Friday, 15 February 2008

The Other Side of the Picture - HCM City (2)

As in all large cities, there is always another side to the picture which should never be forgotten. While we rejoice to hear of the progress made in Ho Chi Minh City in the last year, we must continue to pray and work so that the poor can share in the prodperity. The report continues:-

"But the poor feel pinch

If Tet (New Year) is a time to splurge and make merry with tables overflowing with food and gift-giving for some, it’s another reminder of what it means to be poor for others.

A soy milk vendor on Nguyen Tri Phuong Street named Suong is feeling the pinch. She spent half a day bargaining for candied fruits and melon seeds to put on her ancestral altar on the first day of the year. Having had to spend VND200,000, Suong said this is the most expensive Tet for her. On top of the fact that prices are always more expensive around Tet, inflation has created a double whammy for her pocketbook.

At the candy and preserves stall at Binh Tay Market, a middle-aged customer bemoaned, "Last week I bought a kilogram of candied coconut with VND35,000. Now the price is nearly double." A retired civil servant in District 6 said she decided to shop at Binh Tay Market because its prices were still lower than those at other markets. "I shopped at three markets. One kilogram of candied ginger at An Dong Market was VND60,000. Ben Thanh Market sold it for VND70,000 while the price at Binh Tay Market was VND45,000," she said. "With such high prices, I bought little to celebrate a simple holiday."

Trinh Quoc Tuan, a resident of Tan Binh District, had to be particularly price conscious as well. Shopping at Big C Supermarket, Tuan spent around VND100,000 to buy a dozen packages of instant noodle and fresh milk for his two children.
With a monthly salary of VND1.5 million, the Tet bonus equal to one month’s earnings was a significant addition to the household income. Still, he set aside only VND300,000 to buy clothes and food for the children.

Nguyen Ngoc Tuan, head of Ben Thanh Market management board, said the prices of all goods had increased by 10 to 30 per cent. Up to 70 per cent of retailers were selling at higher prices.

Speaking at last week’s meeting to mark the 40th anniversary of Tet Mau Than 1968 general offensive and uprising, the city’s Party Secretary Le Thanh Hai said this year the city would strive to make higher and sustainable econmic growth, create a significant change in the quality, competitiveness and efficiency of products and services, improve local residents’ quality of life, and bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. — VNS"

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