The Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Deputy Minister, Nguyen Trong Dam, spoke with Tin Tuc (News) newspaper about the role of the business community in reducing poverty.
How did poverty-alleviation efforts go last year?
According to cities and provinces' evaluation reports, we achieved the goal of reducing the number of poor households by 2 per cent last year. Specifically, the number of poor households in the country dropped from 14.2 per cent in 2010 to 12 per cent in 2011. The poorest areas are mainly in the north-west, in particular the province of Dien Bien. That is followed by Lai Chau, Lao Cai, Ha Giang and Cao Bang provinces.
What major steps were taken last year to reduce poverty?
The biggest step was the issuance of Government resolution 80/NQ-CP on sustainable poverty reduction from 2011-20. The resolution, issued in May 2011, is a departure from the National Poverty Eradication Programme. It aims to tackle poverty by mobilising funds from various sources. Adding to this is the positive impact gained from the implementation of Resolution 30A on Rapid and Sustainable Poverty Reduction for Poor Districts nationwide. Three years after the implementation of Resolution 30A, businesses acting as sponsors to poor districts, have helped implement about 2,000 small and major projects, involving roads, bridges, power grids, schools and health clinics.
The biggest change has been seen in infrastructure development. All the projects under this regulation have been in response to people's demands. Resolution 30A has helped to reduce the number of poor households by 15 per cent.
That said, a number of cities and provinces have complained that the implementation of the Resolution has been slow. Why is that?
To implement the Resolution, the Government must mobilise resources from the whole of society, including the State budget, organisations and individuals, especially enterprises. Businesses have taken part actively in poverty reduction in the past three years. However, in some districts, businesses have not had the capital to invest properly in the scheme, due in part to the global economic downturn.
The 62 poorest districts each require between VND300 billion (US$14.3 million) and VND350 billion ($16.7 million) every year. At the moment, just VND250 billion ($12 million) can be mobilised by each district from sources such as Resolution 30A (also known as project 30A), national target programmes and Government bonds. If we had the funds we would be able to implement the project more quickly and effectively.
What will the Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Ministry do to tackle these problems?
The ministry is going to propose that the Government encourage financially capable enterprises to support those companies that are facing economic difficulties. It is also mobilising the former to sponsor more poor districts. The Bank for Investment and Development of Viet Nam, for instance, has agreed to sponsor another three districts in addition to the four districts that it initially agreed to help. We will continue to ask the Viet Nam National Oil and Gas Group and other banks to shoulder the responsibility of supporting poor districts. Priority will be given to improving thatch-roofed houses, building schools, clinics, and roads.
What does the future hold?
The gap between poor districts and developed ones in terms of infrastructure and production is significant. We are trying to reduce this gap.
The National Assembly plans to approve a list of national target programmes in the next five years that include poverty reduction. From the beginning of 2012, the poverty reduction programme will focus on 62 poor districts and another seven districts that the Prime Minister has just added. Poor, border and island communes will also receive more support.
The proportion of the national budget spent on poverty reduction will increase this year, with between VND200 billion and VND250 billion invested annually in each area. The figure was less than VND200 billion ($9.5 million) last year. — VNS