April, 26 2014 08:58:47

Without land, ethnic families remain deep in poverty

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat gives a speech at a meeting on poverty reduction yesterday with the participation of Government officials and National Assembly members. — VNA/VNS Photo Lam Khanh

HA NOI (VNS)— More than ethnic 300,000 households are said to be in long-term poverty because they do not have any farm land for production.

According to a new report from the Committee for Ethnic Minorities, they receive few benefits from Government policies on poverty reduction.

At a meeting yesterday, Government officials and National Assembly members assessed the ways policies from 2005 to 2012 had affected ethnic people.

Truong Thi Mai, chairwoman of the NA Committee of Social Affairs, said that Viet Nam had been successful in reducing poverty.

Despite progresses, which reduced the nationwide poverty rate from 14.2 per cent in 2010 to around 7.8 per cent in 2013, more than half of those in poverty are ethnic residents.

This belies the fact that they represent only 15 per cent of the population.

Ethnic people mostly live in far flung and mountainous areas. They continue to suffer from natural disasters, lack of education, inadequate infrastructure and opportunities to generate sustainable living.

According to the NA Committee on Social Affairs, more than 200 communes nationwide still do not have enough power, nearly 294,000 households lack access to clean domestic water, and 14,000 hamlets do not have solid road connections.

Pham Thi Hai Chuyen, the Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said that many localities relied too much on the State budget. She said efforts must be better coordinated to ensure people became more active in poverty reduction instead of relying on subsidies.

In an earlier meeting, some NA members said ethnic people did not receive enough training on raising cattle, planting crops.

They also lacked guidance for their children who sought jobs that could lift them out of poverty forever.

Chuyen agreed, saying that the Government should reduce giving poor households direct money and put more investment in long-term efforts such as production and vocational training, infrastructure development and loans for production.

Ging Seo Phu, minister-chair of the Committee for Ethnic Minorities Affairs, said efforts must be better co-ordinated to ensure that policies did not overlap. He added that funding must be well-thought out before a policy or programme was decided on.

Phu said only 231,000 households received extra production or residential land between 2005-12, which met only 41.5 per cent of demand. Many current policies involved so many agencies that delays were caused, leading to ineffective management.

Phu said most localities heavily relied on the national budget, but that the allocation of funds did not take into account the situation in each province or region. The situation now required the elimination of overlapping policies, consolidating various national target programmes and focusing national resources on building new rural programmes.

Minister Pht called on ministries and agencies to reassess the use of land for State forest enterprises and State-run farms and decide if the land could be reallocated to ethnic people. Since 2005, 118,000 hectares of forest land have been allocated to ethnic residents.

"Besides giving them land, we must find the type of products and crops that can suit a region and can generate profits," he said.

The Government spent more than VND700 trillion (US$36 billion) on nationwide poverty reduction efforts in the 2005-12 period.

More time for textbooks

Minister of Education and Training Pham Vu Luan has asked the National Assembly to provide more time to consider the recently proposed plan to reform school textbooks.

Minister Luan, speaking at the sixth plenary session of the NA Committee for Culture, Education, Youth and Children yesterday, said more time was needed to re-evaluate the project before submitting it to the NA Standing Committee for consideration.

The plan caused much public concern when the ministry mistakenly reported that it would cost VND34 trillion (US$1.6 billion) to implement.

The minister apologised for the misunderstanding on a television programme last Sunday and accepted responsibility.

The Ministry yesterday asked the NA Standing Committee to remove discussion on the educational reform's draft decree from the plenary session's agenda. — VNS

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