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Better and better social security and well-being: One of main contents of the Socio-economic Development Strategy 2011-2020

Date 26/08/2010 - 16:03:00 | 127 views
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PM Nguyen Tan Dung just issues an article on social security and welfare, one of main contents in Viet Nam's Socio-economic Development Strategy 2011-2020. The following is the full article.

ISocial security and well-being are a system of policies and solutions for safeguarding the primary living standard of people from unusual socio-economic and environmental risks and impacts while increasingly improving people’s material and spiritual life. Guaranteeing social security and well-being is not only to protect each and every citizen’s rights in line with the UN Declaration of Human Rights,1 but also an important task to be conducted by each country in its development process. However, scope and scale of social security and well-being in different countries vary, depending on conception, socio-political regime, level of development and policies of each country.

PM Nguyen Tan Dung and Deputies pay field trips to direct economic development and social security work

For Viet Nam, guaranteeing better and better social security and well-being is always a major guideline and task of our Party and State, reflecting our regime’s good nature and playing a significant role in the country’s socio-political stability and sustainable development. For decades, on the basis of socio-economic development, while ceaselessly bettering salaries and wages and raising income of laborers, our Party and State pay due attention to people’s social security and well-being. At its 3rdCongress in 1960, our Party defined “…To take a new step in improving people’s material and spiritual life, bringing our people food, clothing, good health, housing and education, broadening public well-being, building up a new model of life in both urban and rural areas…” In the following years, despite difficulties and shortages, the Party and State placed special attention on ensuring social security and well-being. Awareness, conception and policies on developing a social security and welfare system have been gradually perfected through successive Party congresses. At the 9th Congress in 2001, this guideline became a strategic orientation for the country’s sustainable development: “Economic growth is attached to cultural development, gradual improvement of people’s material and spiritual life, realization of social progress and equality, environment protection and improvement…” The 10th Party Congress (2006) specified “To build up a diversified social security system, and then universal health insurance”, “To gradually enlarge and improve social security system to increasing meet demands of all walks of life, especially the poor and beneficiaries of social policies.”2
II. Over the past ten years, realizing the socio-economic development strategy 2001-2010, considerable achievements have been seen in guaranteeing social security and well-being. Policies on social security and welfare have become increasingly harmonious and perfect, particularly in such fields as poverty reduction, job generation, insurance development, preferential treatment for those who have great contributions to the country, social assistance, public social services, and greater cultural, health and educational enjoyment for people. Together with stronger resources and greater efforts, social security and well-being are increasingly bettered, so as to significantly improve people’s material and spiritual life as well as the country’s socio-economic stability and development.
Placing focus on hunger elimination and poverty reduction, while enhancing socio-economic development to raise people’s living standard, the Party and State have issued and enforced a series of policies, programs, projects and mobilized all social resources to assist poor people and areas to overcome difficulties and get out of poverty. Policies and solutions for poverty alleviation have been consistently realized on three aspects: (1) To increase the poor’s access to public services, especially healthcare, education, vocational training, legal assistance, housing and clean water; (2) To assist production through policies on securing production lands, preferential credits, encouraging agriculture-forestry and aquaculture activities, and developing crafts; and (3) To develop infrastructure in disadvantaged communes, hamlets and villages. So far, significant results have been gained in poverty reduction, which are highly appreciated by people and the international community: the rate of poor households deceased from 29% (2002) down to about 10% (2010); the living standard gap between urban and rural areas went down from 2.3 times (1999) to 2 times (2008). People’s material and spiritual life has been bettered considerably.
The National Goal Program on employment has been implemented through many practical policies, annually generating over 1.6 million new jobs for laborers, reducing unemployment rate in cities from 6.42% (2000) down to about 4.6% (2010), increasing the use of labor force in rural areas, partly raising people’s income and living standard. Per capita income has gone up about 2.3 times over the past ten years.
Social and health insurance is developed and diversified in order to ease risks and provide practical assistance to insurance purchasers. Social insurance has been popularized with three forms: compulsory, voluntary and unemployment. The number of compulsory insurance buyers quickly increased, from 4.8 million in 2001 to 9.4 million last year, accounting for 18% of the total labor force. After nearly three years of realizing voluntary social insurance, up to 2010, there have been around 96,600 purchasers. The figure for unemployment insurance buyers is estimated to reach 5.8 million by the end of 2010. Health insurance also rocketed from 13.4% of the population (2000) to about 62% (in 2010). Especially, free health insurance is applied to all children under 6 years old, some beneficiaries of social policies, and the poor. Health insurance aid is also provided to the households which can fall below the poverty line.

PM Nguyen Tan Dung: Entering the new strategic period, the Vietnamese Party and State continue to consider strong social security and welfare a major regular task

Preferential policies for those who have contributed to the country are continuously perfected. The pension rate in 2009 was 2.1 times higher than in 2006. In 2010, nearly VND 19,000 billion from the central budget has been spent on regular preferential policies for over 1.4 million people in this group. Up to now, over 90% of these families have enjoyed similar or higher living standards compared to the average of their fellowmen.
Social assistance policies, both regular and unscheduled, are applied on larger scale, to more beneficiaries, and with higher pensions. The State fund for regular assistance  and the number of beneficiaries rapidly went up from VND 113 billion for over 180,000 people (2001) to VND 4,500 billion for over 1.6 million (2010). Every year, the State also allocates trillions of Vietnamese đồng (VND 5 trillion in 2009 only) and dozens of thousands of tons of food as sudden aid, mainly for victims of natural disasters. Since early 2008, the Government has adopted many timely and pragmatic policies and solutions to minimize negative impacts of the global financial crisis and economic downturn on domestic production and people’s life.
The system of social services, such as healthcare, education and training, culture, information, electricity and clean water for daily life, and transport, has been developed, particularly in remote, mountainous, border, island and ethnic minority areas. Quality of many services has been improved and people’s access to these services raised. So far, 100% of wards and communes have their own clinics, about 75% of communes have doctors. There are about 23 million people nationwide studying at different educational levels, the universalization of primary and junior secondary education has been completed; 82.5% of rural households have accessed to clean water; 96.1% of households to the electricity grid; 86.9% have television sets; motorways have run to the center of over 97% of communes; and about 90% of communes have post offices.
Such movements as “Mutual affection and assistance”, “Repay for favor”, “When drinking water, remember its source” initiated and proactively partaken by the Việt Nam Fatherland Front, mass organizations, social organizations, enterprises, overseas Vietnamese, and individuals have brought into full play our nation’s good traditions, significantly contributing to better social security and welfare for everyone, especially poor people and areas.
However, ensuring social security and welfare still shows improprieties and weaknesses: unstable poverty alleviation, quite large number of poor households, and the high rate of households falling below the poverty benchmark every year. Life of a part of the population, mainly in remote areas and the highlands remains difficult; the income gap between different walks of life is still big. Underemployment in rural and urbanized areas and unemployment in cities are still burning. Resources for social security and welfare are scarce, mainly depending on the State budget, with narrow coverage and low pensions. Insurance services have not met people’s demands; their quality is still poor and the red tape quite popular.
The above-mentioned weaknesses are rooted from our maladministration, poor management, inefficiency, and improper awareness of social security and welfare. We have not formed a widespread system of social security and welfare, with active and sustainable mechanisms, which can be a solid support for poor people and households to get out of poverty. We have also not mobilized the whole society’s strong involvement into guaranteeing social security and welfare.
IIIEntering the new strategic period, our Party and State continue to consider strong social security and welfare a major regular task. The draft socio-economic development strategy 2011-2020 defines: Economic growth must be harmoniously combined with social progress and equality, to ceaselessly better people’s quality of life; to develop an abundant and effective social security system. To create equal opportunities for all people to enjoy fundamental services and well-being. At the same time, the strategy also puts forth goals to 2020, when per capita GDP (by real price) stands around US $3,000-3,200; Việt Nam must appear in the high Human Development Index (HDI) group; health insurance covers all people; the rate of poor households goes down by 2-3% per year on average; social security and well-being and public healthcare are safeguarded; people’s real income is 3.5 times higher than 2010; the income gaps among different regions and walks of life are narrowed; all sleazy housing is dismantled, the rate of strong houses must be 70%, providing at least 25 m2 per head. To improve environment quality, minimize consequences of natural disasters, and fruitfully respond to climate change, especially sea level rise.

Many social security programs have helped to significantly reduce the rate of poor households from 29% (2002) down to about 10% (2010)

The Party and State’s high determination and the country’s stronger economic potential are important premises to better guarantee social security and welfare. However, we will face quite a few difficulties and challenges: the cause of poverty reduction must center on most disadvantaged regions and beneficiaries; a large part of labor force are unskilled and doing unstable work with low salaries, wages and social allowance; socio-economic risks in the market economy and deeper international integration are emerging; climate change, natural calamities, and epidemics tend to become complicated and unpredictable, causing negative impacts on people’s life and social security. Thus, it is necessary to have a new and full awareness of social security and welfare, to bring into play good results and experience, and mitigate weaknesses in order to build an integrated and effective system of social security and well-being.
First of all, it is necessary to confirm that guaranteeing social security and welfare is a key function and task of the State and the entire society’s right and responsibility. Through its mechanisms, policies and resources, the State plays a decisive role in guaranteeing social security and welfare for people. The State realizes policies on distributing and re-distributing the national income, properly allocates and effectively use resources of the State economy to speed up rapid and sustainable growth and ensure fundamental social security and welfare requirements, considers this work as an important assignment which showcases the State economy’s decisive role.
Second, the social security and welfare system must be active, initiative and open for any social entities to partake. Accordingly, while strengthening the State’s role, it is necessary to mobilize all social resources, raise responsibility and self-reliance of each and every individual, family and community; to provide timely and effective aid in order to secure people’s adequate standard of living while contributing to poverty alleviation and improvement of people’s material and spiritual life.
Third, we should build up a multi-layer, flexible, and stable social security and welfare system of mutual assistance, equal responsibility and interests, risk sharing, and mass coverage, focusing on poor people and households, and vulnerable groups, especially disadvantaged children, in conformity with the country’s socio-economic conditions and international practices.
To fulfill these requirements and realize social security and welfare goals in the Socio-economic Development Strategy 2011-2020, we need to fruitfully implement the following tasks and solutions:
1. Accelerating the realization of socio-economic development programs linked with job generation
To encourage all economic sectors and enterprises to develop their production and business, so as to generate more jobs and higher income for people is an active, effective and stable solution for poverty alleviation and social security. To fulfill this task, on the one hand, we must perfect policies on investment encouragement and preferences for enterprises who employ a large number of laborers, especially in rural areas; on the other hand, the National Goal Program on Employment must be continued while enforcing the project on renewing and developing vocational training to 2020 and the program on vocational training for rural laborers through comprehensive, integrated and effective measures; the labor market must be developed. To assist both learners and vocational training schools through such policies as preferential loans and aid for vocational training, particularly for rural laborers, demobilized soldiers, women, and young people; to send more Vietnamese workers to foreign markets.
To recruit and train about 1.8 million people per year, including 1 million rural laborers; to reduce urban unemployment rate to 4% by 2015; to raise the number of trained laborers to over 70% by 2020; and the number of laborers experiencing vocational training accounts for 55% of the total labor force. To further perfect laws on labor and employment; to pay due attention to harmonious labor relations, safe working conditions and environment.
2. Developing, diversifying and bettering the insurance system, while designing sound preferential policies to encourage people’s purchase
In the context when negative impacts of the market economy, climate change, natural disasters, and epidemics tend to increase, the development of an insurance system and people’s strong participation are an important solution to share risks and assist insurance buyers in case of negative socio-economic and environmental impacts. It is necessary to promptly perfect and effectively enforce mechanisms and policies in order to develop an integrated and stable insurance system, with better quality, which serves security and socio-economic goals, and meets various demands of insurance buyers. This system must be built and operated in the principle of payment-enjoyment; with reasonable sharing of interests and obligations. The State will provide suitable aid to participants, especially the poor, children and beneficiaries of social policies. To promote both compulsory and voluntary insurance.
To revise and supplement social insurance forms in line with requirements in new stages and in combination with the roadmap of retirement pension and salary renovation. To design policies on voluntary social insurance for laborers, including support for low-income laborers and rural laborers, so that they can partake in social insurance. To well realize unemployment insurance.
To continue perfecting policies on health insurance, hospital fees and medical examination and treatment. Special attention should be paid to policies for mother, children, poor people, residents in disadvantaged regions, and laborers in informal sectors. To strive for the universal health insurance by 2014.
To pilot and diversify other forms of insurance which are appropriate to conditions of the market economy and international integration, including policies to assist farmers to purchase agriculture insurance for secured production and life.

Viet Nam will do its utmost to guarantee social security and well-being for each and every citizen

3. Implementing sustainable poverty reduction program
In the next decade, poverty reduction continues to be an urgent task of socio-political and human significance, which will be conducted on a large scale, and also a focus in guaranteeing social security and welfare in our country. To eradicate poverty in a quick and sustainable manner, it is necessary to speed up the implementation of socio-economic development programs, focusing on the National Program on Poverty Reduction in 2011-2020 with a new poverty benchmark which is suitable to our country’s development and international standards. Policies and solutions for poverty reduction must be practical and consistent, in terms of production development and life assistance, job generation, and market access. Meanwhile, they must also help people manage to get out of poverty by themselves. Programs, projects and resources in each locality must be combined fruitfully; and proactive participation of people and community must be encouraged.
While allocating funds from the State budget, we should further mobilize support from the business circle and the society, encouraging poor people and regions to do their best in poverty alleviation and enrichment. To fruitfully implement current programs, projects and policies on poverty reduction, especially the programs being applied in the districts with high percentage of poor households.
To launch a large-scale campaign for the National Goal Program on New Countryside, in which socio-economic development is combined with environment protection, poverty reduction, job generation, guaranteed social security and welfare, and sustainable rural development.
4. Applying preferential policies and social assistance policies to beneficiaries
At present, in our country, there are over 1.4 million people who have made great contributions to the country and are enjoying preferential pension. Over 1.6 million others are regular beneficiaries of social allowances. Besides, the demand for unscheduled aid is great because the rates of poor people and households remain high, the majority of old people are not retirement beneficiaries, negative impacts of the market economy, epidemics and natural disasters are increasingly severe.3 Thus, better implementation of preferential policies for those who have made great contributions to the country and social allowance policies not only plays an important role in guaranteeing social security and stability but also shows the good nature of our regime and nation.
With tradition of “When drinking water, remember its source”, it is necessary to further complete policies and raise preferences for those who have made great contributions to the country, in conformity with economic development; at the same time to help their families to  develop production and business for better income; to engage social entities in the “returning favor” movement, ensuring that those who have made great contributions to the country will have a higher standard of living than the average of their fellow-people.
To perfect policies and develop a flexible system of social assistance in order to respond to disasters and accidents, in the orientation of increasing regular and sudden aid from the State budget while diversifying community-based channels and forms of voluntary social aid and humanitarian relief, with the participation of enterprises, social entities and overseas Vietnamese; and making full use of international aid. To increase beneficiaries and conditions for social aid among all vulnerable groups, with appropriate pensions. To ensure that each and every citizen, whose income is lower than the minimal rate, will receive social aid.
To boost the active prevention and response to natural calamities and impact of climate change in order to minimize human and material damages, especially in the regions regularly hit by storms and floods; to establish local reserve funds and mechanisms for assistance to timely serve people in case of sudden accidents.
5. The State increases its resources and plays its role in bettering social welfare and diversifying fundamental social services
To ceaselessly improve social well-being and access to social services, first and foremost fundamental public services, to secure equality for everyone. This is an importance for harmonizing social relations and redistributing a part of the national income in order to meet primary material and spiritual demands, narrow the income gaps and standard of living among members, walks of life, social groups and regions. When the country still faces many difficulties, to well realize this task is a practical and vivid evidence for the preeminence of our regime.
In the time to come, safeguarding social welfare and developing social services must help each and every person access to fundamental social services, such as healthcare, education, housing, electricity, clean water, culture, information and communication, environment hygiene, and transportation, while meeting people’s increasing demands for these services. It is necessary to boost the development of social welfare funds at three levels: State-run centralized funds; corporate funds; and community-based funds. Services should be diversified and integrated on a larger and larger scale, with higher and higher quality. We must transparently stipulate different levels of enjoying social welfare and services while removing troubles and red-tape to facilitate people’s access to these services. Sound assistance policies for disadvantaged beneficiaries are also very necessary.
To design and effectively implement national programs on education, healthcare, culture, information, sports, population, family and children. To further speed up the construction of socio-economic infrastructure, especially in poor and disadvantaged regions; at the same time to perfect policies on tuition fee exemption and reduction, scholarships, preferential credits for students, universalization of pre-school education for under-5-year-old children, medical examination and treatment, access to cultural and information services, legal assistance, housing and so on, for beneficiaries of social policies and disadvantaged groups. In particular, due attention should be paid to child care, protection and education so that our children can enjoy comprehensively physical, intellectual, spiritual and personality development. To accelerate the movement for building cultural families of prosperity and happiness.
6. Mobilizing the social participation in social security and welfare work
Social security and welfare have a deep social nature and reflect the interrelationship between interests and responsibilities of each individual to their organization, community and the whole society. Apart from raising role, function and resources of the State, we must realize the guideline: “the implementation of social policies should attract the participation of all social entities.”4 It is necessary to mobilize resources of the whole society to better social security and welfare.
To further perfect mechanisms and policies so that all entities can engage in providing more and more public services with better and better quality. To create favorable conditions for all citizens to highlight their responsibility and capacity and partake in guaranteeing social security and welfare. To encourage the development of voluntary forms of social security in communities; enterprises to provide non-profit public services; and public-private cooperation. To promote such social movements as “the day for the poor”, “mutual affection and assistance”, building houses for  the poor and others. 
*   *
Ensuring better and better social security and well-being is a main content in our Socio-economic Development Strategy 2011-2020. This is also an urgent requirement of rapid and sustainable development. With new awareness and high determination of our Party and State, under the sound leadership of Party committees and effective management of the authorities at all levels, thanks to proactive participation of the Viet Nam Fatherland Front, mass organizations and the whole society, we are surely to increasingly fruitfully safeguard social security and welfare, and improve people’s material and spiritual life in the coming strategic stage./.
1. Article 25, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, says: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”
2. The Resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Viet Nam, Plenum 6, Tenure 10.
3. For recent five years, natural calamities caused over 500 deaths and a material damage of about VND 15 trillion, equivalent to 1.2% of GDP, each year on average.
4. Documents of the 9th Congress of the Communist Party of Viet Nam./.

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