Last update 5/4/2012 7:00:00 AM (GMT+7)

Borrowers get better access to foreign capital

Credit institutions, including foreign bank branches, can now make loans in foreign currency to customers residing in the country, the State Bank of Viet Nam has ruled.

Under Decision No 857/QD issued by the Sate bank of Viet Nam on Wednesday, credit institutions authorised to engage in foreign exchange may make short-term loans in foreign currency to resident customers for use in business and export operations. Credit institutions also must evaluate and assure that production plans are feasible and that borrowers fully satisfy conditions for borrowing as required by laws. Borrowers must demonstrate that they are able to make repayment from their own foreign currency revenue streams.

The decision remains in effect until the end of this year.

The State Bank has also asked all resident borrowers to sell loans from foreign institutions to domestic banks at spot foreign exchange rates, unless such borrowers are allowed by law to make payments in foreign currency.

Exchanges see mixed trading
Shares finally gained points on the Ha Noi Stock Exchange yesterday while they failed in HCM City.

On the northern bourse, the HNX-Index edged up 0.4 per cent to 79.69 points. Gainers outnumbered losers by 175-112.

The value of trades increased slightly over Wednesday's session to VND938.5 billion (US$44.6 million) on a total of 94.4 million shares exchanged.

Habubank, the target of a new banking merger, still closed at its floor price and saw the highest trading volume nationwide with 14.5 million shares changing hands.

The market yesterday welcomed good news about a tax exemption scheme worth VND25 trillion ($1.2 billion) being considered by the Ministry of Finance, including several measures to tackle the problems with the corporate income and value added tax.

In addition, during a meeting on Wednesday, deputy director of the Electricity Regulatory Department Dinh The Phuc said that the electricity rate would not increase at present.

On the HCM City Stock Exchange, the VN30 tracking the bourse's 30 best stocks lost nearly 0.7 per cent to rest at 536.10 points. Meanwhile, the benchmark VN-Index declined 0.8 per cent, reaching 468.80 points.

Around 103.9 million shares were traded, worth a combined value of VND1.57 trillion ($74.7 million) and accounting for just 87.2 per cent of the previous day's level. Most blue chips tumbled, notably food processor Masan Group (MSN) and financial firm Ocean Group (OGC), which bottomed out. However, some managed to rise, including Phu My Fertiliser (DPM), property developer Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAG) and software producer FPT, which hit its ceiling price of VND65,000 ($3) per share.

"Demand grew during the afternoon session to help cut off the decline, but plunging large-cap shares still dipped the indices," said Hoa Binh Securities Co analyst Vu Thai Ha.

It was hard to identify the common trend of the market, but leading shares were showing signs of declining, he added. "Therefore, investors should be cautious."

Foreign investors yesterday were buyers on both exchanges, picking up a combined margin of VND45.1 billion ($2 million).

Importing old technology to be stopped

The Prime Minister has asked to suspend importation of old machinery and obsolete technology that could cause environmental pollution.

The PM also requested that relevant ministries and sectors to monitor the quality of all new machinery, equipment, production lines and technologies that are brought into the country, as well as implement technical regulations for better management.-

Finnair extends network to Viet Nam

Finnair announced its network expansion to Viet Nam on May 3 by opening representative offices in Ha Noi and HCM City.

In Viet Nam, Finnair is represented by its General Sales Agent – the East Sea Travel and Air Service Company.

Finnair co-operates with other airlines, such as Cathay Pacific, Vietnam Airlines and Jetstar, to carry passengers from Viet Nam through Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong to Finland and other destinations in Europe.

SE Asia undersea cable contract ticked

An engineering, procurement and construction contract for an undersea cable system linking Ha Tien township and Phu Quoc island in the southern province of Kien Giang was signed in HCM City yesterday.

EVN Southern Power Corporation (EVNSPC) and Prysmian Powerlink SRL Group of Italy agreed that the cable would be laid within 18 months at a cost of over US$112 million, funded by the World Bank and EVNSPC.

As the longest of its kind in Southeast Asia, the 110-kV cable system is expected to ensure a stable supply of electricity to local residents in the island district of Phu Quoc, while promoting the economic development and defence of the region.-

Viet Nam's exports to Norway surges

Viet Nam exported US$81.9 million in goods to Norway during the first quarter of this year, up 26.3 per cent against the same period last year, according to Statistics Norway.

Among export items recording significant growth were footwear, garments and textiles, interior decor and seafood. Over the reviewed period, Viet Nam's imports from Norway increased by 33.7 per cent to $46.7 million compared with last year's level.-

Emirates Airline to fly daily to HCMC

Vietnamese travellers can now take advantage of Emirates Airline's daily, non-stop flights from HCM City to Dubai, where they can transfer to reach almost all destinations in Europe, the Middle East, South America and Africa beginning June 4, 2012.

Emirates Airline also announced special fares for flights from HCM City to Dubai and Europe starting at $905 in honour of the launch of the new service. The announced fares include all surcharges and taxes.

The HCM City flight will be the eighth new route initiated by Emirates Airline in 2012 and its 124th destination world-wide.-

Mercedes-Benz Autohaus opens

Mercedes-Benz Viet Nam set a new benchmark in the auto market with its grand opening of the state-of-the-art Autohaus in HCM City's District 7 this week.

The new dealership – the Mercedes-Benz Brand Gallery - was established with an investment of $5million from Viet Nam Star and has been ranked as a flagship Autohaus 600 according to the global standards of Daimler AG, the owner of the Mercedes-Benz marquee.

The Mercedes-Benz Brand Gallery has over 4,400 square meters of usage space, accommodating up to 20 cars at a time in its showroom, which also boasts an AMG centre on the second floor.-

Rules to govern securities crimes

A joint circular guiding Criminal Code provisions for crimes in securities trading is currently being drafted by the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Public Security, the Supreme People's Procuracy and the Supreme People's Court.

The Ministry of Justice plans to release the draft document this month for public comment.-

Firm posts sixth quarter of losses

Construction firm Meca Vneco (VES) reported a loss of VND969 million (US$46,100) in the first quarter of this year, its sixth consecutive quarter of losses. VES shares were suspended trading as of April 9.

Developer offers more shares

Kinh Bac Urban Development (KBC) will offer VND200 billion ($9.5 million) worth of additional shares to around 100 current shareholders, with proceeds to be added to the compay's working capital. The shares will be limited from transfer for at least in one year after purchase.

Air Mekong opens direct flights between Ha Noi and Con Dao

Air Mekong will launch a new direct route between Ha Noi and Con Dao starting May 19 to meet increasing demand during the summer, the airline announced.

The two-hour flights will departure from Ha Noi at 1pm every Wednesday and Saturday. The airline also said it would raise that number to four flights a week if demand for travel to Con Dao keeps increasing during the summer.

Air Mekong will also add more flights from Ha Noi to Phu Quoc island, up to nine flights a week. The flights, which last slightly over two hours, would take off at 6:30am on weekdays and at 1pm on weekends.

Customers now can enjoy cheap flights from Ha Noi to Con Dao and Phu Quoc island through the airline's promotional campaign until May 20.--

World Bank praises effective use of funding

The Vietnamese Government has effectively used the World Bank’s financial support, particularly in education and social security.

The bank’s managing director Mahmoud Mohieldin made the comments at a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan in Hanoi on May 3.

The World Bank’s total financial commitment to Vietnam as of February 2012 was nearly US$15 billion for 111 projects, mostly in the fields of transport, urban and rural development, energy, water resources management, public administration reforms, finance, education, health care and environment.

Mohieldin said the World Bank will provide more financial support for Vietnam to develop a suitable system of social security services.

Mr Nhan said the World Bank’s contributions to the country’s development were appreciated and that he expected it to continue providing financial and technical support to help Vietnam attain its goals, particularly in the realm of human resources.

In regards to social security, he asked the bank to focus its resources on ensuring safety for people at risk, reducing poverty and ensuring equal access to training opportunities.

He hoped the bank will further support Vietnam in maintaining sustainable growth after becoming a middle-income country (having a minimum gross per capita income of US$1,006) as well as carrying out the national anti-tuberculosis programme.

Air conditioner, fan sales heat up

The sale of air conditioners and electric fans has become hot with the onset of summer.

To purchase an air conditioner or a fan at a reasonable price and with useful features is not easy for consumers.

"These days, home electric appliance centres such as Pico Plaza, Media Mart and Nguyen Kim are busy as many people rush to buy air conditioners and electric fans," Tuan Anh, a salesperson at Pico Plaza, said.

Do Hien, a salesperson at the Nguyen Kim centre, said purchasing power in terms of air conditioners had been rapidly increasing, especially for 9,000 BTU to 12,000 BTU air conditioners. Some products were being sold like hot cakes including Daikin air conditioners at a cost of VND10.9 million (US$519) per unit, Reetech air conditioners at VND5.4 million ($257) and LG air conditioners at VND8.3 million ($395).

Electric stand fans with price ranges between VND500,000 to VND1 million are also selling very well. Steam water fans are additonally favoured by buyers. It is estimated that every 30 and 50 customers ask for these products everyday.

At Pico Plaza, sales volume rose by between 20 and 30 per cent compared to the same period last month. Nguyen Duong, a salesperson at Pico Plaza, said the air conditioner market was diverse, but the product line mostly preferred by consumers included Panasonic, Toshiba, Samsung and LG. The number of customers these days has increased sharply due to the hot weather.

Duong said air conditioners were now imported from Taiwan and Malaysia and being sold at VND5 million per unit.

In addition, many online stores are also actively competing with big supermarkets by offering big promotions for electrical products.

Website reports that there are more than 800 companies selling electronic products online, mostly electric fans. The volume of electric fans sold out accounted for 40 per cent of the volume of electric appliances.

Ngo Ba Manh, sales manager of, said the price of items for sale online was usually VND100,000 to VND300,000 lower than at supermarkets.

Most consumers were afraid of buying stockpiled products or fake ones, said Nguyen Hong Trang, a buyer at Media Mart. She said many new kinds of air conditioners with diversified designs now made consumers confused, as they really wanted to choose a good one at a reasonable price.

The Ha Noi Market Watch Department reports that many electric shops intentionally sell fake and counterfeit products to deceive customers. Electric shops often bought smuggled air conditioners illegally imported from China or Cambodia via border provinces that they label with famous trademarks such as Samsung, Panasonic, LG and Toshiba.

Nguyen Duong said apart from air conditioners, many electric accessories were illegally imported from China and locally assembled and tagged with origin labels from Taiwan and Singapore to cheat buyers.

Businesses asked to increase competitiveness

President Truong Tan Sang has asked businesses to exert their utmost to actively surmount their difficulties in order to increase their competitiveness and that of the entire economy.

Talking with voters of District 4 in Ho Chi Minh City on May 3, President Sang said the Government has carried out a number of specific solutions to overcome the degradation of the economy and production.

Voters proposed the Government reduce income tax for small and medium sized enterprises, reduce interest rates and give priority access to capital sources for production facilities.

Meanwhile, voters from the textile and garment sector suggested the establishment of on-the-spot material zones for businesses to increase product price and competitiveness, assisting the development of highly skilled human resources and having policies that ensure easier access to capital and technology.

Capital a handicap for rural infrastructure

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development met in Hanoi on May 3 to review the implementation of a sustainable rural infrastructure development project in 15 northern mountainous provinces.

The biggest problem seen in less than one year is many provinces have put in an estimate for subproject expenditure far exceeding initial estimates, participants said.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Hoang Van Nhan cited three subprojects in Dien Bien province which were initially allocated a sum of US$7.2 million, but required a double amount of about US$14 million,.

According to Ta Van Long, Vice Chairman of the Yen Bai provincial People’s Committee, the scale of the subprojects remained unchanged, but the increase in market prices and labour costs pushed up the real expenditure. He suggested reducing the number of subprojects to balance expenses.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hoang Van Thang said the ministry will work with ADB, the project’s sponsor, to seek a suitable solution.

The beneficiary provinces asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to provide an additional VND58 billion of corresponding capital for the provinces.

According the ministry, the project is being implemented in Bac Giang, Bac Can, Cao Bang, Dien Bien, Ha Giang, Hoa Binh, Lai Chau, Lang Son, Lao Cai, Phu Tho, Son La, Thai Nguyen, Tuyen Quang, Vinh Phuc and Yen Bai provinces.
It will be carried out from 2011-2016 at a cost of US$138 million with US$108 million funded by the ADB.

The project includes two components, focusing on upgrading and improving rural roads, irrigation systems, clean water and environmental hygiene works as well as improving management capacity of rural infrastructure.

Can Tho aims to be economic hub

The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta City of Can Tho has untapped potential as an industrial hub for the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region, according to experts.

During the past five years, the city built and improved infrastructure, focusing on road and irrigation works.

Many key traffic works have been put into operation, including the second-phase of the Cai Cui Port, Nam Song Hau Road, National Road 91B, and the road that links Can Tho City and Vi Thanh City in Hau Giang Province.

The recently built Can Tho Bridge is one of the longest and largest of its kind in Southeast Asia, and Can Tho Airport has been upgraded to an international standard.

Can Tho City also plans to open eight industrial parks and more than 50 credit institutions with 223 transaction offices across the city.

A number of research centres and educational institutions in the city are currently serving as centres for development of industry, agriculture, education and training, culture and healthcare.

In addition, dyke systems have been built along Can Tho, Rach Cai Khe, Rach Khai Luong rivers.

The city is developing more than 40 projects to build residential areas for resettled residents, with a total investment of VND13.5 trillion (US$648 million).

Supermarkets, wholesale markets, restaurants, hotels and centres of trade, tourism and services have also been built.

In addition to training human resources and ensuring social welfare, the area's socio-economic development plan until 2020, with a vision to 2030, targets the city as one of the country's largest economic hub.

Its aim is to shift the economy from agriculture to industry, trade, services and hi-tech agriculture. Industry and construction would account for 44.6 per cent of the economy, and trading and services nearly 46 per cent.

Every year, the city contributes about 18.14 per cent to the region's industrial production value.

Leading industry sectors include the aquaculture processing industry, rice exports, fruit and vegetables, medicine, chemicals, building materials, textiles and garments, and wood processing. Industrial products have been exported to 80 nations and territories worldwide.

The Prime Minister has given approval for the city to develop three additional industrial parks with a total area of 1,600ha, which could pave the way for the city to become an industrial city by 2020.

As for agriculture, the city is applying cutting-edge technology in production and creating large production areas that produce high-quality products, helping to gradually shift to high-quality urban agriculture.

Last year, the production value on 1ha of agricultural land reached VND62.3 million ($3,000), an increase of nearly VND42 million ($2,000) on 1ha of agricultural land compared to six years ago.

During the last five years, total investment capital of the entire city reached more than VND92 trillion ($4.4 billion), contributing nearly VND25.5 trillion ($1.2 billion) to the State budget.

Last year, gross domestic product (GDP) of the city reached VND19,887 billion ($954 million).

Income per capita reached nearly VND49 million ($2,300) per year, which topped the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region.

Year-on-year economic growth reached more than 15.13 per cent in the 2006-10 period.

Even during the prolonged economic downturn, the GDP growth of Can Tho City reached 14.46 per cent last year.

The province's competitiveness index ranked second among the cities that are under control of the central Government in Ha Noi.

HCM City's urban plan to embrace green development

HCM City will continue to complete its urban infrastructure in the coming years to turn into a greener and larger urban zone, according to the city's Department of Planning and Architecture.

The south Saigon area, Thu Thiem, District 9, Thu Duc District and Tay Bac urban areas will continue to be upgraded to change the face of the city, according to Nguyen Hoai Nam, the department's deputy director.

High-end residential areas, shopping centres and high-rise buildings will be developed alongside Ha Noi Highway and the eastern side of the city by 2020.

In the inner city, all families living in slums along Tau Hu and Kenh Te canals will be relocated.

The face of HCM City in the next 10 years would change significantly, he said, adding that more rental housing units would be built.

According to the city's master plan until 2025, the population will remain at 4-4.5 million people in the older inner city area.

The city will remove slums dwellings along canals and streets, and move production establishments, ports and industrial parks that cause environmental pollution out of the inner city.

Ecological areas including the Can Gio mangrove forest, the Cu Chi special used forest and protective forests, will be strictly conserved.

The city would also conserve and renovate existing parks and tree systems in older inner city districts, as well as develop more parks and plant more green trees on land acquired from relocated factories, ports and industrial parks.

After 37 years of implementing industrialisation and modernisation, despite the remaining issues of traffic congestion, urban flooding and pollution, the city "realised that it had faithfully followed the route that developed countries have often experienced," according to Nguyen Minh Hoa, head of the HCM City National University's urban department.

The city has achieved spectacular changes in technical infrastructure and urban development, Hoa said.

It has initially completed the renovation of inner-city districts, with more than 100 high-rise buildings built in the city's downtown area.

City seeks return to high growth after lull
HCM City looks to return to its earlier high-growth path following a lull this year when growth rates have dipped sharply.

At a conference held recently to approve key tasks for the second quarter, city authorities considered measures to increase growth rate to 13 per cent.

The rate declined to 7.4 per cent in the first quarter due to various reasons.

They decided that all Government agencies should speed up major projects and complete them on schedule to revive growth.

Deputy chairman of the People's Committee Nguyen Huu Tin urged officials to quickly resolve problems faced by businesses to boost production.

The committee has asked the Government to ensure that bank interest rates for businesses involved in production and trading areas are 14-15 per cent, and that banks settle their bad debt issues soon.

These are among the six major measures submitted by the committee to the Government at a recent meeting with Deputy PM Vu Van Ninh.

They are expected to help the corporate sector survive and develop amidst the prolonged economic turndown.

The slowdown in growth has been accompanied by an all-round sluggishness. For instance, retail and services in the first four months were worth VND171 trillion (US$8.18 billion), just 6.3 per cent up from the same period last year.

Exports (excluding crude oil) rose by 8.9 per cent to $6.2 billion.

Thai Van Re, director of the city Department of Planning and Investment, said more than 7,500 businesses with total registered capital of VND51.4 trillion ($2.45 billion) were established, a 19 per cent rise.

The April CPI (consumer price index) rise was 0.08 per cent, the lowest in the last 20 months.

Despite the economic turmoil, the tourism sector saw "significant" growth, Re said.

The city welcomed around 250,000 foreign tourists, or over 50 per cent of total tourist arrivals in Viet Nam, up 9 per cent from last year.

To curb accidents and congestion, in the next three years the city will give priority to major infrastructure works, especially Ring Road No. 2, until 2015.

Unfinished works in the project include the road linking the Phu My Bridge with the Ha Noi Highway and the new Rach Chiec Bridge on this road.

The city has also ordered the districts of Hoc Mon, Cu Chi, Binh Chanh, and 9 to speed up site clearance for construction of Ring Roads No 3 and 4 by the Ministry of Transport.

To ease traffic congestion, many flyovers will be built at intersections like Phu Nhuan (in Phu Nhuan District), Hang Xanh (Binh Thanh District), and Dan Chu (in District 1).

Duong Hong Thanh, deputy director of the city transport department, said construction of the metro and BRT (bus rapid transit) systems would soon be sped up.

Besides building metro line No.1 linking Ben Thanh Market (in District 1) with Suoi Tien Park (in District 9), the city has been doing a feasibility study for the first BRT line along Vo Van Kiet Highway.

The department has also stepped up a programme to use CNG (compressed natural gas) in city buses, and is making efforts to increase the number of CNG-fuelled buses from the current 30 to 350 by 2015.

Bank merger draws market's eye
Despite opening strongly, shares lost ground on both of the nation's stock exchanges yesterday, as trading resumed following a four-day national holiday.

On the Ha Noi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index shed 0.6 per cent to close at just 79.35 points. The value and volume of trades each jumped by over 31 per cent to total VND928.9 billion (US$44.2 million) on a volume of 89 million shares.

Habubank (HBB) was the most-active share nationwide, with 12 million changing hands. Heavy sells dipped HBB to its floor price of VND6,700 after terms of its takeover by Sai Gon-Ha Noi Bank (SHB) were released.

Under the terms, the new bank created by the merger will issue brand new SHB shares. One HBB share will be swapped for 0.75 new SHB share, while one current SHB shares will be exchanged into 1.21 new SHB shares.

The new bank's charter capital will be more than VND8.86 trillion ($421.9 million), combining both banks' capital.

While SHB projects a profit this year of around VND1.85 trillion ($85.7 million), most of this will be written off to account for Habubank's accumulated losses, and the new entity will not pay a dividend this year.

The merger awaits finalisation upon a vote at the SHB shareholders meeting this Saturday.

"The market is showing concern over Habubank's bad debts," said Kim Eng Securities Co analysts. The bank has failed to recover an amount totallling VND470 billion ($22.3 million).

"What concerns investors most is the loan Habubank made to troubled State-owned shipbuilder Vinashin," the analysts wrote in a note.

The target bank admitted last Saturday that its bad debt ratio as of February had reached over 16 per cent.

On the HCM City Stock Exchange yesterday, the VN-Index finished at 472.46 points, falling nearly 0.3 per cent from last Friday's close. Market value reached some VND1.8 trillion ($85.7 million), an increase of 38.5 per cent over the prior session, as trading volume hit nearly 118.3 million shares.

Over half of the 30 leading stocks by capitalisation and liquidity retreated, dragging the VN30 Index down by 0.3 per cent to 539.72 points. Only nine codes in this group posted gains, including software giant FPT, real estate developer Khang Dien House (KDH) and Vinh Son-Song Hinh Hydropower (VSH), which hit their ceiling prices.

Investment attraction key for Mekong Delta

More policies are needed to draw foreign investors to the Mekong Delta where investment activities have still been insignificant compared to its economic contribution and potential, heard the conference ‘The Mekong Delta’s investment and development promotion’ held in Can Tho City last Friday.

The Mekong Delta is known as the country’s biggest farming and aquatic products producer and exporter contributing 18-19% to the national gross domestic product (GDP) annually.

Many experts in the conference shared the view that it was the right time to promote investment and related policies which will allow the delta to explore its potential and strengths to the max.

Tran Bac Ha, chairman of Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), said the delta’s potential has yet to be fully tapped to serve the country’s economic development. “For instance, the planned rice, seafood and fruit production schemes have been deployed for years but their economic value is still very low. Besides, foreign investors find the area unattractive due to its poor traffic infrastructure system,” Ha stated.

In fact, the nation’s key rice growing area has welcomed inconsiderable foreign direct investment capital (FDI). From 1988 to 2011, it only lured 565 foreign-invested projects with total investment of US$9.5 billion or less than 5% of total FDI into the nation.

The area last year only enticed 96 projects worth US$402 million from foreign investors, lower than a quarter of the figure in 2010 and equivalent to a mere 3.5% of the national FDI in the same year.

In the agricultural industry, Mekong Delta provinces enjoy dozens of billions of U.S. dollars a year, with rice export revenue amounting to more than US$3 billion with over six million tons per annum being shipped out. For the aquatic product exploitation and fishing sector, the region yearly fetches US$8-9 billion from exporting seafood products while its output volume and cultivation areas account for up to 52% and 70% of the country respectively.

“In the future, we need to set up a specific mechanism and policies to attract investment into works and projects in the Mekong Delta to deal with local social security issues. Also, we need to focus on addressing human resource difficulties to ensure necessary resources to construct and develop the region better,” Ha pointed out.

Vo Hung Dung, director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in Can Tho City, reported the Mekong Delta contributed over 25% of GDP of the nation in the 90s. However, the figure dropped to 17.5% during 1995-1996 and now only makes up 18-19% of the national GDP, Dung added.

BIDV seeks partners to save struggling realty firms

In an effort to prop up the stagnant real estate market, Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) has proposed establishing a business club grouping developers, contractors, suppliers and the bank itself, BIDV chairman Tran Bac Ha told a conference in HCMC last weekend.

Speaking at the conference hosted by the HCMC Real Estate Association (HoREA), Ha expected the four-side cooperation would help regulate the cash flow on the realty market. In this case, BIDV plays the intermediary role by performing payments clearing activities among related sides.

Instead of disbursing loans to project owners so that they could pay directly money to contractors and construction material suppliers, the bank will coordinate payment activities to help participating sides feel more secure about their payments.

The central bank’s recent moves have given local commercial banks the green light to extend more credits to the realty sector. This means property companies can take out bank loans in line with projects’ construction progress, enjoy interest rate cuts and have their loan repayments rescheduled in line with their business situation and repayment ability.

BIDV is reviewing real estate loans itself and is jointly identifying completion progress of projects and potential demands of housing products with realty firms. Based on such results, the lender can decide which projects it should inject more capital in as well as reschedule repayment of those loans in need of extension.

The lender has just announced a VND4-trillion credit line for individuals to buy homes as end-users at an annual rate of 16%, with each loan amounting to 85% of the home’s total value.

Ha at the conference insisted on more active solutions from property developers such as discount programs to attract homebuyers and thus revive the gloomy realty market.

* In related news, the BIDV chairman told a conference on the Mekong Delta investment and development promotion that his bank would set aside US$100 million to promote the export of farm products in the area.

According to Ha, the bank in this quarter would disburse loans to stimulate exports of three major farm produce in the Mekong Delta, namely rice, Pangasius fish and fruit. The credit program targets to increase export revenues of the area right in this quarter, Ha told the conference held in Can Tho City last Friday.

“BIDV will raise the ratio of outstanding loans to the Mekong Delta provinces to 12% of the total, or VND70 trillion, by 2015, three folds higher than the VND22 trillion recorded in the year-ago period,” Ha noted.

Experts in the meeting reported the Mekong Delta generated up to 18-19% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) a year, considerably contributing to the national economic development. However, they noted, investment amounts into the region so far have not matched potential.

Total investment capital poured into the area only accounted for 16% of the country’s total in 1999-2000. Meanwhile, the 2000-2010 period saw a meager VND625 trillion invested into the region despite the presence of several investment policies for regional development.

Binh Duong New City welcomes a new Singaporean investment wave

The visit of Singapore’s President Tony Tan Keng Yam to Binh Duong province last week gave the province a valuable opportunity to highlight a call for more investment into its Binh Duong New City project, a launching pad to promote the locality.

Binh Duong provincial party committee secretary Mai The Trung said the visit was a milestone in the warm friendship between Singapore and Vietnam in general, and Binh Duong province, in particular. The southern province’s economy has been benefiting from many Singaporean-invested projects.

Trung thanked the Singaporean government for its help in creating good conditions for investors coming to Vietnam and Binh Duong and committed to offer more incentives to Singaporean investors, focusing on the supporting and high-tech industries.

After visiting VSIP Binh Duong, Singapore-backed Mapletree Group’s high-tech industrial zone and Binh Duong New City with his delegation, Yam said he was impressed by the province’s infrastructure, economic and social development compared to 16 years ago when he visited Vietnam for the first time.

The president also said he was glad to see Singaporean investors’ achievements gained in Vietnam and Binh Duong province, especially the development of Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park Group (VSIP), which was established in 1996 by the alliance of Singapore’s Sembcorp and Vietnamese firm Becamex IDC.

VSIP is a symbol of the effective cooperation between Singapore and Vietnam with four large-scale industrial park projects in Binh Duong, Haiphong, Bac Ninh and Quang Ngai provinces.

The projects have attracted 465 committed investors, with 313 of them being operational tenants totalling an investment capital of $5.28 billion, creating jobs for 110,000 workers and significantly contributing to local budgets.

Binh Duong is located in the southern key economic quadrangle which covers Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Ba Ria Vung Tau and Ho Chi Minh City. For many years, the province enjoys a high gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate, at around 14-15 per cent annually.

The province’s economic structure has shifted towards increasing the proportion of industry and services. By the end of 2011, the industrial sector built up 62.2 per cent of the local economy while services and agriculture contributed 33.7 per cent and 4.1 per cent, respectively.

The province has 28 industrial parks and zones covering 10,000 hectares, with an average occupancy rate of 65 per cent. Particularly, a 4,196ha industrial-service-residences complex project has been developed, with its heart being Binh Duong New City.

With its rapid socio-economic infrastructure development and a consistent top rank in the Provincial Competitiveness Index, Binh Duong has been one the most attractive destinations for foreign direct investment (FDI) in Vietnam for many years.

In 2012’s first quarter, despite the gloomy global and domestic economy, the province still attracted over $1.5 billion in newly committed FDI capital, raising the total registered FDI in the province to $16.2 billion with 2.049 FDI effective projects.

The construction of Becamex IDC’s 1,000ha Binh Duong New City project plays an important role in the comprehensive development of the province’s urban system, contributing to upgrading Binh Duong into a central government-managed city by 2020. The city’s infrastructure will be completed and connected to other areas of the province and the southern key economic region.

Technical infrastructure facilities, including power and water supplies and optical fibre telecommunications systems have been built. Meanwhile, parks, sport areas and education developments have been developed and put into operation.

Especially, the Binh Duong political and administrative centre, a symbol of the province’s development in a new era, will be located in Binh Duong New City. A high-tech approach will give the public significant buy-in into effective and friendly administrative reforms.

Besides large-scale developments, cultural-exhibition, shopping and financial centres, hotels and restaurants will create a vibrant living and working environment.

ATMs suffer post-holiday shortfall  

Hanoi’s ATMs have suffered a shortfall in cash, causing problems for people trying to withdraw money after the extended national holiday.

Hien, an office worker in Ta Quang Buu Street said, "This morning (May 2), I tried to withdraw money from the ATM in Tran Dai Nghĩa Street but the machine was out of order. I then went to the one at Ta Quang Buu but still received the same message. A guard nearby told me that the machines are out of money since the bank hadn't refilled them yet."

In Ta Quang Buu street, three BIDV and Vietinbank ATM machines were all out of order. A resident in Giang Vo street said, "I'm exhausted from trying to withdraw money. The machines all say they’re out of order, but really they're just out of money."

Huong, a resident in Bach Mai Street also shared the same situation. She said that the ATMs were out of money before the holiday. "Before April 30, I tried to withdraw money from ATMs, including Vietinbank, Vietcombank, BIDV and Techcombank around Hoan Kiem Lake and Ta Quang Buu Street but failed. I had to withdraw money from an ATM in Vinh City."

However, the ATM even posed a bigger problem, "Not only I couldn't withdraw any money, but to add insult to injury I found that my account had been deducted VND2 million (USD96). I tried to make a complaint with the bank this morning but no one picked up the phone." Dai, a local in Hanoi said.

A director of a credit organisation in Ba Trieu Street said that the banks haven't been able to refill the machines but the problem would soon be resolved. Customers who required cash would have to go to their branches to withdraw money.