The following discussion on management of traditional markets was from a forum held by HCMC People’s Council in collaboration with HCMC Television on September 8, which was attended by Ms. Nguyen Thi Le, Deputy Secretary of the City Party Committee and Chairwoman of HCMC People’s Council.
Shortcomings at traditional markets
There are currently 239 traditional markets, 206 supermarkets, 49 shopping centers, and more than 2,500 convenience stores in HCMC. Traditional markets have been providing 50%-70% of essential food commodities. However, many consumers are turning to supermarkets, convenience stores and shopping malls, as well as online shopping in recent years.
Lots of traditional markets lack essential facilities such as bathrooms, parking lots and goods lockers. Small traders sometimes do not list prices on their products or sell goods of unknown origin, all of which make buyers shy away from traditional markets.
According to Mr. Pham Thanh Kien, Director of HCMC Department of Industry and Trade, raising funds for renovating traditional markets faces much more difficulties than that for building shopping malls.
Another drawback for traditional market places is unauthorized sellers, he added. Traders within the market grounds have to pay taxes and warrant certain criteria without seeing many buyers, while unauthorized stalls outside hog all passers-by who are usually not willing to venture inside.
Lightening up the scene
District-level agencies are starting to let enterprises or cooperatives manage the markets. Thanks to the conversion, many markets have streamlined their management apparatus, raising operational efficiency. Now that they do not require approval or budget from higher-up authorities, minor renovations are quickly completed.
Mr. Le Van Thanh, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of District 7, said that the district has provided VND11 billion (US$475,000) to repair markets and help small traders access preferential loans. Markets in the area also ensure cleanliness, early opening hours and friendly staff to attract consumers.
Mr. Pham Thanh Kien emphasized that HCMC must not establish new market grounds if not called for, and upgrade facilities for existing markets. The city must also vouch to disband any unauthorized kiosks and relocate markets that fail to improve purchasing power.
Mrs. Nguyen Thi Thanh My, Deputy Director of HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment stated that traditional markets must focus more on environmental protections and limit the use of plastic bags. On the other hand, small traders should periodically test food samples to help improve their credibility and attract buyers, said Mrs. Huynh Thi Kim Cuc, Deputy Head of Food Safety Management Board of HCMC.