Bank card issuance to double

HA NOI — The domestic bank card market may see a boom this year, following reports of high growth by commercial banks, who expect to double their card issuance by the end of the year.

The State-owned Vietcombank, currently the country’s largest issuer with 700,000 cards in circulation, estimated that card issuance would reach 1.2 million by the end of the year.

Age for compulsory military service to fall

Ha Noi — The registration age for obligatory military service would be reduced by two years - from 18 to 25 instead of 18 to 27 - as part of proposed changes to Viet Nam’s Military Law, the National Assembly was told on Monday.

The change was forecast in a 10-year-review of the law delivered by National Defence and Security Committee Chairman Nguyen Phuc Thanh.

The changes would focus on parts of the legislation that were no longer appropriate to Viet Nam’s socio-economic conditions, he said.

Vietnam textiles up for fierce challenges

Vietnam’s textile industry will face great challenges, instead of opportunities, when the U.S. re-imposes quotas on Chinese clothing imports, a move which the European Union will likely soon follow. 

The U.S. has announced it will re-impose quota restrictions on three categories of Chinese clothing imports, arguing that the Chinese goods are damaging the American textile industry.

7.3 million cell phone users expected by year end

The total number of cell phone subscribers in Vietnam will increase to 7.3 million by the end of 2005 and 21 million in 2008, according to a telecoms market researcher.

Currently, there are nearly 6 million cell phone subscribers in the country.

Market researcher BMI Group recently reported that Vietnam's mobile information market had been developing rapidly, recording a growth rate of 65 per cent in 2004.

Joint stock bank unveils new service

HCM CITY — The joint stock Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) announced on Wednesday that it will begin its US dollar/VN Dong option service by the end of this month.

The option is a market-risk hedging instrument. ACB will offer its customers the exclusive right to buy or sell a fixed sum of the convertible currency, paying in Viet Nam Dong within a specified time at a set price. The term will range from one week to six months.

It is one of the first two banks to get permission from the State Bank to offer the service, the other being the joint stock Techcombank.

Banking restructure aims to generate capital for key sectors

HA NOI — The Government will continue to restructure the banking system to encourage citizens to invest their savings and thereby satisfy the economy’s capital demands, according to the Ministry of Finance.

The Financial Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung said that increased revenue gained in this way will be invested in key sectors relating to fertiliser, gas and oil, and electricity.

The State Bank of Viet Nam said that credit growth this year is estimated at 22 per cent and 24 per cent, down from last year’s 25 per cent and 26 per cent.

State to relinquish control of services

Ha Noi — A recent resolution states the Government’s intention to give up aspects of ownership and control of several key State-owned functions like education, health care and cultural and sport activities between now and 2010.

The document functions as a review of the first and second Government resolutions (1997 and 1999), focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of the last seven years of implementing the Government policy.

Life insurance market outperforming expectations

Vietnamese and foreign insurers have announced impressive incomes early, revealing the potential in a young market.

Manulife Vietnam in 2002 announced its first profitable year to the tune of VND20bil, three years after setting up shop.

Prudential Vietnam, the second foreign-invested life insurance firm in the country, also reported profits for the first time in five years of operation, banking VND61bil.

Post-telecom clears the way for WTO

If Vietnam joins the WTO on schedule, the telecommunications industry will develop in a direction beneficial to both business and clients, said Post and Telematics Deputy Minister Mai Liem Truc.

However, experts believe there will be no boom in Internet services once the country realises its WTO itinerary.

Focus on investment and expansion

According to Mr Truc, foreign telecommunications groups that have invested in, or are planning to invest in Vietnam, are experienced partners.

U.S. director encourages more Vietnamese indie films

A young American director has recently said he would like to build a film studio that funds Vietnamese independent films to encourage young filmmakers to make artistic, low-cost films.
“To make an indie film, you just need a camcorder and PC with video editing software. The most important thing you need is your own creativity,” said Aaron Toronto, 28.

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