Now is the time for Viet Nam to invest in a modern, integrated social security system, says United Nations

Nov 30, 2006

Ha Noi As Viet Nam progresses socially and economically, social security provision must keep pace to support a growing and dynamic population through well-integrated programmes for health, childcare, education, employment security and pension policies.

The Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS), the Ministry of Labour Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and the United Nations met at a workshop in Ha Noi today to discuss the Development of a Social Security System for Human Development in Viet Nam.

“As Viet Nam approaches middle income country status, the need to begin rethinking the country’s approach to social security has become more apparent,” said UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam, Mr John Hendra in his opening remarks. “The rapid formation of national markets and greater participation in the regional and global economies has accelerated existing trends towards social and geographical mobility. Vietnamese people are increasingly dependent on wage and salary income. Previous forms of social protection provided through cooperatives and state owned enterprises no longer play much of a role.”

The Centre for Well-Being in Developing Countries of the University of Bath, commissioned by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and funded under the Strategic Partnership Initiative between UNDP and the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom (DFID), presented two papers at the workshop examining existing social security programmes in Viet Nam. MOLISA also led a discussion of research priorities for the coming year. The workshop provided the opportunity for participants from donors, Government and international organizations to provide in-depth comments on the Bath papers and to build the foundation for a forward-looking research agenda for 2007 under the MOLISA-VASS-United Nations partnership.

Existing social security provision consists of programmes for formal sector employees plus social assistance through Targeted Programmes and other forms of public action directed at disadvantaged communities. These strategies have contributed to poverty reduction and the development of remote areas. The Government recognizes that in the near future Viet Nam will need a modern, integrated approach to social policy to help people cope with risks to their livelihood and well-being, and to avoid falling back into poverty because of  illness, disability, loss of employment, raising children and old age.

Dr Martin Evans from the University of Bath’s Centre for Well-Being in Development Countries led the research team and was accompanied by Professor Ian Gough, who shared his views on research priorities based on his many years of experience studying social policy issues in both OECD and developing countries.

“We in the United Nations were honoured that Madame Minister and Professor Do Hoai Nam, President of the Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences, have invited us to join with the Government of Viet Nam in formulating a proposal for a comprehensive and integrated system of social security by 2008,” said Mr. Hendra.  “Together we have embarked on an initiative to conduct a careful analysis of economic and demographic trends, fiscal capacity and human development considerations to inform the Government’s Socio-Economic Development Strategy 2011-2020. The basic premise of our cooperation is that good policymaking begins with rigorous analysis of the existing situation. Today is an excellent step forward in that direction.”

Contact informationMichael Coleman, Tel: (84-4) 942-1495 x161

or Nguyen Viet Lan, Tel: (84-4) 942-1495 x186