Millions have benefitted from the Fund for the Poor since it was launched 13 years ago. Ha Thi Lien, vice chairwoman of the Fund Mobilisation Board, spoke with Dai doan ket (Great National Unity) newspaper.
The campaign for the poor has been going on for almost 13 years, what are the main achievements recorded in that period of time?
By December 31st last year, after 12 years, the "Fund for the Poor" has successfully mobilised VND 8.6 trillion (US$409 million) from people and organisations nation-wide.
In addition to donating cash, the VFF and the Mobilisation Board for the Movement "A Day for the Poor" have called on people from all walks of life to contribute their work day or in-kind to help the poor, which amounts to thousands of billions of dong.
During the past 12 years, more than 1.3 million houses were built or upgraded for some five million poor people.
In four years (2009-12), the VFF has also helped mobilise VND 19.4 trillion (US$923 million) to build civil projects and schools as well as roads for poor and disadvantaged hamlets, communes and districts in remote and mountainous regions.
In short, in the last 12 years, tens of millions of poor people have had access to the fund. As a result, their livelihood has improved considerably and made millions of dreams of the poor to become a reality.
However, I just want to say the "Fund for the Poor" campaign is only just one "channel" to support millions of poor households to escape poverty.
What has been achieved that is remarkable? How does the VFF oversee the fund's allocation?
Supervisory activities are strongly regulated through the fund's legal document. It specifies clearly what procedures the Fatherland Fronts, from the central down to the grass roots levels, are to follow in using the fund's money.
A very important point in the procedures is the practice of transparency and information disclosure regarding the mobilised money and its allocation. It is required that all the Fatherland Front organisations have to submit monthly, quarterly and annually their financial reports to the VFFCC, including the Mobilisation Board.
As a permanent member of the Board, I always tell other board members to monitor the money spending closely so that not a single dong will be wrongly spent or abused.
"The money is the donors' sentiment towards the poor. We have to value it and cultivate the people's confidence in our good management of the money that the donors have trusted us with," I told my staff.
I'm very proud to say that the VFFCC and its branches at the grass roots level have regularly organised inspection visits to ensure the charity money goes to the right people.
Poverty alleviation is a big national programme and it has been implemented for almost two decades. What are your assessments on the programmes?
I should say the pro-gramme is a success. The government has adopted general policies for poor people nation-wide while having special policies for poor regions and extremely poor people.
And more recently, the government has adopted a new approach to achieve a more sustainable poverty alleviation programme.
I should say at present near poor households in our country are quite many and their average income per capita is a bit higher than that of poor households.
The VFFCC sets a target to help the near poor households to improve their livelihood and become better off. As we want them to become role models for the poor households to learn from them in order to escape the poverty trap.
With the multi-directional approach, the VFF has launched a campaign calling on all Vietnamese people to unite to build their residential areas into civilised units and become good citizens.
Will you please further elaborate on the multi-direction approach initiated by the VFF?
When we talk about the approach, the word "poor" here should cover a wider meaning, both physically and spiritually.
As a normal practice, when we talk about poor households, most of the localities, particularly in the mountainous regions, remote areas or areas inhabited by the ethnic minorities, income per capita is the main criteria to classify whether the household is poor or not.
And then we'll base on that piece of information to allocate the fund. But, with the new approach, we will come up with new criteria to help local Fatherland Fronts to allocate money to the poor households and to oversee the use of the money to make sure it is rightly spent.
This new approach has been piloted in HCM City and it has been quite a success.
I'm confident that with lessons learned from HCM City, the approach will soon be scaled up nation-wide. — VNS