Social insurance and health insurance are the two main pillars of the country's social safety network, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Le Bach Hong told the newspaper Tien Phong (Vanguard).
Nearly VND97 trillion (US$4.73 billion) was collected from throughout the nation for the social safety network in 2011 – a record. Do you have any comments about this success?
I'm very glad to say that last year, 57.13 million people participated in the social insurance and health insurance schemes, an increase of 8.84 per cent over 2010. The $4.73 billion collected represented an increase of 20.3 per cent compared to the previous year.
In the year under review, about 6.4 million people benefited from social insurance – an increase of 17.02 per cent against 2010. More than 2.5 million pensioners received a pay raise when the Government increased the minimum wage.
On average, the social insurance sector spends VND77 trillion to support pensioners and other types of beneficiaries of insurance allowances.
In 2011, the health insurance sector paid approximately VND24 trillion to provide health insurance for nearly 100 million buyers.
Though last year the health insurance payment increased considerably compared with previous years, payment was well balanced with the funds collected thanks to an increase in the number of health insurers. This is a pre-requisite for the country to reach 100 per cent health insurance coverage for the entire population by 2014.
Many people have worried about the prolonged outstanding debt of the social insurance sector. How do you respond to that?
I have to concede that the outstanding debt owed to social and health insurance funds in 2011 stood at almost VND4 trillion. Specifically, the social insurance fund was owed VND3.33 trillion while the health insurance was owed VND584.7 billion. The debt accounted for 4.2 per cent of the sum which should have been collected.
Several factors led to such significant debt. The primary cause was the interest rate hike levied by the bank compared with the low interest rate levied on employers' delayed payments for their employees' social and health insurance obligations.
What should the social insurance sector do in order to increase collection to reduce the debt?
We'll co-ordinate closely with functional agencies to make sure they comply with the Law on Social Insurance. Meanwhile, we'll conduct awareness raising activities about the law for people working in other groups, including traditional craft workers and farmers, to encourage them to participate in the voluntary social insurance schemes.
We will also impose heavy fines on units that delay payments to social and health insurance for their employees. In serious cases, we'll have their names printed in newspapers.
Challenges and difficulties remain for the social insurance sector in 2012. What targets have been set by the sector for the year?
Our key objective for this year is to continue to ensure social security for the country.
To achieve this objective, we have worked out various measures focused primarily on increasing the number of participants in the social insurance sector and decreasing the outstanding social insurance debt among enterprises.
We vow to improve our performance this year to better serve the people.
We hope the Viet Nam Social Insurance will have the specific 2012 collection and spending plans projected by each provincial/city social insurance sub-sector and the armed forces soon. — VNS