The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs is proposing to raise the poverty line in both urban and rural areas.
According to a proposal that has been submitted to the Prime Minister, the new poverty line for people in urban areas would be a monthly income of VND500,000 (US$26) and for rural areas VND400,000 ($21). The current poverty line is at VND260,000 ($13.6) in urban areas and VND200,000 ($10.5) in rural areas.
Ngo Truong Thi, deputy director of the Social Protection Department of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said the poverty line had to be regularly readjusted.
Every year, the ministry re-evaluates the poverty threshold, said Thi. Adjustments to the poverty line can change the number of people eligible for the government's social welfare policies.
Thi said the nation's poverty reduction programmes had gained positive results, but keeping people out of poverty was difficult.
The new poverty line, if applied, would increase the number of poor households in the country from 11 per cent to 15 per cent, rising to about 3.3 million households.
The proposed change to the poverty line has taken into account people's basic spending needs, prioritise poor people in remote and mountainous areas and be comparable with poverty lines across the region and around the world.
Thi said budget allocations for poverty reduction programmes, based on the new poverty line, would be increased by VND5.7 trillion ($300 million) from next year. Funds allocated for the programme from 2006 to 2010 totalled at VND43 trillion ($2.3 billion).
The proposed poverty line, if approved by the Government, will be considered the minimum level. Localities can adjust their own figure to a higher level in a way that suits the local conditions.
Currently, there are nine provinces and cities applying a poverty line that is higher than the national standard. These provinces and cities, which enjoy higher living standards than in other parts of the country, include Binh Duong, Da Nang, Dong Nai, Khanh Hoa, Vung Tau, Binh Phuoc, Long An provinces and HCM City and Ha Noi
Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung said the poverty reduction programme must help poor families to secure good jobs rather than simply handing out welfare payments.
Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Trong Dam affirmed that the programme would not only ensure poor households of both basic spending on foods but also accommodation, health care and education. — VNS