HCM CITY (VNS)— The HCM City administration will appropriate VND50-70 billion (US$2.3-3.3 million) a year for the Poverty Reduction Fund for business loans to poor families.
It is one of several new policies announced by the municipal People's Committee on financial assistance to the poor in the 2012-15 period.
Poor households, defined as those having a per capita annual income of VND12 million or less, will also get a 15 per cent subsidy on healthcare. The poor only pay 15 per cent of treatment cost if they have health insurance, and the local government has decided to cover that too.
University, college, and vocational students will see their tuitions fully subsidised if their families have a per capita income of VND10 million or less. Half the fees will be covered if their families have an income of VND10-12 million.
The city will also continue to pay all the other allowances it now does for poor people, social beneficiaries, war invalids, families of martyrs and revolutionary contributors, and public employees.
HCM City has nearly 55,400 households with 301,000 people with a per capita income of less than VND12 million, accounting for 3.64 per cent of the population.
It also has 36 wards without a single poor household.
City and district authorities have been implementing several measures to assist the poor – like social security policies and soft loans for them to do business.
The loans have been provided through several funds, including the Poverty Reduction Fund, the National Fund for Job Creation, credit funds, and the Social Policy Bank.
The Social Policy Bank's HCM City branch alone has provided loans worth a total of VND793 billion ($37.8 million) to the poor.
Nearly 110,000 poor people have been provided with health insurance.
There is also a successful ongoing programme to provide loans to businesses on condition they hire poor people.
To Thuy Hoa, owner of Minh Hoa, a company that produces aluminium household products like tubs in District 8, said she has got loans without having to mortgage assets several times from the Poverty Reduction Fund since 2008.
She employs poor people in her locality who are introduced by local authorities.
Under the fund's rules, each production unit can get a loan worth VND10-15 million for each poor worker it employs up to a limit of VND200 million.
Hoa got VND200 million at an interest rate of 6 per cent and employs 25 poor and nearly poor people. The hiring of locals meant she knew their background and things had been smooth, she added.
The Poverty Reduction Fund has so far lent to 225 production units that have hired more than 2,200 poor workers, according to the city's steering committee for poverty reduction. — VNS