The remnants of wars and negative impacts from poppulation-aging, urbanization, of market economy has contributed to the rising quantity and size of beneficiary. Vietnam has around 9.4 million elderly people, 7.2 million people with disability, 2.5 million children with special circumstances, 234,000 HIV-infected people been detected, women, children exposed to violence, human trafficking, abuse, or wandering on the streets for living. At the same time, natural disaster, fire, crop failure result to 1.8 round of million household in hunger every year.
Communist Party and Government have always concerned to difficult people. This concern has been concreted to the objectives to 2020 to ensure all people having job, achieving minimum income, social insurance, supporting people with special circumstance, ensuring the accessibility to basic social services, contribute to the progress of increasing income, social security, justice and happiness.
Implementing the policies of Communist Party and Government, over 2.6 million people are entitled to monthly social benefit (accounts for 3% of poppulation); more than 400 social protection centers nurturing 40,000 beneficiaries, poor students are exempted from tuition fee, supported with learning cost and supported lunch expense. Every year, the SA programmes for hunger relief have accessed to more than 1 million round of people, models to prevent and eliminate risks from natural disasters have been implemented. Those effort has gradually changed people’s lives. However, the system remains some shortcomings. The SA system is not comprehensive, not ensure the long-term goals. The appoach to policy design is not updated to the current changing condition of Vietnam and global development trend of social assistance system in the process of integration; focusing on eliminating risks for poor and vulnerable people in the event of market economic risks, economic risk and downturn, natural disaster, climate change, deseases, etc in stead of preventing; social assistance policy is based on the Government subsidies, not yet focusing on solution to enhance the self-rising capacity to overcome risk of benefited people, lack of appropriate policies to encourage people, unify the management of mobilized resources from individuals, businesses and community in social assistance. In accordance to all the shortcomings of current SA system, along with international experience, Vietnam need to reform the system to adapt the changing condition of economy and people’s lives.
THE ACTUAL SITUATION OF SOCIAL ASSISTANCE
IN THE PERIOD 2005 - 2015
I. STANDPOINTS OF GOVERNMENT AND COMMUNIST PARTY ON SOCIAL ASSISTANCE
The standpoints of Communist Party on social protection and social assistance have been concreted in Documents of National Congress 6,7,8,9,10,11 of Communist Party and in Resolution 15-NQ/TW dated 01/6/2012 of Central Committees XI on social policy in the period 2012-2020
Firstly, economics growth pertains to social development as iteffectively resolves social issues, concentrates on social assistance subjects that have difficulties, and makes use of economic progress to enhance social policies. The social assistance policy system is established in accordance with the conditions and development of economics, to meet requirement in allocation equality and social justice.
Secondly, gradually legalizing the perspective and policy of the Party and Government in legal documents; forming a system of social assistance policy corresponding to social security for entire population and following the principle that the State and people work together; diversifying assistance method and developing career system to take care of such disadvantaged subjects.
Thirdly, reinforcing socialization to attract resources for implementing social assistance policies. Since there are a lot of difficulties in economics, the policy of socializing social assistance activities is of great importance to tackle social problems. Assistance socializing does not mean that the Government’s responsibility is less. In fact, its duty in facilitating legal environment and administration for social assistance is intensified. In addition, this approach emphasizes responsibility sharing among social members towards unfortunate and disadvantaged people.
Furthermore, forming organizations and associations, such as self-help organization of disabled people and organization for disabled people, to take advantage of community power, family, the subject itself, as well as social and charity organization system to effectively take care of the social subjects.
In particular, Resolution No.15/NQ-TW on 01/6/2012 of the 11th Central Committee concerning social policy from 2012 to 2020 highlighted: “To 2020, basically ensuring social security for the entire society, job security, assuring minimum wages, social insurance, assist people with special circumstances ( children with special circumstance, elderly people with low income, severely disabled people, poor people); ensuring the accessibility to basic social services at minimum level (education, health, accommodation, water, information and communication), gradually boost up income, securing life safety, justice and happiness for people”
II. THE ACTUAL SITUATION OF SOCIAL ASSISTANCE IN THE PERIOD 2005-2015
The overview of social assistance system
The social assistance (SA) system has 3 main components: emergency social assistance, community-based regular social assistance, caring and rearing of beneficiaries at social protection centers. The main contents of SA policy ranges from supporting policy (either in cash or in kind), regular cash transfer and social care services delivery at home or at social protection centers, social centers for children, disabled people, elderly people and other social protection centers. The system of SA policies has been regulated in term of beneficiary, policies, dossier procedure and conditions to entitle to the benefit as well as responsibility, financing mechanism, M&E in legal documents, guiding for implementation. There are 8 Laws, 14 Decree of Government, 37 Decisions of Prime Minister and 13 Circular of Ministries regulating issues related to social assistance.
The policy system has been developed in a comprehensive, completed, timely and efficient manner, corresponding to the essential needs of benefited people. The policy itself has its own priority for each age group, for instance children under 4, children at school age, disabled people, elderly people, single parent, the nutrition, health care, education, living expenses and funeral costs.
2. Regular social assistance policies
The total number of people entitled to regular social benefit is 2,643 million people.
Chart 1. Quantity of monthly social beneficiary in the period 2006- 2015
Unit: million people
Chart 2. The proportion of monthly social beneficiary to population in the period 2006- 2015
The structure of beneficiary: to 2014, lone elderly group having no people to rely on, belong to poor household and ranging from 60-79 and elderly people over 80 accounts for the highest proportion (over 1.55 million people, accounts for 58% of total monthly beneficiary); severely disabled group (745.2 million people, accounts for 27.63% of total beneficiary); mental illness group (174,000 people, accounts for 6.46% of total beneficiary); single parent from poor household (125,593 people accounts for 4.66%); double orphaned children without source of nurture (over 49.2 million people, accounts for 1.9%); HIV/AIDS- infected people having no working capacity (3.797 people and accounts for 0.15 of total beneficiary)
Coverage by regions: beneficiary is differed by region, the highest proportion is in Red River Delta (739.918 people, equivalent to 27.92% of total population), North Central Coast: 503,321 people accounts for 18.9%, lowest proportion is in North West: 82,477 people, accounts for 3.1%. In comparison with the monthly benefited people and total population be region, we could see that the coverage of monthly programmes nation-wide is 2.97% of whole population. However, there are significant imparities between regions, due to the different in perception and organization
Chart 3. Total number of beneficiary by region in 20141
2.2. Standard supporting level and levels of assistance
Along with the process of formation and development of the system of social assistance policies, the assistance level has been adjusted based on socio-economic condition, living standard and budget capacity in each period.The period from 1965 back earlier, the cash transfer were not formed, instead the assistance mainly based on mobilization in kind such as rice, paddy, clothes.Since 1966, social assistance has been standardized to be 10-13kg rice/month.After the liberation period (1976- 1985), two levels of assistance have been formed, which is 8-10 VND/person/month in rural areas and 10-12 VND/person/month in urban areas.By 1985, with the concept that monthly income of workers must be enough for raising 3 people (themselves, their parents and 01 child) and single subsidy must be as much as 1/3 the minimum wage of workers, hence the supporting level has been adjusted to 15kg rice/person/month.
From 1994, the theoretical basis of social assistance has been formed, levels of assistance has been specified for each group of beneficiary and converted from support in kind (par value) to support in value taken into account the fluctuation of prices. So far, the social subsidy levels have been adjusted for 6 times in accordance to inflation rate.Specifically, in 1994 (Decision 167/TTg dated April 8, 1994, amending the social relief regime) level of social assistance was specified at 24,000 VND/month (equivalent to 12kg of rice), in 2000 increased to 45,000 VND (up 1.875 times compared to 1994), 2004 raised to 65,000 VND (an increase of 1.44 times compared to 2000), in 2007 the standard level was stipulated at 120,000 VND (increase of 1.85 times compared to 2004) and in 2010 raised to 180,000 VND (up 1.5 times compared to 2007) and in 2005 raised to 270,000 VND (an increase of 1.5 times compared to 2010). Although the standard social subsidy level has been adjusted for several times but only guaranteed to fulfil the need of beneficiaries to buy food.For specific groups, different coefficients were applied to calculate social subsidy, monthly social care by factor of 1- 1,5- 2- 2,5- 3- 4 and 5.
2.3. Policy impact
Social assistance policy impact on economic growth as beneficiaries entitled to social assistance benefit using money to buy personal consumables.However, the total investment for social assistance remains low (0.14% of GDP), so that the extent of this impact is modest.Thepolicy positively impacts on poverty reduction: as calculated by international experts, on the overall social assistance contributed to the national poverty reduction rate by 1.9%, helping beneficiaries and their families to stabilize their life and better integrate into the community to develop.
In-depth survey in 4 provinces (Bac Giang, Ha Giang, Da Nang, Dong Thap) in 2015 showed that social subsidy accounts for about 57.18% of income of elderly people, 35.14% of income of disabled people. According to the public opinion, regular social assistance programmes on all 3 groups (children, the disabled, the elderly) has generated positive impact. In particular, those programmes has contributed to famine relief (accounted for 46.15%), health care (accounted for 23.08%), strengthening education (accounted for 15.38%) and life improvement (accounted for 15.38%)
2.4. Financial sustainability
Total expenditure of the state budget and local budgets for social assistance increased rapidly: from 8.85 billion VND in 2009 (0.53% of GDP) to 30.5 billion VND in 2014 (0.74% of GDP).In 2014, expenditure for health insurance support accounted for the highest proportion, 60% of the total expenditure on social assistance;Total monthly cash transfer is more than 6 trillion VND, accounting for 19.4% of total social assistance spending. Budget for regular cash transfer programmehas also increased, from 1,691 billion VND in 2008 to 7323 billion VND in 2014, compared to GDP, total expenditure also increased, accounting for from 0.11% in 2008 to 0.14% in 2013.
Chart 5. Funding for monthly regular cash transfer in the period 2006 - 2014
Unit: billion VND dong
2.5. Limitations of regular social assistance policies
- There are too many documents of social assistance policy, one beneficiary is governed in many different documents;designing policies is largely about dealing with the current situation, no long-term vision leading to scattered, sometimes overlapping, lack of systematic and comprehensive.The system of social assistance policies frequently not meet requirements to help people strengthen the ability to respond to life-cycle risks, effectiveness and impact of social assistance policies is still modest.
- Procedures, dossiers of social beneficiary have been made public, yet complicated.The accessibility to information on policies remains difficult for people residing in mountainous areas, highlands, remote area, especially ethnic minorities.
- The coverage of social assistance levels in our country is often lower than many countries with average income, even there is a big gap with regional countries.
- Monthly cash transfer level remain low compared to the minimum salary and the poverty line, slow to change in correspond with the increase in the minimum salary and the price index (CPI) by 10% and is not adapted to the minimum standard of living of the population.
- Social assistance standard during period 2007-2009 is only 17.14% of the national average income (deficiency index of 0.83);84.21% of the average income of 20% of households with the lowest incomes (deficiency index of 0.16);compared to the average level of society, the level of standard shortage of social assistance is quite distant.
- The error/failure in delivery social allowance remains high as this task is assigned to officer in charge of labour-invalids and social affairs at local level. The risk of money loss or not in time delivery has high possibility of occurring as one person implements both tasks of beneficiary monitoring and assistance delivering.
3. Emergency social assistance
The emergency social assistance (SA) policy has been implemented in accordance with Decree 07/2000/ND-CP, Decree 67/2007/ND-CP, Decree 13/2010/ND-CP (not yet applied in line with Decree 136/2013/ND-CP). The support is mainly the food provision for the households in between crop period, lunar New Year and natural disaster damage. The emergency SA policy has been developed step by step to ensure the stable lives for people in damaged area and help them to recover from natural disaster. Prior to 1996, the benefit level was 5 kilos of rice/person/month, in 1-3 months, after 1996, the level was increased to 8-10 kilos of rice/person/month in maximum 3 months. Since 2007, it was increased to 15 kilos/person/month within 3 months period. Along with the supporting policy through rice provision, household with missing or dead people receive the support of 4,500,000 dong/person; household with severely injured people receive 1,500,000 dong/person; household with collapsed, drifted, burned, severely damaged house receive 6,000,000 dong/household. In case of emergency house evacuating due to the landslide or flash flood, household will receive the support of 6,000,000 dong/household. Household lives in difficult areas as in the administrative list of difficult areas issued by the Prime Minister receive the benefit level of 7,000,000 dong/household
Through estimation, Vietnam has suffered from 8 to 10 storms in average annually, mostly happened in Central region. From 1990 to 2010, there was 74 floods in Vietnam rivers system. The severe drought, salinization, landslide and other natural disaster have generated great damage to people in term of production, life and property. From 2006-1014, there were around 3,046 dead and missing people; 6,136 injured people; 336,423 collapsed, drifted houses; 3,241,812 submerged, damaged houses; millions hectares of damaged crops; millions meters of traffic cubic land been landslide. The damaged were estimated to be roughly 108,570 billion VND.
Table 1. Total damage to livelihoods for the period 2006-20143