-The Government can consider issuing immediately a new cash assistance program equivalent to 5% of quarterly GDP (approximately VND77 trillion) to be disbursed over the final months of 2021, to protect and reach a wider group of vulnerable people from the massive socio-economic shock of the current wave of covid19.
At an online event on 24 September 2021, UNDP launched two important reports “Rapid assessment of the Covid-19 Socio-economic Impact on Vulnerable Households in Viet Nam” and “Rapid Assessment of the Design and Implementation of the Government’s Second Support Package for the People Affected by Covid-19”, which were conducted in collaboration with the Centre for Analysis and Forecasting, the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (CAF, VASS) and the Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs, Ministry of Labour Invalids and Social Affairs (ILLSA, MOLISA).
"UNDP proposes a cash assistance program equivalent to five percent of quarterly GDP, or about VND 77 trillion," said Prof. Jonathan Pincus, UNDP Senior Economist. "The size of this support package would be similar to the levels provided by neighboring countries during the first round of lockdowns in 2020." (Read his op-ed)
In the VASS study of 498 households, the rapid assessment shows that the economic impact is large, with 88% of households suffering from employment impacts in July 2021, and 63.5% of households experiencing an income drop of 30% or more from the pre-pandemic period (December 2019). People working in tourism, restaurants, hotels, and passenger transportation were those hardest hit.
The non-economic impact is also significant. Mental health is an urgent emerging issue, as lockdowns have been widespread and lengthy. Two-thirds (66.4%) of households worry about the impact of COVID-19. Notably, female household heads suffered a higher incidence of mental health problems (81.6%) than male household heads (62.8%).
Cutting expenditures was the most common measure employed by affected households with four in five (79.4%) affected households cutting expenditures. Most of the expenditure cuts were related to food, with 71% of affected households cutting food expenses.
Thus, food security is becoming an issue with more than half of the households (51.2%) having to reduce the amount of food served per meal, and 17.7% of households reducing the number of meals per day.
The cut in food expenses and food shortage was reported by vulnerable households, those being laid-off for months, especially migrants. A more severe situation was reported in households having small children.