Near-poor households to get preferential loans
About 1.5 million households in Viet Nam who are living near the poverty line will soon be able to access preferential loans from the Government.
Under Decision 15/2013/QD-TTg signed by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung last Saturday, households with incomes near the poverty line will get loans with an interest rate of 0.85 per cent per month and more than 10 per cent a year. The rate is set to be equivalent to 130 per cent of the rate offered to poor households.
Under the standards set for the period of 2011-2015, near-poor households include those with a monthly income of VND401,000 – VND 520,000 (US$19 – $25) in rural areas and VND501,000- VND650,000 ($24 – $31) in urban areas. Those who have the lower income are designated as poor households.
The decision also asks the Viet Nam Bank for Social Policies (VBSP), which is channeling the loans, to make plans to ensure annual capital for the preferential loans.
“The need for preferential loans for near-poor households is no different to the need for these loans for poor household,” said VBSP’s deputy general director, Nguyen Van Ly, “However, we could not meet this demand in previous years due to difficulties in the economy so only poor households got the loans.”
The VBSP started to provide preferential loans to poor households in 2009.
“The new policy will help near-poor households to have capital to invest in business and production to improve their family finances, and prevent them from falling back into poverty again,” Ly said, adding that the policy would also contribute to the implementation of the Government’s social welfare policies.
The new policy will take effect from April 16, 2013.
$2b windfall to aid poor students
The Viet Nam Bank for Social Policy will set aside VND45 trillion (US$2.16 billion) for a five-year lending programme for poor students from this year, according to its general director Duong Quyet Thang.
He was speaking at a conference in Ha Noi chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan reviewing the implementation of a Government decree on financial support for disadvantaged students.
Thang said that no student would be left without schooling because of money shortages under the bank’s programme.
However, some education experts disagreed and have warned that the amount was still not enough to cater for the need of students nation-wide.
Among the beneficiaries of the programme are orphans, students whose families are living under or near the poverty line, and those who have suffered financial difficulties as a result of illness, injury or natural disaster.
Since November 2011, every eligible student has been able to receive a maximum loan of VND10 million ($480) per academic year, equivalent to VND1 million ($48) per month.
Bui Xuan Giap from central Nghe An Province is among those supported by the programme. The money is helping five out of his six children continue their study at university.
“Thanks to a simple and easy procedure of taking out loans, our family has borrowed VND83.2 million to aid our children in their studies,” Giap said.
Tong Minh Ha, a poor student from Phu Chau Vocational Training College in Ha Noi’s Tu Liem District, said he would continue to borrow money and repay the debt when he finds a job.
Deputy PM Nhan praised the bank’s programme for undertaking thorough inspections and supervision to ensure that the loans are reaching the right beneficiaries.
Last year the bank decided that 3,639 candidates, or 0.62 per cent of the applicants, were ineligible for a loan.
Upon hearing recommendations to raise the loan limit, Nhan said that the amount will continue to change to match fluctuating living costs.
He confirmed that in the near future the Government may consider lending money to support students with their accommodation as well as their tuition fees.
Youth arrested for attack on police
Two men have been arrested and charged over attacking police on Saturday, giving them serious injuries, according to Tran Ngoc Tuan, police chief of the Kon Tum Police’s team of Social Order and Drugs.
The perpetrators were Nguyen Van Dat, 17, of Kon Tum town, and Luong Vinh Dac, 23, of Gia Lai Province’s Pleiku Town.
Police captain Pham Yu Nguyen received head injuries and his left hand was completely separated from the shoulder while Lieutenant Nguyen Ngoc Tri was injured in the head and the face in the attack.
Tuan said the pair were seen without helmets to be driving a motorbike too fast.
He said police forced the accused to stop the motorbike but they ran away. After a chase on Nguyen Van Cu Street, the offenders threw helmets and glass and used sticks to assault police.
Workers unhappy with low wages
Labour turnover is likely to be high in Viet Nam this year as workers express their dissatisfaction with insufficient salaries and unprofessional working environments, a survey conducted by Jobstreet.com has found.
The Malaysia-based Internet recruitment website, which focuses on the Asia-Pacific region, said that 79.5 per cent of 2,000 workers with experience of two years or more said they were not happy with their current jobs and hoped to get new ones with better working conditions and salaries.
More than 75 per cent of the respondents polled in January said they were actively seeking better jobs.
A total of 733 respondents, or 40.6 per cent, said their current salaries were not enough to cover their cost of living.
Another 664 people, or 36.8 per cent, said the salaries did not match their competence.
Only 305 respondents expressed satisfaction with their current salaries and just 51 said they could afford a comfortable lifestyle.
Forty five per cent of respondents ranked salary level as the most important condition for them to opt for new jobs, followed by promotion opportunities, suitable location of workplace and high reputation of companies.
Nearly half of respondents also said they would keep working at the same companies for one more year before they choose new jobs.
Only 18.5 per cent of respondents said they would not change their jobs for the next two years.
The percentage decreases further for those who see themselves staying with their current employers for the next three or four years, to 11.9 per cent and 4.7 per cent respectively.
The survey found that a professional working environment, appropriate working times and good relationships with colleagues are the factors that gave most employees the greatest work satisfaction.
Human activity polluting, degrading nation’s lands
Viet Nam’s land was under increasing pressure of pollution and degradation due to unsustainable human activities and emerging climatic extremes, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said.
The ministry estimated that fertilisers annually used in agriculture was 2.5 to 3 million tonnes, 50 to 70 per cent of which was discharged into the environment.
Meanwhile, as many as 335 spots with pesticide residues in soils had been identified nationwide but they had not been cleaned up effectively.
Also cultivation land was being degraded due to landslides, erosion, desertification and salination. There were 9.3 million hectares of land, accounting for 28 per cent of natural land, under threat of desertification.
In the northern mountainous provinces and the Central Highland, the total land subject to erosion could equal 150 tonnes per hectare.
Vietnamese students to get education in climate change
Students in six schools nationwide will get to know about climate change as part of their curriculum under a pilot programme supported by the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency.
Knowledge about climate change would be incorporated into conventional subjects such as geography, technology or agriculture. Climate change lessons would be designed in an interesting way to engage students.
As experts said in an education workshop on climate change last week, knowledge about climate change was essential to encourage behaviour changes in young citizens but up till now the Vietnamese curriculum did not include it.
Top teachers to be allowed to offer tutoring
Hai Phong is to allow its top teachers to give private tuition, said the local Education and Training Department.
The teachers will be assessed and must register for the purpose.
The department has also requested that schools have at least two streams at the same class level to allow top students to advance at a faster rate.
The department has proposed streams for average students and high achievers.
Garment factory collapse kills one
Ceilings in a factory owned by Ninh Binh Export collapsed yesterday, Feb 24, killing one of the construction workers and leaving three injured.
Ten workers of Hung Yen Construction Corporation were repairing walls in the factory when the ceilings fell down.
Witnesses said the building recently housed 500 sewing workers but they had been laid off.
Police directed rescuers at the scene and evacuated surrounding households and hazardous areas.
Ninh Binh Export is a branch of Hung Yen Garment Corporation of the Viet Nam Textile and Garment Group.
Woman dies after being stung by bees
A women, 80, who was among three people stung by bees, has died, Hue Central Hospital doctors said.
On the Thursday afternoon, a group of workers pulling fibre through sewers in Chan May-Lang Co area accidentally disturbed a beehive, causing the bees to attack people nearby.
Some people ran from the scene but three people were stung by the bees and seriously injured.
World Bank supports rural water initiative
Around 1.7 million rural people in the Hong (Red) River Delta will gain access to safe water and hygienic sanitation thanks to a US$200-million credit agreement signed with the World Bank last Friday.
The support aims to help Viet Nam implement its National Target Programme for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation.
“We are very pleased to support the government’s programme of increasing access to improved water supplies and sanitation in the delta using a results-based approach and moving towards a more programmatic engagement,” said Victoria Kwakwa, the World Bank’s Country Director for Viet Nam.
The programme is expected to strengthen governance systems for results-based service delivery as well as gender-based monitoring and reporting, two key components of the World Bank Viet Nam Country Partnership Strategy 2012–16.
The funding for this credit comes from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional lending resource for poor countries.
The Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) has also committed to providing AUD 8 million ($8.2 million) in the form of technical assistance to support the National Target Programme.
Meanwhile, five innovative learning projects for the benefits of the locals will receive grants from the Viet Nam Blended Learning Programme.
They include a project that provides neonatal tele-education and training and another that trains people in renewable energy potential and carbon offset opportunities.
The projects are included in a programme sponsored by AusAID and managed by the World Bank Viet Nam Development Information Centre.