All working people would own houses
Updated: 7/27/2015 10:13:42 AM GMT + 7
A couple and their son are pictured in their home in Thu Dau Mot City, located in the southern province of Binh Duong. They are among the beneficiaries of the province’s policy to build affordable houses for working people. Photo: Ba Son.
A couple and their son are pictured in their home in Thu Dau Mot City, located in the southern province of Binh Duong. They are among the beneficiaries of the province’s policy to build affordable houses for working people. Photo: Ba Son.
I aspire that in the next 20 years, all Vietnamese households would be able to own houses or rent social houses on a long-term basis, so that they could settle down and be engrossed in their jobs.

Speaking of housing for working people, I’d like to focus on workers, particularly migrant ones. Is it fair that these people, who toil hard to produce the most for the country, benefit so little from society, including such basic demands such as accommodation and meals?

A burning dream

According to statistics, the country is currently home to over 12 million workers. Among them, more than 2.2 million are working at industrial parks. However, statistics reveal that a mere 20 per cent of these workers are entitled to stable accommodation, while the rate of workers owning houses is definitely lower than 20 per cent.

Migrant workers’ destitute living conditions are evident. We all know how miserable they and their children are, which has led to numerous consequences. In my opinion, if problems with accommodation are resolved, most of the entailed consequences would disappear.

The greatest dream of migrant workers is to own a house, whether it is an apartment, social house or a fourth-grade house which measures merely a few dozen square meters. However, in actuality, the dream is out of reach even for migrant office employees, for example those working in Ho Chi Minh City, let alone workers.

A real estate enterprise remarked that "Vietnam’s house prices are the lowest in the world.” Those without a house do not heed the remark, as the "low” prices mean at least VND600- 800 million, which are large sums for working people.

A deputy minister affirmed that "people earning VND18 million a month can buy a house” thanks to a VND30 trillion (US$1.37 million) government loan package. This information does not foster hope for owning a house among workers either, as many local households still find monthly income of VND18 million unreachable.

Temporary and long-term solutions

A model of building houses each worth VND100 million ($4,579) recently implemented in the southern provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai has received ample social interest and support. Enterprises directly utilize workers’ labor to yield profits and benefit from part of the profits. Therefore, it would be reasonable that companies build houses under non-profit projects and sold them at low rates to their workers.

However, to do so, the State should adopt incentive policies to encourage enterprises’ engagement in such projects. Such policies include low-rate land rental at industrial parks, allowing or requesting industrial parks to earmark their land funds for the construction of workers’ houses, and working with enterprises to facilitate workers’ housing purchases in installments. The State should also impose certain regulations on enterprises instead of expecting them to do so on a voluntary basis. For instance, a regulation stipulating that companies with at least 1,000 workers must build at least 100 cheap apartments for their workers.

Some said that pulling house prices down as low as possible might solve the housing problem for workers. This is right, yet only in theory, as it seems. Reality has proven that in recent years, housing prices in Vietnam have dropped substantially, but remain out of reach for working people.

Some have also suggested imposing an estate tax exponentially, which means those owning more houses are liable to higher taxes. The idea sounds reasonable. However, those who own a lot of real estate can easily shift the tax payment to tenants. Therefore, instead of levying on the affluent, imposing a tax burdens those who don’t own a house and have to rent one to live in.

Therefore, in the long run, it’s crucial that workers’ incomes be augmented by providing more jobs. To do so, the government should prioritize the sectors which employ a large number of workers and directly produce social wealth. In other words, developing the local production sector should be made a priority. To do so, innovation and entrepreneurial ideas should be encouraged and facilitated for better job provision.

In addition, working people should also be helped to improve their skills and expertise. The government should also help them with incentive policies in tuition for those taking courses at vocational training schools and colleges. This also creates fairness regarding education opportunities among workers.

Alternative products should be created, while the supply of cheap houses is supposed to be augmented. The government should use the social insurance fund to build houses which would be rented to workers on a long-term basis. The social insurance fund is made by workers, so it would be reasonable that the fund is used to their benefit.

Instead of buying houses, working people could choose to rent State-owned houses on a long-term basis. Boosting supply of cheap houses can be done by waiving or cutting down fees, including different taxes, current fees and so-called "lubricant” fees, so that enterprises would still enjoy good profits.

THU PHAN (34, Dong Nai)

Source: Tuoi Tre Newspaper

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