State firms ordered to phase out overcharging of foreigners

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 October, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 October, 1998, 12:00am

State corporations have been ordered to produce timetables for phasing out the dual-pricing system long detested by foreigners.

However, the targeted firms have made it clear they are in no mood for such magnanimity.

Eliminating dual pricing would set a new psychological tone between Vietnamese and foreigners and address a long-standing business complaint that the country's operating costs are too high.

It would also help bring the country in line with World Trade Organisation requirements and a future trade agreement with the United States.

State companies have long charged foreigners up to five times the prices paid by locals for goods and services.

'On the psychological front dual pricing has always sent the wrong signal to the Vietnamese population - that you can exploit foreigners,' a Western diplomat based in Hanoi said.

Overcharging of foreigners seems to have become part of the national creed.

A senior Vietnam Airlines official warned an immediate change could lead to a collapse of the national carrier.