Do Manh Hung, vice chairman of the NA Committee for Social Affairs, spoke to the newspaper Nong thon Ngay nay (Countryside Today) about measures to help migrant workers to alleviate poverty.
A recent report released by Oxfam says the majority of free migrants are multidimensionally poor. In your opinion, what are the main causes leading to the situation?
The Government's recent decision to change the definition of single-dimensionally poor to multidimensionally poor is a major effort by Viet Nam to reduce poverty.
However, according to the new criteria for multidimensionally poor, a big proportion of the Vietnamese population belongs to ethnic minorities, people living along the coastal line and islands, and particularly migrant workers.
These groups of people have limited access to basic services, particularly social security, healthcare services, education and housing. However, the services they have access to are not a good quality. Why? In my opinion, our poverty alleviation policies in the past were overlapping and not specific enough to help them escape poverty.
Some people say a key factor that makes migrant workers become poor and poorer is the lack of a specific policy designed for them. How do you respond to this complaint?
Migration is a common issue in all societies, regardless of whether it is a poor or rich country. Our Law on Residence provides all citizens' right to freedom of residence within the Vietnamese territory. However, we have to define clearly the ideas of free migration and the freedom of migration. Free migration is a citizen's right, but the migrant must comply with what is written in the law. Meanwhile, the freedom of migration is a phenomenon in which a migrant worker moves spontaneously from one place to another at their own will, paying no heed to what is written in the law.
I have to concede that in the recent past, we have not developed any policy that has embraced the needs of free migrant workers, including the Government's policy on poverty alleviation for these people.
Do you know any model or programme that has extended help to free migrant workers in Viet Nam?
During our supervisory visits to national programmes of poverty alleviation in various localities nationwide, we have found quite a few good models.
Thanks to these models, many free migrant households have access to the national programmes of poverty alleviation. A case in point was in the Gia Lam outlying district of Ha Noi. Local administration there had provided favourable conditions for the migrants to live and settle down there. Meanwhile, they also tried to contact authorities in their former places of residence to avoid any mishaps that might have occurred during the implementation policy towards them.
Viet Nam has recently made public a national multidimensional poverty programme. Do you think the migrant workers are included in the programme?
Yes, they are!
In my opinion, the first thing we should do is launch a communication campaign to help the migrants understand the Law on Residence, particularly the articles on residence and residence administration to ensure harmony between the lawful rights and interests of citizens.
In addition, the Government should issue sub law documents on residence and residence administration, as well as specific policies to support migrants' health care, education and production.
Last but not least, we should adopt a new poverty alleviation policy that is based on the status of households. For example, if members of a poor household are only elderly and children, we should support them with social security. If the poor household needs capital to develop production, we should think about providing them with tools to help them escape poverty by giving them credit or sending them to job training. In other words, we have to analyse what they need before making decisions to help them eradicate poverty. — VNS