Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers about whether one can really survive in big cities like Ha Noi or HCM City with barely US$155 a month, the proposed amount of the basic wage for workers of private companies and organisations. Here are some of their comments.
James Joseph Kendall, American, Ha Noi
If I was living with my parents, like most Vietnamese people, I could manage that. I do think that Vietnamese people aren't paid enough money.
That's a big reason why a good education is so important in Viet Nam. I have a Vietnamese friend that is independent and she works for a company and makes VND10 million ($444) per month. It's a good salary and she is a well-educated woman.
She has her own apartment in HCM City. It's not easy, but it can be done. I feel compassion for Vietnamese people who struggle to make ends meet. I know what it's like living from paycheck to paycheck. Not knowing if you will be able to eat or not. Paying the rent is a goal that's not always achievable. Not all foreigners have golden pockets... Many of us struggle too.
Charles Jensen, American, Ha Noi
I have in-laws that make that much money. It's horrible to see them tired after a day of working in some of the conditions here.
Yet, they make it work by combining their salaries (they end making a lot as a family unit). For them, it is better than the sustenance farming that they had just 15-20 years ago.
Unfortunately, Viet Nam hasn't developed its infrastructure and education system well-enough to begin raising its wages too much. If it makes too many demands on employers, it risks losing the factories to other countries.
I've seen what progressive policies did to California factories; don't make the same mistake and lose your production and manufacturing sector too early in the nation's development.
Tram Anh, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
$155 a month is impossible. To be able to be on your own, independently, you need nearly $500.
Of course there are many people can make it below $500 because they share a room (not even shared house) so the rent and the bills are split. Or having support from their family.
Le Minh, Vietnamese, New York
In rural areas, $155 is not little money. Even in big cities, people might even live with less than that a month.
But remember most companies pay higher than the official basic wages. Those wages are used to calculate the companies' contribution to their employees' pension program-me, so it was raised for the sake and benefits of the workers.
Yanny Dinh, Vietnamese, United States
The reality is that living in a big city like Ha Noi and HCM City is not easy with VND3.5 million ($155) per month.
The level of living cost there is really higher in comparison with any place in Viet Nam or even some Asian countries. With that salary level, the best choice for the workers is to live with their family so they can save the house costs.
Besides, suppose that those workers get married, I think they must do another part-time job to get more money to bring home the bacon.
However, one of the reasons why Viet Nam now attracts more and more foreign investment is its low labor cost. Such cost still remains an advantage for Viet Nam when the investors make comparison with that of other developing countries in the region.
I know that many Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) companies have chosen provinces instead of big cities in Viet Nam to set up their factories because of the advantages of low living costs there. — VNS