Social News 10/6

USAID facilitates green growth in building sector

A US-funded programme is providing significant help in implementing an action plan for green growth in the building sector by laying the ground for substantial energy and Green House Gas (GHG) reductions.

It has imparted, through training courses, relevant technical knowledge and skills to thousands of professionals and other stakeholders.

Details of the programme were highlighted and discussed a at a workshop jointly held by the Ministry of Construction and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Hà Nội yesterday.

Speaking at the event, Lê Trung Thành, Director of the Department of Science Technology and Environment under the Construction Ministry, stressed the side-effects of economic development: pollution, resource exhaustion, and energy crisis. 

He noted that Việt Nam was among countries suffering the most from climate change impacts like rising sea levels, drought and floods. This had prompted the government to prepare a national action plan for green growth from 2014-2020. 

With support from the USAID’s “Việt Nam Clean Energy Programme: Energy Efficiency Promotion”, the ministry has formulated the action plan for the building sector by 2020 with a vision to 2030. 
”The programme offers building owners free technical support to provide building energy simulations that can help them achieve substantial energy and Green House Gas (GHG) reductions for their newly-designed and retrofitted building demonstration projects,” the USAID said. 

It also offers training in integrated design, building energy simulation and incorporation of energy code requirements into construction processes.

Furthermore, it provides urban managers and leaders with expertise from American green building and sustainable urban energy development experts. 

USAID Việt Nam Director Michael Greene said Việt Nam was among countries with the fastest rate of urbanisation, which leads to significant increases in GHG. Energy consumption may triple between 2010 and 2020, he said 

He underlined the necessity to integrate the Việt Nam Energy Efficiency Building Code (VEEBC) into the building sector’s action plan for green growth. 

So far, some 3,000 architects, engineers, project managers, government officials and practitioners from 40 provinces have benefited from the programme’s training courses, receiving technical knowledge and skills to effectively enforce and implement the VEEBC.

The programme has also surveyed 280 buildings to develop a national database on building energy performance. 

Experts fear unchanged monopoly as Vietnam’s sole power utility announces restructure

A state-run company that monopolizes the control of power in Vietnam is set to undergo a restructure which it says will help the electricity market become more competitive, even though experts believe the otherwise.

From now until 2020, Vietnam Electricity (EVN), the country’s sole power utility, will divest, partially and completely, from some companies, while retaining its full holding in several crucial subsidiaries, according to a plan approved by the government last week.

As part of the restructuring process, the parent firm EVN will remain 100 percent owned by the government.

EVN itself will continue to keep its 100 percent stake in the National Power Transmission Corporation, the National Load Dispatch Center and five other power corporations.

The five companies are the regional EVN subsidiaries for northern, central and southern Vietnam, and for Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

EVN is set to retain a stake of more than 50% in two power construction companies, and at least 51% in three power generation firms, namely the Power Generation Corporations 1, 2 and 3.

Finally, the state-owned conglomerate will divest its entire stake in seven other companies.

Once the restructuring is complete, EVN will be a company specializing in “generating, transmitting, distributing and trading electricity.”

This does not represent a significant change as the state-run company is currently in charge of the complete power market, from generation and transmission to retail.

Experts have expressed concern that even when the restructure is effective as planned, the private sector still has little chance to join the market, helping to offer power with more competitive prices to local consumers.

With EVN remaining the sole power utility, Vietnamese consumers have no choice of where to source electricity for their households and companies, and must accept whatever prices are set by the existing power monopoly.

Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper has brought its concerns to EVN deputy general director Dinh Quang Tri, and was told that experts and members of the public might have misunderstood the plan.

Tri explained that the entities that EVN will retain a 100 percent stake in are all crucial to national energy security and cannot be opened up to private investors.

“The National Power Transmission Corporation is the operator of the national grid, from the 220kV to 550kV systems, which is the backbone of any country’s electricity system,” Tri told Tuoi Tre.

“It plays a crucial role in Vietnam’s eco-social security and therefore has to be owned by the state.”

As for the region-level transmission companies in the three major regions and Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Tri said the government should “exclusively own these firms by default” as “we do not need a private investor to jump in and develop a similar transmission system, which is costly and unnecessary.”

The EVN deputy chief said the market will become more competitive when the state-run company starts selling its stake in the Power Generation Corporations 1, 2 and 3, which are responsible for the generating and retailing sectors.

“These are the most vital sectors of the electricity market,” Tri said.

There are now several power generators in Vietnam, but all of them have to sell electricity to only one buyer, EVN, which then distributes electricity to consumers via the five regional units.

Addressing concerns that as the only buyer, EVN has the power to press generators to sell at low prices, Tri said the prices will be “negotiated with the ultimate goal that consumer rights are protected.”

As for criticism that the restructure opens limited opportunity for the private sector to enter the power market, Tri said private companies can take part through the BT (build – transfer) scheme.

“Private companies can build facilities for power transmission and transfer to EVN subsidiaries,” he said.

HCM City police to tighten security in preparation for APEC meetings

Police in Ho Chi Minh City are set to step up security and order in the metropolis ahead of the upcoming meeting sessions of the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

Colonel Nguyen Sy Quang, chief of staff and spokesperson of the municipal Department of Police, announced on June 17 that officers will enhance the monitoring of security situations in the southern hub from June 16 to August 15 in preparation for the third APEC Senior Officials Meeting (SOM 3).

Patrols will be carried out across the city every day from 9:00 pm to the following morning.

The law enforcers will also coordinate with relevant agencies to ensure order and security during the event.

Established in 1989, APEC is a regional economic forum comprised of 21 member states, including Australia, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam among others.

The forum is aimed at creating prosperity in the region by promoting accelerated regional economic integration alongside balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative, and secure growth.

Vietnam joined the forum in 1998 and successfully chaired APEC 2006. The Southeast Asian country is scheduled to host the 2017 gathering in the central city of Da Nang in November.

The first APEC Senior Officials Meeting (SOM 1) was organized in Nha Trang, a famous beach city located in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa, on March 2, with the attendance of delegates from 21 member economies.

The SOM 2 took place in Hanoi on May 18 with several significant results.

The SOM 3 is expected to be held in Ho Chi Minh in late August, while the Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting (SMEMM), within the framework of this year’s APEC, will be organized in the city in mid-September.

Congestion dogs major port in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City authorities are struggling to deal with severe congestion inside and outside a highly hectic port considered among the busiest in Vietnam.

Located in District 2, the bustling Cat Lai Port receives more than half the waterway freight in Vietnam, creating enormous pressure on its capacity as well as the traffic infrastructure in the surrounding area.

Congestion lasting hours can occur anytime during the day along Nguyen Thi Dinh, Vo Chi Cong, Dong Van Cong, and Mai Chi Tho Streets, which has become a nightmare for local residents, truck drivers, and businesses.

According to the observation of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters on Saturday morning, long lines of trucks were traveling at a snail’s pace on theses streets toward Cat Lai Port.

Traffic police had to direct the vehicles for a detour in order to relieve the gridlock.   

On Vo Chi Cong Street, hundreds of tractor trailers could not move a single centimeter, while some of the drivers even left their trucks to buy some drinks.

According to Nguyen Cong Danh, a driver from Tan Binh District, traffic bottlenecks are common in the area day and night.

Traffic tends to become most congested between 6:00 am and 10:00 am, 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm, and 2:00 am and 4:00 am, Danh elaborated.

Congestion is most serious Wednesday to Friday, he said, adding that damaged roads also exacerbate the problem.

The most recent severe traffic jam was recorded on June 7 as it lingered for six hours, negatively impacting commuters and businesses.

According to Tran Quang Lam, deputy director of the municipal Department of Transport, several reasons can be attributed to the regular congestion.

Some trucks often stop at the sides of the roads to load and unload their goods instead of entering the port, obstructing other vehicles, Lam said, adding that many drivers do not follow traffic lights.

Roadworks at the intersection of Nguyen Thi Dinh with Vo Chi Cong Streets have taken up some space of the roads, while there are not enough personnel to regulate the traffic in the area, he continued.

Another official from the city’s transport department considered traffic jams an inevitability as around 20,000 trucks travel to and from the port on a daily basis.

Sluggish admission procedures at the entrance of the facility are also to blame for the snail-paced traffic, the official added.

Several measures to rectify the situation have been suggested during a recent meeting, said Deputy Director Lam.

Developers of roadworks in the area will be requested to expedite the construction as well as mobilize additional employees to control traffic flow during the execution of their projects.

Procedures at the entrance to Cat Lai Port will be simplified and streamlined, while managers of the facility should inform truck drivers of the specific times to pick up their shipments instead of having them come early and wait at the venue, creating further overloading.

The construction of a new street has been proposed to connect the port with Vo Chi Cong Street to ease pressure on Nguyen Thi Dinh and Dong Van Cong Streets.

The transport department will also expedite the implementation of road projects in nearby areas to help deal with the issue.

A total of 11 projects have been initiated and proposed to tackle the congestion, with the combined capital estimated at tens of trillions of dong (VND10 trillion = US$439.9 million).  

Floods worldwide could double due to climate change

Experts say that rising temperatures will drive up global sea levels and the number of floods could double by 2050 submerging coastal cities and countries.

A recent study in a scientific journal said rising sea levels driven by global warming are on track to dramatically boost the frequency of coastal flooding worldwide by mid-century, especially in tropical regions. 

Scientists found that large cities along the North American seaboard like Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles and along Europe’s Atlantic coast, will be highly exposed.

People living in the densely populated river deltas of Asia and Africa will be threatened by twice as many occurrences of serious flooding. 

Even at the low end of this sea rise spectrum, Mumbai, Kochi, Abidjan and many other cities would be significantly affected.

Lead author of the study Sean Vitousek, a climate scientist at the University of Illinois in Chicago, said an increase in flooding frequency with climate change will challenge the very existence and sustainability of coastal communities and cities around the globe. 

Coastal flooding is caused by severe storms, and is made worse when large waves, storm surge, and high tides converge.

Hurricane Sandy in the United States in 2012, which caused tens of billions of dollars in damage, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013, which left more than 7,000 dead or missing, both involved devastating flooding.

If oceans rise just 25 centimeters by midcentury, floods will be a major challenge to tropical countries.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts sea levels will rise globally as much as 2.5 meters by 2100.

Global average temperatures have increased 1 degree Celsius since the mid-19th century, with most of that increase coming in the last 70 years.

Student's auction their drawings to raise money for needy

About 20 Hanoi youth are helping to raise money for the medical needs of disadvantaged children by auctioning off their drawings today (June 17) at the Hanoi Children Palace located at 36 Ly Thai To Street.

At the annual contest sponsored by the Kim Dong Publishing House, the colourful drawings of the students themed around the concept of fairy tales will feature at a silent auction.

Proceeds from the auction will help fund medical reconstructive surgeries, said representatives of Kim Dong. This year they are hopeful of surpassing the record high US$2,600 (nearly VND60 million) they raised last year from the project.

Customs officials find 12 kilos of pot disguised as dried fruit

At first glance, packages of dried fruit and candy looked like a normal shipment coming through customs at the Tan Son Nhat Airport. But instead the phony confectionary was packed full of marijuana.

Vietnam customs officers in Ho Chi Minh City, seized a total of 12 kilos of weed in the shipment that arrived today (June 16) masquerading as gifts, the Vietnam News Agency reported.

The crates hauling the confectionary originated from a yet undisclosed airport in the US.

Customs officials are keeping tight-lipped about the shipment. However, what is known is that this is not an isolated incident, said VNA.  Much larger shipments have been intercepted coming from the US over the past two months.

This is an outstanding interception of narcotics, said customs officials, noting that officers at the Tan Son Nhat Airport continue to excel in their knowledge of smuggling techniques, which allows them to stop these kinds of attempts to introduce narcotics into Vietnam.

Enjoy the beauty of music with Sofar Sounds

Sofar Sounds is a global network of artists, hosts, and guests who enjoy the pure beauty of live music.

It began in London and has now reached almost 300 cities worldwide, with around 500 opportunities every month for artists to play their original music in cozy and unique spaces such as one’s home, offices, or even rooftops. 

The network has spread to Hanoi with 4 shows so far, attracting both foreigners and young Vietnamese.

In a 30 square meter studio in Tong Duy Tan Street, about 30 people are waiting for the start of Sofar Sounds’ 4th gig. 

The quiet atmosphere cannot hide their excitement and curiosity, as they do not know who is going to perform tonight. That is one of Sofar Sounds’ special traditions, in order for the artists to earn equal respect, whether they are well known or not. 

Many of Sofar venues are people’s homes so, to ensure the privacy of the hosts, their locations are kept secret to everyone but the guests, and are only revealed one day before the show. 

Today’s venue is VUI studio, an open cafe dedicated to showcasing contemporary aesthetics and craftsmanship. 

Van Diem, manager of the studio, said, “VUI Studio aims to support music, art and creative communities to popularize their activities. SoFar Sounds is suitable for our purpose so it’s a very good collaboration.”

The show begins at 8.45 pm with 2 artists, Bui Minh Quan and Kaang, good friends who have performed together in the past. 

Neither of them have received professional vocal training, as Quan was educated to be a teacher, and Kaang is a charming and skillful dancer. 

However, their passion for music and singing led them to singing competitions, big stages, recording studios, and then a gig at Sofar Sounds. 

No pressure, no distance between singers and the audience, Quan and Kaang freely talk with music lovers and sing original songs, which they have never performed before. 

With songs like “Something”, “Silence”, and “New day”, Quan and Kaang lead the audience through stories of life via young people’s perspective. 

Quan said, “Previously I didn’t  think I would show my songs to many people like this. But now I think sharing is important. So I have something to share and I just find the time and moment to share it, and Sofar is it.

I’ve watched a lot of Sofar clips all over the world, and when it came to Vietnam, I was so excited. People came here without knowing I would be there, and they saw me without knowing I would sing my original songs. I would never know that it would be so exciting to perform my songs. I did feel the moment and I felt free to express myself.”

Kaang seems to get close to the audience quickly, and even has the audience sing in the background for her in one of her favorite original tunes: “Alone”. “This is a very new program in Vietnam and a new experience to me and Quan as well, as we are among the first artists invited to perform. 

It feels like inviting friends to our home and singing to them, very close and cozy and the emotions are real. The artists and audience are easy to communicate as well”, she said. 

For the next 1 hour and a half, there is only music and clapping going on in the studio, as to Sofar, music always comes first. 

My Linh, team leader of Sofar Hanoi said, “What makes Sofar special is that everyone is related. We don’t allow mobile phones and talking at our show so that artists and the audience are connected with music. With this connection, people will have the best experience.”

Every episode of Sofar attracts many foreigners, who have been to Sofar gigs in their countries, or have heard about the network. Colette Abear from Australia hasn’t had a chance to go to a Sofar gig in her country, and is excited about her experience in Hanoi.

He said, “That was lovely, really nice. I love the cozy atmosphere, great music, really enjoyed it. I feel calm and peaceful. I don’t know what the songs were meaning but because of the way the music was written, I really liked it. I think music is one of those things that transcend language. So for me, I really enjoyed the music, obviously for the music rather than with the language.”

Also coming for the first time, Thanh Tung from Hanoi finds the gig quite different from other live music sessions that he has been to.

He said, “I often listen to music on souncloud and I see some people sharing information about Sofar, so I decided to come check it out. I really like it and feel like it is worth my time. The atmosphere is very peaceful and makes it easier for me to go with the flow of music.”

In some cities in the UK and US, shows are ticketed and Sofar staffs are paid. In Hanoi, the money collected is hardly sufficient to cover the costs. 

There’s a tradition called “Pass a hat” after each show, so that the audience can donate some money upon their will, for the team to continue organizing next gigs. Hosts, artists, and audience can apply on for an “all-about-music” experience.

Friendship tennis tournament connects OVs in Ukraine

The Vietnamese embassy and Overseas Vietnamese Association in Ukraine have held a ceremony to establish the Tennis Association for the OVs community in Ukraine and open the Friendship Tennis Tournament 2017.

It was attended by Vietnamese ambassador to Ukraine Nguyen Minh Tri, the embassy’s staff and representatives from the OVs association in Kiev, Kharkov and Odessa cities and 50 OV tennis players.  

Ambassador Tri emphasized that these events have contributed to tightening friendship, discovering tennis talents, and strengthening exchanges between Vietnamese players in Ukraine, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the whole of Europe.

Truck driver killed in crash with passenger bus in Nha Trang

Local police officials reported that a truck driver was killed when a passenger bus struck his and another vehicle yesterday (June 19) on National Highway 1 in the southern Vietnam coastal resort city of Nha Trang.

The victim was identified as a local male, 35, who police said was killed instantly when his truck was rear ended by the bus and forced off the highway into a 10-metre ravine at approximately 10am in the morning.

A second truck driver rear ended by the same bus was injured in the melee and was taken to a local hospital. There are no reports of serious injuries sustained by any passengers on the bus.

It's a very sad day for the family members of the truck driver who lost his life, said police officials, who noted that they will continue to investigate the cause of the fatal crash. 

Civil service jobs open to non-HCM City residents

People who are not residents of Ho Chi Minh City can now apply for civil service jobs.

Chairman of the city’s People’s Committee, Nguyen Thanh Phong, officially announced that the criterion requiring household registration in the city for civil service applicants has been abolished.

Le Hoai Trung, deputy director of the city’s Home Affairs said the move was expected to ensure fairness for all applicants, the Tuoi tre (Youth) online newspaper reported.

At present, almost all local State agencies only recruit candidates with household registration in the city. Trung said the city is in need of 500 civil servants this year.

He added that the Ministry of Home Affairs requires successful applicants to be qualified in both written tests and interviews, instead of only written tests as before. Thus, the city will apply the model to recruit civil servants this year, he said.

Huynh Thuc Phuong, a third-year student of the Foreign Trade University in HCM City, said the move was appreciated. “No one can choose where to be born, and using the criterion of household registration for employment creates a disadvantage for applicants living in other localities who want to work for State agencies in this city,” she said.

Do Thi Ngoc Linh, a fourth-year student of HCM City University of Physical Education and Sports, said the decision opens up opportunities for migrants like her to get a Government job.

Nguyen Quang Hieu, a fourth-year student of the Vietnam National University in HCM City, said removing the residence criterion means local students will have to compete more fiercely to get a Government job.

Unlike HCM City, many localities in the country do not require household registration as a recruitment criterion for Government jobs, including Can Tho and Da Nang.

Vietnam, U.S. universities team up to train hospitability workforce

The HCMC-based University of Foreign Trade and the Imperial International Hotel School under the management of Imperial Group last Thursday clinched a strategic partnership with New York-based Niagara University over a hospitality training program.

At the signing ceremony at the Reunification Palace in HCMC’s District 1, representatives of the three parties announced the enrollment for the first two programs, including a nine-month hotel management course for undergraduate and graduate students majoring in hotel management and a TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) course on tourism and hotel.

The two courses will be available since September this year where students will learn in English with local and international lecturers from the three schools. Students will also spend a maximum 70% of the course’s time length for an internship at the five-star Imperial Hotel in the coastal city of Vung Tau in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province.  

During the initial period, the tuition fee for the hotel management course in nine months is about VND86 million (US$3,790) each.

Many enterprises in the tourism industry expect the cooperation will provide a high-quality workforce for the sector as many tourism students currently lack practical skills and are not fluent in English which is a must for tourism workers.

Nguyen Huu Tho, chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association (VITA), said Vietnam’s fast growing tourism sector is in dire need of quality personnel. In some attractive destinations such as Phu Quoc and Danang, hotels are racing to recruit new staff but they find it hard to seek highly-skilled laborers.

Therefore, it is necessary to have training programs of international standards coupled with internship opportunities for students so that fresh graduates can land a job after graduation in an effort to save time and money of both learners and companies, Tho added.

National Young Fine Arts Festival 2017 kicked off

The National Young Fine Arts Festival 2017 has been kicked off throughout the country by the Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibition Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The contest opens for young Vietnamese artists  between the ages of 18 and 35 who may submit maximum 2 artworks to the organization board.

Art works include paintings, graphic works, sculptures, installations, body art and video-art pieces which have been created from 2014 to June, 2017 presenting various topics and reflecting contemporary life.

Entries can be sent to the Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibition Department at No.38 Cao Ba Quat Street in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh District from July 10-13.

The organization board will present three first prizes, six second prizes, 9 third prizes and 9 encouragement prizes.

The triennial festival, launched for the first time in 2007, aims to encourage the young artists’ creativity and diversification of materials, and honor artworks reflecting contemporary life through their lenses, contributing in the development of Vietnamese contemporary fine arts.

Unpredictable weather triggers infectious diseases

Unpredictable in Vietnam along with polluted environment and unsafe food triggered outbreaks of dangerous infectious diseases in the country.

People are still worried about encephalitis which enters the peak season though test results of four kids’ samples carried out by the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology showed the samples are negative for the disease.
Director of the General Hospital in the northern province of Cao Bang Dr. Phuong Duc Cu said the four kids in Thong Nong District had encephalitis-like symptoms of headache, vomiting, fatigue high fever and later experiencing breathing problem, swollen brain and falling into coma.

Head of Hanoi-based National Children Hospital’s Infectious Disease Ward Nguyen Tien Lam encephalitis is a dangerous disease for kids. However, initial flu-like symptoms make parents mistake; consequently, kids are not taken to medical clinics early.
Many kids had been rushed to infirmaries in critical condition; they might suffer complication or even death.

The National Children Hospital’s Infectious Disease Ward, Bach Mai and some infirmaries in the North admitted more kids in ongoing scorching heat days. Kid patient overload hospitals have seen in these days.
Many of children experienced encephalitis and meningitis meanwhile hospitals in the South recorded scatter cases of encephalitis.

The Children Hospital No.1 in Ho Chi Minh City received some serious children with Japan encephalitis. Head of the Preventive Medicine Department Tran Dac Phu said that encephalitis occurs all year round in most localities. Infection cases usually increase in hot weather from June to August. Children under 15 often get the disease. Most infected kids are not vaccinated. 

Worse, at this time, dengue fever also enters its peak season. As per the Ministry of Health’s figure, as of June, 2017, the country reported over 36,500 dengue cases including ten deaths. Most cases are recorded in the South with 65 percent of the country’s total cases and deaths are due to late hospitalization. 

The Ministry warned the dengue will develop complicatedly in next time because it is rainy season in the South which is conducive to mosquitoes laying egg and transmission of the disease. People in the North especially in Hanoi should not neglect preventing dengue because by the middle of June, Hanoi recorded 1,700 dengue cases with one death, increase fourfold compared to last year.

Director of the Department of Health in Hanoi Hoang Duc Hanh said that increased number of dengue patients because of unpredictable weather. Rainy season in Hanoi offers favorite condition for development of mosquito. Locals refused to spraying chemicals to kill mosquito; consequently, the disease widely spread. 

Additionally, Hanoi recorded 84 measles case, 60 hand-foot-mouth cases, 6 people with streptococcal disease of swine, two deaths because of rabies and other fatal diseases.
The Department of Preventive Medicine warned of possible outbreaks of flu, diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, rubella because of scorching heat, polluted environment and unsafe food. Most people can be infected with diseases especially kids.

Parents should take their kids to infirmaries for vaccination to prevent diseases. People should do sanitation to keep house clean and kill mosquitoes and its larva, eat boiled water and cooked food, clean hands with soap before cooking and after toilet.  
They are advised to go to nearby clinics when experiencing illness

HCMC lacks social houses

Building old high-rise condo and social house are major program of the city. However, there is hiccups including lacks of land fund and capital along rebuilding new apartments to replace old ones.

Realizing huge demand of house of people in the city, the city adopted “open” policy to call for social contribution in building social houses.

The city Department of Construction said that during five past years, the number of social house just met 37 percent of demand  of low-income people in urban areas and workers in industrial parks compared to the expectation.

In a meeting on the city’s socio-economic condition in first five months of the year, agencies blamed the shortage of land fund and capital for the hiccup of the building program.

As per the law on housing effective in 2014 and the government’s resolution No. 100/2015 on developing and managing social house, commercial  house in urban areas, it is required to have 20 percent of land fund for social housing projects.

In industrial parks, the government said that abundant land in the parks will be allowed to build house for workers. However, a few investors follow the regulation to build apartments.

Capital for social house is taken from state budget, national bonds and development support fund. From 2013 to 2016, the government approved social housing program by launching a home credit package worth VND30 trillion (US$1.3 billion) with preferential interest to support enterprises to build social houses.

 However, the package ended in 2016. Currently no capital source is provided to help enterprises and residents that have demand to ask for loan.

To boost the program, People’s Committee asked the Department of Construction and related agencies to consult polices and measures to promote the projects as well as reduce administrative procedures aiming to facilitate enterprises and people. Banks are asked to finish policies relating to credit for buying social houses.

As per the Department of Construction, by 2020, the city will remove and build at last 50 percent of dilapidated apartments which were built before 1975. However, in ten past years, the city had removed 32 old condos to build new ones.

In 2017, HCMC authorities plan to continue renovating 10 other condo buildings  and pay site clearance compensation of five apartment buildings.

Additionally, they will also dismantle five deteriorating apartment buildings. The city will build six new condos at the old site with 1,800 apartments. Slowed progress is explained by lack of capital in a meeting between enterprises and the City's Party Secretary Nguyen Thien Nhan lately. 

Some enterprises complained they are unable to access to policies of rebuilding old condos.  A businessman said that his company presented a project to rebuild an old condo to related agencies seven years ago yet it has not been approved.

The Ho Chi Minh City Real Estate Association (HoREA) Chairman Le Hoang Chau said that the city should implement transparent policies to encourage enterprises along with improving administrative procedures to accelerate building old condo program.

In its letter to answer HoREA’s petition on fund for social housing program, the Ministry of Construction said that the National Assembly Committee approved to give additional VND2  trillion for building house for those who partook in the country’s revolution and for banks to link with the program.

HCMC chairman requires to improve pavement use fee project

Chairman of the HCMC People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong yesterday afternoon required the Department of Transport to collect opinions to improve its draft project on pavement use fee collection.

The project, earlier submitted to the committee, should accord with the city's policy of restoring street order, determine chargeable streets and areas free of charge.

The department should draw a fee exemption or reduction policy to some subjects and submit it to the city People’s Committee. Deputy chairman Le Van Khoa will supervise and instruct the project’s improvement, said Chairman Phong.

According to the Department of Transport’s draft project, individuals or organizations temporarily using pavements for parking lots, food business, night markets and some other services must pay fee.

The fee is proposed to be VD100,000 square meter a month in District 1, VND80,000 in District 3, VND30,000 in District 4 and Binh Thanh, VND50,000 in District 5 and VND45,000 in District 10.

District 11 will collect VND35,000 a square meter a month, Phu Nhuan VND40,000, District 6 and Tan Binh VND25,000. The fee will be VND20,000 a square meter a month in districts 2, 7, 8, 9, 12, Go Vap, Binh Tan, Thu Duc, Tan Phu, Hoc Mon, Nha Be, Cu Chi, Can Gio.

Parking fee will be charged on an hourly basis.

Region 1 comprising Districts 1, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, Tan Binh and Phu Nhuan will collect VND20,000 a car of less than 10 seater in daytime and VND40,000 at night. The remaining districts will charge VND15,000 in day time and VND30,000 at night.

Automobiles of more than 10 seaters will pay VND25,000 in day time and VND50,000 at night in region 1. The fee will be VND20,000 and 40,000 in the remaining districts.

Two workers killed in crane accident in Hanoi

Two workers were killed when a crane collapsed at a construction site in the outlying Hanoi district of Ba Vi on June 19.

The accident occurred on the afternoon at a construction site of Viet Tri-Ba Vi Bridge when the cable of a crane carrying a 200-tonne concrete piece suddenly broke. The concrete fell onto one person who was working nearby and another who was sitting in the crane cabin. As a result, both of them died on the spot.  

The two workers were Le Van Quy, 44, in Nghe An Province and Le Van Hung, 28, in Thanh Hoa Province.

Local police are investigating the case.

Energy saving project reaches over 70% of set targets

The Vietnam Clean Production and Energy Efficiency Project (CPEE) closed in June 2017, reaching 70% of the total energy saving target and 75% of the CO2 emission reduction target.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade held a meeting on June 15 to review the CPEE project which has been carried out over the last five years from 2012 to June 30, 2017.

The project set the target of attaining an energy saving figure of 360,400 TOE (tonne of oil equivalent) and a greenhouse emission reduction rate of 1.25 million tonnes of CO2 by the closing date of the project.

However, the results reported that the project has achieved only 70% of the energy saving target and 75% of the greenhouse emission reduction target.

The project, funded by the Global Environment Fund with a total cost of US$4.15 million, has so far received 89% of the total funding with the remaining amount to be disbursed by the end of this month.

Nguyen Dinh Hiep, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Association, said that more attractive policies are needed to encourage enterprises to participate in the energy saving project and to negotiate for more ambitious goals, adding that many enterprises refused to sign agreements due to unattractive policies.

According to the Ho Chi Minh City Energy Conservation Centre, it is necessary to ensure adequate resources for finance, technology and human resources to implement voluntary agreements with enterprises in key industrial sectors over the long term.

Experts from the World Bank said that improving energy efficiency will create positive impacts on production activities, noting that Vietnam can save 11% of energy consumption, equivalent to 11GW in the future if it makes sound investment in energy.

In addition, the country should shift from voluntary to compulsory participation mechanism combined with building laws and sanctions to help enterprises abide by energy saving regulations.

The CPEE project aims to strengthen the capacity of Vietnam and other key stakeholders for the effective delivery of the national energy efficiency programme in key industrial sectors, thereby improving energy efficiency and reducing associated greenhouse gas emissions.

There are three components to the project. The first component of the project is energy efficiency action plans for key industrial sectors while the second component of the project is development of energy service providers, and the third is capacity building for programme management, monitoring and evaluation.

HCM City leads national sports tourney for disabled

Athletes from Ho Chi Minh City topped the 18th national sports tournament for the disabled, which concluded in the city on June 19.

The HCM City team bagged 269 gold, 246 silver and 140 bronze medals. Meanwhile, Hanoi’s team came second with 125 golds, 79 silvers and 55 bronzes, followed by Quang Tri with 18 gold, 27 silver and 11 bronze medals.

The HCM City and Hanoi teams also won first and second places in the junior tournament for the disabled, while Thai Nguyen came third.

Vu The Phiet, vice chairman and general secretary of the Vietnam Paralympics Association said this year’s tournament was held in a larger scale than previous years, drawing many young talents with bright prospects for the Asian Para Games and Paralympic Games 2020.

The event was organised by the Vietnam Paralympics Association, the National Sports Administration and the HCM City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism. It drew more than 1,000 athletes and coaches from 32 localities across the country.

It aimed to select athletes for the upcoming ninth ASEAN Para Games. Vietnam team is expected to have 110 athletes competing in seven out of 16 sports at the event.-VNA

Thanh Cong Taxi introduces Facebook booking service

Thanh Cong Taxi has introduced a new taxi booking service via Facebook, the first of its kind in Vietnam.

@ThanhCongApp allows people to directly call a cab without downloading any taxi app. The company is a pioneer in Vietnam in using Facebook’s latest Chatbot Technology to develop the service and takes advantage of the Facebook Messenger app installed on the mobile phones of some 40 million Vietnamese. 

Facebook Messenger users need only type @ThanhCongApp in their Messenger to open a new chat window, just like starting a conversation with someone, and then order a cab. Using GPS, the @ThanhCongApp system automatically identifies and offers the most suitable options for passengers. Customers can also easily access the latest news and promotions of the company on its Facebook page and leave a comment. Thanh Cong’s taxi and luxury car lines are both available via the service.

According to Mr. Nguyen Khuong Duy from Thanh Cong Taxi, the service not only saves on staff costs but also creates a new channel to easily access customers. It represents a new milestone that will change the traditional taxi industry.

@ThanhCongApp on Facebook Messenger is available for the company’s taxi network in Hanoi, Ha Nam, Vinh Phuc, Quang Ninh, and Hue.

Fund supporting education, arts in Vietnam and Germany kicks off

A fund supporting projects in education, sustainable agricultural development, music, and culture in Vietnam and Germany has been launched by a Vietnamese living in the German capital of Berlin.

Named after the founder, the Dao Minh Quang Fund will support the promotion of general education, vocational training and higher education in Vietnam and facilitate the transfer of scientific research and technology between Vietnam and Germany.

The Fund is also expected to support initiatives for start-up activities and sustainable development, musical talent, the preservation of German and Vietnamese folk songs, and cultural and musical exchanges between the two countries.

Dr. Dao Minh Quang, who lives in Berlin, came from a poor family in northern Phu Tho province. Thanks to his parents’ investment in his schooling, he had the chance to study in Germany and develop a career there. 

He wanted to set up a charity fund to help poor students such as himself, exchange research and technology, and preserve and develop folk music in Vietnam and Germany, considering this to be a return on his success as a businessman.

The Dao Minh Quang Fund has started initial activities supporting education projects in Phu Tho and coordinated with the Vietnam National Academy of Music to help musical talent living in difficult circumstances.

The fund marks a new development stage by the Overseas Vietnamese community in Germany, as they integrate further into the host country’s society, and enhances cooperation between the two countries.


USAID facilitates green growth in building sector, Experts fear unchanged monopoly as Vietnam’s sole power utility announces restructure, HCM City police to tighten security in preparation for APEC meetings