AVG purchase, apartment block fire safety heat up Gov’t press conference

Cabinet members were grilled about Mobifone’s acquisition of AVG and fire safety at apartment blocks, which are hot-button issues recently, at a press conference held following the Government’s regular monthly meeting on April 2.

Minister-Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung speaks at the Government's press conference on April 2 (Photo: VNA)

Minister-Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung speaks at the Government's press conference on April 2 (Photo: VNA)

Regarding the State-owned Mobifone Telecom Corporation’s purchase of 95 percent of the Audio Visual Global Joint Stock Company (AVG), many reporters asked about the repayment of State money in the cancellation of the share transfer contract between the two firms and the legality of a document of the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) urging Mobifone to soon terminate the AVG purchase contract.

MIC Deputy Minister Hoang Vinh Bao cited Mobifone’s report as saying that AVG has returned 2.5 trillion VND to Mobifone so far, and it pledged to finish the repayment within 90 days.

He noted the MIC issuing a written direction relating to AVG’s cancellation of the contract to return the money is obvious as it owned the State money involved in the deal. 

After the conclusion of the deal inspection was publicised, the ministry held a serious meeting with collectives and individuals concerned so as to carry out the conclusion.

Deputy Inspector General of the Government Inspectorate (GI) Bui Ngoc Lan admitted the sluggishness in the issuance of the inspection conclusion, adding that the GI is working actively with relevant agencies to adhere to the Prime Minister’s direction for this problem settlement.

Inspection of the acquisition was launched in September 2016, but the GI only released conclusion on the inspection outcomes on March 14, 2018.

Mobifone’s purchase of 95 percent of AVG was a major deal between a State-owned enterprise and a private company, but what made it come under spotlight was the lack of transparency. In the first quarter of 2016, Mobifone announced the decision to buy 95 percent of AVG, but did not disclose the value of the transaction. 

The GI stressed that this is a very serious economic case, with real risk of great damage worth over 7 trillion VND to State capital at Mobifone. The damage included 1.134 trillion VND worth of AVG’s debt.

With regard to fires occurred at apartment blocks recently, Minister-Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung said in the first three months of 2018, more than 1,000 fires were reported nationwide, killing 33, injuring 66 and causing heavy losses of property.

This is an issue of public concern, he said, adding that the rate of apartment buildings meeting fire safety standards is very low, so it is a must to comprehensively examine the fire prevention and control work. This issue relates to the responsibility of investors, ministries, sectors and localities granting investment licenses to investors.

Deputy Minister of Construction Le Quang Hung said localities are surveying apartment buildings, and the blocks that haven’t met fire prevention and control requirements will be handled.

At the press conference, Minister-Chairman Dung also announced the content of the Government’s meeting, highlighting the positive developments in the socio-economic situation in March and the first quarter.

He said the Government will continue considering the perfection of law, administrative reforms and business environment improvement as the top priority in 2018 and the following years. It will step up reviewing mechanisms, policies and legal regulations so as to amend those that could hamper socio-economic development to create a healthy investment and business climate.

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