Speech at the validation of resolution No. 80/NQ-CP on directions for sustainable poverty reduction

30 May 2011

Speaker: Christophe Bahuet, Deputy Country Director (Programme), UNDP Vietnam
Date:      30 May 2011
Event:    Validation of Resolution No. 80/NQ-CP on Directions for Sustainable Poverty Reduction  
             (2011-2020)

H.E. Mr. Nguyen Trong Dam, Vice Minister, MOLISA
H.E. Mr. Ha Hung, Vice Chairman, CEMA
Colleagues from Government and development partners
Representatives from the media
Ladies and gentlemen,

Vietnam has begun a new decade as a middle income nation. As such, new issues are now considered to be vital priorities, such as the quality and appropriate future model of economic growth, the provision of social security, sustainable poverty reduction, and the need to address the climate change challenge. All these issues have been highlighted in the Socio Economic Development Strategy for 2011-2020.

Given the current context of global and domestic uncertainty, with high inflation, poor people in Vietnam are suffering an ever heavier burden in their everyday lives. Statistics quoted, such as 14.5 percent of households being poor according to the new poverty standard, are unlikely to truly reflect the multifaceted nature of poverty and the extreme and complex difficulties poor people face in Viet Nam today.

Attention has been drawn to the large population of rural poor and vulnerable groups in need of a social security net to mitigate and protect against the uncertainty increasingly resulting from this new socio-economic context At the same time, generations of ethnic groups are locked into a vicious cycle of poverty that is proving stubbornly difficult to break. Other critical issues include the provision of, and accessibility to basic social services of an adequate quality, participation for all in labor markets, resistance to the impacts of climate change in the fragile areas in which ethnic minority groups live, the sustainable management and use of land for cultivation and forest land, harmony between different ethnic groups and the long term preservation of vulnerable ethnic groups languages and cultural practices. All of these issues require proper attention in the next period.

I remember one year ago an important conference was convened jointly by MOLISA, MPI and UN agencies to review existing approaches to poverty reduction in a joint effort to find a more efficient future path for sustainable poverty reduction in Viet Nam.

I am honoured therefore today to be able to make a few remarks  on behalf of development partners at this important conference to validate the new Resolution 80 on the future directions for sustainable poverty reduction. I highly appreciate the substantive efforts made by the Steering Committee on national programs for poverty reduction and other relevant government bodies over the past year in reaching a common voice on these future directions. I also acknowledge the significant progress made through the Resolution in the following areas:

  • The Resolution reflects a determination to use the resources of particular poverty reduction programs in an efficient and effective manner, and prioritise sources of investment from other national programs and ODA projects to make significant investments in the poorest districts, communes and villages.
  • The Resolution marks a shift from the ad hoc provision of poverty reduction interventions towards a more mainstreamed, universal and comprehensive approach. I believe this will result in better and more efficient use of the scarce resources available, and will improve the accountability of each agency and local government in designing and delivering the best possible poverty reduction interventions.
  • The Resolution brings existing programs and policies together into a single harmonized and comprehensive program for poverty reduction which addresses the neediest districts, communes and villages.
  • From the UN’s perspective, to achieve the goal of sustainable poverty reduction and to ensure a successful transition course, the following key issues should be addressed:
  • A truly mainstreamed poverty reduction approach calls for the efforts of all central bodies in reviewing the prevailing policy system, and based on the findings, to recommend more appropriate and workable interventions which are able to both address the poor’s needs and open the space for their own agency towards self-improvement.
  • Strengthening organizational capabilities and supporting institutional development are imperative to guarantee the smooth and sustained implementation of poverty elimination measures. In the long run, such capabilities should further support, and be  embodied within, an overall social security system.
  • The role of MOLISA in coordinating, ensuring oversight and consulting widely with relevant ministerial agencies and local governments on poverty and ethnic minority affairs is very important. A number of important innovations have been developed through existing poverty reduction programs over the past 5 years, particularly through the Program 135 Phase 2. It is essential that these innovations are adopted and developed further in the next phase., including best practice experience in commune investment ownership, monitoring and evaluation, transparent financial management, annual auditing, and people’s participation.. We also strongly support the piloting and application of a number of new poverty reduction modalities based upon international experience, which we think Viet Nam could adopt and benefit from. These include in particular block grant funding for local Government and the use of cash transfers directly to poor people.

Finally, further resources and attention should be focused upon strengthening grassroots implementation. Provincial forums could be set up to encourage effective cross learning and experience sharing, as experience has shown us that this is a good way to institutionalize good practices and models developed through local initiatives.

In the past 20 years, UN agencies and development partners in Viet Nam have stood side by side with the Government of Viet Nam in a shared mission to support poverty reduction. We look forward to continuing this close relationship in the next era. We hope to have further policy discussions with the Steering Committee of the National Programs for Poverty Reduction and other concerned Ministries and  sectors, to further discuss national development directions that enhance opportunities for the poor to participate fully in the mainstream development of Viet Nam.

On this occasion, we would like to assure you of our continued support to the design, evaluation and implementation of poverty reduction interventions. In this way, we hope to help make the Millennium Development Goals not just a slogan, but a reality that can be seen in every single house and village of Vietnam.
Thank you and wish you all the best.