Development support fund for rural and mountainous areas

Ha Noi, Feb. 5 (VNA) -- The Government's Development Support Fund will mobilize VND 25,000 billion (USD 1.8 billion) for development credit to benefit rural and mountainous areas this year.

The fund is providing loans to 3,213 projects with a combined capital of VND 58,630 billion (USD 4.2 billion).

In 2000, the fund's debt balance posted a year-on-year increase of 52.6 percent to VND 9,400 billion (USD 671 million), and its disbursement rate, 81.4 percent - the highest rate over the past six years.

8,500 die in natural calamities, traffic & work accidents in 2000

Ha Noi, Feb. 5 (VNA) -- A total of 8,500 people were killed throughout Viet Nam by natural calamities, traffic and workplace accidents in 2000.

The natural calamities in the Mekong delta, southeastern region and central highlands killed 680 people, injured 212 and caused losses estimated at VND 4,730 billion.

The calamities swept away 8,300 houses, submerged one million more and damaged 483,000 ha of rice and subsidiary food crops and many irrigation systems and roads.

Vietnam soccer team for World Cup 2002

Ha Noi, Feb. 4 (VNA) -- Viet Nam's 30-member soccer team left Ha Noi this evening, Feb. 4, for World Cup 2002 qualifying matches of Asia's Group 10, scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia from Feb. 8-19.

The delegation, led by Vice President of the Viet Nam Football Association (VFA) le The Tho, includes 22 players and Brazilian-born coach Edson Silva Dido.

Increases in Rubber industry

Ha Noi, Feb. 4 (VNA) -- Viet Nam's yearly rubber production has soared by an average of between 10-12 percent but only 15-20 percent of it is used in the country, reports the Viet Nam Rubber Corporation (VRC).

VRC General Director Le Quang Thung says most of the country's latex is exported with almost 70 percent going to China. Last year, Viet Nam exported USD 170 million worth of latex.

Cambodia FM Hor Namhong visits Vietnam

Ha Noi, Feb. 4 (VNA) -- Cambodian Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Hor Namhong began an official visit to Viet Nam today, Feb. 4.

The visit, made at the invitation of Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien, aims to discuss measures to boost friendship and comprehensive coooperation between the two countries.

Measures to implement 2001 socio-economic plan

Ha Noi, Feb. 3 (VNA)-- Reality had proved the orientations for renovation correct and they must be continued in order to raise the leading role, working capacity and efficiency of the central and local governments, Prime Minister Phan Van Khai said in Ho Chi Minh City this afternoon, Feb. 3.

The Prime Minister was speaking at the closing session of a three-day Cabinet meeting to discuss measures for implementing the 2001 socio-economic plan.

NA Chairman launches tree-planting festival in Ha Noi

Ha Noi, Feb. 3 (VNA) -- National Assembly Chairman Nong Duc Manh launched this year's tree-planting festival in Ha Noi's outlying district of Gia Lam in morning, Feb. 3.

Chairman Manh said that the yearly tree planting festival, initiated by President Ho Chi Minh in 1960, had become a fine tradition. He hoped that all people throughout the country in general, and the district in particular, would take part in the festival.

The tree-planting festival began in Ha Noi Feb. 1.

Halong city to become a tourism hub

Ha Noi, Feb. 3 (VNA) -- A Government decision will make Ha Long city in the northern border province of Quang Ninh a tourism, transport and commercial hub for the northern region with the maintaining its status as the major supplier of coal to the entire country.

Average yearly economic growth of between 16 and 17 percent and a yearly USD 2,000 per capita share of Gross Domestic Product from now to 2010 are part of the plans for the city.

Paper industry in Vietnam

Ha Noi, Feb. 3 (VNA) -- Economists forecast that Viet Nam's yearly paper consumption will surge by an average of 10.4 percent to meet the growing demand of about 80-million people between now and 2010.

They say the country will need 870,000 tonnes of paper by 2005 and 1,250,000 tonnes by 2010 making it an ideal market for investors.

The economists quote a Government report saying that it will boost the paper industry in an effort to make it a key economic sector in the next ten years.

Life expectancy in Vietnam expands to 80 in future

Ha Noi, Feb. 3 (VNA) -- Viet Nam's average life expectancy is likely to increase from 66 at present to 80 years by 2050, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) forecasts.

The number of elderly people in Viet Nam has increased remarkably over the past five years: From 1.2 million to almost six million now, accounting for 7.5 percent of the nation's population - a rate higher than that of other developing countries.