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The struggle to temper the social costs of development

Vietnam escuelaIf there is one country that has experience in eliminating poverty, it is Vietnam. The Southeast Asian nation is admired for its recovery following a devastating war, which has seen over 25 million people taken out of poverty in less than 20 years.

Thanks to the implementation of the “Renovation” policy (Doi Moi), launched in 1986, the country experienced countless economic successes and is today reforming its strategies to become an industrialized country.

However, Vietnamese authorities are very clear that this goal will not be possible without eliminating the social problems associated with rapid economic growth in recent years.

At present, with a stable economy growing steadily by about seven percentage points each year, Vietnam faces the challenge of ensuring prosperity for all its citizens.

Although it is one of six countries that met the Millennium Development Goals in terms of poverty reduction, two years in advance of the target date, the government is today decisively pushing forward its program of sustained poverty reduction, with the aim of an annual fall of at least 1% through 2020.

A number of programs seek to significantly reduce the poverty gap over the next five years and continue to decrease the current official rate of eight percent of the population living in precarious conditions.

PREFERENTIAL POLICIES FOR THE MOST DEPRIVED
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam issued an exclusive Resolution on social welfare, setting poverty reduction as one of the goals that the country should achieve as soon as possible.

The Central Directorate for Sustained Poverty Reduction is the government designated body responsible for monitoring the target completion pace for the next five years.

According to the Minister of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs, Pham Thi Hai Chuyen, should Vietnam be successful in implementing these national projects, the number of poor families in the country would be reduced by between 1.3 and 1.5 percent.

As planned for the period 2016-2020, among Vietnamese policy priorities are reducing the gap between rich and poor, paying more attention to mountainous, remote areas, inhabited by ethnic minorities, and creating opportunities for the poorest.

The new program, which is expected to cost the state some two billion U.S. dollars, includes ensuring access to medical, educational, housing, and drinking water, as well as community and household sanitation services.

Previously, preferential policies were implemented to help the most disadvantaged, involving the distribution of productive land to agricultural workers, preferential tax rates and loans, assistance for the development of economic activities and market support to attract businesses and improve productivity in these areas.

During the years of the Renovation policy, the percentage of the population living below the poverty line has fallen from 58% to 14.5%. However, Vietnam still faces difficulties, mostly in terms of social issues, which have led to the updating of several methods implemented for the welfare of the majority of the population.

Official figures confirm that the number of poor families in Vietnam has annually reduced by two percent, from 14.2% at the end of 2010 to less than 4.5% in 2015. The nation is working hard to ensure that these achievements are maintained, and prevent those who have overcome poverty from returning to such a situation.

One measure to match economic growth with social welfare is to minimize unemployment and devote a significant amount of funds to the assistance and training of young people, who will shape the nation’s future.

Ministry of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs authorities assure that in order to reduce the differences between rural and urban areas, heavy investment in infrastructure is also required, for which a significant amount of resources have been allocated.

Six projects for housing construction, water works, and transportation routes in poor communities and districts, facing extreme economic difficulties, have been approved.

The people of Vietnam, immersed in a new stage of transformations to make the leap toward industrialization, are aware that there remains much room for improvement, and therefore are charged with generating a climate of increased investment and development of productive forces.

Reducing poverty is a priority not only for Vietnam, but for the world. In this territory of Southeast Asia, which has recovered from the worst times, eliminating differences is also a means to maintaining the hard-won gains of generations of Vietnamese.

(Granma)

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