District’s Cam Thượng Commune to jail for production of fake imported liquor.
Trần Thị Hoa, 38, and her husband Quách Ngân Giang, 38, were sentenced to 49 months and 24 months of imprisonment, respectively.
As per the verdict, Hoa and Giang rented a house in June 2015 to make fake liquor. Hoa would buy empty bottles and boxes of imported liquor such as Chivas 12, Chivas 18 and Chivas 21 from scrap dealers. She would also purchase locally made liquor from Laos at the rate of VNĐ300,000 (US$13) a bucket. Her husband would then wash and clean the empty bottles of imported liquor and fill the Laos alcohol in them. They would then relabel the bottles with the Chivas trademark.
Hoa would then sell the bottles to different shops claiming that she had received it as a gift but did not have any use for it.
In their confession, the couple told the police that making a fake bottle of liquor would cost them VNĐ120,000 ($5), and that they would sell each bottle for between VNĐ280,000 and VNĐ750,000 ($12 to $33).
Hoa was caught red-handed on September 3, 2015, while she was transporting 48 bottles of fake imported liquor.
German health project a proven success
The Vietnamese-German Health Programme, with the theme “Strengthening Provincial Health Systems” and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft for Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Government, held its final workshop in Hanoi on March 14.
The workshop gathered 200 attendees, including experts from GIZ, the Ministry of Health, Departments of Health (DoH), health practitioners, health managers at health facilities in provinces where the program was conducted, and representatives from international, bilateral, and non-governmental organizations.
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien acknowledged the successful ending of the health program, which was targeted at improving health service delivery in the provinces of Phu Yen, Thanh Hoa, Yen Bai, Nghe An and Thai Binh. The results of eight years of project activities in hospital management and quality improvements to health services at the provincial and district level were also presented.
Selected hospitals and other partners spoke of their program-supported activities, such as Continuous Medical Education, Telemedicine, Cervical Cancer Screening, and Hospital Hygiene.
“The project has achieved many results,” Associate Professor Dr. Tran Quy Tuong, National Program Director, said. “It has contributed to improved health management, medical care services, and preventive health in the provinces.”
The project’s success, he went on, demonstrates the effective cooperation between Vietnamese and German partners as well as the two governments. “This is one brick in building the friendship bridge between Vietnam and Germany,” he said.
The project supported Vietnamese partners for eight years and was commissioned and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
During implementation, from 2009 to 2017, the program aimed at strengthening the capacity of provincial DoHs and decentralized health facilities in cost-effective management and needs-based delivery of quality health services, with a major focus on preventive and curative services.
Since 2009, in cooperation with KfW Development Bank, GIZ has supported the implementation of Vietnam's strategy to improve access to high-quality health services. The program operates at several levels. It provides advisory services to provincial and district health authorities and 29 hospitals in needs-based, cost-effective planning and modern management methods.
In the course of the economic boom in Vietnam, the health sector has made impressive progress. However, there are still considerable differences between the regions of the country. Good national averages obscure deficits in rural regions, where it remains difficult to gain access to needs-driven, evidence-based health services of reliable quality, especially for disadvantaged sections of the population, such as ethnic minorities, women, and children.
In addition, demographic developments and changing lifestyles are placing an extra burden on the health system. Accidents, chronic illnesses, and cardio-vascular diseases are some of the most frequent causes of death today. Medical facilities in rural areas cannot adequately screen for diseases such as cancer and hepatitis B and there is an increasing need for modern diagnostic tools and treatments in general. This in turn poses enormous challenges for hospitals at the provincial and district level in particular.
Teaching of French developing in Southeast Asia: OIF regional director
The teaching of French is developing in Southeast Asia, according to Director for the Asia-Pacific of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) Eric-Normand Thibeault.
In a recent interview with Vietnam News Agency on the threshold of International Francophonie Day (March 20), he said the Francophone community gathers more than 80 States and governments around the world.
Since the OIF’s establishment in 1970, it has expanded to many countries such as Vietnam, Vanuatu, Laos, and Cambodia. The OIF is a diverse community in which member states and governments promote solidarity, peace, dialogue and linguistic diversity.
He noted that in recent years, thanks to efforts of the regional centre for education and training and the OIF’s French teaching system, many primary and high school students in Cambodia have been taught French. While the teaching of French is maintained in Vietnam and Laos, the number of French-language learners in Thailand is growing.
The OIF has been carrying out a four-year master plan since 2015, he said, elaborating that the plan consists of 16 programmes, including those supporting the French language teaching, the cultural industry, and efforts to fight climate change.
One thing that should be enhanced is young French-language teachers’ teaching methods by helping them use digital technology. They can practice self-learning and search for teaching resources on the internet, Thibeault said.
He lauded the TV programme “Espace fracophone” of the Le Courrier du Vietnam newspaper on Vietnam News Agency’s VNews channel. It has helped popularise the French language through digital communication.
French helps to bolster linguistic diversity, and the learning of languages plays an important role in education, he said, adding that French can be practiced through literature, blog or on social networks.
With the assistance of the OIF, Le Courrier du Vietnam successfully held the first Young Francophone Reporters contest in 2016, through which many young talents were discovered.
The OIF wants to continue working with the newspaper to hold this competition this year to honour the Francophone community, Thibeault said.
Methanol poisoning case to be prosecuted
Hà Nội investigative police has decided to prosecute a recent case of methanol poisoning that hospitalised 12 college students in the capital’s Cầu Giấy District.
The students, from Hà Nội Community College, were taken to the Poisoning Prevention Centre of Bạch Mai Hospital on Saturday after drinking alcohol of unclear origin at their rented residence on Yên Hoà Street.
Nine of the students were hospitalised, six having fallen into comas and were attached to breathing equipment and blood filtering machines. Two of the six students are reported in critical condition.
The students bought alcohol from house No 5B and 17 of Alley 259 on Yên Hoà Street, the investigation shows.
The alcohol seller was identified as Nguyễn Thị Hảo, who sells alcohol to several eateries in the city, charging VNĐ7,000-8,000 (US$0.3-0.4) per 500ml.
Hảo had been asked to assist police in Đống Đa District to help locate the origin of the alcohol.
Authorities took three samples of alcohol from the two alcohol stores, as well as 200ml of alcohol that the students consumed, for testing.
Some 70 litres of alcohol with unclear origin were confiscated by the People’s Committee of the district from eateries and restaurants in Yên Hoà Ward on the same day.
HN bus route changes reviewed
The Ministry of Transport has informed the Prime Minister that a more thorough review of all bus and coach routes in the capital city will be carried out to balance supply and demand.
In a report sent to the PM on Wednesday, the MoT said the review would help foster close links between major coach terminals in the city and streamline their operations.
The latest move follows dissatisfaction among coach operators over major changes in coach schedules ordered by the municipal Department of Transport since January.
The changes aimed at reducing traffic congestion.
In its report, the MoT has suggested that the PM asks the Hà Nội’s People’s Committee to direct local authorities to continue reviewing the city’s entire transport system so that the new routes are more effectively arranged.
It also mentions operations at the Nước Ngầm and Giáp Bát bus terminals in the south of the city will be reorganised to ensue fair and transparent competition among coaches operating on routes linking Hà Nội to the northern provinces of Hà Nam, Ninh Bình, Nam Định, Thanh Hóa and Thái Bình.
The ministry has asked Hà Nội to publicise all of its bus terminal plans, including a “significant clarification” of schedules for the Nước Ngầm terminal, and to provide adequate information on operations at the Gia Lâm bus terminal.
It said information on the construction, upgrade and operations of other coach stations including Cổ Bi, Giáp Bát and Yên Sở should be provided in time to drivers and operators so that they can adjust their investment and operation plans.
The ministry and the Hà Nội’s People’s Committee asked the city’s police and local transport authorities to carry out inspections and deal with the issue of illegal bus stops in the cities.
They also ordered stricter punishment for violators, including those refusing to follow the rerouting changes initiated by the Hà Nội Department of Transport.
Earlier, dozens of inter-provincial coach operators refused to take on passengers at the Mỹ Đình Terminal to protest against the route changes.
Hà Huy Quang, deputy director of the city’s Department of Transport, said recently that coach operators not following changes in the bus routes would be forced to halt operations for a month.
In December, the department had announced many changes in coach routes from Hà Nội to other localities.
The changes covered routes linking the city with the northern provinces of Thái Bình and Nam Định and the central provinces of Hà Tĩnh, Thanh Hoá and Nghệ An. For these routes, the departure point was moved from Mỹ Đình to the Nước Ngầm Bus Station, nearly 15km away.
Poor Vietnamese women lining the pockets of world’s richest men - Oxfam
Governments and businesses should look at ways to improve the quality and security of women's economic opportunities, ensuring their fair income, secure contracts and safe working conditions, advocacy group Oxfam has said in a report.
In a new report released on the International Women's Day - March 8, Oxfam focuses on the garment industry, where 80% of manufacturing workers are women while the sector's wages are set too low and labor rights infringements frequently occur.
In the report, entitled "An economy that works for women", Oxfam interviewed women in garment factories in Vietnam and Myanmar, who work 12 hours a day, sometimes 18 hours and through the night, six days a week. Still, they are not earning enough to sustain themselves and their families, the report said.
Tham, a worker at Tinh Loi factory in the northern province of Hai Duong which produces garments for global brands, earns less than US$1 an hour.
"My working hours and salary are unfair," she was quoted in the Oxfam report as saying. "The thing I find unfair is that with the same amount of work, my salary has decreased."
"We, as workers, cannot do anything to influence management. In case of urgent orders and difficulties the overtime and salary are decided by management," she said.
At the same time, the industry generates large profits for some of the richest people in the world, the report said.
It named Amancio Ortega, the world’s second richest man, who earns around US$1.16 billion from annual share dividends from the parent company of fashion chain Zara. Stefan Persson, a major shareholder in H&M and ranked 32 in the Forbes list of the world's richest people, received nearly US$700 million in share dividends last year, the report said.
Although not directly connected to the factory where Tham works, “this shows the stark inequality in the industry,” Oxfam said.
“We highly recommend governments and businesses to address the quality and security of women’s economic opportunities,” Babeth Ngoc Han Lefur, director of Oxfam in Vietnam, said in a statement.
She said women must be ensured fair income, secure contracts and safe working conditions.
Women’s voices should be better supported, and there should be policies to recognize, reduce and redistribute unpaid care work, Lefur added.
The report showed that women worldwide carry out between two and 10 times more unpaid care work than men. This work is worth US$10 trillion to the global economy each year, equivalent to more than an eighth of the world’s entire GDP, it said.
Can Tho gets serious about food safety
Monitoring of the import and trading of fresh foods without clear origins will be strengthened to keep them out and ensure food safety, a top Cần Thơ health official has said.
Speaking at a meeting on Wednesday, Nguyen Trung Nghia, deputy director of the city Department of Health, said a hotline has already been set up for the public to inform authorities about food safety violations.
“The Department of Health will strengthen checks of business establishments distributing health supplements, preservatives and additives to ensure safety of street foods and at canteens in industrial parks, schools, tourism areas, festivals and events.”
Besides, relevant agencies would improve oversight to prevent the use of salbutamol and antibiotics in breeding animals and producing and processing foods, he said.
The city will call on food producers to ensure the quality of their products is high and take proactive measures to minimise food poisoning.
The People’s Committee said there would also be frequent safety inspections of such establishments to prevent food poisoning.
The city hopes to reduce the number of food poisoning cases by 25 per cent this year.
It wants, by this year, all business establishments to get food safety certificates and all supermarkets and 55 per cent of markets to come under its food safety control.
It wants at least 30 per cent of food businesses to obtain international quality certification like GMP, HACCP, ISO9001 and ISO22000.
In January the chairwoman of the National Assembly’s Committee for Social Affairs, Nguyễn Thúy Anh, led a committee delegation that appraised the city’s implementation of food safety policies and laws.