1-2 storms/depressions hit Vietnam in September

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1-2 storms/depressions hit Vietnam in September

Between 2 and 3 tropical storms or depressions are expected to hit the East Sea in September, of which 1-2 will affect Vietnam, according to weather experts.

September also marks the start of a rainy season in the northern and north-central regions. Although rainfall is forecast to be lower than in the average level of the previous years, there is a high possibility of heavy downpours in a short period of time.

Mountainous localities are warned of rising flood waters in their streams and rivers and heavy rains that might cause flash floods and landslides in hilly terrain.

Monthly temperatures in all localities are equivalent to the average levels in the same period of the previous years.

In September, floodwaters in major rivers from Thanh Hoa to Ha Tinh provinces and in the Central Highlands region will swell up to the first and second alert levels, but are unlikely to rise to the third alert level.

HCM City hails int’l support to its development

Ho Chi Minh City needs closer links and support from international friends and organisations to fulfill its development targets.

It will strive hard to raise the effectiveness of its external affair activities, improve local investment and provide optimum conditions to foreign businesses and partners.

This was said by HCM City Mayor Le Hoang Quan at an August reception for diplomatic corps and international organisations to mark the 68th anniversary of Vietnam’s National Day (September 2).

As the country’s largest economic hub, HCM City annually contributes 22% of national GDP, 28% of industrial production value and one third of the state budget.

Over the past eight months, the city has licensed 344 newly foreign investment projects with an additional US$1.17 billion, raising the total capital of all valid projects to US$34 billion.

At the meeting, Russian Consul General Anatoli Borovik conveyed a message of congratulations to the city’s leaders and people.

He praised HCM City’s efforts in maintaining economic development, improving people’s living standards, upgrading infrastructure and strengthening international economic ties.

The same day three photo exhibitions were opened in the city, showcasing the development of Vietnam and HMC City over the past seven decades.

Deputy PM attends executive leadership programme

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc attended the Vietnam Executive Leadership Programme (VELP) at Harvard University in the US city of Boston, Massachusetts, from August 26-30.

He informed participants of the challenges confronting the Southeastern nation and explained the present priorities of its socio-economic development policy.

Delegates discussed how Vietnam is positioned in the current regional and global context, considering the trend of worldwide economic connectivity.

They spoke about the tasks the country must undertake to restructure its economy and debated how it can learn from the development experiences of the US and other major economies.

The debate also revolved around global trade, domestic reforms, the need for a new growth model, institution overhaul, economic progression and social goals.

Initiated in 2008, VELP – a high-level policymaking exchange forum – was co-hosted by the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry, the United Nations Development Programme and Harvard University this year .

During his time in Boston, Phuc and his entourage also learned about the state’s governance model and toured Omni Parker House, where President Ho Chi Minh lived and worked from 1911-1913.

Gender equality, decent employment discussed

Existing bilateral agreements have effectively contributed to perfecting laws and policies, improving Vietnam’s manpower to further integrate into the regional and international community.

The statement was made at a workshop to share experience and work out future plans to enhance the implementation of bilateral agreements on gender equality and decent employment in Hanoi on August 30.

Panels at the workshop, co-hosted by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation, said existing bilateral agreements demonstrate Vietnam’s determination to integrate into the global community.

They added that the engagements are in line with international criteria on ensuring citizens’ rights and benefits, and labourers in particular, for a sustainable, fair and equal society.

Though notable progress has been made, the observation of international regulations on labour, employment and gender equality cooperation falls short of expectation.

Participants called on the ministry to be more active in conducting research into international standards and urged it to create channels to accelerate gender equality and decent employment, as well as organise regular dialogues with related partners in the field.

Dengue fever in peak season in Vietnam

More than 30,000 cases of dengue fever have been recorded in the country in the first eight months of the year, a year-on-year drop of 28 percent, according to the latest report by the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.

Despite a slump in the number of cases, more serious dengue fever cases have been reported in many provinces such as Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Long An, Binh Phuoc, Dong Nai and An Giang in the South.

Meantime, the central and the highland provinces of Khanh Hoa, Phu Yen, Dak Lak have become hot spots for the disease.

In Khanh Hoa, nearly 5,000 people contracted dengue fever in August and three of these patients succumbed to the disease.

In the North, Hanoi has reported more than 500 cases, an increase of 33 percent against the same period last year.

Outbreak of dengue fever mainly takes place in Dong Da, Hoang Mai, Hai Ba Trung and Ha Dong Districts.

Transport minister vows to tighten management of haulage companies

Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang yesterday pledged to manage transport enterprises better and prevent them from breaking the law.

He made the pledge during a Q&A session on the operations of transport services held by the National Assembly"s National Defence and Security Committee.

He said that many localities fail to take responsibility for managing transport businesses because only 16 out of the 63 provinces and cities have yet to set up any transport management agency whatsoever.

This has resulted in a situation where enterprises signed labour contracts with drivers as a way of getting operations licences. However, they did not supervise the drivers and vehicles and refused to pay insurance costs for them, denying them of their rights, he said.

He said that drivers are usually blamed for accidents and other incidents, however it should be the responsibility of transport companies because the drivers are simply employees, under pressure from the businesses to earn a profit.

"It is necessary to focus on supervising the operations of transport businesses to prevent them from leaving all the work and responsibility to the drivers, as well as forcing them to drive for more than 10 hours a day."

Thang said that overloaded vehicles are also one of the main reasons behind the dilapidated state of the country"s roads.

Major-General Tran Dinh Thu, Director of Central Highlands Gia Lai Province"s Police Department said that checking the vehicles that use the ports where the goods are loaded is essential.

"The owners of these goods should also be responsible for forcing drivers to carry too much on their vehicles," he elaborated.

Thang agreed and said: "Only the drivers of overloaded vehicles have traditionally been fined. Now, the owners of the vehicles will also be fined."

The ministry will step up checks on transport businesses and introduce vehicle weighing stations, he said.

Deputy Ngo Van Hung suggested that there is a need to add more specific regulations to the operations of haulage services.

Thang said that shortly, passenger transport services and container shipping will become a conditional business type and responsibility will be held by the owners of the vehicles and transport enterprises."

Female workers face prejudice

Ways to inject a rights-based approach and a gender dimension into existing labour export practices and analysis were discussed at a two-day workshop in HCM City that closed yesterday.

Of more than 500,000 Vietnamese guest workers in more than 40 countries and territories, female workers account for 30 per cent, said Dr. Nguyen Thi Lan Huong with the Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

The rate of female workers sent abroad increased to 36.2 per cent in 2011 from 34.9 per cent in 2005. Between 2005 and 2011, Viet Nam sent an average of 27,000 female guest workers every year.

Lan said female workers were likely to face greater difficulties abroad than their male counterparts.

Many female guest workers accept jobs involving long working hours with low pay, as well as jobs like domestic workers where they have little or no legal protection. They are also at higher risk of sexual abuse and harassment.

Human trafficking through labour migration is also a matter of concern, Lan said.

"Despite the economic benefits, labour migration causes great difficulties for migrants," said Dr. Ngo Thi Phuong Lan, deputy rector of the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities.

"Lack of information about destinations, low skills and foreign language incompetence make labour migrants vulnerable to labour exploitation and abuse," she said.

She blamed inadequate labour migration policies for the many obstacles and difficulties that migrants face, especially female migrants.

Nearly 80,000 Vietnamese guest workers are sent to work abroad each year, said Dang Nguyen Anh with the Institute of Sociology under the Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences.

He said they are involved in 30 different kinds of jobs, ranging from low to highly skilled ones, adding that unskilled workers account for a majority of the Viet Nam"s labour exports.

Anh also said that a large number of irregular or undocumented migrants who work abroad through unofficial channels or individual arrangements cannot speak local languages and are not protected by laws in the foreign countries.

In case of emergencies, they have no access to supportive social networks.

Close management and tightened supervision by the Government is necessary to ensure workers are not cheated or unfairly exploited by firms that send them abroad, Anh said.

The Vietnamese Government should develop bilateral and multilateral agreements with the governments of destination countries to protect Vietnamese citizen"s rights and safety, he added.

Several local case studies on labour migration in sending countries, policies and actions in receiving countries, international conventions, migration governance and labour export discourses in Viet Nam were discussed at the workshop.

The workshop was attended by policy makers, decision-making agencies, research institutes, universities, socio-political organisations and non-governmental organisations at home and abroad.

Jointly organised by the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities and Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, the workshop brought together 70 participants from eight research institutes and international participants from many countries – Australia, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and South Korea.

Residents at risk with resevoirs set to burst

Deputy PM Hoang Trung Hai has told all localities to make sure their reservoirs were safe following reports that several hundred are already showing signs of degradation.

Hai said action was necessary not only for public safety, but to guarantee energy supply and water.

He told an online conference on Thursday that each reservoir could become a "water bomb", threatening the lives of thousands of people living in lowland areas.

In the past five years, the walls of several dams have broken, including those in Ha Tinh, Hoa Binh, Ninh Thuan, Son La, Tuyen Quang, Quang Tri and Kon Tum.

In the latest case, the Ia Krel 2 hydro-power dam in central Highlands Gia Lai province collapsed in June, forcing hundreds of residents to flee.

Reports from ministries show that there are nearly 7,000 reservoirs of various kinds across the country with a total capacity of around 11 billion cubic metres.

Of these, a total of 317 with a capacity of below three million cubic metres have shown signs of degradation. In particular, 120 reservoirs needed urgent upgrading to ensure they are safe during this year"s flood season.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hoang Van Thang said most of the reservoirs were built in 1960s.

Ministries admitted that several hydro-power reservoirs failed to meet safety regulations, including a failure to be able to handle big storms and floods, particularly small-scale hydro-power plants.

The deputy PM also instructed localities to punish companies that ignored taking safety measures. He told authorities to review reservoir planning to stop ineffective projects.

The Industry and Trade Ministry has already decided not to go ahead with with 338 hydro-power plants that were said to be unfeasible.

Da Nang tackles waste treatment

Japanese experts yesterday urged central Da Nang City to apply advanced technology for waste treatment to help the city deal with overloaded dumps, fulfilling its target of becoming a ‘green city" by 2020.

At least 80 per cent of daily waste will be completely treated if the central city applies smart management of solid waste, Satoshi Sugimoto, an expert from Tokyo-based EX Research Institute said at a seminar yesterday.

Satoshi, who is a consultant of Japan"s Overseas Environmental Cooperation Centre, said Japanese experts would help the city find the technology at a reasonable price.

The city should build up a strict process of waste discharge at source, application of the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) and appropriate technology for waste treatment to meet the target, he said.

Phan Thi Nu, from Da Nang"s urban environment company, said the city discharged nearly 700 tonnes of waste each day, of which 74 per cent was food, garden and park waste.

"We waste natural resources and time," Nu said at the seminar. "A large amount of recycled waste can produce energy and save lots of money. However, the city"s garbage is still buried or burned at dumps.

"The city reserves an annual fund of VND7 billion (US$333,000) for waste collection and treatment, but it could not solve the problem of pollution from dumps."

"The Khanh Son dump, which has expanded from 9.8ha in 1992 to 48.3ha in 2007, will close by 2020. The old dump, which stored 1.4 million tonnes of rubbish between 1992-06, has polluted underground water and the environment in suburban Lien Chieu district," she said.

"We need a huge fund to build up a perfect recycling solution, which would cost approximately 50 per cent of the city"s budget," she said.

However, she emphasised that a garbage classification system was badly in the city.

Ministry discontinues use of X-ray Contrast Agent

In response to harmful reactions of Xenetix (Iobitridol), an X-ray contrast agent, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health has stopped use of the drug.

Earlier, Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi reported of five patients suffering from anaphylactic shock after being injected with Xenetix, and one case of death.

The Ministry thus temporarily halted two batches of the drug and ordered Hyphens Marketing and Technical Service, importer of Xenetix manufactured by Guerbet in France, to immediately suspend distribution.

The Drug Administration of Vietnam has also requested Hyphens Marketing and Technical Service, Guerbet and other importers to inform of the

suspension of the drug to agents as quickly as possible.

They are asked to inform of the quantity of drug, import date, distribution and harmful reactions of the drug to Drug Administration of Viet Nam before September 8.

At the same time, the Departments of Health have to announce the halt of the drug to medical facilities in the country.

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