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Industrial zone workers lack housing

Update: October, 21/2013 - 09:06

A domiciliary zone for workers in Que Vo Industrial Zone in the northern province of Bac Ninh. There is still a shortage of housing for workers across the country. — VNA/VNS Photo Tuan Anh

HA NOI (VNS) — Despite the development of industrial zones, there is still a shortage of housing for workers in these areas, which is mostly due to limited local budgets and lack of preferential policies to attract private investment in such projects.

Nguyen Van Quyen, head of the northern Bac Giang Province's Industrial Zones Management Board, said five industrial zones in the locality had attracted 30,000 workers. Among them, three zones had plans to build housing for workers, but only one project has been completed, providing accommodation for 6,000 people.

A large proportion of labourers have to rent houses in neighbouring areas at prices ranging from VND300,000-500,000 (US$14-23.8) per room per month.

The rooms are very small at 2-3sq.m each, creating difficult living conditions and inadequate hygiene conditions.

The rapid increase in the number of workers in industrial zones, especially migrant workers, led to the soaring demand for houses, Quyen said.

Meanwhile local budgets are insufficient for building worker housing and policies calling for private investment were also not attractive enough to lure investors, he added.

Deputy minister of Construction Nguyen Tran Nam admitted that enterprises were not eager to build houses for workers in industrial zones because of the shortage of preferential policies.

According to current regulations, enterprises which develop housing construction projects are only exempt from land usage tax, and corporate income tax reduction was only applied in 2009.

Preferential financial sources such as the Housing Development Fund and the local Investment and Development Funds are hard to assess, Nam added.

From 2009 to 2012, only 62 projects worth a total of VND1.8 trillion (US$85.7 million) nationwide were put into use, providing houses to about 100,000 workers.

On the other hands, these preferential policies were only applied to projects that allowed workers to rent houses, rather than buy them. Therefore, it was necessary to create favourable conditions for housing companies to invest in projects satisfying those who had demand to buy apartments.

Additionally, under the current regulations, workers who are eligible to rent a house must be those working in concentrated or large-scale industrial zones, Nam said.

However, in fact, there are a large number of migrant people working in factories or production establishments outside the industrial zones also in need of stable accommodations. Thus, the regulations' scope of application must be enlarged to avoid discriminatory treatment of workers, he said.

It is also necessary to issue regimes to encourage households or individuals in these localities to offer houses for rent, then the State would be able to control renting prices on the basis of a determined price frame.

Nam stressed that the Ministry of Construction has proposed amendments to the draft decree on social housing development and management to the Government for approval.

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, so far, there are a total of 2.1 million workers employed in industrial and processing zones located in 61 cities and provinces. — VNS

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