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Taking care of poor people and entitled families to ensure “all people and families enjoy the new year festival” in an warm atmosphere
3/6/2015 15:36' Send Print
Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Thi Hai Chuyen. Image: VGP

The traditional national lunar new year festival (Tet) is of sacred significance for each Vietnamese. It is not only the occasion for “enjoying Tet and travelling in spring” but for family reunion. Each people in whatever condition, circumstance, and wherever they go, would return to unite with his/her family, relatives and burn incense in memory of his/her ancestors. However, not all families can afford a happy and cozy reunion spiritually and materially. To ensure “everybody and every family can enjoy Tet,” the Party and State have paid attention to Tet celebration by visiting, presenting gifts and assisting people, particularly people who rendered great services to the revolution and poor people. Under the guidance of the Party and Government, each year when “Tet and Spring come,” policy-makers review the situation of entitled people, make recommendations on policy, organize visits to encourage and present gifts to entitled people and families. In 2015, the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs continued its responsibilities through concrete activities, namely coordinating the review of entitled people to presents from the State President. The number of entitled people was higher than previous years due to the revision of the Ordinance on preferential treatment of people with meritorious services to the country. Among them are nearly 35,000 recognized and posthumously-recognized heroic mothers and revolutionaries who had been arrested and detained by the enemy and are entitled to regular assistance. On that basis, the Ministry advised the Government to submit the list of gift recipients at two levels. The first level gifts, each worth 400,000 VND, were for revolutionaries from 1 January 1945 to 19 August 1945 who have been receiving monthly preferential assistances, heroic mothers and heroes of the armed forces, and labor heroes in resistance wars who have been receiving monthly preferential assistances. Others include relatives of war martyrs, and relatives of two or more martyrs who have been receiving monthly preferential assistances for the sacrifices of the martyrs, war invalids, sick soldiers, entitled people such as war invalids with more than 81% labor capacity deficiency due to wounds and illnesses (including those war invalids of category B recognized before 31 December 1993) who have been receiving monthly assistance, people who rendered meritorious services to the revolution and have been receiving monthly assistance, and resistance war activists affected by toxic chemicals with 81% of labor capacity deficiency who have been receiving monthly assistance. The second level, each worth 200,000 VND to war invalids, sick soldiers, entitled people such as war invalids with labor capacity deficiency below 80% due to wounds or illnesses (including war invalids of category B recognized before 31 December 1993) who have been receiving monthly assistance, war invalids have been receiving assistance for their labor capacity losses, closest relatives of martyrs (father, mother, wife or husband, children and people who brought up the martyrs), family representatives who are taking care of martyrs’ commemoration (brother/sister, people in the family line authorized to take care of martyrs’ commemoration, people who rendered meritorious services to the revolution and have been receiving monthly assistance, and resistance war activists affected by toxic chemicals with less than 80% of labor capacity deficiency who have been receiving monthly assistance, and revolutionaries or resistance war activists arrested and detained by the enemy who have been receiving monthly assistance. All in all there were 14 entitled categories with more than 2 million people receiving gifts worth VND 423.5 billion from the State President for Tet celebration. Though the gifts were not large, they showed the Party and State’s sentiments to heroes, martyrs, invalids, sick soldiers and people with meritorious services to the revolution. In addition to the State President’s gifts, localities mobilized resources for the same purpose. This is a significant act of gratitude, ethic, responsibility and a fine cultural tradition of the Vietnamese for generations.

Alongside reviewing the list of recipients of gifts from the State President, the Ministry also guided localities to review the implementation of policies and living conditions of entitled people to provide assistance to entitled families in difficult situation. By now, there are more than 8.8 million entitled people who rendered great services to the revolution, accounting for 10% of the population. Of them 1.5 million have been receiving monthly assistance from the State. Through the implementation of the Ordinance on revision and supplement of some articles of the Ordinance on Preferential treatment to people who rendered meritorious services to the revolution, the number of entitled people and levels of assistance to some entitled people were upgraded. The total assistance went up from VND 29,000 billion in 2013 to 32,000 billion in 2014; 35,000 heroic mothers were recognized or posthumously recognized in 2014, bringing the total number of heroic mothers throughout the country to 65,000. Beside the State’s preferential policies, the movement of all people taking care and assisting invalids and sick soldiers, families of martyrs and people with great services to the revolution have developed continuously and widely. Results have been made in mobilizing social resources to the “paying gratitude” movement, raising people’s awareness and consciousness to participate in the movement, share responsibility with the State in caring for war invalids, sick soldiers, martyr families and people with great services to the revolution. Responsibility and obligation towards people who rendered great services to the revolution have become an important issue in fora and mass media, becoming a fine trait in Viet Nam’s cultural life. In addition to the five big programs, namely building compassion houses, giving compassion saving books, establishing the fund of “paying gratitude,” assisting invalids and sick soldiers living with their families and caring for heroic mothers, helpless fathers and mothers of martyrs and orphaned children of martyrs, other practical compassion activities have been prompted by sentiments of community, hamlets, villages, and streets such as “warm clothes for mothers,” “silk for grandmothers,” “compassion orchards,” and “compassion well.”

In the past five years, the whole country contributed nearly VND 1.500 billion to the Fund of “paying gratitude,” built more than 55,600 new compassion houses, repaired more than 39,000 compassion houses at the cost of hundreds of billions of dong. Out of the 65,000 heroic mothers, 12,2015 mothers who are still alive will be cared for until the rest of their lives. It has become a movement among communes and wards to care for war invalids and sick soldiers and mainstreamed in the plans of Party organizations and authorities at all levels. Currently, 96% of the total communes and wards are recognized for their achievements in this endeavor. The State and community’s attention and care have helped improve entitled people’s spiritual and material lives, especially during Tet and spring.

Caring for people with great services to the revolution is not only a traditional ethic but an issue of political, ideological, sentiment and social significance. It is not only an urgent immediate issue but is of long-term importance and one of the big issues in the cause of national construction and defense in the new situation. The visits, presentation of gifts, encouragement of invalids, relatives of martyrs and people with meritorious services to the revolution during big events of Party and State’s leaders, socio-political organizations, mass organizations and people have demonstrated the ethic of “when drinking waters, think of the water source” as well as the traditional cultural value of the Vietnamese nation. The concerns have had practical effect, creating a driving force for our people in general and invalids, martyr families, people with great services, and armed forces in particularly to fulfill revolutionary tasks in each historical period, contributing to build and consolidate people’s confidence in the Party, State and our regime. Many invalids, sick soldiers, relatives of martyrs and people with great services have overcome difficulties and exerted great efforts to stabilize their lives and made continued contribution to the renovation initiated by the Party. There have been more examples of good people and good deeds among invalid, sick soldiers and people with great services. Many of them have become scientists, managers in socio-economic sectors. Production establishments of invalids have firmly developed in the market economy, generating stable jobs and incomes for children of invalids, sick soldiers, martyrs, and demobiblized soldiers. They have lived up to Uncle Ho’s teaching “”disabled but not useless.”

Hunger eradication and poverty alleviation are big guidelines of the Party and State to improve the spiritual and material life of poor people, reduce development gap among regions and between ethnic and population groups. In 2014, despite economic difficulties, the Government gave priority to social security and poverty reduction, allocating fund for effective implementation of poverty reduction policy and assisting ethnic minority people, focusing resources for difficult and poor areas, issued some social security policies to support poor people including assisting 100% value of health insurance to near-poor households, and health checks-up and cost-sharing of treatment for poor and near-poor households. Households who newly escaped poverty were entitled to treatment such as health checks-up, treatment, credit loans, job training and education and training for 2 years. Minimum monthly salary was provided for a caretaker in people-assisted semi-boarding hub of more than 30 students such as in Yen Bai. People with low income were given emergency assistance.

Under the guidance of the Government, ministries, branches and localities have reviewed, revised and finalized poverty reduction policies, taken concrete solutions, allocated and mobilized resources, concentrated investment in poor areas and ethnic minority regions, mobilized strength and inclusive participation of the political system and society, created synergy with the State resources for effective implementation of poverty reduction programs and policies. There are best practices and effective poverty reduction models in different localities. In general, poor people have had better access to the State’s assistance policies; rural infrastructure has been improved due to efforts to build new rural areas; the percentage of poor household throughout the country, districts and communes dropped dramatically; poor people’s livelihood has been improved, and social security and safety have been maintained. By the end of 2014, the percentage of poor households through out the country dropped by 1.8%-2% (from 7.8% to 5.8%-6%); that of poor household decreased by an average of 5% per year (from 38.2% in 2013 to 33.2% in 2014).

Currently, the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs is developing the Program on renovating methods of poverty measurement from one-dimension to multidimensional poverty methods to facilitate the implementation of policies and poor people’s access to policies. The Multidimensional Measurement Index has been piloted in three communes of provinces of Lao Cai, Thanh Hoa and Phu Yen (each commune in each province).

In addition to the State’s poverty policies, the campaign “Day for poor people” staged by the Central Committee of the Viet Nam Fatherland Front has become a broad movement, attracting collectives, and individuals in and outside the country. Over the past 3 years, the Fund “For the poor people” mobilized VND 3,711 billion (at central level: VND 289 billion; at local: VND 3,422 billion); 63 provinces and cities raised VND 15,123 billion for the program on social security. Using these resources, the Vietnam Fatherland Front coordinated with local authorities in building and refurbishing more than 250,000 Great Unity houses for poor households. Besides, the Party committee of the Central Business Sector mobilized more than VND 8,500 billion from business groups, corporations and enterprises for social security. Businesses committed VND 2,500 billion for Program 30a for poor districts from 2009 to 2013.

Some localities promulgated exclusive mechanisms and poverty. Kon Tum, Dac Lac and Yen Bai provinces issued policies to assist production and infrastructure development to especially difficult communes and hamlets. Eighteen provinces developed policies to assist 100% value of heath insurance to near-poor households and cost-sharing of poor households’ health check-up and treatment. Dong Nai, Ninh Thuan, Binh Phuoc, Tra Vinh and Vinh Long provinces continued to provide assistance in two years to households which newly escaped poverty for health checks-up and treatment, credit loans, job training, and education and training. Yen Bai provided minimum monthly salary for a caretaker in people-assisted semi-boarding hub of more than 30 students. Six provinces and cities raised the poverty line and near-poverty line above national poverty line such as Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang and Ha Noi cities, Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces. Lao Cai, Ha Giang, Lam Dong, Dong Nai and Ben Tre reported best practices and effective poverty reduction models like the amy and people join efforts in caring for people’s health, and combining economic development and national defense model implemented by national defense economic groups to help generate jobs, stable income and poverty alleviation for poor people.

To ensure successful delivery of social assistance, stabilize people’s life during the 2015 At Mui Tet holidays, the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs issued official documents guiding localities to review and assess social work in 2014, especially in providing rice for needy people; developed plan on social assistance during 2015 Tet festival, paying attention to inspection and monitoring, reviewed and accounted for households and people who might suffer food shortage during the 2015 Tet and pre-harvest periods, and proactively allocated local budget to provide timely assistance to needy people. In case local budgets failed to provide sufficient allocations, provincial people’s committees and cities requested assistance from Central, MOLISA, and Ministry of Finance and the Government Office would consolidate the requests and submit to the Prime Minister for approval. The request submission should include ample information on the number of households, needy households, duration of assistance (1 month for Tet time and a maximum of 3 months for pre-harvest period), provided social assistance in time in alignment with Resolution 74/NQ-CP dated 4 October, 2014 of the Government, raised asocial assistance from VND 180,000 per month to VND 270,000 per month to entitled people of poor households, orphaned and helpless children and people living in social assistance establishments from 1 January 2015. Thus, nearly 2.7 million people have access to regular social assistance worth VND 9,000 billion per year.

Also during the At Mui Tet occasion, MOLISA issued an official document requesting chairmen of People’s Committees of provinces and centrally-run cities to guide Departments of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, management boards of industrial parks, export and processing zones, economic zones and related organizations to assist businesses in implementing Protocol 103/2014/ND-CP dated 11 November, 2014 of the Government on minimum wages for laborers in enterprises, cooperatives, cooperative groups, farms, family households, individuals and organizations and offices using laborers under labor contracts. Agreements were made with grassroots trade union organizations, and laborers were well informed of contracts before they came into effect in 1 January 2015. Businesses were also requested to advance or pay full salaries, incentives and insurance to laborers during the 2015 At Mui Tet occasion, review regulations and stipulations on salary and incentives for revision and adjustment in line with the 2012 Law on Labor and other guiding documents, coordinate with grassroots trade union organizations to draw out plans to pay salaries, incentives and assistance to laborers in the Tet occasion. These plans should be informed in time to laborers.

Big cities like Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh city developed plans to set up counters to sell essential goods in industrial parks to laborers. The People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh city together with the trade union maintained the Fund to cover poor workers with travel costs when they return to their home villages or towns for Tet holidays, present gifts to workers in difficulties, requested the taxation branch not to increase taxes on renters, and mobilized renters not to raise rents. Some localities like Vinh Phuc and Long An offered more bus services from industrial and export and processing zones to districts to assist laborers’ travel.

With an aim to ensure “all households can celebrate happy Tet and all people can have a happy Tet holiday,” the Party, State, branches, levels and society shared responsibility, and care for entitled and poor people and laborers throughout the countries to ensure they enjoy a merry and happy Tet holiday.

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This article was published on Communist Review No 868 (March 2015)

Pham Thi Hai ChuyenMember of the Party Central Committee Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs