Friday, August 8, 2008

And now, here’s the good news . . .

Foreign visitors are keen to stay in Ha Noi’s Old Quarter. Ha Noi and HCM City have dropped by 35 places or more on the list of the world’s most expensive cities. according to a new survey by the Mercer consultancy company. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Ha

HA NOI — The price of everything in Viet Nam seems to have gone up recently, including petrol, food, rents , medicines and transport.

However, in the midst of all the inflation, now comes the good news.

Ha Noi and HCM City have dropped by 35 places or more on a list of the world’s most expensive cities.

This surprising news was revealed in a recent survey by the Mercer Consultancy Company, which annually surveys 143 cities around the world.

It measures the comparative cost more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

The survey is the world’s most comprehensive cost-of-living survey and is used to help multi-national companies and governments determine compensation allowances for expatriate employees.

According to the survey, Ha Noi now ranks 91st on the list of the world’s most expensive cities, a decline of 35 places on last year - and HCM City has dropped 40 places to rank 100th.

And the reason for this much better rating, according to the survey, is that although Viet Nam has high inflation, the Vietnamese dong has remained stable against the US dollar this year.

Moscow remains the world’s most expensive city for expatriates for the third consecutive year. It scored 142.5 this year compared to 134.4 in 2007.

Tokyo is in second position (from 122.1 to 127) climbing two places since 2007. London has dropped one place to rank third (126.3 to 125).

Sydney is 15th on the list at 104.1 compared to last year’s 94.9 - and Melbourne has risen from 64th to 37th position (from 82.5 to 94.2).

In the Southeast Asian region, Bangkok has fallen from 95th place to 105th place and Jakarta from 55th to 82nd. However, Manila has become more expensive, rising to 110th place from 137th last year. Tokyo is still Asia’s most expensive city. Then there is Seoul, which is the fifth dearest city on 117.7, a small drop on last year’s 122.4.

Hong Kong has dropped from sixth to fifth (from 119.4 to 117.6), but Singapore has risen from 14th to 13th position (from 100.4 to 109.1).

And the Olympic city, Beijing, remains in 20th position, despite having risen from 95.9 to 101.9.

Yvonne Traber, a research manager at Mercer, said that current market conditions have led to a weakening of the US dollar which, coupled with the strengthening of the Euro and many other currencies, has caused significant changes in this year’s rankings.

"Although the traditionally expensive cities of Western Europe and Asia still feature in the top 20, cities in Eastern Europe, Brazil and even India are creeping up the list." she said.

"Conversely, some cities, such as Stockholm and New York, now appear less costly by comparison."

New York has dropped from 15th to 22nd position (from 100 to 106).

According to Tran Du Lich, head of the HCM City Economy Institute, Ha Noi and HCM City are no more expensive than other cities in the region.

"The price levels in both cities is not high if compared with per capita average incomes," he said.

However, he admitted that the price of high-grade hotels, buildings and golf courses in Viet Nam was higher than in many other Asian cities but this was because of demand outstripping supply.

The Mercer survey is considered the world’s most comprehensive cost of living survey. — VNS

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