Bùi Văn Cường
Bùi Văn Cường, President of the Việt Nam General Confederation of Labour, talks to the newspaper Nông thôn Ngày nay (Countryside Today) about building low-cost apartments for industrial park workers.
What’s your point of view on the housing issue facing many Vietnamese workers?
Housing shortage is a problem facing many Vietnamese workers and the Việt Nam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) has been aware of this problem for many years.
Việt Nam now has about 300 industrial parks (IP) and economic processing zones (EPZ), of which 200 are in operation, providing jobs for more than two million workers. However, more than 10 percent of these workers do not have permanent accommodation.
In May, the Prime Minister approved a plan submitted to him by the VGCL for IP workers’ housing.
I’m pretty sure when these are built, they will make workers’ lives a lot easier in terms of space, super markets, health care centres and other conveniences.
Would you please elaborate on the process of building cheap housing for workers?
Building cheap houses for the workers is the main idea in the VGCL proposal. The PM has already assigned eight ministries, sectors, local Provincial Party Committees and People’s Committees to implement the Government’s policy.
We have selected Hà Nam, Quảng Nam and Tiền Giang provinces for pilot projects and are building high rises with 30sq.m or 60sq.m apartments.
Under our proposal, the Government will let the VGCL use the VNĐ700 billion ($30.8 million) in land use fees to invest in infrastructure construction, including health care centres, sports arenas, cultural centres, kindergartens, super markets and so on.
We are asking the Việt Nam General Corporation of Construction, the Việt Nam Cement Corporation and Viglacera Corporation – the three major construction material suppliers for our projects - to offer us better than market prices.
We will first design apartment models and display them so that workers can comment. Our key objective is to lower construction costs to make them suitable for workers’ financial capability. We hope the cost of each apartment will be from VNĐ100 million-300 million, depending on the size.
Is the VGCL facing any difficulties in implementing the projects?
A major challenge we have faced is the issue of land clearance, particularly in major cities like Hà Nội and Hồ Chí Minh City. You know, in these two cities, land reserved for housing development projects is very limited and compensation prices are very high, This is the most challenging issue for our project. But, as I have mentioned above, the VGCL has done its best to have clear land for the projects in order to save costs for workers.
Do you think workers can afford to pay VNĐ200-300 million for an apartment?
I agree that it’s a problem. To help workers access our low-cost housing project, we have already worked with the banking sector and persuaded them to offer the workers low interest rate credit. We have also persuaded the banks to adopt a special lending policy for workers who lease apartments.
According to our calculation, each month workers will have to pay VNĐ1.5 -1.8 million ($65-80). So after seven to nine years, the payment will be completed and the worker will be granted a certificate of ownership of the apartment._VNS