Compiled by Le Hung Vong
Tay Ninh Province authorities have instructed relevant agencies to monitor the measuring of commercial cane sugar (CCS), a disagreement over which has led to disputes between sugar refineries and farmers.
Nguyen Manh Hung, deputy chairman of Tay Ninh People's Committee, said the disagreement between refineries and sugarcane growers over measuring CCS is one of the causes behind the reduction in the area under the cane crop in Tay Ninh in the last few years.
The administration has approved a proposal from the association of Tay Ninh cane growers to buy CCS measurement tools, and with the equipment the association would co-operate with the province agriculture department to measure CCS in sugarcane delivered to the sugar mills.
It means the farmers will no longer be at the mercy of the sugar plants for measuring the CCS.
This is one of the measures taken by Tay Ninh after hundreds of hectares of sugarcane fields in the southern border province have been left unharvested since farmers do not want to sell the crop to sugar mills, who have also not hiked buying prices as promised.
Nguyen Dang Thuan, a farmer in Tan Bien town who signed a contract to grow and sell sugarcane to Bien Hoa Refinery, said he had harvested his crop in November and delivered 1,300 tonnes to Bien Hoa Refinery.
Technicians at the refinery said since the average CCS of the cane was 8.3 and it had 5 per cent impurities, a 2 per cent reduction in price would be made.
However, Bien Hoa Refinery suspended operations and Thuan was told to sell his sugarcane to Thanh Thanh Cong Refinery in Tay Ninh's Tan Chau District. There he was told the CCS of the cane was only 8.0 while it had 7 per cent impurities, said Thuan.
Thuan said with the new sugarcane variety and technical know-how he had used, he had expected to achieve average CCS of 9.0.
Thanh Thanh Cong's assessment meant Thuan got only VND770,000 per tonne for his crop.
With around 60 tonnes per hectare harvested, he said he would suffer losses of VND9 million per hectare.
Meanwhile, traders from nearby Long An Province are buying cane for VND960,000 per tonne, he said.
He told Vietnam News Agency that he has stopped harvesting to ask Thanh Thanh Cong for higher prices.
Nguyen Van Trien of Tan Bien District, also in Tay Ninh, said: "Last year when sugar prices went down, we shared losses with refineries by selling cane for VND950,000 per tonne.
"But now that sugar prices have been rising by VND2,000 to VND3,000 per kilogramme, refineries in Tay Ninh Province have not raised cane prices as they had promised.
"We are in no hurry to harvest and can wait for changes in sugar refineries' sugarcane buying prices."
Most Tay Ninh farmers suspended their harvest a month ago, and sugar refineries are feeling the pinch.
Nguyen Viet Hung, deputy director of Thanh Thanh Cong, told Vietnam News Agency that one possible reason for lower CCS could be harvesting on rainy days.
Tan Tao Energy Joint Stock Company (TEC), a subsidiary of the HCM City-based Tan Tao Group, has resumed work on a thermal power plant in Kien Giang Province after a six-year hiatus.
Last week Tan Tao Investment Industrial JSC, another subsidiary, and the Ministry of Industry and Trade's General Department of Energy signed a memorandum of understanding on building the Kien Luong No 1 plant under BOT (build-operate-transfer) mode in Ha Noi.
According to Tan Tao, the agreement will create a legal framework for negotiations over building and operating the plant, which is expected to go on stream within the next 10 years.
Located in Kien Luong District, the two-turbine plant is part of the Kien Luong power centre and built under the Government's master zoning plan for power development between 2011 and 2020.
Since 2014 Tan Tao has discussed the project with many prospective foreign investors.
Thai Van Men, general director of Tan Tao Investment Industrial JSC, said investors from South Korea, Japan, and Australia have evinced interest.
TEC has paid land compensation, cleared the site and built technical infrastructure for the plant.
According to the MoU, Kien Luong 1's first turbine will generate electricity in August 2024 and the second in February 2025.
In 2008 Tan Tao was licensed to build the US$6.7 billion plant project, which will have a total capacity of 4,400 – 5,200 MW when all phases are completed.
Tan Tao Group had planned to begin work in late 2009 and commission the plant in 2013 after the Government had approved in-principle credit guarantees for it.
However, hit by financial problems, the company could not continue with the work for five years. In 2013 Kien Giang Province authorities asked the Government to scrap the licence.
But the company said it hoped to continue with the project since as it has invested $240 million in it already.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Le Duong Quang said Tan Tao Group could indeed have a second chance since it had spent heavily on preparatory works.
But the company decided last year that it would be a BOT rather than the build-own-operate (BOO) project it had originally envisaged.
A report from the Ministry of Construction's house and real estate management department reveals that the total unsold property market inventory has fallen sharply, indicating things are looking up for the market, especially the housing segment.
The recovery in demand for apartments helped attract more investment into the housing market in 2015. In the third quarter of this year 10,114 apartments were offered for sale in HCM City, thrice the number in the same period last year.
Of them, 7,862 were sold, a year-on-year increase of 88 per cent, and prices rose by 2.5 per cent on average.
Besides, the development of infrastructure has helped sell resorts in coastal areas like Ho Tram in Ba Ria- Vung Tau and Mui Ne in Binh Thuan.
Dang Hung Vo, a former deputy natural resources and environment minister, said property prices in Ha Noi and HCM City have "returned to their true values" since 2014, encouraging buyers to make decisions rather than wait for lower prices.
The number of transactions is expected to increase further, he said.
Together with the increasing foreign direct investment, the VND342 trillion ($15.2 billion) lent to the property sector this year has helped its recovery.
HCM City is expected to get 50,000 new apartments next year and Ha Noi, 24,000.
"Based on macro-economic factors, I can say there will be no bubble in the real estate market in 2016."
He forecast the market to grow further next year.
Vo said many housing investors target the luxury segment while ignoring the medium- and low-priced ones.
In 2016 – 18 nearly 80,000 houses and apartments will come into the market, over 70 per cent of them in the luxury segment, he said. — VNS