Gov’t considering unprecedented US$2.6b support package for Vietnamese hit by COVID-19

April 02, 2020 - 13:03

The Vietnamese Government is poised to adopt a US$2.6 billion relief package to help those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic that has waged devastation on the economy.

An elderly woman sells vegetables on the sidewalk in Tây Hồ District, Hà Nội. — VNS Photo Việt Thanh

HÀ NỘI — The Vietnamese Government is poised to adopt a US$2.6 billion relief package to help those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic that has waged devastation on the economy.

The draft Resolution on Government’s COVID-19 support, presented on Wednesday at the regular cabinet meeting by the Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyễn Chí Dũng, mostly sets out cash payments during a three-month period starting April through June.

According to the bill, there will be six groups of people who are eligible for the relief payments.

Social policy beneficiaries and those who have rendered services to the State during the revolution and wards receiving merit payments will be given an additional VNĐ500,000 ($21.8) each month in April, May, and June.

There are about 4.135 million people who fall under this category.

About 984,000 poor households and 1,260,000 near-poor households across the country will receive VNĐ1 million each month in April, May, and June.

In Việt Nam, income-wise, the poor households are those earning less than VNĐ1 million a month in urban areas, or less than VNĐ800,000 in rural areas.

Workers who were furloughed or put on leave without pay due to the direct impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be provided VNĐ1.8 million ($76) a person a month.

A monthly payment of VNĐ1 million lasting for three months will be given to an estimated five million workers who either lost their jobs, don’t have a labour contract or had their contracts terminated when the social insurance contribution period is not sufficient for unemployment benefit payout.

Individual business households with yearly revenues below VNĐ100 million who have to temporarily close down as part of the Government’s stay-at-home order and social distancing measures will be given VNĐ1 million a month over a three-month period. About 760,000 households are eligible for this support.

Employers can borrow from the Việt Nam Social Policy Bank with zero interest rate over 12 months to pay salaries for their furloughed workers in the three-month period.

Those eligible for more than two types of support in this bill will only be able to receive the highest value support.

There will also be policies in place to help simplify the process of claiming unemployment support for workers.

Employers and employees will also temporarily be exempt from their obligatory contributions to the retirement and survivors’ fund (part of the Government-sponsored insurance programme).

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc stressed the need to provide support for workers with heavily diminished incomes and those who have lost their jobs, and their income now does not meet the minimum living standards.

The value of the package stands at VNĐ61.58 trillion ($2.6 billion), more than half of which – VNĐ35.88 trillion – will be sourced from the State budget, while the remainder will come from “mobilisation of other sources,” according to the Government.

PM Phúc said that the Government “highly supports” the draft bill and stressed the priority of the bill remains solely on the hardest-hit Vietnamese who lost their jobs or are unemployed.

The bill will not “provide indiscriminate support for all people,” he said, maintaining that the burden of the pandemic will be shared between businesses and the Government, with the Government doing its part within its “resource capacity.”

PM Phúc ordered measures be put in place to ensure the transparency of the implementation, make sure that there would be no fraud and that the support will go to the right people. — VNS