HCMC forms multi-level social security policy to support its dwellers

After 2 years of recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, the socio-economic picture in HCMC has been brighter, partly thanks to sound policies to ensure social security and support the vulnerable.
The joy of Ngo Thi Lieu (first on the right) when receiving the means to make a living from the local authorities of Phu Nhuan District (Photo: SGGP)

The joy of Ngo Thi Lieu (first on the right) when receiving the means to make a living from the local authorities of Phu Nhuan District (Photo: SGGP)

In 2023, HCMC continues to face various challenges due to the gloomy global economic status and political instability worldwide. This leads to a drop in merchandise orders, and in turn large-scale restructuring among many businesses.

Statistics from the HCMC Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs show that in the first 9 months this year, nearly 128,500 people were unemployed in the city and applied for unemployment support, a rise of 9.3 percent compared to this time last year.

In addition, calculations from the municipal People’s Committee reveal that in the 2024-2025 period, there will be over 13,400 poor households in the city that need to borrow more than VND1 trillion (US$41.3 million) to make a living.

Therefore, this committee has proposed that the HCMC People’s Council introduce a loan interest rate support policy of 2 percent per year for poor and nearly-poor households, taking from the interest-generated budget to reduce poverty. The poor and nearly-poor families whose member is entitled to the policy for meritorious services can receive a 100-percent support when borrowing money, also taken from this budget.

Vice Chairman of the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City Duong Anh Duc gives means of livelihood to a resident in HCMC. (Photo: SGGP)

Vice Chairman of the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City Duong Anh Duc gives means of livelihood to a resident in HCMC. (Photo: SGGP)

So far, HCMC has adopted many sensible and effective measures under the policy for poverty reduction and social security.

For instance, the nearly-poor family of Luc Kien Xuong from District 6 faced a tough situation after the Covid-19 pandemic. The local authorities have gifted him with a cart to sell herbal tea for a stable income, the fee to construct a simple house, medical insurance, and a scholarship for his grandchild. Those gifts have greatly released him from a huge financial burden.

After 2 years, carrying multiple solutions to help poor households, Phu Nhuan District has distributed over VND2.7 billion ($110,000) to build or repair houses for 54 families, delivered scholarships worth VND2.2 billion ($89,600) to more than 1,200 poor and excellent students, offered vocation consultation for over 2,500 laborers.

In the ‘Month for the Poor 2023’ (from October 17 to November 18), Vietnam Fatherland Front – HCMC and the HCMC ‘Fund for the Poor’ Committee distributed 97 means to earn a living for poor households, scholarships and bank saving books to poor students and orphans.

The HCMC Trade Union has also implemented many practical schemes like delivering bank saving books worth VND5-10 million ($203-406) each to workers suffering from serious illnesses and labor accidents. The means to make a living have been given to poor laborers. Grassroots-level trade unions held several programs to help their own members to overcome difficult time.

In the mid-term summary meeting for the 2020-2025 term of the HCMC Party’s Committee this July, the Permanent Member of the Secretariat and Head of the Central Organization Commission of the Vietnam Communist Party Truong Thi Mai asked that HCMC launch more measures to improve the living standards of its dwellers. The number of residents with medical and social insurance must increase to ensure better social security. Practical solutions must be adopted to reduce the unemployment rate so that city occupants can be more resilient to economic trouble or pandemics.

The Vietnam Fatherland Front – HCMC Branch is delivering a completely built house to a resident in Binh Chanh District

The Vietnam Fatherland Front – HCMC Branch is delivering a completely built house to a resident in Binh Chanh District

In response, HCMC has been extremely flexible in investment and cooperation with related organizations to expand its social security coverage. Director of the HCMC Social Security Office Lo Quan Hiep informed that his unit has indeed carried out various measures to attract more people to join in medical and social insurance schemes. In the first 9 months this year, it gifted the vulnerable with 2,940 medical insurance cards and 361 social insurance books. Until the end of September 2023, there were nearly 8 million city dwellers participating in medical insurance, accounting for over 89 percent of the total national number.

The HCMC Ethnic Minorities Committee has cooperated with localities to actively visit and delivered more than 20,900 gift packs worth VND12 billion ($488,000) to ethnic people who are vulnerable (poor families, lonely elderly residents, poor workers and students), taken partially from mobilized resource from the community.

Despite facing much economic trouble, many businesses in HCMC are striving to maintain their operation and ensure a stable job for their employees. Freetrend Industrial Vietnam Co. Ltd. in Linh Trung 1 Export Processing Zone (Thu Duc City) is an example. It used to adopt the turn-taking day-off policy due to limited orders. Now thanks to its effort to seek more orders in new markets, it has reactivated overtime sessions though not much, bringing great joy to its workers.

In the three years of the Covid-19 pandemic, the export turnover of Intel Products Vietnam Co. Ltd. always accounted for half of the total of Saigon Hi-tech Park. It contributed $75 billion and provided jobs for 7,000 people. This year, the company is trying to keep the performance bonus policy of $500 each employee for two quarters to maintain its laborers.

Other enterprises are going to hire more laborers to process recently obtained orders. Statistics from the HCMC Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs among over 2,500 companies show that half of them see an increase in human resources. Therefore, the proportion of people registering for unemployment support in HCMC dropped by 28 percent in September compared to the previous month.

To further tackle unemployment, the municipal Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs is going to hold 12 job fairs, two of which for the disable and one online. They will connect to businesses in 13 provinces and cities in the Mekong Delta.

Vice President Le Thi Kim Thuy of the HCMC Labor Confederation shared that with a significant rise in the labor number in the informal sector, the Labor Confederation units in each district and Thu Duc City are making efforts to attract them into the Confederation so that they have a place to go to when in trouble, especially for legal consultation.

Director Tran Van Tien of the Bank for Social Policies – HCMC Branch informed that lately, social policy credit activities have huge contribution to sustainable poverty reduction, rural area upgrading, social security maintenance, and economic growth in the city. In the first 9 months of 2023, the loan amount reached VND2.66 trillion ($108.2 million), a rise of more than VND369 million ($15 million) compared to this time last year.

In addition, HCMC has applied Resolution 98 to add more capital and implement more policies for sustainable poverty reduction (preferential loans, job provision, social security maintenance).

It is predicted that the labor market in the last few months of the year will still experience certain difficulties. However, to prepare merchandise for Tet holiday, many businesses are hiring workers. Particularly, in the last quarter of 2023, there are 75,500-81,500 job openings, focusing on the fields of trading – services (70.1 percent), industry – construction (29.6 percent). Enterprises are giving more chances for unskillful or part-time, seasonal workers.

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