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National target programs and poverty reduction project in especially difficult communes
17/12/2010 11:2' Send Print

Over the past years, particularly in 2006-2010 period, at especially difficult communes, there are about 20 policy groups applied with about 30 national target programs and projects carried out aiming at poverty reduction through infrastructure development, production promotion and improvement of people’s life. Hence, the socio-economic situation at these communes witnessed considerable progress.

Reports of the Government, relevant ministries and agencies, and provinces show that the total fund invested in projects, national target programs carried out at especially difficult communes is about VND 65,841.776 billion (2006-2010), of which more than VND 59,000 billion is provided by the State budget. Based on specific characteristics of each commune and area, the number of national target programs and projects is specified and carried out. In 2006-2010 period, there are about 10-25 national target programs and projects implemented at especially difficult communes in each provinces.

Some noticeable programs and projects are:

The program of fast and sustainable reduction of poverty in 61 poor districts according to the resolution No 30a/2008/NQ-CP of the Government for 61 poor districts in 2009-2010 period. In 2009 - 2010 the Government has allocated VND 3,103 billion. In poor districts, 52,321 houses has been constructed out of the planned 77,311 houses (about 67,7% of the target plan); 66,176 ha of forest has been allocated to poor households under contract for forest protection and development; about 2,400 laborers from poor districts registered for working abroad, of which 1,800 laborers passed preliminary examination and are trained by enterprises in foreign languages, skills and orientation. Up to now, 1,500 laborers are doing the application and 293 persons has exited and worked abroad.

The policy of providing production land, housing land and dwelling houses and clean water for needy and poor ethnic minority people according to the Decision No 134/2004/QD-TTg has acquired good results. In 4 years from 2004-2008, the Government disbursed VND 4,473.9 billion, providing 373,400 dwelling houses for poor ethnic minority households-about 111% of the planned target; 1,552 ha of housing land for 71,713 households - about 82% of planned target; 27,763 ha of production land for 83,563 households - 48% planned target. In 2009, the Government decided to prolong the implementation of this policy with additional fund of VND 5,828 billion, of which VND 3,508 billion to be used for investment and support while VND 2,320 billion to be loaned out to poor people. Mekong river delta has benefited from the supportive policy of allocating land for production and housing and job creation in 2008-2010 period with a fund of VND 1,629 billion. In 2009-2010, the Government has disbursed VND 400 billion in direct support to and VND 500 billion of loan made to people in the delta.

The policy of supporting people to relocate for settlement in residence and production has brought about initial results. The Decision No 33/2007/QĐ-TTg of the Prime Minister provides the support to ethnic minority people in acquiring permanent dwelling, developing production and reducing poverty which contributes to forest and ecology protection, the maintenance of political security and social order. This policy started in 2008 and will end in 2010 at 350 communes being beneficiaries of the 135 program in 35 provinces with a fund of VND 2,717 billion. From 2008 to 2010, the Government has allocated VND 573 billion, equal to 21,08% of the plan. Up to now, VND 540 billion has disbursed, about 94,2% of the allocated financing and 19,9% of the earmarked fund.

With regard to the policy of extending five year-zero interest rate loan for the most needy ethnic minority households to develop production according to the Decisions No 32/2007/QĐ-TTg and 126/2008/QĐ-TTg of the Prime Minister: from 2007 to 2010, about 275,365 households are justified for loan (100% of the most needy ethnic minority households at communes and hamlets under 135 program) and the fund needed is VND 1,376.8 billion. By 31st December 2009, VND 376.929 billion was allocated, about 27,4% of the approved fund. The program of building the center for groups of communes also shows evident progress: in 2009 – 2010, commune-group 290 centers have been completed and construction work for other new 35 centers has been started for a number of groups of communes in mountainous and border areas with a needed fund of VND 1,368 billion. In 2009, the Government allocated VND 600 billion, and 117 centers were constructed and completed consisting of 342 infrastructure works. The policy of partial subsidy in prices and charges for ethnic minority and mountainous areas posted positive results: in 2006 – 2009 period, VND 1,291.5 billion were allocated for subsidizing prices and charges of seed, fertilizers, iodine salt, kerosene, writing pads and notebooks etc supplied to ethnic minority and mountainous people. Up to now, relevant localities have correctly implemented in accordance with the provisions of this policy, and VND 1,201.9 billion were disbursed, equal to 93% of the approved plan.

As far as the policy of supporting dwelling houses for poor households is concerned according to the Decision No 167/2008/QĐ-TTg of the Prime Minister, the plan for the 2009 – 2012 period is to provide support for 500,000 poor households in rural areas across the country. After one year of implementation, 88,153 dwelling houses, out of targeted number of 126,411 houses, were completed, equivalent to 70% of the annual plan.It is noteworthy that the investment in road construction at especially difficult communes is chiefly financed by local budget, central budget (in part) and contributions from local people. The total invested capital is VND 36,043.437 billion. Relying on the fund from the issuance of government bonds, the Ministry of Transportation has planned to build 486 roads to centers of communes, and by the end of 2009 roads leading to centers of 259 communes were completed. The scheme of reviewing the programming of new rural development according to the Decision No 193/QĐ-TTg of the Prime Minister has been carried out at the same time: the total fund needed is VND 320.785 billion, of which investment in communes, villages and hamlets being the targets of 135 programs accounts for VND 237.130 billion or 73,92% of the total fund allocated for the scheme. Provincial authorities were vested with the task of relocating and resettling local people at especially difficult communes, preparing projects of relocating people at natural disaster-stricken areas, border areas, and building new resettlement zones. Construction of irrigation projects have also been taken into account and VND 2,875.9 billion was allocated for this end. Out of which, irrigation projects at communes of 135 programs costed VND 685 billion or about 28% of the total allocated fund. These irrigation projects encompass reservoirs, pumping station, reinforcement of canal system to irrigate and/or drain water for agricultural and forestry production in case of typhoons and flood.

Medical services for poor and needy areas and communes are also given due attention: besides other resources, the Ministry of Health is assigned by the Government to make investments in medical establishments at provincial and district level, and communes which are falling into the coverage of 135 program. Up to now, medical establishments at 135 program communes have been upgraded in both material basis and equipment and better respond to medical needs of local people. As a result, 100% of 135 program communes have had communal clinics, of which 41,2% is up to national standards, 95% of poor people of 135 program communes have been covered by medical insurance according to Decision No 139 of the Prime Minister. Furthermore, in accordance with the decision of the Prime Minister, tens of thousands Vietnamese dong has been spent for clearing bombs, mines and explosive materials at border communes in order to rearrange residential areas. Sparing capital for essential infrastructure projects. The Government also mobilized fund from international organizations and non-governmental organizations for :

ODA-funded projects and programs in areas under the 135 program carried out in 2006-2010 period. These projects and programs have been implemented with USD 536.41 million, equivalent to VND 10,200 billion which is included State budget financing for 135 program (if State budget financing is not included, the total ODA fund is USD 345.7 million, equivalent to VND 6,500 billion). The ODA fund is used for multi-purpose poverty reduction, and rural an agriculture development. The ODA funded projects are essentially located at difficult, ethnic minority areas where there are a number of communes being beneficiaries of stage-two 135 program in accordance with the objectives of donors and priority in using mobilized fund.

Non-governmental organizations- NGO has financed USD 52.2 million (VND 900 billion) for 64 projects at communes of 135 program in 2006-2010 period. Although the financing from NGO is not great, but it concentrates on the most difficult areas and the pressing aspects in the course of poverty reduction, rural infrastructure development.

It is possible to confirm that since 2006, the implementation of Phase II of the Program 135, other national target program and other projects in especially difficult areas have initially completed the construction of socio-economic infrastructure such as rural road network, small irrigation system, electricity, school, health station, water supply system and radio and television station.

Agricultural production in the most difficult areas witnessed development thanks to new variety, and the application of scientific-technological progress in production, and as the consequences, productivity in both farming and breeding increased. In many places, ethnic minority people have received new production techniques in replacing out of date production practice.

The surveillance of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly showed that at most of the most difficult communes, local people had average annual income of VND 3.5 million or more. The number of poor households decreased 4%/year, two times higher than the average level across the countries. In every province, there are exemplary farmers who does well in farming and breeding. The management knowledge and capacity of communal and village cadres have improved, and the participation and supervision of local communities posted considerable progress. Positive changes can easily be seen cultural, educational and medical aspects. At places where the surveillance mission visited, there are enough schools for pupils to study, and more than 90% of pupils of primary level goes to school. Medical establishments at communes under the coverage of 135 program provided better services for local people. Cultural constructions and activities at communes and hamlets have improved cultural and spiritual lives of local people. The achievements are the results of the correct leadership of the Party and active surveillance of the National Assembly, and the drastic direction and handling of the Government, effective implementation of relevant ministries and agencies, as well as the agreement and participation of local people.

However, there remains a number of limitations and weaknesses: some provinces have not paid adequate attention to programming, rearrangement of residential areas, relocation of agricultural and forestry production and land use plan etc. At present, there are a number of especially difficult communes with scattered population of whom some are deliberating nomadic life and destroy forest for farming. The production practice of these people remains backward and self-sufficient in agricultural crops, and new to the mechanism of market economy. The ratio of poor households reduces quickly but unsustainably. The number of poverty line-adjacent households is still great. If new poverty standard is applied or natural disasters occur, then the number of poverty households in these areas will bound up again.

Some ministries and agencies have not issued legal documents guiding local authorities to manage and incorporate financing sources of different programs and projects. The implementation and use of fund at local level are slow with low disbursement rate. Particularly, somewhere wrong allocation of fund has occurred. The inspection and examination of the implementation of national target programs and projects, as well as the evaluation of quality of constructions by relevant ministries and agencies and local authorities are rather limited.

The management and integration of other programs and projects with the Program 135 Phase II are difficult due to different management and financial mechanisms and several sectors are in charge of the same programs and projects

Through the surveillance of poverty reduction in second-stage 135 program (2006 - 2010), the management and incorporation of national target programs and projects directly relating to poverty reduction at especially difficult communes, the Standing Committee of National Assembly affirmed that poverty reduction is a major and correct policy of the Party and State. Poverty reduction at especially difficult communes needs typical policy which should be carefully and comprehensively designed and formulated with appropriate steps and sustainability. The Standing Committee of National Assembly, therefore, has made the following suggestions:

The National Assembly should continue to advocate the policy of investing in social and economic activities at especially difficult communes in 2011-2015 periods. Upon the approval of annual State budget, the National Assembly should allocate budget financing for socio-economic development in mountainous, ethnic minority and specially difficult areas, assign the Council of Ethnic Minorities and relevant committees of National Assembly the task of enhancing cooperation in surveying effectively the implementation of national target programs and projects directly relating to poverty reduction financed by State budget.

The Government and Prime Minister should soon direct the summarization and evaluation of the implementation of second-stage 135 program and projects and other relevant programs in especially difficult areas in order to pay the way for the formulation of a sustainable and comprehensive poverty reduction program in following period. To study, prepare and introduce incentive policy to encourage communes to attain the set objectives and exit the coverage of second-stage 135 program. New poverty standard which is compatible with minimum living needs of people in different regions should be introduced and made it the basis for surveys, statistics, poverty assessment, poverty gap in our country and the formulation of policy for the following period. Furthering the training and refreshing capacity of organizing and implementing tasks for communal and hamlet staff. Adopting appropriate policy and mechanism of remuneration and benefit to induce young staff and newly graduate students to work at especially difficult areas. Reviewing national target programs and other projects at especially difficult areas in order to remove overlaps in components and constructions at beneficiary sites. Preparing and introducing regulation on controlling, incorporating and using budget financing in national target programs, projects and other programs carried out in the same areas.

Provinces should promptly prepare and approve programming of socio-economic development for especially difficult communes. Residential zones should be appropriate located. Efforts should be concentrated on the construction of infrastructure and production investment. Local financing should be mobilized and allocated for building communal centers at especially difficult communes. Supports should be provided for local people to develop production, and abolish backward production practices. Poverty surveys, collection and process of data, assessment and selection of poor households must be properly conducted. The assessment and selection of poor households should be carried out in parallel to the identification of the root cause of poverty so that appropriate policy treatment can be correctly applied. It is necessary to separate social policy-support objects from poor households. Improving the awareness of ethnic minority people should be carried out through education and communication on the objectives and significance of the Party and State’s policies. The practice of relying on the support from the State among local people and staff should be dome away with. Supervision and inspection of the implementation of 135 program and poverty reduction projects at especially difficult communes should be stepped up. National Assembly delegates and local People’s Council’ at all levels should enhance their role of oversight in order to ensure the success of the poverty reduction endeavor./.

Huynh Ngoc Son