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Social welfare in need of revamp

Update: July, 29/2014 - 10:09

Poverty alleviation policies have given households some hope, director of the Social Assistance System Strengthening Project (SASSP) Dang Kim Chung told Hai Quan Cuoi Tuan (Customs Weekend).

How do you evaluate the social assistance system?

At present our country has many policies to support people in special circumstances. But our social security system needs to have wider coverage in line with the Party Resolution No 15. The document uses national minimum living standards as the benchmark to decide who will receive Government support.

However, many poor people have not been able to access the support. Current poverty alleviation policies have played an important role in Government attitudes, for example the policy on social healthcare for the poor or financial support for students of poor households, including those from ethnic minorities.

Some people have complained about the poor coverage of our present social assistance system. What do you think?

Our social security coverage is rather comprehensive, but the weak point is its administration. This can be blamed on poor data. In some localities, data is produced electronically while in many others it is still written on paper.

In addition, the monthly allowances given to people in special circumstances are administered by the provincial Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and offices of other sectors. I think it is time to use an independent agency to do this.

Regarding the coverage of the present social-security system, I just want to say, it depends very much on the capacity of the national economy. That's why our social support policy at the moment only focuses on people in special circumstances.

What should we do to overcome the situation?

The first thing to do is to change the administration system so it can respond to the new situation. The new system must be connected from the centre down to localities and information must be shared between the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and concerned agencies.

I'm confident when this system is in place, it will make social security policy more effective.

In addition, it will enable us to separate management from payments, in line with the objectives of transparency and accountability.

Do you think the Social Assistance System Strengthening Project will help overcome these limitations?

I hope the project will help us improve the situation. However, the project is just a pilot. With lessons learned from the project we'll be able to scale up in the future.

Poor households, especially those with children under 15 years, pregnant women and ethnic people facing difficult circumstances are the main targets for the project. The key objective of the project will be to integrate, step by step, social-support policies into a family assistance package; to develop a national data system, including data about poor households and people receiving monthly support from the Government.

The project will focus on investing in children's healthcare and education. Another component will be poverty alleviation. This will include generating jobs for people able to work.

Last but not least, the project has a proposal on protecting human rights among the poor so that they can demand their basic needs will be met. — VNS

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