Bạch Liên Hương, Director of the Hà Nội City’s Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs. Photo hanoimoi.com.vn
To mark action month "For the poor" in 2021 (October 17 to November 18), Director of the Hà Nội City’s Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Bạch Liên Hương spoke to the Hà Nội Mới (New Hà Nội)newspaper about efforts to reduce poverty in the capital.
In the past, Hà Nội city has created "leverage" for poor households to rise up with many effective solutions. In particular, in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic, many policies of the Government and Hà Nội have been implemented, helping millions of people overcome difficulties and stabilise their lives. Could you please elaborate on this?
In addition to the programmes on industrial promotion, agricultural extension and new rural areas construction, Hà Nội always creates many favourable opportunities and provides livelihoods for the poor to rise up.
From 2016 to now, the city has been providing vocational training for nearly 100,000 employees. After such training, nearly 90 per cent of workers have new jobs or still stay with their current jobs but have higher income. Thousands of poor households facing housing problems have been supported to build and repair their homes.
With a view to not leaving the poor behind, the city provides monthly allowance to more than 184,000 social protection beneficiaries who are staying at social protection centres. In addition, members of poor households also enjoy many priority policies on health, education, and access to information. From the end of 2019 until now, members of poor households, people with severe disabilities, orphaned children, are entitled to specific support policies, equal to the policies for people living below the poverty line in Hà Nội. Currently, the whole city has more than 7,700 such beneficiaries.
Regarding the support policies of the Central Government and Hà Nội during the COVID-19 pandemic, from the beginning of July 2021 until now, the whole city has approved social security support for nearly 3.3 million people, employees and employers who were seriously affected by the pandemic, with a total amount of nearly VNĐ1.6 trillion.
Another unprecedented policy of supporting workers and employers from the Unemployment Insurance Fund is also being seriously implemented by stakeholders, empowering workers and their families to overcome difficulties in hard times.
The breakthrough and long-term solution implemented by Hà Nội City to support poverty reduction and ensure social security is the programme on "Development of the social security system, improvement of social welfare, quality of life for the people of the capital in the period of 2021-2025" into life. How has this been implemented?
In order to effectively implement Program No. 08-CTr/TU, the city's departments, sectors and localities have issued implementation plans and have achieved many positive results. Notably, from the beginning of the year until now, credit capital from the Hà Nội branch of the Bank for Social Policies has been disbursed to 83,000 customers in poor households and other policy beneficiaries in the area; in which there were 53,100 customer loans from the job creation programme, contributing to creating jobs for 58,000 workers.
The Hà Nội Employment Service Centre held 139 job sessions, attracting nearly 5,000 units, enterprises participating in recruitment, with more than 80,000 people applying. In the first nine months of 2021, the whole city created jobs for nearly 117,000 workers, reaching 73 per cent of the plan.
The authorities are also interested in developing and expanding the number of people participating in social insurance and health insurance, helping the poor to access the social security system. Up to now, the health insurance coverage rate has reached 90 per cent of the population; the number of people participating in compulsory social insurance reached 34 per cent of the labour force in the working age group.
In particular, in September, the City Council issued Resolution No. 09/2021/NQ-HDND stipulating standard levels of social assistance and social protection beneficiaries for Hà Nội City. In addition to the subjects of social protection according to the general regulations, Hà Nội added three more specific groups of people who are entitled to social benefits in the community and seven specific groups of people who are received and taken care of in social protection centres.
Thanks to the above-mentioned breakthrough and comprehensive solutions, 15 out of 30 districts and townships in Hà Nội have basically had no more poor households according to the current poverty line calculation method.
From January 1, 2022, along with the whole country, Hà Nội will apply a new poverty line, much higher than the current level and higher than the general poverty line. What are these changes specifically?
Currently, the poverty line in Hà Nội is having an average income of VNĐ1.4 million/person/month (US$60) in urban areas and VNĐ1.1 million/person/month in rural areas. According to Decision No. 13/2021/QD-UBND by the City People's Committee on the multidimensional poverty line of Hà Nội City in the period of 2022-2025, the poverty will be VNĐ2 million/person/month or less in rural areas, and an income of VNĐ2.5 million/person/month or less in urban areas.
With the new standard, it is estimated that by the end of 2021, the city will have about 93,000 poor and near-poor households, of which there are about 65,100 poor households, equivalent to about 4-5 per cent of the total number of households, equal to the rate of poor households at the beginning of the 2016-2020 period. This fact poses many difficulties for the authorities and the community in the process of implementing the basic goals of eliminating poor households and ensuring social security.
In order to persistently implement the goal of sustainable poverty reduction in the coming years, what solutions should the city focus on?
I think that stakeholders need to continue to implement synchronously and effectively the Programme No. 08-CTr/TU of the Hà Nội Party Committee; implement solutions and models to support sustainable poverty reduction. For those who cannot escape poverty, the best way is to mobilise private funds to directly assist them to live above the poverty line.
For the long-term solution, departments, sectors and localities need to focus on improving the quality of vocational training for workers so that they can actively grasp and apply modern science and technology to production, promoting the spirit of start-ups, starting a business.
The steady expansion of coverage of social insurance, health insurance, and unemployment insurance, towards the goal of social insurance and universal health insurance, also needs to be continued.
What will the Hà Nội Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs do to contribute to improving the effectiveness of poverty reduction?
In the immediate future, the department will coordinate with units and localities to conduct a general review of poor and near-poor households in the city according to the new poverty line, as a basis for agencies and units to formulate policies on poverty reduction, security assurance and socio-economic development in the period 2022-2025.
The Department also advises the City People's Committee to submit to the City Council for approval a project to implement poverty reduction policies for the period 2022-2025. Along with that, we will also survey the vocational training needs of workers.
With many flexible and synchronous implementation solutions, I believe that the social security and social welfare system of Hà Nội City will continue to improve, and so will the quality of life for people in the capital. VNS