Plans by authorities in Quang Nam Province to increase spending on a monument have caused negative public reactions.
The project to build the monument to the 'heroic mothers of Vietnam' was originally estimated to cost VND81 billion (USD3.88 million). The price has since risen to VND411.2 billion (USD19.73 million), an increase of about five times, causing anger among local residents.
The Provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Danang Construction, Trade and Fine Art Limited Company held a press conference on September 20 to explain the increase.
Dinh Hai, the department’s director, said the quintupling in the projects price is due to several factors, including an expansion of the statue's size and upgrades to the materials to be used.
He explained that now they plan to use granite instead of sandstone, and that the monument will be much larger. Hai added that granite is more durable.
He also said that laying the foundation for the enlarged monument has added to costs.
Although the project was approved four years ago, the construction pace is not on schedule. This, he said, has added to the cost of materials.
There is also the issue of compensation for site clearance. For the stone monument to be built, homes had to be moved.
In the beginning, the money for the project was to come from Voice of Vietnam Radio (VOV), the Vietnam Women's Union and other organisations and individuals.
Plans for the monument were expanded in 2007, Hai said, because the monument is supposed to stand as a symbol of 50,000 heroic mothers around the country.
Current plans include a main statue 86 metres wide in addition to eight smaller statues. It will occupy 15 hectares.
A number of officials, writers, architects and seniors have publicly objected to the project, claiming that even though the building of such a monument is a good idea, spending so much on it is wasteful.
According to Tuoi Tre, architects from the Ho Chi Minh Art Association agreed, saying that considering the country's economic conditions, a smaller monument would suffice to honour the sacrifices of mothers during the war.
Tran Anh, a retired official of the province, said that the money to be spent on the monument would be better spent actually taking care of those mothers who are still living, which it is meant to commemorate.
“Such a monument does not have to be made of stone, but could live in the hearts of everyone. Quang Nam is a poor province, and the money we use to build this statue could be put to better use," Anh told VTC News.
Many of the 'heroic mothers' are living in extremely difficult circumstances.