News on 14 July 2016

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1)   Formosa found burying 100 tons of wastes in Vietnam farm

The Vietnamese subsidiary of Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Group has been found burying a huge amount of wastes inside a farm run by the director of a local environment company in the north-central province of Ha Tinh, officials said. The waste burial was detected on Monday (July 11) by the provincial environmental police unit at the yard of the farm run by Le Quang Hoa, director of the urban environment company of the local town of Ky Anh. Le Nam Son, head of the inspectorate of the province’s environment department, confirmed the incident to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Tuesday morning (July 12). “After detecting that waste had been disposed underground the farm of Hoa, we dug them up and found there were some 100 metric tons of them,” Son said. Officials have also taken samples of the wastes for tests to see if they are toxic, the chief inspector added. “We are still waiting for the test results,” he said, adding the case has been booked and penalties now await the involved parties, as per the law.

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2)   Electrical faults increase in South

The number of electrical breakdowns in the south in the first six months this year increased sharply compared with the same period last year, said the Safety Department under the Southern Power Corporation of Vietnam Electricity. A total of 12 breakdowns happened on the 110kV electric system, an increase of nine compared with the same period last year. As many as 37 breakdowns happened on the 22kV electric system, an increase of six cases. Several provinces and cities witnessed a high number of electrical breakdowns such as Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Dong Thap. Duong Van Vi, director of the Safety Department, told the Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper that the reasons for the breakdowns were residents cutting down trees and flying kites on the roads damaging electric wires. Several vehicles collided into the electric poles and construction work also affected the wires. Nguyen Van Tu, deputy director of the Dong Thap Electric Company, said that besides electric breakdowns, accidents related to electricity were on the rise.

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3)   Vietnam revokes license of Canadian gold miner over back taxes

Authorities in the central province of Quang Nam have revoked the license of a Canadian-owned gold miner, after it failed to pay more than VND334 billion (US$14.77 million) in back taxes, local media reported on Tuesday (July 12). Phuoc Son Gold Company is one of two subsidiaries run by Toronto-headquartered Besra Gold Inc. to operate two gold mines with a combined reserve of nearly 20 tons in the province. It was unclear if the province will also revoke the license of Bong Mieu, the other subsidiary, which has defaulted on nearly VND100 billion ($4.42 million) in taxes. Since 2014 local authorities have imposed many punitive measures in vain to collect the companies' back taxes, including freezing their bank accounts and withholding their value-added tax refunds. They also blocked the exports of the companies, which have produced a total of 6.9 tons of gold since 2005. Authorities reportedly came after their assets, but the assets had already been used as security for loans.

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4) Vietnam to host ASEAN Tourism Forum in 2019

Vietnam will host the ASEAN Tourism Forum in 2019, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism. The forum, to be hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in either Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City or Da Nang, will welcome around 1,500 participants. In 2009, Vietnam hosted the 28th ATF in the country’s capital from January 5 to 12, drawing a record high number of 2,064 delegates, comprised of ministers, senior officials, businesses and media workers from ASEAN countries, the VNAT said on its website. The event includes a wide range of activities including dialogues between ASEAN Tourism Ministers, the ATF Travel Exchange, travel seminars, and exhibitions. It will be a chance for Vietnam to promote the country’s image, people, and tourism, as well as enable local companies to look for opportunities to cooperate and attract investment from international businesses.

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5)   Vietnam youth feeling the burn to ‘catch ‘em all’

An augmented reality mobile game featuring the famous Japanese cartoon Pokémon is taking the world by storm and Vietnam is definitely no exception. Though Vietnam is not among the short list of countries where the Niantic-developed viral game is available for iOS and Android users, gamers are sharing tips on how to get Pokémon GO installed on Vietnamese devices. Built on Niantic’s Real World Gaming Platform, Pokémon GO uses real locations to encourage players to search the Poké world in order to discover ‘catch ‘em all.’ “[The game] allows you to find and catch more than a hundred species of Pokémon as you explore your surroundings,” the app creator writes on their website. Pokémon GO was the top free app in Apple Inc's iTunes store as of Thursday afternoon (July 7) and had been installed on almost 100,000 Android devices, according to media reports. On Wednesday (July 14), a Facebook fan page was founded for the Vietnamese Pokémon GO community shortly after the game launched in Australia and New Zealand.

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(All the above News Items have been sourced from: Reuters, ThanhNien News, Vietnam Net, Tuoitre News, Vietnam News, New York Times)

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