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Deals and debts: Young people in Ho Chi Minh City turn to credit cards



Credit services can be a double-edged sword.

While many young people in Ho Chi Minh City find them a good tool to enjoy promotion and discounts, others slip into unpayable debts. 

“I want it, I get it,” said Le Quang, a 27-year-old blue-collar worker in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City.

“Credit services will take care.

“It’s nonsense to save up enough money for things you desire.

“If I apply for a loan, an interest rate will be the same.”

Deal hunting

With more than four years of experience and five credit cards, 28-year-old Duong Gia Hung in Tan Binh District said he was a ‘worshipper’ of technology and cashless payment.

Besides meeting standards on income and passbooks, to enjoy the highest credit card limit of VND56 million (US$2,400), he has to fully comprehend how the system works and have a ‘flawless’ history of transactions.

Although card maintenance fees range from VND3 million ($130) to VND4 million ($173) per year, Hung said it was a fair trade-off and he knew ways to derive benefits.

“Allowing holders to buy first, pay later and offering good deals are the attraction of credit cards,” he said.

“As I have to spend on so many things, special offers can make up for card maintenance fees and even generate profits.”

Ho Thi Ngan, 31, in District 3 said she ‘hunted’ for deals, cashback, and points by using credit cards to pay for her acquaintances’ air tickets, bills, and shopping.

The plan, however, did backfire: a friend once refused to pay her back for an item, causing her to lose all of the money and bear an additional penalty for late payment.

Ngan said as credit cards were becoming common, banks eased provisions and proceedings.

The number of people losing the ability to pay and fleeing to escape loans is on the rise, according to Ngan.

“One of my friends is too into deals that he could not control his spending,” she said.

“He had to flee to avoid paying debts.

“Of course, his name is on the black list now.”

Dead end

For young professionals who generate stable income, using finance solutions including credit for daily expenditure can help to save even more.

Painstakingly cleaning a brand-new motorbike in front of his tenanted house in Tan Phu District, Quang Thai, 37, originally from the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, proudly told Tien Phong (Youth) newspaper that it was a reward after a belt-tightening period.

“We’d ridden a ramshackle motorbike for years,” he said.

“Although fixing expenses may reach millions of dong per month, we had to endure the pain because of having no money to buy a better bike.

“Realiszing that saving is not a solution, we made an installment instead.

“Eventually, we paid off the loan.”

Adoring his new motorbike, bought at VND100 million ($4,336), 26-year-old personal trainer Tran Trung in District 9, which is now Thu Duc City, said he weighed all pros and cons before pulling out a wallet as his savings at the time were only VND45 million ($1,950).

To buy the vehicle, he had to sign a loan contract of VND70 million ($3,000) with a credit company.

“I have to pay VND5 million [$216] a month, for both the principal and interest, in 18 months,” said Trung, adding he had to state his income to apply for the loan.

“I’m not so sure whether I can make it.”

To Le Hong Gam, 27, in Tan Binh District, owning a motorbike is not as simple as it sounds.

In early 2020, Gam bought a motorbike, valued at VND30 million ($1,300), with an installment payment over 12 months.

However, by mid-2020, she had been laid off under the pressure of COVID-19, disabling her paying off the debt.

Gam had to pawn it for VND13 million ($564).

“VND13 million is just enough to cover the loan,” she cried.

“As I had not obtained a vehicle registration, the pawnshop only gave me additional VND6 million [$259] to buy out the motorbike.

“I did not only lose my motorbike but also dozens of millions of dong, eventually.”

Tam, the 32-year-old owner of the H.T. pawnshop in Tan Phu District, said even before the pandemic, it was not strange to know a lot of people running up huge debts on their credit cards.

“It is easy to turn a person into a debtor if he cannot tell the difference between credit and usury,” he said.

“For pawning, you still have ways to cover debts while making loans with credit cards, you may be pushed into a dead end.”

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Upgrade work speeds up on HCMC flood-prone street



Upgrade work speeds up on HCMC flood-prone street

Upgrade of the 3.2 kilometer (2 mile) long street, which connects downtown District 1 with District 2 through Binh Thanh District, was launched in October 2019 at a cost of VND470 billion ($20.39 million).

Work on the section from Ton Duc Thang Street to Thu Thiem Bridge has been completed, with the remaining section from Thu Thiem Bridge to Saigon Bridge still under repair.

Phan Duc, head of the project management board, said it is 70 percent complete and that work would commence through the upcoming Lunar New Year, or Tet, to complete before April 30.

The construction site currently hosts 70 types of machinery, equipment, transport vehicles and about 150 workers, including more than 50 for night shifts.

Upgrade work speeds up on HCMC flood-prone street

Near the foot of Saigon Bridge, drill operator Nguyen Truong Phuc works to reduce subsidence, one of the first stages in upgrading the flood-prone street.

“I have been working here for two months, mainly at night. It’s quite stressful, operating the machine all night and concentrating for long hours,” the 32-year-old said.

Upgrade work speeds up on HCMC flood-prone street

A few meters away, Ngoc Nam repairs drills chipped during construction.

Upgrade work speeds up on HCMC flood-prone street

Near an overpass, a group of workers use excavators and dump trucks to relocate the old drainage system to replace with a new version.

Upgrade work speeds up on HCMC flood-prone street

Workers from Gia Dinh Water Supply Company install a new water supply pipe. Affected families are usually informed before work commences at night to avoid disturbances.

The upgrade will see the road surface rise from 0.5 to 1.2 meters. Low-lying houses on both sides will benefit from new, wide sidewalks accessible via three-step staircases.

Upgrade work speeds up on HCMC flood-prone street

Bulldozers operate at the intersection of Dien Bien Phu and Nguyen Huu Canh streets.

Upgrade work speeds up on HCMC flood-prone street

Built in 1997 and opened to traffic in 2002, the VND420 billion ($18.1 million) Nguyen Huu Canh Street was expected to improve traffic flow in HCMC.

But not long after its opening, the street subsided and began flooding each time it rained.

Upgrade work speeds up on HCMC flood-prone street

Tran Van Cuong guides a pump into a manhole on a newly-surfaced road section.

Upgrade work speeds up on HCMC flood-prone street

As temperature drops to 19 degrees Celsius at night, Dao Van Xuyen, 40, often wraps himself in a scarf, two layers of T-shirts, and a pair of gloves.

Xuyen only moved to HCMC two months ago. His main work involves leveling crushed stones, watering and pouring concrete. He often chooses to work the night shift because the salary is higher than the day shift, at about VND500,000 ($21.64) per night.

“For me, this job is quite suitable since it doesn’t require high expertise but pays well. I’ll try earn some money to return home to celebrate Tet,” the worker from Thai Binh Province in northern Vietnam said.

Upgrade work speeds up on HCMC flood-prone street

At about 2 a.m., Dang Minh Tri eats a cup of instant noodles. He works about four nights a week drilling and mixing mortar.


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Japan suspends visas for Vietnamese citizens



Japan has suspended granting visas to Vietnamese citizens amid the country’s Covid-19 problems.

According to the Department of Overseas Labour Management under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, that the suspension started from January 14 after the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and three nearby areas on Thursday as Covid-19 cases continue to surge.

Japan has decided to temporarily halt the granting of new visas for foreigners, including those from Vietnam.

People gathered at the Japanese Embassy in Hanoi for visa application

People who had been provided with a visa to Japan earlier are allowed to enter Japan as of midnight of January 21 at the latest. However, they have to be tested negative for Covid-19 and the test certificate needs to be submitted to Japanese authorities no more than three days before their flight to Japan.

Anyone who enters Japan will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine. People are not permitted to use public transport from airports to quarantine sites.

People who violate Covid-19 prevention regulations will be strictly punished.

The measures will be applied until further notice from the Japanese government.

Japan was among six countries from June that offered looser visa policies. Dtinews/Tienphong


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COVID-19 update in Việt Nam on Saturday evening




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