Vietnamese take on side gigs as inflation bites

By Xanh Le   July 5, 2022 | 09:15 pm PT
Vietnamese take on side gigs as inflation bites
A worker is seen at a garment factory in Ho Chi Minh City in October 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Chau Ngan, 28, ended her shift at a coffee shop in HCMC at 10 p.m. and immediately turned on a laptop to check on her restaurant in Da Nang.

Three months ago she got someone to manage her restaurant and left for HCMC to work as a manager at a coffee shop.

"Costs are skyrocketing, and therefore I need a second job to pay the rent for my restaurant," she says, revealing she has not been breaking even for months.

Rents and ingredients cost her VND30 million ($1,248) a month while sales are only around VND31 million, and so she needs another job to pay her staff.

She used to have three jobs but quit one of them due to health issues. She now works 18 hours a day.

"I also have to cut my spending. All I am doing now is working and paying debts," she tells VnExpress.

Despite all this, she still had to borrow VND20 million recently for her restaurant.

"If the situation does not improve, I may have to sell it."

Ngan is among many turning to side jobs to keep their head amid the price rise caused by record fuel prices.

Gasoline prices in Vietnam are hovering at nearly VND33,000 a liter, an all-time high, after rising 41 percent this year.

Inflation in the first five months has been 2.25 percent against last year’s 1.29 percent, according to the General Statistics Office.

The prices of many food items have jumped by 10-50 percent this year.

The inflation is forcing many to tighten their belts and/or work a second, even third, job.

Viet Thang, an employee at Samsung Vietnam, decided to earn some extra money for his family by working as a driver for a ride hailing firm.

After his eight-hour shift ends at around 5:30 p.m, Thang hits the streets and only returns home by midnight on weekdays and one or two in the morning during weekends.

"Now gasoline prices have surged, and everything has become more expensive," he says, adding that his monthly spending has risen from VND7-8 million to VND8-9 million or even more.

The side gig earns him VND5-6 million a month but takes a toll on his health.

"I cannot say I'm not tired or despondent, but this is what I have to do to make ends meet. I thought about moving back to my hometown but the salary there is low, so I decided to stay here and work."

Duc Cong, an andrologist in HCMC, sacrifices what little rest he used to get to work as a part-time designer.

"I used to sleep five or six hours a night. Now it is three or four," he says.

He is constantly sleepy and tired, and cannot concentrate at work.

But the part-time job fetches him little money and he has to cut his savings to cope with the surging prices.

The government has sought lawmakers' approval for a 25 percent cut in the environment tax on gasoline from August to year-end to bring prices down.

The tax, which was originally VND4,000 a liter, was halved by 50 percent in March. If the latest cut is approved, it will go down to VND1,000.

The Ministry of Finance is also considering reducing the excise and value-added tax on gasoline to bring its prices down further.

But Cong says: "I don’t know how long this ‘price storm’ will last, so it will be better if I am cautious about my health or else I will have to go to hospital and spend more than what I earn."

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