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Sep 30 2011

Hanoi upscale apartment residents protest service fee hikes

hanoi upscale apartment residents protest service fee hikes

Residents of five upscale apartment buildings in Hanoi have sought the capital city administration’s help in preventing service fees from being hiked unreasonably.

According to a report in Monday’s Tuoi Tre newspaper, the residents at 93 Lo Duc, The Manor, Golden Westlake, Keangnam, and Sky City have complained that the prices for services have been decided arbitrarily.

93 Lo Duc resident Phan Minh Thuy said that in 2007, the developer of the building started to charge its residents a monthly service fee of VND300,000 for each small apartment and VND400,000 for the larger ones. Last July, the fees were doubled.

“All kinds of fees must be agreed upon by the developers and at least half the residents, but so far they just impose the fees by themselves and we have to pay,” she said.

Service fees usually cover garbage collection, use of elevators and public lighting.

Thuy said residents like her do not know why the fees keep increasing because the developer does not provide any details.

“We have demanded to know how much each service in the building costs, but the developer never gives out the information,” she said. “People here are really upset.”

An unnamed resident, also in the same building, was quoted by Tuoi Tre as saying the lack of a cap on service fees allows many apartment buildings to collect as much money as they want.

“Almost all developers refuse to disclose the real costs they have to pay, and residents continue to be robbed,” the source said.

The situation is similar at luxury buildings like Golden Westlake and Keangnam.

To Hong Son, who owns a 145-square-meter apartment at Golden Westlake, said he paid service fees of around VND6.9 million in the first quarter, but the payment surged to VND8.1 million (US$390) in the second quarter.

Son said the fee was set in US dollars, despite the government’s ban on price listings in foreign currencies. “When the dollar rises against the dong, we have to pay more,” he said.

Nguyen Huy Tuong, vice chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee, said he has asked the Department of Finance to look into the situation and propose a limit on service fees at apartment buildings.

The proposal will take into consideration different conditions at different buildings and will make sure developers “can’t just charge whatever they want,” Tuong said.

http://www.thanhniennews.com/2010/Pages/20110926163239.aspx

Sep 30 2011

Vietnam real estate investor sued over promises

vietnam real estate investor sued over promises


Customers of a high-end apartment building in Ho Chi Minh City have prepared to sue the building investor who was late to deliver the houses and failed to pay full compensation as agreed.

 

Quoc Cuong Housing Investment and Development Company, which invested in the Quoc Cuong Gia Lai building in District 7, had promised in contracts that the houses would be given to customers between July and September 2009, but they were only ready in April this year, or 18 months late, the customers said at a meeting Sunday. 

 

According to the contracts, the investor in case of late delivery had to pay a monthly punishment of 1.5 percent of what the buyer already paid. Many buyers who paid late also had to compensate 1.5 percent of the unpaid money a month.

 

However, Quoc Cuong now relies on the Commerce Law, agreeing to pay only 8 percent in total of what the buyers have paid, for not fulfilling its responsibility.

 

The compensation was thus reduced from around VND100 million per customer to tens of million.

 

Many customers also complained about the quality of the apartments, which according to them is much worse than promised in the contract.

 

One of the customers said that the window at his apartment was smaller than the design, the toilet is not usable, the bedroom floor is made from industrial wood instead of natural wood, and many other rooms are tiled with low quality materials. 

 

The families have asked the investor to return them the difference of the material cost.

 

Management fees at the building is another problem, as many customers said that the fees were decided without their agreement and that they were higher than at similar buildings in the area.

 

Nguyen Nhu Loan, an officer from the investor, on Monday said the houses were late because more than 70 percent of the customers paid late, causing the investor to be short of funds and unable to proceed the project as scheduled.

 

“In principle, the company could end the contracts with late payers but it did not and it shared the difficulties with the customers instead,” Loan was cited as saying in a VnExpress report.

 

Many families at the building did not agree with the argument and said they would continue with the lawsuit.

 

She also explained that natural wood doesn’t look as pretty as the industrial wood, but the investor can change it for any customers who have demand.

http://www.thanhniennews.com/2010/Pages/20110927-Vietnam-house-investor-face-lawsuit.aspx

Sep 30 2011

US companies conclude first agriculture trade mission to Vietnam

us companies conclude first agriculture trade mission to vietnam

Fifteen small and medium-sized US companies have taken part in a trade mission to Vietnam this week, aiming to promote US agricultural exports to the Southeast Asian country.

The companies met with nearly 150 Vietnamese producers, importers, buyers, distributors, and investors during their visit from September 26 to 29, which was also the US Department of Agriculture’s first ever trade mission to Vietnam, US Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City said in a statement Thursday.

“This agricultural trade mission will give US and Vietnamese companies the chance to learn about each country’s trade opportunities, business practices and government programs,” said Michael Scuse, Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.

“Since 2006, no other major US agricultural export market has grown as quickly as Vietnam,” he said. “We believe the result of this mission will be increased trade and improved economic prospects for all.”

Last year two-way agricultural, fish and forestry trade reached nearly US$3.4 billion, according to the US Consulate General statement.

The trade mission supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double all US exports by the end of 2014 and create millions of new American jobs, the statement added.

Suresh Kumar, US Assistant Secretary of Commerce, said earlier this month that Vietnam is one of the priority markets under the initiative.

http://www.thanhniennews.com/2010/Pages/20110929-Vietnam-US-agriculture-exports.aspx

Sep 30 2011

Vietnam central bank encourages lenders to report violations

vietnam central bank encourages lenders to report violations

The State Bank of Vietnam said Wednesday that local media should encourage, instead of criticizing commercial banks that report interest rate violations by other lenders.

According to the central bank, local lenders have generally complied with the deposit interest rate ceiling of 14 percent and their lending rates are falling.

“Some cases of violations have been discovered by banks and reported to the State Bank of Vietnam and have been strictly dealt with, creating transparency and equality in banking activities and receiving supports from the public and financial institutions,” the monetary authority said in a statement.

The State Bank, however, said some reports published in local newspapers between September 20 and 23 had criticized the reporting of the violations and called it an unethical business practice. The central bank requested local media to end such a criticism and stop supporting violators.

In a separate statement on its website, the State Bank of Vietnam said it will maintain the 14 percent rate cap on deposits with terms of one month or longer. Starting October it will also cap interest rates on non-term or under-one-month deposits at 6 percent.

According to news website VnExpress, the criticism so far centered around the case of Dong A Bank, which has been banned from opening new branches for a year after one of its branches was found violating the 14 percent rate cap.

The bank’s branch in the southern province of Tay Ninh was found to have paid 15.5 percent on a deposit of VND1 billion, higher than the 14 percent cap.

VnExpress said the manager of the branch reported that the depositor was actually introduced to him by the director of another bank.

http://www.thanhniennews.com/2010/Pages/20110929173151.aspx

Sep 30 2011

Vietnam central bank caps some dong deposit rates at 6 pct

vietnam central bank caps some dong deposit rates at 6 pct

Vietnam’s central bank said it will cap interest rates on dong deposits that are non-term and those less than a month at 6 percent to address “liquidity risks,” amid concerns about the health of the nation’s banking system.

The State Bank of Vietnam will maintain the existing 14 percent rate cap on deposits of one month or longer, according to a statement on its website. The regulations will take effect from Oct. 1, it said.

Some banks have been offering interest rates as high as 14 percent for deposits as short as 24 hours, which creates “liquidity risks,” the central bank said in the statement. The central bank this month ordered lenders to comply with the 14 percent cap for deposits of one month or more.

“They’re closing a loophole that small banks were using to try to get around the cap on term deposits,” said Fiachra MacCana, managing director of Ho Chi Minh City Securities Corp. “The practical impact of this may be that more money will go out of the banking system into assets like gold, which could put a bit more pressure on the currency.”

Some banks previously offered clients incentives to entice deposit growth, taking the effective rate higher than 14 percent, Credit Suisse Group AG said last month. Vietnamese banks’ ability to mobilize deposits has been “disappointing” this year, limiting the lending capacity of the banking system, it said in a report.

Bank quality

“Depositors today don’t care about the quality of the bank, they just care about the interest rate,” Ly Xuan Hai, chief executive of Asia Commercial Bank, Vietnam’s biggest non-state- owned bank, said in an interview this month. “Because of that, very small, very badly managed banks, when they increase the interest rate for depositors, depositors will come to them.”

Vietnam’s banking system is facing a slowdown in credit growth, a deterioration in asset quality, and funding pressures after some companies reduced deposits as earnings weakened, Moody’s Investors Service said this month.

The deposit cap of 14 percent creates negative real interest rates, Moody’s said, making it harder for banks to attract funds to support its lending growth. Vietnam’s inflation rate in September was 22.42 percent.

Some of Vietnam’s small banks are under-capitalized and undisciplined, and the central bank should let “attrition or consolidation take its course” with these lenders, Credit Suisse said last month.

http://www.thanhniennews.com/2010/Pages/20110930-Vietnam-central-bank-caps-deposit-rates-at-6pct.aspx

Sep 30 2011

Vietnam rice prices jump to near three-yr high

vietnam rice prices jump to near three yr high

Vietnam’s rice export prices rose nearly 1 percent on Thursday, with the 5 percent broken grade hitting $575 a ton and is heading towards $580, which is the highest in more than three years, on demand from Indonesia and Mekong Delta flooding impact, traders said.

They said the loading demand of 400,000 tons for Indonesia, an outstanding Indonesian tender for 100,000 tons and rising flood waters in the Delta that have curbed operation of rice mills and raised production costs, caused prices to rise.

Seasonal floods this year in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta are worsening, with waters rising to the highest level in 10 years.

“The news (of possible demand) from the Philippines could also help lift prices while the stocks in Vietnam are no longer ample,” a trader in Ho Chi Minh City said.

The head of the Philippines’ grain procurement agency said on Thursday he was worried about the damage to rice crops by Typhoon Nesat and could not rule out the need to import rice soon to replenish reserves.

http://www.thanhniennews.com/2010/Pages/20110930-Vietnam-rice-prices-jump.aspx

Sep 30 2011

Mizuho CEO says Japan firms looking for Vietnam expansion

mizuho ceo says japan firms looking for vietnam expansion

Yasuhiro Sato, chief executive officer of Mizuho Financial Group Inc., said Japanese companies are interested in developing operations and finding partners in Vietnam to diversify away from China.

Sato spoke to reporters in Hanoi Friday after his bank said it would buy a 15 percent stake in Joint-Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam.

“Some important Japanese companies now are trying to have operations overseas more because of yen appreciation and the tsunami.

Vietnam’s economy “has expanded quite a lot” and “business activities are now booming.”

Japanese companies are considering Vietnam as a “very important country” to “have significant operations.”

“Some companies who are leading in technology or automobile industry and some other areas have strong desires to have operations overseas.

“Our non-Japanese clients in the US and European countries are now seeking very good partners in Vietnam.

“Now in China, we have more than 30 Japanese companies. They have too much focus on China so far and they are now looking for the next area to make investment — and Vietnam is the strongest possibility for Japanese companies.”

http://www.thanhniennews.com/2010/Pages/20110930-Mizuho-CEO-says-Japan-firms-looking-for-Vietnam-expansion.aspx

Sep 29 2011

More quotas for gold import grated, bigger worry raised

more quotas for gold import grated bigger worry raised

VietNamNet Bridge – The fact that the State Bank of Vietnam has continuously granted quotas for importing gold to ease the domestic demand has raised a worry that this will put a hard pressure on the dong/dollar exchange rate.

Gold companies said last week that the gold supply has nearly depleted, while the demand remains very high, even though the consignments of 4 tons of import gold have arrived.

The high demand and limited supply are the two main reasons behind the domestic gold price skyrocketing to the levels which are much higher than the world’s prices.

On September 24, the gold price in the domestic market was higher by 4 million dong per tael than the world’s price. Meanwhile, in a speech delivered in late August, the Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam said that the ideal gap between the domestic and the world’s price is 400,000 dong per tael, and any bigger gaps may encourage illegal imports and speculation.

Therefore, the State Bank of Vietnam, once again, released a message on September 26 that it will allow to import more gold to stabilize the market.

Allowing more imports is the solution the central bank usually uses to ease the domestic thirst which is believed to force the prices down. The solution really brought the desired effects in the past: people stopped rushing to purchase gold when they heard that imports were coming which would ease the demand for gold and force the prices down.

However, things seem to be quite different now and people expect long term strategy rather than the temporary solution which just can help get a fire under control.

Besides, analysts have warned that any medicine could bring side effects. When more gold is imported to Vietnam, this means that the demand for foreign currencies would increase, which would put a high pressure on the dong/dollar exchange rate.

If the State Bank wants to stabilize the exchange rate to fulfill the commitments of devaluating the dong no more than one percent by the end of the year, it will have to sell foreign currencies to the market. If so, the move would mean the decreases in the foreign currency reserves.

The big problem in allowing to import gold is that foreign currencies are used to import gold which satisfies the speculation and the gold hoarding by people, while they cannot be put into the production and business. An economist has called this a “worrying foreign currency bleeding.”

As such, there are two choices: either to allow to import gold to stabilize the domestic gold market and face the exchange rate risks, or “ignore” the performance of the gold market and try to stabilize the exchange rate; which is an important factor to encourage production and business.

When asked about whether to allow to import more gold now, Truong Van Phuoc, General Director of Eximbank, said that it is advisable to grant quotas for gold imports, and it is necessary to import gold right now.

Phuoc stressed that the thing that needs to be done now is to stabilize the market. Meanwhile, he cannot see any risks relating to the exchange rate.

“We should consider gold as a kind of foreign currencies which is a part of the foreign currency reserves. The foreign currencies to be used to import gold will not disappear,” Phuoc said.

“The thing we need to do is to turn this into a resource to serve the national economy,” he added.

Phuoc also stressed that if the domestic demand cannot be satisfied by imports, this will encourage illegal imports, which will make the “foreign currency bleeding” become more serious.

A banker has said that the foreign currency positions of commercial banks are really good.

Source: TBKTVN

Sep 29 2011

Mu Cang Chai’s terraced fields in harvest season

mu cang chai%e2%80%99s terraced fields in harvest season

VietNamNet Bridge – Photographers flock to Mu Cang Chai district in the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai–in the harvest season to grasp incredible moments of the terraced fields.

Mu Cang Chai is about 300km away from Hanoi, to the northwest. The location has been closer and more famous for domestic and overseas travelers. Overseas backpackers and photographers usually tramp to Yen Bai just to witness the terraced fields, enjoy fresh air, taking nice and splendid photos.

September and October are the finest months in Mu Cang Chai and also the most attractive month to tourists and travelers.

The rice terraced fields of Mu Cang Chai have been recognized as a national heritage site.

Hoang Hac

Sep 29 2011

European Commission proposes financial transaction tax

european commission proposes financial transaction tax

The European Commission Wednesday presented a proposal for a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) in the 27-nation bloc.

The tax would be levied on all transactions on financial instruments between financial institutions when at least one party to the transaction is located in the EU.

The exchange of shares and bonds would be taxed at a rate of 0.1 percent and derivative contracts, at a rate of 0.01 percent.

“Today I am putting before you a very important text that if implemented may generate a revenue of above 55 billion euros per year,” said European Commission President Barroso in his 2011 State of the Union address Wednesday in Strasburg, France.

The revenues of the tax would be shared between the European Union (EU) and its member states. Part of the tax would be used as an EU own resource, as anticipated in the bloc 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). This would partly reduce national contributions.

The FTT would ensure that the financial sector makes a fair contribution at a time of fiscal consolidation. The financial sector played a role in the origins of the economic crisis and yet it is currently under-taxed by comparison to other sectors.

By proposing a financial transaction tax at EU level first, the commission intends to be in a position to promote such a tax at global level in the framework of the G20.

The commission has discussed the introduction of a financial transaction since 2009 on several occasions in the G20 (Pittsburgh and Toronto).

With the support of the current French Presidency of the G20, the introduction of a financial transaction tax at global level could be on the table at the next G20 summit in Cannes on November 3 and 4 this year.

“I am confident that our partners in the G20 will see their interest in following this path,” commented Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-fraud and Audit, Algirdas Semeta, in Strasburg on Wednesday.

As for the FTT implementation in the EU, the proposal now needs to be discussed and agreed unanimously in the European Council, following the opinion of the European Parliament.

The commission proposed that the tax should come into effect from January 1, 2014.

VietNamNet/Xinhuanet

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