Use of local currency must be reinforced
Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers their opinions on whether they feel it is more convenient for the prices of goods and services in Viet Nam to be posted in foreign currencies, such as the US dollar or Euro, or the local currency dong. Here are some responses:
Sarah Devotion Garner, American, Ha Noi
Viet Nam should continue to crack down on violators who accept foreign currency instead of the dong. I think a plan to avoid "dollarisation" is an excellent move. However, posting prices in both VND and US dollar/euro can be useful for tourism purposes. I can think in the Viet Nam dong, but visitors often struggle.
They appreciate a bill that lists both the VND and foreign currency amounts so they can easily understand how much they are paying. Therefore, services and shops should be able to post prices in multiple currencies. This especially applies to airport taxis that are dealing with tired, confused tourists just off planes and often have no grasp of the exchange rate yet. However, they should continue to only accept dong.
Muhammed Ebrahimsa, British, London
Prices using both the US dollar and euro exclude the local market, but do focus on specific groups.
However, due to the strength of both the dollar, pound sterling and euro, local business see that it is more convenient to post prices that way due to currency fluctuations and hence they do not need to keep changing the price to reflect the new exchange rate.
Personally, I can see the ease with which foreign travellers pay in those currency denominations. However, you do lose some experience of paying things in the country's currency as many countries have different looking notes and hence you lose out on contributing to the local economy.
I'm planning a trip to Viet Nam soon and I was told by a friend that GBP20 equals more than VND670,000. That is so long and crazy and I can see why foreigners could get confused and like seeing prices in popular foreign currencies.
Do Thuy Linh, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
I do not think foreigners find it that inconvenient when prices are quoted in VND. For one thing, they can always ask providers of services and goods about the US dollar/euro equivalence of the prices quoted in dong before deciding to pay. For another, when one travels to a foreign country, it is simply natural and reasonable that one uses the currency of that country. Yet, to make it easier for all those concerned, the Government can allow services/goods providers to provide an exchange rate note at the end of a price list.
As for preventing businesses and organisations from violating regulations, increasing inspections and imposing heavy fines should gradually help. However, Government inspectors should also make an effort to explain to individual business owners the underlying importance of the regulations, since with every regulation, the most effective prevention should come from individual citizens themselves.
Joshua Kopecek, British, Ha Noi
I do not remember having seen US dollars being spent here for a long time, and I have not tried changing dollars or spending dollars here ever since moving to Ha Noi a year and a half ago.
Statistics from the Ministry of Public Security's Fire Prevention and Fighting Police and Search and Rescue Department show that nearly 550 cases of fire and explosions occurred nationwide, leaving 23 dead and injuring 44 others during the first four months of this year. The department also noted that many fires occurred in residential areas, including markets and high-rise apartment buildings.
According to Ha Noi's Fire Prevention and Fighting Police Department, most of the city's 370 high-rise buildings (with more than seven floors) fail to comply with fire prevention regulations. They lack appropriate exits or entrances, equipment to prevent and fight fire, and safe electricity systems. In addition, a lack of human resources at fire stations is causing a big problem in fire prevention and response.
If you are living in Viet Nam, perhaps in a high-rise building, have you experienced any fires and are you concerned about fire risks where you live?
What preparations have been made in case of a fire?
In your country, how often do fires occur in residential buildings and public places? How does fire prevention and response work differ to that in Viet Nam?
Please reply by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi. Replies to this week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, May 17.
I remember only one place – at a famous coffee chain – that had prices in dollars, but I have not been there in about eight months. My girlfriend also saw a clothes shop near the Saint Joseph Cathedral posting prices in US dollar.
I think Viet Nam needs to take its own currency seriously, and get rid of the idea that foreign currencies are more "precious". However, on the street I do not think it really matters compared to high-level trading.
Duong Tuan Hung, Vietnamese, HCM City
In Cambodia, I can easily use three kinds of currency: VND, US dollars and the Cambodian currency. Yes, it is absolutely more convenient for foreigners to see prices posted in US dollar or euro. It helps them easily have a sense of the value of goods and services without doing the math. I prefer prices posted in both major foreign currencies like the US dollar or euro and our local currency, VND.
I do not see the point to keep this regulation in practice. However, if so, we need to establish more convenient money exchange counters for foreigners when they enter our country. In addition, we need to strictly control money transfers and transactions in our banking system.
Le Thi Hien Giang, Vietnamese, Kyoto, Japan
Recently, I was at the Noi Bai International Airport and had to pay VND110,000 for a coffee that was priced at US$5. Even though it was at an international airport, I still felt it was kind of disrespectful to have prices posted only in US dollar even though they accept both VND and US dollars.
Tourists who come here or elsewhere must calculate the exchange rate to the dong, thus making them understand the country's living conditions and culture.
Even at international airports such as those in Malaysia or Thailand, prices are strictly posted in local currencies (ringgit/baht). It is obvious we have to change money to local currencies beforehand, at airports or currency exchange counters easily found on every major street. Besides major import-export contracts or financial transactions, I think prices of services such as food, coffee, spa and retail products in general must be strictly posted in VND.
If neighboring countries have done so to protect the national currency, so can we. For small shops, I think the owners only want to benefit from the fluctuation of the exchange rate. The Government must increase inspections and put heavy fines on those violating this rule.
We have been trying to encourage the use of our made-in-Viet Nam goods. Therefore, there is no reason for us to disregard our local currency. — VNS