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Social assistance needs revamp

Update: August, 05/2014 - 10:33

Vice head of Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs Dang Kim Chung spoke with the Hai quan ( Customs) newspaper about Viet Nam's social-assistance scheme.

What do you think about Viet Nam's social assistance system?

At present, Viet Nam has many social protection programmes and policies. However, all they do is help groups of disadvantaged people, while under Resolution 15 by Viet Nam's Central Party Committee, all people living below minimum living standards should be supported.

This means there is a gap between policies and reality. Many deserving people have not benefited from the State and Government's social protection programmes.

To some extent, many poverty-reduction policies are playing a social assistance role. These include the policy on healthcare insurance for poor people and a programme to support students who come from poor households or from ethnic groups.

Some say that social-assistance policies have limitations in identifying beneficiaries and support rates. Do you agree?

I think the country's policies are quite good at identifying groups of beneficiaries. The limitation lies in the way we manage beneficiaries. In some localities, lists of beneficiaries were computerised, while in others, lists are written on paper. As a result, there is no real database about the people supported.

Moreover, because of limited resources and funding, the social-assistance system now gives priority to the most disadvantaged people.

What should be done to tackle the limitations?

First of all, I think that it is necessary to change the management system so that it can adapt to new situations. Accordingly, management must be connected from central to local Government. The Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs and relevant ministries and agencies must share information in a better way..

Those who work in the sector also need to have their capacities and skills improved to master the new system. People must be part of the system and join in the supervision of its operations. They must be aware of how and why they receive benefits.

Early this year, the World Bank approved a credit of US$60 million to help strengthen the social-assistance system through management innovations and service delivery. What can we expect from the project?

The project targets poor households, particularly those with children under 15, pregnant women and disadvantaged people from ethnic groups. It will be concentrated on a step-by-step combination of different social-assistance policies into a support package for households. The project also plans to develop a national database on social-assistance programmes and policies, including a data base on poor households.

At every locality, there will be staff connecting people eligible to benefit from support programmes and management agencies. This is expected to minimise the number of beneficiaries who have missed out.

The project will also focus on education and healthcare for children as they are considered the best way to sustainable poverty reduction. A major task will be to help poor people understand and try their best to escape poverty

Ensuring minimum needs of the poor is Government's task because that is also protecting human rights. Near-poor households also need more support. — VNS

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