* Vietnam’s pledged foreign direct investment dropped 32 percent to about US$1.56 billion in January and February, compared with the same period last year, the government said in a statement released at a press conference in Hanoi on Wednesday. Disbursed foreign investment rose 4.5 percent to $1.15 billion in the first two months, the statement said.
* Vietnam Infrastructure Ltd., a UK-listed fund, said it has bought $6 million worth of convertible bonds in Saigon Infrastructure Real Estate Investment Joint-Stock Co., which holds stakes in toll roads, property and a water treatment plant. The bonds are convertible to ordinary shares, which would give Vietnam Infrastructure a minority stake in Saigon Infrastructure Real Estate Investment, said Tony Hsun, who is managing director of the UK-listed fund.
* The government should introduce a $10 per ton surcharge on coffee exports when world prices exceed $1,800 per ton to help raise capital to improve the country’s coffee yields, Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon Online reported on its website, citing Luong Van Tu, head of the country’s coffee growers’ association.
* Vietnam plans to spend VND86 trillion ($4.1 billion) to repay maturing debt this year, an increase of 22 percent from last year, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on its website. The ministry estimates contributions to the state budget will be VND595 trillion in 2011, a rise of 13 percent from last year. State budget spending is estimated at VND725.6 trillion this year.
* Vietnam’s crude oil output in February slipped 11.5 percent from a year ago to an estimated 1.15 million tons, or about 301,000 barrels per day, the government said on Tuesday. Actual crude oil output for January was revised up to 1.27 million tons from 1.26 million tons estimated earlier.
* A new MasterCard survey has found that Vietnamese women are investment savvy. They rank fourth in Asia-Pacific with a Financial Literacy Index score of 70.1, after Thailand, New Zealand and Australia. Thailand and Vietnam are markets “where rapid socioeconomic advancement has given women vital and valuable first-hand entrepreneurial experience and exposure to financial planning and money management concepts,” said MasterCard Worldwide’s Communications vice president Georgette Tan.
* Vietnam granted stock trading codes to 85 foreign investors in February, bringing the total number to 14,991, including 13,502 individuals and 1,489 institutional investors, the Vietnam Economic Times cited the Vietnam Securities Depository as saying.