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VN needs to rethink poverty fight

Update: January, 17/2015 - 09:38
Women learn to sew at Nguyen Thi Mo's workshop in Hai Duong Province's Ninh Giang District. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Hoa

HA NOI (VNS)— Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh called for more efforts to achieve sustainable poverty reduction yesterday, saying that people were falling back into poverty in many areas and many policies overlapped.

Speaking at a meeting of the Central Steering Committee for Sustainable Poverty Reduction, Ninh praised the work of the committee as well as ministries and relevant agencies on reducing poverty in 2014.

According to a report presented at the conference, VND34.7 trillion (US$1.65 billion) was invested in poverty reduction in 2014 and the country's poverty rate declined from 7.8 per cent in 2013 to around 5.8 per cent.

However, Ninh said many poverty reduction policies still overlapped and the country needed to apply a multidimensional approach, that is, measuring poverty in terms of assessing people's access to basic services such as healthcare and education.

In 2015, the committee set a goal of bringing the national rate of poor households below 5 percent and that of poor districts to below 30 percent. In the 2016-2020 period, the committee aims to reduce the national poverty rate by 1-1.5 percent each year and increase poor people's access to basic social services. Infrastructure in poor districts and communes will be improved while the income of poor households is expected to double the 2015 level.

"All ministries and sectors must focus on areas where a large number of poor households are concentrated. We need to seek further help from communities and the private sector," Ninh said.

Poverty reduction policies must motivate people to get out of poverty by giving them tools to expand production instead of giving them direct money support, the official said.

Ninh also asked the Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs to determine a new poverty threshold this year.

According to Labour Minister Pham Thi Hai Chuyen, the poverty line in Viet Nam will be adjusted to approach the international standard. Currently, it is VND400,000 ($20) per month or less in rural areas and VND500,000 ($25) or below in urban areas. The labour ministry expects that the new income poverty line could reach VND1.3 million ($62) per month per person for those living in urban areas and VND1 million ($47) for those in rural areas by 2016.

The Central Steering Committee for Sustainable Poverty Reduction will also be tasked with building a new national target programme on sustainable poverty reduction.

Deputy PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc also met with the Steering Committee for the Northwest Region yesterday. The region averaged GDP growth of 8.14 per cent in 2014, according to deputy head of the committee Truong Xuan Cu. National security, social security and the overall lives of people improved significantly, with average per capita income of VND24.7 million ($1,170) a year.

However, delegates agreed that the lives of many people remained difficult, especially those living in far-flung areas. The poverty rate remained high at 17.9 per cent and there were many difficulties in developing local staff and communal officials. Free migration of ethnic residents made it difficult to stabilise people's lives and there were also many issues related to human and drug trafficking.

Deputy PM Phuc told all localities to set concrete poverty reduction goals and instructed the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to focus on developing plants suitable to the region's conditions and take advantage of forestry. — VNS

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