Multiple measures to be taken to achieve national targets in sustainable poverty reduction

June 06, 2023 - 09:35
Phạm Hồng Đào, deputy director of the National Office for Poverty Reduction speaks to Dân Trí (Intellectuals) newspaper on the progress of sustainable development in Việt Nam and what should be done moving forward.
Phạm Hồng Đào, deputy director of the National Office for Poverty Reduction. — Photo

Phạm Hồng Đào, deputy director of the National Office for Poverty Reduction speaks to Dân Trí (Intellectuals) newspaper on the progress of sustainable development in Việt Nam and what should be done moving forward.

What are the notable achievements and remaining targets to be achieved after two and half years of implementing the national target programme on sustainable poverty reduction for 2021-25?

The strategy for the national target programme on sustainable poverty reduction for 2021-25 was approved by the National Assembly (NA) in July 2021, and its programme was approved by the Prime Minister in January 2022. The government has directed ministries, departments and localities to develop guidelines, while the NA Standing Committee allocated the central budget for development investment in the 2021-25 period, and 2021, 2022 and 2023 budgets for the programme implementation.

Central steering committees for national target programmes were also established to manage these projects from the central to local levels, creating a coherent and comprehensive management mechanism. Communications on the programme are a focus in implementation and have seen much innovation; while monitoring and evaluation are also strengthened.

Initial results of the programme have contributed to the goal of reducing poor households, in accordance with the annual targets set by the NA and the Government. People are aware of actively making efforts to lift themselves out of poverty and working on agricultural production, creating livelihoods and income sources aligning with the local context and the impacts of COVID-19.

In the future, ministries and central, local departments need to continue reviewing, adjusting and perfecting the system of guidelines, promptly allocating funding and mobilising resources from society, and accelerating the capital disbursement for the programme.

They also need to strengthen communications on poverty reduction; raise awareness and improve staff capacity in all levels of the sector; strengthen monitoring and evaluation work to achieve the programme’s overall goal of multidimensional, inclusive, sustainable poverty reduction. It is also necessary to have a more synchronised action to minimise people becoming impoverished or falling back into poverty.

They should also work on the support for poor households and people to achieve the minimum living standards, access basic social services according to the national multidimensional poverty line, improve their quality of life, support poor districts and communes in extreme difficulty in the lowlands, coastal areas and islands to escape poverty, in a practical and suitable manner with the local conditions.

The programme’s objectives are maintaining the reduction rate of poor households (based on the multidimensional poverty line) at 1 to 1.5 per cent per year, and of poor ethnic minority households at over 3 per cent per year.

It also aims that 30 per cent of poor districts and 30 per cent of communes in extreme difficulty in the lowlands, coastal areas and islands to escape poverty. Particularly, the rate of households in poverty in poor districts needs to decrease by 4 to 5 per cent each year.

The 2021-22 period saw two different multidimensional poverty lines applied, while these two years were also severely affected by COVID-19. What are the obstacles this has caused to the programme implementation?

2021-22 saw two different multidimensional poverty lines applied because the 2016-20 multidimensional poverty lines could not fully reflect the poverty status of households in different regions in 2021. This led to challenges in assessing the poverty reduction goal in 2022 compared to 2021.

In addition, the national target programme for poverty reduction was recently approved and is at the initial stage of implementation. Therefore, we are unable to produce a detailed evaluation of projects, sub-projects, and how the shortcomings in basic social services are addressed as part of the programme in 2021 and 2022, which included employment, healthcare, education, housing, water and sanitation, and information access.

Poverty reduction results in 2021-22 were also not sustainable as people tended to fall back into poverty due to both subjective and objective reasons, such as COVID-19 impacts, climate change and natural disasters.

Amid these challenges, what has the National Office for Poverty Reduction done in terms of both policy consultation and managing localities to strive for the set goals?

The National Office for Poverty Reduction has actively provided consultation to the ministries and authorities to promptly address the challenges and difficulties that localities face during the programme implementation.

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) adjusted Circulars No 09 and 17, and addressed 27 recommendations from localities. It also suggested changes to Decree No 27 on the management and implementation of national target programmes, as well as the finance minister’s Circular No 46 on managing, using and finalising non-business funds from the central budget for the 2021-25 national target programme on sustainable poverty reduction.

Meanwhile, the National Office for Poverty Reduction consulted the MoLISA in issuing an official document to local People’s Committees’ chairmans on accelerating the programme implementation and strengthening its review and assessment across the country.

The Central Steering Committee for National Target Programme regularly provides direction and supervision through virtual meetings, directives, notices and dispatches so that localities can promptly issue implementation guidelines.

The office also strengthens the programme’s monitoring and evaluation, which focuses on localities with poor districts and communes in extreme difficulty in the lowlands, coastal areas and islands, particularly on mobilising and using funds to realise the programme and its disbursement progress.

Specific aspects such as the use of State budget capital in investment projects, the progress and results of implementing goals, missions and the bottlenecks in the programme implementation are all promptly addressed to accelerate disbursement.

In the near future, the National Office for Poverty Reduction will work with the MoLISA on the final review and assessment of the multidimensional poverty line in 2022-25, while also continuing to study and complete the multidimensional poverty line in accordance with the sustainable development goals, ensuring the improvement of minimum living standards and people’s access to basic social services in the period leading to 2030.

For practical results and evaluation, other scopes of implementation include innovating the approach to poverty reduction, and complete the assessment toolkit for multidimensional poor and near-poor households in alignment with the actual situation in localities.

A local resident of Hòa Bình Province receives a preferential loan as part of the sustainable poverty reduction programme. —VNA/VNS Photo Trần Việt

After 2 years of implementation, how has the total fund for the programme been used?

Statistics revealed that after 2 years, the total fund for the program implementation from the central budget reached about VNĐ9.1 trillion (US$387 million). Of which, VNĐ543 billion ($23 million) was spent in 2021 and VNĐ8.2 trillion ($348 million) in 2022.

This figure only reached 19.1 per cent of the estimates for the whole period of 2021-2025 (with about VNĐ48 trillion ($2 billion) from the central budget and VNĐ12.7 trillion ($540 million) from the local budget.

Therefore, to achieve the programme's objectives in the remaining period of time, the fund allocation needs to be flexible in accordance with the capacity of the state budget, but still ensure the efficiency of capital structure, avoiding the pressure for disbursement in the programme's final year.

I believe that it is necessary to increase resources for the middle years of the programme. In addition, ministries, central departments and localities need to maximise socialised resources to implement the programme, contributing to the achievement of the set goals.

In your opinion, which direction should be taken so that the programme implementation can achieve the set goals?

In order to continue implementing the programme comprehensively and effectively in the future, we need to focus on the following measures:

The first is that departments need to continue to review and complete the multidimensional poverty reduction policies and frameworks in accordance with the sustainable development goals, ensuring that the minimum living standard is gradually improved as well as people’s access to basic social services. The approach to poverty reduction should also be innovated, alongside the promulgation of conditional support policies and strengthened social policy credits for the poor.

The second measure is the mobilisation and the effective use of investment resources for poverty reduction, and the allocation of funds from the local budget should be conducted reasonably and in accordance with the actual situation in the locality.

There should be an increase in the legitimate contributions from enterprises, local and foreign individuals and organisations, counterpart funds, as well as the engagement of people and beneficiaries, in order to secure the capital needed to accomplish the programme's objectives.

The third measure is to strengthen communication, education, raising awareness and responsibilities of all levels, sectors, the entire society and especially the people. This will create a major change in the awareness and actions for sustainable poverty reduction.

We also need to promote the nation’s traditions of solidarity and unity towards the underprivileged, while also encouraging self-reliance and proactiveness in escaping poverty, without much dependence on the help of the state and society.

The fourth measure is the effective management and coordination of the integrated implementation of poverty reduction policies and frameworks, both general and specific, with projects in the 2021-25 National Target Programme on Sustainable Poverty Reduction across the country, especially in poor districts and communes in extreme difficulty, coastal areas and islands. This will act as a major driving force for the programme.

The fifth measure is capacity enhancement for people working in poverty reduction and those in charge of different aspects of the programme to support the poor in escaping poverty, helping people in their self-improvement so that they are not impoverished. To do this, learning and experience exchange sessions in the country and abroad for those directly working on the programme’s projects are necessary and must be carried out in sync.

Finally, I believe that the inspection, supervision and evaluation of the programme at all levels of authority must be strengthened, in which we should focus on preventive measures against negative behaviours and wastefulness, and addressing violations during the programme implementation. — VNS