|More than 700 overseas Vietnamese who gathered in HCM City on Tuesday for an annual Tet meeting by the HCM City administration.— VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vu
HCM CITY (VNS)— "There's no better place to celebrate Tet (Lunar New Year) than in our homeland," an overseas Vietnamese who travels frequently between the US and Viet Nam said.
Prof Ha Ton Vinh, 68, who has studied, worked, and taught in more than 90 countries, cannot hide his excitement when talking about Tet in Viet Nam where he was born and grew up before he went abroad to study and work.
He is among more than 700 overseas Vietnamese who gathered in HCM City on Tuesday for an annual Tet meeting by the HCM City administration.
They are from all parts of the world, including the US, Australia, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Russia, Finland, the Netherlands, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, mainland China, and Taiwan.
Speaking at the meeting, Le Hoang Quan, chairman of the HCM City People's Committee, wished all Vietnamese and overseas Vietnamese a prosperous and happy Lunar New Year.
"Overseas Vietnamese are an integral part and a powerful resource for the country, and play a key role in the country's socio-economic development and strengthening ties with other countries," he said.
The Government's Resolution 36 on overseas Vietnamese affairs represented a breakthrough in creating conditions for overseas Vietnamese to make a contribution to the country in the last 10 years, he said.
More and more incentives and policies are being issued to attract them to invest in the country.
Administrative procedures have been cut and simplified, especially with regard to customs, immigration, investment registration, taxation, property, birth and marriage certificates, and adoption of children, he said.
The number of overseas Vietnamese who have returned to the country to do business or visit has increased over the years. Last year some 1.2 million of them arrived, with 50-60 per cent staying in HCM City.
Remittances to HCM City hit a record $4.8 billion last year, an increase of 21 per cent over the previous year and accounting for nearly half of the total sent to Viet Nam.
In addition, more and more scientists and experts have returned to Viet Nam for investment, research, and teaching at educational institutions.
They have invested in more than 2,500 businesses with a total registered capital of VND35 trillion ($1.66 billion). There are 122 foreign directed investment (FDI) projects belonging to them with a total investment of more than $260 million, according to the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese.
Vinh told Viet Nam News: "I am very proud to see the rapid changes in the country through the years. Yet there is still a big gap between the rich and the poor and many challenges still exist, which need more drastic measures and co-operation among all parts of the country to tackle.
"I believe that many overseas Vietnamese have a passion to come back to make contribution to the country. Thus the country needs to listen to them, consider their ideas and even accept new perspectives."
At the event, the city gave away the Prime Minister's certificate of merit to three individuals and its own certificate of merit to 19 individuals and nine companies and organisations for their contributions to the country's development.
Nguyen Tri Dung, director of Minh Tran Manufacturing-Trade-Construction Company, one of the three individuals to get the Prime Minister's certificate of merit, said: "I am among the few people who have had the opportunity to celebrate Tet in my home country 39 times since I left Viet Nam to study, live, and work in Japan 46 years ago.
"I left the country when I was only 19 when many of my friends were still fighting in fierce wars.
"Many of them sacrificed their lives for our country's independence. Therefore I must bear in mind the responsibility to contribute to my country in whatever way I can."
More than 4.5 million ethnic Vietnamese live in more than 100 nations and territories around the world, according to the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese. — VNS