Philippines approves record budget for 2024

Hanoi: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on December 20 signed into law the national budget for 2024 worth over 5.7 trillion PHP (103.3 billion USD) which includes plans to combat poverty and boost economic growth.

The 2024 budget is nearly 10% higher than 2023’s and the highest ever.

In a speech after signing the budget, Marcos said that his government is committed to good governance and spending it efficiently.

The Philippine government has not yet announced detailed allocations, but according to the Constitution, spending on the education sector accounts for the majority of the national budget.

Analysts predict that the Philippines will face many challenges in 2024 due to El Nino phenomenon. Recently, it narrowed its gross domestic product (GDP) growth target for next year to 6.5%-7.5% from the previous range of 6.5%-8% due to concerns that extreme weather could reduce agricultural output.

The proposed national budget for 2025 is set at 6.12 trillion PHP./.
Source:Vietnam News Agency

Vietnam meets 2023 target of foreign visitors?

Hanoi: The total number of international tourists in 2023 is estimated at 12.5 million, meeting the target of 12.5-13 million international arrivals, it was reported at a workshop on management of the tourism sector in the new situation held by the Vietnam National Authority of Tourism (VNAT) in Hanoi on December 21.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Director of the VNAT Pham Van Thuy said that after two years of being affected by COVID-19, Vietnam’s tourism has recovered and seen an upward trend. The initial target of international arrivals set for the year was 8 million but later revised up to 12.5 – 13 million.

Meanwhile, the number of domestic tourists is forecasted to reach 108 million, exceeding the yearly target by 5.8%. The total revenue from tourism is estimated at 672 trillion VND (28 billion USD), exceeding the plan by 3.38%.

Also during the year, the VNAT was awarded the title “Asia’s Leading Tourism Authority 2023” for the fourth time. Vietnam was honoured in 45 categories of the 2023 World Travel
Awards, one of the leading tourism awards in Asia, including the Asia’s Leading Destination award for the fifth time and Asia’s Leading Nature Destination award for the second time in a row.

The agency admitted outstanding shortcomings and problems in State management of tourism, and proposed solutions in the coming time, including tighten management of tourism sites and destinations, conservation of natural and cultural values at tourism destinations for sustainable tourism development, improvement of security, safety, food hygiene, and environmental protection, among others.

The VNAT also emphasised connectivity under the guidance of the VNAT and the leadership of major tourism centres such as Hanoi, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City… to form “one route, many destinations” products.

It has asked relevant parties to strengthen public-private cooperation under market mechanism for mutual benefits, introduce mechanisms and policies to effectively mobilise resources of enterprises, especially large enterprises inv
esting in the non-smoke industry./.
Source:Vietnam News Agency

Professionalism, humanity, modernity needed for the press in 2024: Party official

Hanoi: Secretary of the Party Central Committee and head of its Commission for Information and Education Nguyen Trong Nghia on December 21 requested the press to promote gained achievements and well address challenges to meet requirements of professionalism, humanity, and modernity.

Speaking at the national press conference to review work in 2023 and put forward tasks for the following year, Nghia acknowledged results and achievements of press agencies and journalists nationwide this year.

He requested them to focus on speeding up the improvement of legal institutions on the press, including amending and supplementing the 2016 Press Law and completing a master plan on national press development and management to 2025 so as to create conditions for the press to develop healthily and in the right direction.

It is necessary to strengthen discipline in complying with in formation directions and orientations, and in correcting and handling violations of laws and professional ethics.

In 2024, priority should be
given to thoroughly handling any violations by press agencies and journalists to create positive changes worthy of public trust, Nghia stressed.

In the context of the strong development of science and technology, new media platforms, and social media, the press, more than ever, must create a positive, mainstream, and widely spreading information flow leading and orienting public opinion about good things in society, thus making an important contribution to building an advanced Vietnamese culture rich in national identity, and building systems of national values, cultural values and family values and standards of Vietnamese people in a new era, he added.

Addressing the event, Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang said that in 2023, the press has done much better than last year in carrying out political tasks.

Press agencies should continue to arrange their agencies in accordance with the Press Digital Transformation Strategy to 2025, Quang stated, requiring each journalist to continue being a kind-hearted pe
rson so as to have decent products.

At the conference, participants discussed issues of common concern in journalism work as well as current journalism and media situations; while identifying trends and challenges, as well as fundamental and comprehensive tasks and solutions for 2024 and in the coming period.

Thirty-three collectives with outstanding achievements in the press work in 2023 received certificates of merit of the Commission for Information and Education./.
Source:Vietnam News Agency

Indonesia: Boat with 28 people aboard goes missing

Hanoi: Indonesian authorities said rescuers are searching for a boat with at least 28 on board which had reportedly been missing since December 20 off the coast of Mamuju in the eastern Indonesian province of West Sulawesi.

Mamuju Search and Rescue (SAR) chief Muhammad Rizal said the boat carrying 28 wedding guests lost contact in the waters of Ambo Island. His office received a report on the incident from a local resident on December 20 evening.

According to the official, the boat departed from Ambo Island at around 10 a.m. local time and was expected to arrive at its destination of Port Sumare in Mamuju at 4 p.m.

However, until the evening, the boat had not arrived there, said Rizal, adding that a rescue team with a SAR boat had been deployed to Ambo Island.

Maritime accidents are common in Indonesia, a Southeast Asian archipelago of around 17,000 islands, due to lax safety standards./.
Source:Vietnam News Agency

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai arrested for bribe taking allegation

Hanoi: The Ministry of Public Security’s investigation police agency has launched legal proceedings against and detained Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai on charge of ‘receiving bribes’ related to an oil trading company scandal, Lieutenant General To An Xo, the ministry’s spokesperson, said on December 21.

His detention is part of an expanded investigation into the case of ‘violating regulations on the management and use of State assets, causing losses and wastefulness; lack of responsibilities causing serious consequences; giving bribes; receiving bribes; and abusing position and power to influence others for personal gain’ that occurred at Xuyen Viet Oil Travel and Transport Trading Company Limited, and some relevant agencies and organisations.

Earlier, Mai Thi Hong Hanh, Director of Xuyen Viet Oil Travel and Transport Trading Company Limited, and her deputy Nguyen Thi Nhu Phuong had been arrested for ‘violating regulations on the management and use of State assets, causing losses and wa

Also involved in this scandal, the police arrested Le Duc Tho for allegedly ‘abusing position and power to influence others for personal gain’, and Le Duy Minh, Director of Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Finance, on charge of ‘receiving bribes.’/.
Source:Vietnam News Agency

Putting people, businesses at centre during national digital transformation: PM

Hanoi: Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on December 21 stressed that it is a must to put people and businesses at the centre during the implementation of the project on developing the application of population database, e-identification and e-authentication for national digital transformation in the 2022-2025 period with a vision to 2030.

PM Chinh, who is also Chairman of the National Committee for Digital Transformation, made the request while chairing an online national meeting to review the outcomes of the project since it was launched.

The project has brought about specific, practical results in the management of agencies and localities, as well as in socio-economic activities of people and businesses, thus helping to accelerate national digital transformation, he noted.

The PM, however, pointed out some limitations regarding the building and perfection of the legal environment, the quality of online public services, and administrative reforms.

The government leader asked ministers, and leaders of agenc
ies and localities to show stronger determination, and take more drastic actions to fulfill tasks set for 2024.

Urgent tasks from now to the Lunar New Year include cashless payment of social welfare, and the issuance of criminal record certificates on VNeID application in the first quarter of 2024, according to the PM.

He assigned the Ministry of Information and Communications to coordinate with other ministries and agencies to devise, amend and supplement relevant decrees, and the Ministry of Home Affairs to team up with the Ministry of Public Security to complete the national database on public servants and include it in the national population database, which must be done within January 2024.

The Ministry of Justice was asked to propose solutions to 558 administrative procedures that have not been cut or simplified in January 2024.

Meanwhile, the People’s Committees of localities were requested to submit policies on fee exemption and reduction for those who use online public services and cashless payme
nts to the People’s Councils of the same level before June 2024.

The PM asked the Ministry of Public Security to study and give advice on the building of the law on personal data protection, which is expected to be completed next year.

He also assigned specific tasks to the Ministry of Information and Communications, the Ministry of Education and Training, and other agencies and localities, noting that they should make greater efforts to prove the efficiency of the project, thus winning the support of people and businesses./.
Source:Vietnam News Agency

Hanoi students honoured in Australia-themed competition

Hanoi: A ceremony took place in Hanoi on December 21 to award winners of a competition on Australia and its people, as part of activities marking the 50th anniversary of Vietnam-Australia diplomatic ties.

The event was co-hosted by the Hanoi Union of Friendship Organisations (HAUFO), the Hanoi chapter of Vietnam-Australia Friendship Association and the Australian Embassy in Vietnam.

Speaking at the event, HAUFO President Nguyen Ngoc Ky said nearly two months since its launch, the competition has received enthusiastic response from teachers and students in Hanoi, with a total of 4,315 entries from 45 secondary and high schools.

Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Andrew Goledzinowski said Vietnam and Australia established diplomatic ties in 1973, and just one year later, the first Vietnamese students arrived in Australia on scholarships. To date, over 80,000 Vietnamese students have pursued their study at educational establishments in Australia.

The competition not only helps students understand Australia, it
s people, and the Australia-Vietnam relationship but also improves their self-learning skills, reading and writing proficiency, as well as ability to use and practise English.

They answered multiple-choice questions and wrote essays demonstrating their insights into Australia and its people across different realms such as history, culture, economy, geography, education, as well as cooperation and friendship between Vietnam and Australia.

With 150 entries selected for the final round, the judging board presented three collective prizes; and 20 individual ones, including two first, three second, five third and 10 consolation prizes.

Ngo Si Lien secondary school in Hoan Kiem district secured the first prize in the collective category, while Dao Nguyen Gia Han from Ngo Si Lien secondary school and Nguyen Hong Phuc from Viet Duc high school won the first prize in the individual category./.
Source:Vietnam News Agency

Vietnam, African Union establish diplomatic relations

Pretoria: Vietnam wishes to strengthen cooperation with the African Union (AU) in the fields of politics, diplomacy, economy, trade, investment and culture, and in United Nations peacekeeping operations in Africa, Vietnamese Ambassador to Ethiopia Nguyen Nam Tien has said.

He made the statement while presenting his letter of credentials to chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat in Addis Ababa on December 15, marking the official establishment of Vietnam-AU diplomatic relations.

The diplomat underlined that Vietnam stands ready to make more direct and proactive contributions to the AU’s common effort for an African of integration, prosperity and peace, that is promoted by the African people themselves and represents a dynamic force on the global arena.

Ambassador Tien said he will do his utmost to lift cooperative ties between Vietnam and the AU to a new height.

The diplomat briefed the host about Vietnam’s recent achievements, saying that the country has established diplomatic tie
s with 189 out of 193 UN members and trade relations with more than 230 economies. It is currently the 4th largest economy in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and 37th in the world. The agricultural sector, as a driving force of the country’s economy, has contributed to ensuring national food security and creating jobs for millions of workers, thus contributing to poverty reduction and social welfare, he added.

In Africa, Vietnam has set up diplomatic ties with 54 out of 55 countries and will soon establish diplomatic relations with Malawi.

The chairperson of the African Union Commission spoke highly of the achievements Vietnam has obtained in national construction and development, while highlighting the country’s important role in ASEAN.

He said he believes that in the coming time, Vietnam will make greater contributions to Agenda 2063 for peace and security in Africa, contributing to strengthening all-round cooperation between Vietnam and Africa.

Ambassador Tien took this occasion to c
onvey President Vo Van Thuong’s invitation to the chairperson of the Africa Union Commission to visit Vietnam soon./.
Source:Vietnam News Agency