Hon Hai Technology Group (Foxconn) has proposed the Vietnamese government to allow enterprises in industrial zones (IZs) to purchase or lease-purchase social housing units for their workers.

The proposal was raised when Foxconn faced difficulty in developing three social housing projects near IZs where its factories were located.

Those included the project covering 9.9ha worth more than one trillion dong ($43.3 million) near Binh Xuyen 2 IZ in Vinh Phuc province, Van Trung social housing project covering 16.7ha with a total investment of 3.4 trillion dong in Van Trung IZ, Bac Giang province, and 6.3ha Golden Park worth 2.9 trillion dong in Que Vo IZ, Bac Ninh province.

Foxconn proposed companies operating in these three IZs to be allowed to represent workers to purchase or lease-purchase social housing units to meet the housing demand of their workers, which would help promote the development of social housing projects for workers which were facing a severe shortage.

Foxconn said that its survey found most workers had urgent demand for houses to settle down but even social housing units for workers were unaffordable for them.

Vietnam Lawyers Association’s Hoang Van Dao said that in accordance with the Law on Housing 2014 there were no regulations allowing foreign companies to buy social housing units.

If the proposal is approved, it will be necessary to develop specific mechanisms for these projects or to amend the established laws which would require the approval of the National Assembly, Dao said, adding that the amendment process would not be simple.

Nguyen Trong Ninh, the director of the Ministry of Construction’s Housing and Real Estate Market Management Agency, told the Lao Dong (Labour) online newspaper that such a proposal must be given careful consideration because it requires amendments to the established law.

An expert in urban management Tran Quoc Viet said that allowing enterprises to purchase or lease-purchase houses for workers could be put into consideration as workers at IZs had high demand for homes.

Viet, however, warned that if the proposal was approved, it was necessary to pay attention to problems which might arise such as higher housing prices for workers.

Vietnam National University of Agriculture’s Nguyen Quang Hoc said allowing foreign companies to buy social housing units might cause a lot of problems.

Hoc said it was difficult to manage who they leased the social housing projects to, whether they were workers or not. In case the workers quit their jobs and changed accommodation, the problem would be who would own the houses.

Hoc stressed that foreign companies operating in Vietnam must comply with the country’s laws.