Vietnam concerned by ageing population

Vietnam concerned by ageing population

International and national population experts agreed with the claims at a workshop to exchange international experience responding to ageing held recently in Ha Noi.

The Viet Nam Ageing Survey in 2011 showed that more than 70 per cent of older people were still working with support from their descendants and families, and only nearly 30 per cent of them had pensions and social allowances.

Agricultural land is gradually being cut back, and natural disasters are also taking their toll on elderly people’s incomes. More than 17 per cent of the elderly live under the poverty line.

“Up to 10 per cent of old people live alone, and that puts them at a disadvantage because their families should be there to support them,” said Nguyen Van Tan, deputy director of the General Office for Population and Family Planning.

The survey also showed that healthcare service for the elderly was also lacking. Only 13 per cent of elderly people in rural areas had access to healthcare, while 23 per cent received medical help in urban areas.

However, Tan said that an ageing population also created many opportunities. Elderly people played crucial roles in supporting their families, and also contribute to the economic well-being of society.

Experience and lessons learned from other countries including China, Japan and Thailand suggested that the country needed realistic policies and strategies which should be designed and implemented using evidence on the relationship between an ageing population, economic growth, culture and the needs of the elderly, including healthcare.

Arthur Erken, the United Nations Population Fund Representative in Viet Nam, said the country needed to ensure the needs of elderly people in all national development policies and programmes, including gender policies, humanitarian response and climate change mitigation.

Director of the Ministry of Health’s Medical Service Administration Luong Ngoc Khue said that the National Assembly and the ministry had issued a number of documents on the care of elderly people, including the Law on the Elderly, the Law on Medical Health Checks and Circular 35 on taking care of elderly people.

However, implementing those documents was difficult because 35 out of 63 provincial hospitals did not have enough funding, equipment or staff to open geriatric wards.

The health sector was also without policies and allowances for community medical workers to pay home visits to the elderly.

Khue proposed expanding healthcare service in the community, so medical workers could teach the elderly how to look after themselves by eating healthily, doing exercise and not smoking.

A system of nursing homes should be set up to help hospitals care for the elderly, and more medical workers and doctors that specialised in geriatric care were needed, he said.

Alleged tax evader put on trial in Hanoi

The Hanoi People’s Court on October 2 opened the first hearing for Le Quoc Quan, who was arrested on charges of tax fraud last December.

Quan, 42, born in the central province of Nghe An, set up the Vietnam Solution Co. Ltd company in April 2001 with its headquarters in Cau Giay district, Hanoi . By June 2012, the company allegedly had its business registration certificate changed 13 times, with the last focusing on market research information services.

Since establishing the company, Quan signed a number of contracts with domestic and foreign individuals and businesses and collected over 13 billion VND (600,000 USD) in turnover.

According to the investigation agency, Quan instructed his accountant and cashier to contact a number of economic experts. These experts were then ostensibly hired using fake contracts to raise the company’s operational cost, meaning it had to pay less in corporate income tax.

Quan is also charged with buying bogus added-value tax invoices to legalise the declaration for tax deduction.

In 2010 and 2011, his company struck consultation deals worth 1.75 billion VND (80,000 USD) with nine experts. The tax deductions meant that the company reportedly dodged payment of over 649 million VND (30,900 USD).

The experts who were ‘hired’ have each admitted to signing the fake contracts for a 1-3 million VND (40 – 140 USD) reward each.

The investigation agency said Quan instructed his staff to fraudulently appropriate tax breaks, a crime condemned and punished across the world.

However, immediately after the investigation agency began proceedings against Quan, some foreign individuals, organisations and religious dignitaries distorted the case, demanding freedom for him.

Their actions are politically motivated and aimed at interfering in Vietnam ‘s internal affairs, complicating the situation for their own purposes.

Quan’s accountant Pham Thi Phuong, 31, is also under arrest.

Former director faces fraud prosecution

Nguyen Van Tuan, former general director and chairman of the management board of the Ha Noi Import, Export and Construction Investment and Development one-member limited company was prosecuted by the police on Monday.

He is also temporarily imprisoned for four months so that the police can investigate his involvement with the B5 Cau Dien tenement house project in Tu Liem District’s Cau Dien Town in the capital city.

The project, with a total investment of VND1,000 billion (US$47.6 million), is a joint venture between the company and the Housing Group.

It includes six 40-floor buildings with 2,000 apartments. The company contributed 40 per cent of the capital for the project’s land area and the Housing Group was in charge of the remaining investment money.

During the implementation process, the joint venture signed capital investment agreements with hundreds of customers. Tuan alone signed contracts worth nearly VND200 billion ($9.52 million) but did not carry out the project and used the money for other purposes.

Since 2010, the project has been frozen, causing concerns for capital contributors. Concerned about feasibility, customers sent letters denouncing the faults of the project to state agencies.

One year ago, Tuan was required to step down from holding two positions in the company and was assigned as the head of the debt recovery section.

He was prosecuted by the Police Investigations Department for Economic Crimes under the Ministry of Public Security.

Talking with Thanh Nien Online newspaper, Housing Group general director Tran Van Thanh confirmed the information and said that the arrest of Tuan did not make any impact on Housing. He added that Tuan signed contracts to stabilise capital by himself.

The Ha Noi City People’s Committee asked the Housing corporation to carry out the project and take responsibilities for capital contributors’ rights.

Spain gives nearly US$11 mil to Central Region poverty reduction

The Spanish Government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s (IFAD) Executive Board have approved EUR7.9 million in Spanish Food Security Co-Financing Facility Trust funding for helping poor households in Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces.

The IFAD and Spanish Government established the fund in 2010 with a EUR300 million aid budget sourced from the Spanish Agency for International Development’s Development Promotion Fund.

The approved funding, combining a range of loans and donations from the IFAD, will be used to support rural finance and help disadvantaged households plan for market economy orientations.

Over the past 15 years, the Spanish Agency for International Development has supported developing Vietnam’s urban areas via projects spanning a diverse range of fields.

Vietnam Airlines to increase flights during Tet

National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines has announced its plan to increase domestic flights during the Lunar New Year Festival, the biggest holiday of the year.

Accordingly, the carrier begins selling tickets for the period on October 2 with an added number of 835 flights between January 19 and February 14, 2014.

The air route between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, the most heavy one, will be serviced by an extra 385 flights, 23 percent more than usual. Another 218 flights will be scheduled to fly passengers between Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City. Flights on seven other domestic routes will also be increased.

Vietnam Airlines will also carry out night flights to meet the increasing demands of passengers during the period.

Vietnam hosts 24th SEAMEO VOCTECH board meeting

The 24th Governing Board meeting of the Regional Centre for Vocational and Technical Education under the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO VOCTECH) was opened in the northern province of Quang Ninh on October 1.

Hosted by the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training, the meeting aims to review SEAMEO VOCTECH’s operations over the past time and discuss development directions for the time to come.

During the three-day event, participants are expected to exchange views on contents that help member states define and deal with common issues in vocational education, implement renovation programmes in research, education, training and expert exchange, as well as organise skills training programmes.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Education and Training Bui Van Ga said that in its role as the 2013 SEAMEO Chair, Vietnam has put forth many action plans and cooperated actively with others in SEAMEO VOCTECH research programmes.

With its contributions, Vietnam wants SEAMEO VOCTECH to become a trusted address in professional education in the Southeast Asian region, Ga added.

The deputy minister said that to achieve its socio-economic development goals, the Vietnamese Government is completing a project to reform its educational system in the context that the country has developed the socialist-orientated market economy and promoted international integration.

Established in 1990, Brunei-based SEAMEO VOCTECH aims at boosting vocational cooperation and development among Southeast Asian countries. Its member states include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Nutrition week aims to improve public health

The Ministry of Health will launch a “Nutrition and Development” week from October 16-23, carrying the message of ensuring nutrition security and food safety for all people’s health.

The campaign is part of the ministry’s efforts to realise the goals of the National Strategy on Nutrition in the 2011-2020 period and respond to the World Food Day (October 16).

A series of activities will be held during the week to educate people on how to eat more nutritious food and process food in the right way to preserve nutrition.

The public health departments in cities and provinces nationwide will coordinate with related agencies to popularise knowledge on gardening and husbandry as well as daily nutrition among families, especially those in remote and natural disaster-prone areas.

Mekong Delta localities reach out to trafficked victims

Members from the Vietnam Women’s Union chapters in the Mekong Delta met at a workshop in Can Tho city on October 1 to consider helping trafficked women integrate back into society.

Delegates shared the view that rape and human trafficking for sex purposes have increased in the Mekong Delta in recent years. More and more women and girls are duped and forced into brothels and karaoke parlours in neighbouring countries to work as sex workers.

Some suffer psychological trauma and contract sexually-transmitted diseases, and find it difficult to gain employment when they return home due to a lack of knowledge and soft skills.

In June 2005, a centre was set up in Can Tho city to assist underprivileged women and children. It has so far taken care of 162 victims, giving them access to vocational training, general studies and healthcare. After a 15-month course, they landed new jobs and settled their lives.

During the workshop, participants learnt about the law on human trafficking prevention which took effect on January 1, 2012, and the Party and State’s policies on protecting and assisting victims of trafficking.

The event was co-hosted by the municipal chapter and the Alliance Against Trafficking in Persons (AAT).

Earlier on September 18, the AT-supported project on assisting returned victims of trafficking in the northern province of BacGiang was reviewed.

The project, started in August 2011, raised the knowledge of law and counselling skills for those who directly involved in receiving the victims.

Seminar discusses coastal area climate change adaptation

Domestic and foreign experts attending a seminar on October 1 have debated ways to improve climate change adaptation and natural resource management in Vietnamese coastal areas.

Its co- conveners— the Centre for Marine Life Conservation and Community Development, the National Committee for the Man and Biosphere Program, the Swedish Embassy, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)—were joined by local authorities, UNESCO and Stockholm University representatives, and leading environmental experts.

Participants highlighted the important role of community-based approaches to ecological management in Vietnam’s coastal and river delta regions.

They stressed the need to strengthen cooperation and bolster preventative measures against natural disasters.

The seminar reviewed the results of a three-year biosphere and natural resource preservation project (2011-2013) that sought to promote sustainable coastal community development.

Vietnamese delegates introduced the national biodiversity conservation strategy and the long-term vision for aquaculture development in the face of climate change’s ever-increasing impacts.

Vietnam currently has eight biosphere reserves covering more than 4 million hectares and directly affecting the lives of approximately four million local residents.

Hanoi launches Vietnam Women’s Innovation Day

On October 1, Hanoi launched the 2013 Vietnam Women’s Innovation Day 2013, an initiative created to inspire and support the economic empowerment of Vietnamese women.

Representatives from the Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU), the World Bank (WB) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in Vietnam were all present at the event.

VWU Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa explained the day aims to unite women and women’s groups across the country in efforts to narrow the gender gap still present in the national economy, labour, and employment. Materially disadvantaged women and women from ethnic minorities are a particular priority.

The day is also a forum for policy makers and experts to discuss how to seize the potential and stimulate the creativity of the nation’s women, and thus improve their living conditions and expand their opportunities, she said.

WB Country Director Victoria Kwakwa said the event supports innovation in empowering and enhancing the economic capacity of Vietnamese women.

She expressed her hopes the suggested initiatives will be embraced as soon as possible and implemented to help Vietnamese women escape poverty and prejudice.

Since the day was announced last March, its organising board received 130 innovative proposals and 219 creative ideas for projects from 57 provinces and cities. Thirty-eight economic research projects were included in the shortlist for the final round.

The VWID’s framework also encompasses a business fair introducing the products of 30 businesses run by female entrepreneurs. It has been running from September 27 and will conclude on October 6.

First launched in 2003, VWID has received nearly 1,600 entries over the course of its history, granting more than US$2.4 million in funding to 231 innovative projects.

HCM City families shifted for embankment works

Authorities in HCM City’s Binh Thanh District plan to relocate six households to build an embankment as part of works to prevent erosion along the Thanh Da Canal.

Work to build 1km of embankment began in July 2012 at an estimated cost of VND60 billion (US$2.86 million).

The families asked to move out will be provided with apartments, and the local People’s Committee hopes they will move by tomorrow.

The project, managed by the Inland Waterway Authority, was originally scheduled for completion in a year, but problems related to land acquisition have delayed it, and the work is unlikely to be finished this year, the People’s Committee said.

Erosion of river and canal banks has occurred frequently in the city in recent years, while erosion-prevention projects have been tardy.

In the first six months of this year, there were 13 such cases, mostly in the outlying districts of Nha Be, Can Gio, Thu Duc, and District 9, according to the city Steering Committee for Storm and Food Control and Prevention, Rescue and Research.

They have sent 4,000sq.m of land and five houses plunging into the water.

Nine houses and embankments have collapsed partly, with 86 meters of construction falling into rivers and canals.

The city People’s Committee has instructed relevant districts to make plans to move households out of erosion-prone areas. But this work too has been tardy due to several reasons, including shortage of funds.

There are now more than 60 vulnerable spots, according to the Inland Waterway Authority.

Tran Van Giau, deputy director of the authority, said plans for 11 new preventive are basically complete, but funding remains problematic.

The new projects are unlikely to be implemented soon, he admitted.

Lack of farmland looms large

Scientists have raised concerns about the loss of 740,000ha of agricultural land in recent years, partly due to industrialisation and modernisation.

Speaking at a meeting to find out solutions for long-term land management and land-use planning, held yesterday in Ha Noi, Associate Professor Vu Nang Dung from the Association of Land Sciences said, “Land also plays an important role in industrialisation and modernisation.”

However, he said this was at the expense of farm land used to build industrial zones, infrastructure and urban housing.

Dung said that maintaining existing land areas for growing rice in delta areas and making plans to broaden land area for growing rice in midland and mountainous provinces was necessary to ensure food security.

He said that preventing the movement of farm land into other uses should be the main target of the country’s land-use strategy in coming years.

Viet Nam now has about 26.1 million hectares of farm land, including 4.1 million hectares for growing rice.

The scientists at the meeting said the reduction of agricultural land was being made worse by the challenges of a growing population and the impacts of climate changes.

They said that population growth created an increased need for housing and food. The country’s population, now about 88 million of people, is forecast to grow to 96 million by 2020 and 108.7 million by 2049.

The scientists said sea-level rises due to climate change would reduce agricultural land in the two biggest deltas of Hong (Red) River and Cuu Long (Mekong) River.

The Mekong Delta is expected to lose about 758,000 hectares of good farm land, equal to about 18.8 per cent of the total farming area in the delta, if the sea level rises 75cm by 2100.

Therefore, participants urged Viet Nam to quickly build a long-term strategy for land-use planning and land management.

Addressing the need to institute effective land management in the long term, Doctor Huynh Dang Hy, from the Viet Nam Urban Planning and Development Association, said that relocating people living in urban areas to northern midland and mountainous provinces, such as Bac Giang, Phu Tho, Thai Nguyen, and Vinh Phuc, was one of the solutions offered.

“However, to do this, the State is advised to give priority for socio-economic development of the provinces,” he said.

It should build industrial zones or develop local tourism sector, Hy said.

For central provinces, it was advised to focus on developing seaports and building industrial zones, he said, adding that it needed to avoid areas forecast to be affected by sea level rise.

New landfill site in operation in Cu Chi District

As the Landfill Site No.2 at Tay Bac Cu Chi Solid Waste Treatment Complex will stop receiving waste by end of this year, the Ho Chi Minh City Urban Environment Company has opened up Landfill Site No.3 recently.

Landfill Site No.3 covers an area of 22.68 hectares and was set up with an investment cost of around VND976 billion. With capacity for 2,000-4,000 tons of waste per day and operating with KBEC technology of South Korea, the new site comprises of a liner system, ground water collection and conveyor facility, leachate collection and landfill gas collection facility, with total height of 35 meters for burial, of which 15 meters is underground.

The four-compartment landfill will be able to handle a total of 6.5 million tons of waste. Construction at the first compartment is complete and the other three will be finished by end of 2014.

Beauty Queen funds restoration of pagoda, two bridges

On September 30, many Buddhists and local people from Phu Quoc District in Kien Giang Province attended the restoration ceremony of Phuoc Thien Pagoda, for which funds have been donated by Beauty Queen Elizabeth Bich Lien.

The Phuoc Thien Pagoda has been the location for free disease treatment for poor locals in past years.

Elizabeth Bich Lien also raised funds for building of two rural bridges to replace foot bridges at U Minh and An Minh Districts in Kien Giang Province.

Bich Lien is well-known as a Beauty Queen who won many prizes in beauty contests, such as the title of Miss Ao Dai (traditional Vietnamese dress) in 1986, Beauty Queen of Vietnam 2004, Miss Asian Princess 2006 and Mrs Asia USA International 2012. Currently, she is a resident of the United States.

Elizabeth Bich Lien is a good hearted woman and has used her beauty queen status to raise funds for charity to help poor people, cancer kids and orphans.

Knowledge key to climate battle

Understanding ecological risks (Ecological Risk Assessment or ERA) created by climate change is part of an approach to help communities understand the problems.

Creating Biosphere Reserves (BR) to promote sustainable development is part of the solution.*

Pilot schemes covering these two areas are being carried out in Viet Nam. Lessons learned were discussed at a two-day workshop on building resilience in coastal areas that ended today in Ha Noi.

The work is being done in the Red River Delta coastal Biosphere Reserve embracing the northern provinces of Nam Dinh, Thai Binh and Ninh Binh.

Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve in northern Hai Phong Province is also reported to be helping local people enhance their natural resources and livelihoods.

The new ways of looking at climate were introduced and implemented with support from the Swedish International Development Agency in targeted localities, some facing definite risks.

At the Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve in Phu Long Commune, ecological risk assessment was piloted to provide evidence for risk assessment of mangroves and the brackish pond systems, including species diversity and survival rates for shrimps.

Dr Jonas Gunnarsson from Stockholm University recommended that the ERA tool provided a cost-efficient method on how to calculate environmental risks. Interpreting the data, however, required expertise in ecology, environmental chemistry and socio-economics.

Professor Hoang Tri, secretary of the Viet Nam MAB (Man and Biosphere programme) National Committee, said ERA was highly recommended by the global scientific community.

Viet Nam has a total of eight biosphere reserves relating to more than 4 million hectares.

*Biosphere reserves are sites established by countries and recognised under UNESCO’s to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science.

VAVA maintains central role in supporting AO victims

The Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) has confirmed its position as a strong, effective and prestigious organisation playing the key role in social activities to support the victims.

The assessment was made at the sixth conference of VAVA’s Central Committee in Hanoi on October 1, during which the committee finalised its documents to submit to the third National Congress for the 2013-2018 term.

Addressing the conference, VAVA President, Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh spoke highly of the contributions that its members across the country have made to the documents, pledging that the committee will considers all the opinions to complete the documents, including a report on the plan for the association’s operation in the 2013-2018 period.

Participants at the event agreed that more efforts should be made to better the support policies for the victims as well as VAVA staff.

They said it is necessary to integrate programmes of the association into socio-economic ones launched by the government, including the national target programme on sustainable poverty reduction for the 2011-2015 period.

According to Rinh, over the past 10 years, VAVA has raised nearly 630 billion VND (30 million USD) to fund the building of rehabilitation centres in 20 localities and 2,392 houses for poor victims. He said that about half a million victims have received assistance in different forms from the association.-

Mekong Delta localities reach out to trafficking victims

Members from the Vietnam Women’s Union chapters in the Mekong Delta met at a workshop in Can Tho city on October 1 to better their knowledge of helping trafficked women integrate back into society.

Delegates shared the view that rape and human trafficking for sex purposes have increased in the Mekong Delta in recent years. More and more women and girls are duped and forced into brothels and karaoke parlours in neighbouring countries to work as sex workers.

Some suffer psychological trauma and contract sexually-transmitted diseases, and find it difficult to gain employment when they return home due to a lack of knowledge and soft skills.

In June 2005, a centre was set up in Can Tho city to assist underprivileged women and children. It has so far taken care of 162 trafficking victims, giving them access to vocational training, general studies and healthcare. After a 15-month course, they landed new jobs and settled their lives.

During the workshop, participants learnt about the law on human trafficking prevention which took effect on January 1, 2012, and the Party and State’s policies on protecting and assisting trafficking victims.

The event was co-hosted by the municipal chapter and the Alliance Against Trafficking in Persons (AAT).

Earlier on September 18, the AT-supported project on assisting returned victims of trafficking in the northern province of Bac Giang was reviewed.

The project, started in August 2011, raised the knowledge of law and counselling skills for those who directly involved in receiving the victims.-

Hanoi portal bridges authorities and citizens

The Hanoi authorities will make available guidelines and policy documents at www.hanoi.gov.vn to reduce administrative procedures.

The website focused on updating information following Government Decree 43/2011/ND-CP to provide online information and public services .

It will promote links with departments, districts and press sites to encourage the use of electronic interfaces as a bridge between the authorities and citizens, and reduce pressure on administrative procedures while increasing transparency of the city leaders’ management.

The portal has published 54,000 news pieces and articles, and updated more than 30 major columns in its 10 years of operation.

US charity provides help for kids with heart disease

A foundation set up by the US-based UPS Corporation, a global leading provider of specialised transportation and logistics services, has donated 30,000 USD to fund heart surgery for poor children in Vietnam.

The donation aims to raise funds for the “UPS, Heartbeat of Vietnam” programme, which assists underprivileged kids with congenital heart disease through pre-operation care, open-heart surgery and post-operation follow-up care.

The UPS Foundation has also presented 26,750 USD to the Room To Read (RTR) organisation, which works to bring educational opportunities to disadvantaged children.

The grant will be used to implement RTP’s projects to increase the number and diversity of books in libraries in Vietnam.

In 2010, the UPS Foundation presented over 146,750 USD to local charitable funds.-

Nutrition week aims to improve public health

The Ministry of Health will launch a “Nutrition and Development” week from October 16-23, carrying the message of ensuring nutrition security and food safety for all people’s health.

The campaign is part of the ministry’s effort to realise the goals of the National Strategy on Nutrition in the 2011-2020 period and respond to the World Food Day (October 16).

A series of activities will be hosted during the week encouraging and teaching people how to eat more nutritious food and process food in the right way to preserve nutrition.

The public health departments in cities and provinces nationwide will coordinate with related agencies to popularise knowledge on gardening and husbandry as well as daily nutrition among families, especially those in remote and natural disaster-prone areas.

General Association of Vietnamese in Belgium to take shape

The General Association of Vietnamese in Belgium will be established to strengthen solidarity within the Vietnamese community.

The information was unveiled at Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Thanh Son’s meeting with Vietnamese residents and students in Belgium on October 1.

Deputy Minister Nguyen Thanh Son briefed them on the country’s socio-economic situation and remarkable changes over the years.

He reiterated the Vietnamese Party and State’s policies which consider the overseas Vietnamese an integral part of the Vietnamese nation, and called on them to further contribute to the homeland.

Son who is also Head of the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs, pledged to do his utmost to help the overseas Vietnamese do business for the benefit of the homeland.

The Deputy Minister appreciated the contribution by overseas Vietnamese to purchasing equipment for soldiers who are doing guard duty on Truong Sa islands. The State, he said, will arrange for overseas Vietnamese to visit the Truong Sa archipelago from March 15 to April 30 next year.

Son also expressed his wish to set up a provisional executive committee before the coming congress to establish a General Association of Vietnamese in Belgium.

Tang Van Hai, the first Chairman of the Vietnamese Association for Solidarity in Belgium in the 1973-1979 period affirmed that the Vietnamese community in Belgium has agreed on the 14-member composition of the provisional executive committee of the General Association of Vietnamese headed by Huynh Cong My.

The congress will be held in November to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Vietnam and Belgium.

Source: VEF/VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/Dantri

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