Toward modernizing social assistance system in Viet Nam

19 Jul 2014

imagePhoto: UNDP Viet Nam/ Shutterstock

Viet Nam’s social welfare system while on the right track has several shortcomings that need to be overcome to meet the demands of middle income status and new and greater risks people will face in future as further urbanization and industrialization takes place and Viet Nam’s socialist-oriented market economy is further integrated in global trading system. Mr Nguyen Trong Dam, Vice Minister of Labor, Invalid and Social Affairs (MOLISA) was speaking at  a high-level seminar held in Ha Noi on 19 July to build knowledge on best practice social assistance and social protection reforms.

The seminar is part of the UN/DP effort to assist the Government of Viet Nam, in its pursuit of a more inclusive and sustainable development beyond the low middle income status, to modernize the Social Assistance, and the wider social protection system. It was attended by representatives from the Government, Party, the National Assembly, non-government and civil society organizations and development partners.

Viet Nam’s current Social Assistance and Social Protection system is fragmented and lacks coherence. In order to support a myriad of welfare targets social assistance schemes and policies in Viet Nam have been developed and amended based on lack-of-clarity definitions, different approaches in defining target groups and levels of benefits. A complex matrix of line ministries is involved in designing and administering social assistance policies, different GOVN agencies and local administrations have been playing complex functions in the delivery of social assistance.  As a result, the system is, as viewed by the seminar participants, inefficient and ineffective, exhibiting both exclusion and inclusion errors, evidenced by a low coverage rate, a high level of leakage, low level of benefit and thus limited impact on the beneficiaries’ livelihood.  

The Government is committed to reform process. “Viet Nam spares no effort to complete its social assistance and social protection system to provide timely assistance to people, especially those vulnerable to fluctuations in the market economy  said Mr Nguyen Trong Dam”.

Meanwhile UNDP Country Director Louise Chamberlain underlined that social assistance policy reform is central to the United Nation’s mission in Viet Nam. “In the eyes of the United Nations agencies, social assistance is a means of protecting of human rights, it is an investment in people and human development, and, with the proper systems and incentives, is never a handout,” she said. “A modern system of social transfers can offer vulnerable people in Viet Nam both a safety net and a ladder out of deprivation, to ensure their active participation in the economy and secure broader social inclusion.”

For more information, please read UNDP Country Director speech and Dr Stephen Kidd’s presentation: “Social assistance- lesson for Viet Nam”