Vietnam plans return to two-child law

Ian MacKinnon, south-east Asia correspondent, Saturday November 22 2008 00.01 GMT

Faced with a baby boom, Vietnam is planning a crackdown to stop couples having more than two children. The communist government in the country of 86 million – two-thirds of whom are under 35 – fears a new population explosion will knock its economic growth off track and strain health and education services.

A two-child policy introduced in the 1960s was scrapped in 2003, though the one-party state’s rulers continued to encourage couples to have small families so they could adequately care for them.

But a spike in births this year to couples who already have two children caused alarm. In the first nine months, 93,000 babies were born to these couples, a 10% rise on last year.

This week the cabinet agreed a draft order for the two-child rule that will be voted on by the national assembly. No sanctions for breaking the rule were outlined, but in the past families faced pay cuts and penalties at work. Party members could be reprimanded or expelled.

However, Tran Thi Van, of the UN Population Fund, warned: “In Vietnam now, life expectancy is rising, the fertility rate is decreasing, and in the next 20 years many people will be in the senior group. If there’s not a sufficient labour force as the population is ageing, the country will face a lot of problems.”

PM: Vietnam’s Inflation Control Continues To Be 2009 Priority

HANOI, Nov 22 (Bernama) — Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has made the prevention of the recurrence of inflation in Vietnam’s general target for 2009, the Vietnam news agency (VNA) reported.

Addressing a meeting here regarding the Planning and Investment sector’s work for 2009, the Prime Minister also reiterated next year’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate target of 6.5 percent.

In order to attain this target, the Planning and Investment sector should act as advisors over the balance and control of supply and demand to help stabilise the macro economy, as well as being active in preventing economic decline and maintaining an appropriate growth rate, the PM said.

The Government leader also pointed out the impact of the global economy’s recession on the domestic economy, particularly in areas such as exports and tourism.

As a result, he asked the sector to take necessary measures to minimise the effects of the world’s economic downturn on the country’s economy.

In this context, it is difficult for investors to implement their projects and arrange capital, although the country has attracted large sums of foreign direct investment this year.

Thus, the sector should create favourable conditions for the mobilisation of investment in effective projects, he added.

The PM stressed the necessity of a controlled loosening of its monetary policy, reducing interest rates along with investment stimulation and increasing the banking system’s liquidity and security.

In his opinion, there should be policies assisting small and medium-sized enterprises involved in export activities through preferential credit, tax incentives and guaranteeing

In addition, State-owned enterprises should receive more support in order to be able to form the backbone of the economy and be capable of regulating the market and the economy when it faces difficulties, he remarked.

The PM also asked the Planning and Investment sector to improve their capacity for forecast and supervision to ensure the fulfillment of next year’s targets.

To ensure social security, the Government is to offer unemployment benefit, he said.

Besides, a resolution regarding policy orientation and specific mechanisms for sustainable hunger eradication across the 61 poorest districts is soon to be announced, he added.

“The target is to bring the current poverty rate of 50 percent of households in these districts down to 40 percent by 2010 through the introduction of support policies for afforestration, plantation and animal husbandry,” he stressed.


Overpopulated Vietnam urges parents to stop at two

Hanoi – Facing a population boom, the government of Vietnam has proposed limiting families to two children by punishing bureaucrats who fail to keep the numbers down, a senior government official said Friday. “We are very determined to limit couples on having a third child,” said Nguyen Ba Thuy, Deputy Minister of Health, specializing in population issues and family planning.

Vietnam has an estimated population of 86 million, with some parts of the country among the most densely populated in Asia.

Thuy said Vietnam’s birth rate is set to jump as the number of women of reproductive age is at an all-time high. Officials worry that a baby boom will jeopardize the country’s development efforts.

Under current law, government employees who have a third child are denied raises and promotions. According to the draft ordinance, families that have more than two children will not face additional sanctions. Instead, Communist Party members and civil servants who are charged with enforcing the law will be reprimanded.

The draft does not specify what kind of punishments officials could face.

This week, Vietnam’s health ministry reported that 58 out of 64 provinces failed to reduce the birthrate by the government’s target of 0.3 per cent in the first nine months of 2008. The number of families with a third child was 10 per cent higher than the previous year.

The Communist government is taking the blame for the failure to reign in the birthrate, stating that population growth has been ignored by the Party, as well as state and local authorities. Not enough has been done to educate the public on the importance of a two-child family, said Thuy.

There will be some exceptions to the draft, which will become law when it is passed by the National Assembly. Members of ethnic minority groups whose population is less than 10,000 will be exempt. The law also allows couples with two children to have a third if one child is disabled.

Some fear that the two-child limit may increase the rate of abortion and infanticide.

Vietnam is a patrilineal society, where boys are favoured over girls. A male child not only passes on the family line but is responsible for caring for parents and praying for the family’s ancestors.

The pressure to give birth to a boy has already increased the gender imbalance. According to the Ministry of Health, for every 100 girls born in Vietnam, there are 112 boys.

Population experts say Vietnam has one of the highest abortion rates in Asia. The United Nations Population Fund recently reported that there is one abortion for every two live births in the country.

Thuy, of the Ministry of Health, has warned that by the year 2030, more than 4 million Vietnamese men will not be able to find wives unless the gender imbalance is corrected.,overpopulated-vietnam-urges-parents-to-stop-at-two.html

ADB grants $1.3 mln to road feasibility study in Vietnam, Laos

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has announced its grant of 1.3 million U.S. dollars for the preparation of a project to upgrade national highways in Vietnam and Laos, the Vietnam News Agency reported on Friday.

The money will go for a feasibility study for a project to upgrade 200 km of national highway in central Thanh Hoa province of Vietnam and 140 km of national highways in Houaphanh province of Laos, according to the press release by the Manila-based bank on Thursday.

The study will provide detailed cost estimates and consider the environmental and social impacts of the Second Northern Greater Mekong Sub region (GMS) Transport Network Improvement Project.

“By improving the efficiency of transport in the GMS northeastern corridor, the project will increase economic growth and reduce poverty in two of the poorer provinces of Laos and Vietnam,” said Jeffrey Miller, Principal Transport Specialist with ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.

The project will also help promote sub-regional economic cooperation, one of the pillars of ADB Strategy 2020 development agenda.

Laos and Vietnam will provide 150,000 U.S. dollars each to help finance the feasibility study, which was estimated at 1.6 million U.S. dollars.

Source: Xinhua

Vietnam To Impose New Tax On Stock Investors From 2009

11-21-08 4:29 AM EST

HANOI -(Dow Jones)- Vietnam will need to introduce a new tax on stock investors from 2009 as planned to avoid complaints from other tax payers, the General Department of Taxation said in a statement issued Friday.

The new tax law will require stock investors to choose to either pay 20% tax on capital gains chalked up for the year, or pay 0.1% tax on the transaction value of every sale they make, even if they’re making a loss on the sale.

“There are calls asking to temporarily suspend the new tax law in 2009…but delaying it is absolutely unnecessary,” said the department, which is under the Ministry of Finance.

The new tax is expected to help raise between VND200 billion ($12 million) and VND300 billion, equivalent to a tiny proportion of the total state budget of VND400 trillion for 2009, the statement said. Therefore, delaying its introduction wouldn’t hurt the state’s budget.

However, if the government delayed it, tax payers in other categories would also ask for a review of their tax obligations, causing complications in the tax collecting process, it noted.

“It’s unfair if stock investors, who are seen as high-income earners, are exempt from paying tax, while millions of others including business people and civil servants are still contributing to the state budget,” it added.

Vietnam’s stock market, which was launched in July 2007, has fallen 67% compared with a year ago. It ended off 2.1% at 318.96 Friday after a Finance Ministry official said Thursday that the authority will apply the tax law from Jan. 1.

-By Nguyen Pham Muoi, Dow Jones Newswires, 84-913-220-614; phammuoi.nguyen@

Vietnam plans return to two-child policy to tackle population growth

Government fears baby boom will damage economic growth and strain health and education services

Ian MacKinnon, south-east Asia correspondent, Friday November 21 2008 13.02 GMT

Newborn babies at the central maternity hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam

Newborn babies at the central maternity hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photograph: Chitose Suzuki/AP

Faced with a new baby boom, communist Vietnam is planning to prohibit couples from having more than two children.

The government in the nation of 86 million people – two thirds of whom are under 35 – fears a population explosion will knock its economic growth off track and strain health and education services.

A two-child policy introduced in the 1960s was scrapped in 2003, though the one-party state’s rulers encouraged couples to have small families so they could adequately care for them.

But a spike in births this year to couples who already had two children sparked official alarm. In the first nine months of 2008, 93,000 babies were born, a 10% rise on last year.

The cabinet this week agreed a draft amendment ordering a two-child norm that will become law if approved by the national assembly.

The sanctions for flouting the policy were not outlined, but in the past families were punished with pay cuts and other penalties at work, while Communist party members suffered reprimands or even expulsion.

“The demographic boom is damaging the country’s sustainable development,” said Duong Quoc Trong, of the government’s population and family planning office.

However, critics say a young population is vital for Vietnam’s economic success and point to falling rates of growth and fertility over the past six years.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is puzzled by the regressive step as the country’s fertility levels had already fallen below replacement rates.

“In Vietnam now life expectancy is rising, the fertility rate is decreasing and in the next 20 years many people will be in the senior group,” said Tran Thi Van, of UNFPA. “If there’s not a sufficient labour force as the population is ageing, the country will face a lot of problems.”

Couples already have small families, but abortions and ultra-sound tests are commonly used to determine the sex of their children, ensuring they have at least one boy to meet cultural expectations.

The male-female ratio climbed to 112-110 last year, compared with international norms of slightly fewer male births.