Government policy will be changed to help the poor get out of poverty sustainably. Viet Nam Plus speaks with Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Trong Dam about the changes.
Could you discuss the elements used to measure the new poverty line this year?
Previously, the poverty line was determined by household incomes. Poor households were considered those with income of VND400,000 (USVND395,568) per person per month in rural areas and VND500,000 (VND496,137) per person per month in urban areas.
By this approach, we missed many poor people and poverty assessment was not comprehensive because the poor are not only lacking money.
Apart from money, people still care about education, healthcare, housing, clean water, and more importantly, the ability to access information. Currently, there are those whose income is higher than the stipulated levels but still facing shortages of basic services.
According to global standards, poverty eradication is not only about food but also the ability to access basic services. Thus, the Government has guided the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs to study a new poverty line with new criteria for the period of 2016-2020.
I believe that this approach will increase the effectiveness of supportive policies, curb the dependence of the beneficiaries, and play a role as the basis to set up the budget for poverty reduction and social welfare.
How is the evaluation process for the poor and those who are near poverty going?
Currently, the country is focusing on reviewing the poor and those near poverty under the new criteria. Many provinces have basically completed the review and some are in the late stages.
Ministries and sectors will later re-inspect data with local authorities. Initial evaluations showed that the data of poverty households estimated by the central agencies almost fit that of local authorities.
After synthesis, localities will approve the number of poor households and submit the list to the ministry for approval. By the first quarter of this year at the latest, the list of poor and near-poverty households will be approved.
Feedback from the localities were positive. Most said the method was transparent, fair and easy to carry out.
So will supportive policies be changed accordingly?
Some policies, such as health insurance, will be kept unchanged until this June.
According to the new regulation, poor households of the old criteria will be in the list. The supportive policies on education, health, capital loaning will be maintained.
However, in the future, the Government will restrict hand-outs and promote loaning policies, including conditions such as required time of repayment.
Currently, the supportive policy on housing has been shifted to long-term lending with low interest rates instead of supporting for free.
The number of beneficiaries will likely increase under the new criteria. Could you tell how the budget for poverty reduction will be allocated?
In the next five years, the budget for the national program on poverty reduction will increase six times higher compared to the previous period. The budget for the program is VND46 trillion (VND46,261 billion) to support 2,300 disadvantaged communes, 3,000 villages and 310 island communes.
Policies such as health insurance, education and loans will be VND15 trillion (VND15,085,238 million).
In the future, policies will be included in two programmes, including the national programme of building new rural areas and the programme of sustainable poverty reduction. — VNS