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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 4/5   2010-05-04 - VietNamNet/VNA

Government boosts island economies


On April 28 the Government approved a ten year master-plan for island economies, to increase their annual growth rate to 14-15 percent by 2020.


The scheme calls for an estimated investment of 162.5 trillion VND (over 8.5 billion USD) to increase their contributions to the national economy to 0.5 percent, up from the current 0.2 percent.


The sum, including 51.8 trillion VND (nearly 2.75 billion USD) for the 2010-15 period, will be invested in ports, roads, electricity and water supply systems, communications and general social infrastructure.


Along with this financial investment, the Government has also pledged to take steps to complete legal frameworks, develop human resources, speed up the application of scientific and technical advances and increase feasibility surveys and scientific research.


The islands’ master-plan focuses on Phu Quoc island in the south-western province of Kien Giang, Con Dao in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Van Don and Co To- Thanh Lan islands in the northern province of Quang Ninh, Cat Ba-Cat Hai in Haiphong and Ly Son and Phu Quy in the respective central provinces of Quang Ngai and Binh Thuan.


“The scheme will target islands located in a favourable geographic position and with great economic potential, to create breakthroughs in marine and island economy development, helping boost the national economy,” emphasised the Prime Minister in decision 568/QD-TTg.


It is also aimed at turning them into bases strong enough to defend the nation.


SMEs discuss ways to weather economic crisis


Strategies for small and medium sized enterprises (SME) to deal with the economic crisis was the topic of a seminar held in Ho Chi Minh City on May 4.


The seminar was just one of several global initiatives launched by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and brought together more than 200 businesspeople.


It was aimed at studying and satisfying the needs of SMEs and providing a consultancy service for them during the crisis period.


The ACCA’s President Brendan Murtagh, said that during a financial crisis, SMEs always find it difficult to access loans and they also face a fragile recovery, even when provided with stable financial support.


The Deputy Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, Dr. Vo Tri Thanh, shared this view, saying that their shortage of assets is the biggest barrier of all for SMEs trying to get a bank loan.


To create better conditions for SMEs, Thanh said that the government needs to simplify administrative procedures, improve the legal environment and provide more information about other capital sources, as well as bank loans.


SMEs need to map out their own business plans to reduce costs, publicise themselves and take part in more of their associations’ operations, he added.


ACCA’s Business Development Manager for Asia and the Pacific, Reza Ali, spoke of Singapore’s experience in supporting SMEs to weather the crisis, including solutions to cut the cost of personnel and business premises, providing easier access to loans, developing their capacity and helping them to penetrate foreign markets.


Ben Thanh Land developer to list on Hanoi bourse


Ben Thanh Land Corporation plans to list on the Hanoi Stock Exchange next month to improve transparency and liquidity, according to its chief.


Nguyen Cao Tri, the firm’s general director, unveiled plans for listing more than 11.35 million shares at last week’s inauguration of the company’s 22-storey Ben Thanh Times Square mixed development on Ky Con Street in HCM City ’s District 1.


In February, the corporation issued new shares at a huge premium to strategic partners – domestic and foreign property investment companies – raising almost 100 billion VND (5.23 million USD) to increase its charter capital to 113.55 billion VND (about 6 million USD) from 83.55 billion VND and raise funds for projects under way.


Last year, it reported net profits of 60 billion VND (3.1 million USD), which is expected to rise to 100 billion VND this year.


Ben Thanh Land , whose institutional founding shareholders are Ben Thanh Group, Ben Thanh Tourist Company, and the joint-stock Oriental Commercial Bank, began operations in late 2006 and has eight projects in HCM City alone, including the Nam A convention centre, apartment-hotel complex Ibis Ben Thanh Palace and Ben Thanh Times Square.


Tourists numbers jump during holiday


The number of visitors attracted to popular and well known Vietnamese tourist spots rose sharply during the Liberation Day holiday period, from April 30 to May 3.


Around 500,000 tourists flocked to Ha Long Bay, a world natural heritage, to attend the 2010 Ha Long Tourism Festival (Carnival Ha Long), resulting in hotels, restaurants and tourist services becoming overloaded. The average price of accommodation increased by as much as two or five times, with some even ten times more expensive, compared to normal.


More than 500 boats that service the tourist trade in Ha Long Bay ran at full capacity, carrying almost 5,000 visitors per day.


It was a similar scenario in Sa Pa in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai , where around 15,000 tourists made the journey to enjoy the 2010 “In the Clouds” Festival.


According to the Culture and Eco-Tourism Centre at Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park , the number of visitors to the Phong Nha-Ke Bang caves in the central province of Quang Binh reached over 19,000, a record figure for the park since it opened.


Lao Bao and Khe Sanh, two new destinations in the central province of Quang Tri , also attracted nearly 50,000 tourists over the April 30-May 1 holiday. Everyday, between 5,000 and 6,000 people from across the country and Laos and Thailand visited the areas to go sightseeing at the former US war battlefield as well as to shop at border trade centres.


The central province of Quang Nam , which is home to two world cultural heritages, Hoi An Ancient Town and the My Son Sanctuary, saw a sudden rise in the number of visitors with more than 3,000 rooms in 82 hotels and guesthouses being booked weeks in advance.


Other destinations such as Sam Son in Thanh Hoa province, Cua Lo in Nghe An province and the ancient capital of Hue also received their largest-ever number of tourists over the four-day holiday period.


Extra financial support for border areas


Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has recently decided upon a range of mechanisms and policies to encourage economic development along the border between Vietnam and Laos and Cambodia.


Under Decision 482/QD-TTg, the direct beneficiaries include 19 Vietnamese provinces that share a border with Laos or Cambodia and Vietnamese businesses that are carrying out programmes and projects in Lao and Cambodian provinces that border with Vietnam .


Vietnam will prioritise investments to build checkpoints and roads along the border as well as several residential clusters in areas that are important for national security in provinces that border with Laos and Cambodia .


Projects to create or enhance several border markets will also receive capital support from the State.


Vietcombank offers ‘electronic wallet’ services


Customers of Vietcombank now can access an electronic wallet service that allows them to buy goods via websites without providing banking account or credit card details.


The service is provided by the VietUnion Online Service Joint Stock Company under an agreement with the bank. VietUnion, a member of Sai Gon Investment Group, will handle all risks and complaints related to the service.


A fixed sum of money from the customer’s VCB account will be transferred to their Payoo electronic wallet.

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