|The plan will be piloted for a year on 10 subsidised routes before expanding to all routes. — Photo tuoitre.vn
by Le Hung Vong
The approval granted recently by the HCM City People's Committee to carry advertisement hoardings on buses is expected to bring in hundreds of billions of dong to the city's coffers.
The plan will be piloted for a year on 10 subsidised routes before expanding to all routes.
These are Ben Thanh – Cho Lon; Ben Thanh – Dam Sen; September 23 Park – Au Co – An Suong; September 23 – Xuan Thoi Thuong Market; Tan Quy Residential Area – Binh Loi Residential Area; Ben Thanh – Thoi An; Ben Thanh – Vo Van Kiet Street – Mien Tay Bus Station; District 8 Bus Station – Ben Thanh – Mien Dong Bus Station; September 23 Park – Tan Binh Industrial Park; and Ben Thanh – Ton Duc Thang University.
The hoardings will be placed on both sides of buses, including the doors and glass frames of buses, but will not exceed 50 per cent of their outside area.
The city Department of Transport submitted a plan to begin advertising on buses to the municipal People's Committee for approval in 2014.
Though advertising on buses is allowed in several cities and provinces in the country, including Ha Noi, it has been prohibited in HCM City since 2002.
Nguyen Quy Cap, deputy head of the HCM City Advertising Association, had been critical of the ban, saying neither the Advertising Law nor the 2001 ordinance on advertising prohibits advertising on buses.
"Many advertising professionals, including me, do not find the ban justified.
"City authorities claimed that bus advertising might distract drivers and cause traffic accidents. They were also concerned that the ads might be culturally inappropriate or offensive, particularly for kids."
The department had made plans to allow ads on buses in 2007. At a rate of VND33-50 million (US$2.2 million) per square metre, the city could have earned over VND100 billion a year from its 3,200 buses.
But in 2009 the administration decided that advertising on the outside of any vehicle would be prohibited.
"The ban violated citizens' corporate freedom," Cap said.
The department expects to earn VND170 billion ($7.6 million) a year, which it said would partially subsidise public transport.
Last year the city's buses carried 593 million passengers, or 1.62 million a day, the department said.
But the system, subsidised to the tune of over VND1 trillion ($46.1 million) a year, meets less than 10 percent of public need.
Last year the city approved a plan to add another 1,680 buses by 2017, including 300 using compressed natural gas, at a cost of over VND2.6 trillion ($120 million).
German building in HCMC
Ground was formally broken for Deutsches Haus (German House) HCM City at the corner of Le Duan Street and Le Van Huu Street in HCM City's District 1 though construction started a year ago.
Deutsches Haus was a US$100 million public-private partnership between Germany and private investors, its chairman, Horst Geicke, said at the ceremony.
The premium office building would open in August 2017, he announced.
Dr Hans-Dieter Stell, the German consul in HCM City, said it would be a platform for business co-operation between Germany and Viet Nam and the entire ASEAN bloc.
It would be the ideal location for German and European companies and organisations to set up their headquarters, and facilitate trade, cultural and educational exchanges, he said.
The 25-storey mixed-use building will have around 40,000 sq m of prime space when completed, also including retail areas; a multifunctional exhibition, event, and conference areas; the German consulate; restaurants with outdoor terraces as well as apartments and penthouses.
A press release from the consulate said the building would also be an ideal trading platform for Vietnamese companies doing business with Germany and the EU.
Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony, Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang, who is also the chairman of the Vietnamese-German Friendship Association, said the building was a symbol of friendship and strategic co-operation between the two countries.
Land rent hikes hit tourism
Tourism companies, resorts, operators of tourism attractions and others are complaining about sharp hikes in land rent.
Many in HCM City, Binh Thuan Province, Ha Noi and other places say they have also been affected by unreasonable methods of calculating the rents, which has rendered them helpless.
A number of resorts in Binh Thuan are unable to pay the high rents, leading to their bank accounts being frozen.
They said the recent rent hikes caused by an increase in government land-use fees mean they now account for 25 – 30 per cent of their turnover.
It is unfair to demand the same rent for both land with buildings and open spaces, they said, pointing out that greenery normally accounts for half or more of the total area of a resort.
The land use fee has been revised upwards for several years but the Government agreed to lower the land rents applicable in 2013-2014 for resorts.
According to Nguyen Van Khoa, chairman of the Binh Thuan Tourism Association, land rents were adjusted upwards eight to 10 times in 2011-12 alone.
Rents for land rose from VND192 million in 2010 to VND1.47 billion in 2012 at Sai Gon Mui Ne Resort; from VND167.5 million to over VND1.28 billion at Palmira Beach Resort; from VND114.6 million to more than VND877 million at Coco Beach Resort; and from VND84 million to VND672 million at Muine Bay Resort.
The Government approved a 50 per cent cut in land rents in 2013-14, and a further reduction if it was still twice the 2010 rate.
"High land rents and unpredictability have affected tourism enterprises," Khoa told Thoi Bao Kinh Te Sai Gon (Sai Gon Economic Times) newspaper.
"A majority of tourism enterprises in Binh Thuan Province have been on tenterhooks due to the high land rents."
A spokesman for the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said the critical situation facing tourism firms have been reported to relevant authorities and the ministry has proposed measures to help tourism firms to cope with difficulties, including a 50 per cent rent reduction for open spaces. — VNS