Caring for the lives of disadvantaged people amid COVID-19

At a recent meeting of permanent Government members on social security policies for people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stated that in this urgent situation, it was necessary to take care of people, especially workers, poor and vulnerable people and the unemployed to ensure a basic standard of living for them.

Workers of a garment factory in Vietnam (Photo: VNA)
Workers of a garment factory in Vietnam (Photo: VNA)

Such a timely and appropriate decision will warm the hearts of many poor and disadvantaged people. Accordingly, there will be six groups of people who are eligible for relief payments to be made in cash or through the Bank for Social Policies. Social policy beneficiaries and those who have rendered services to the State during the revolution and wars who are receiving monthly allowances will be given an additional VND500,000 each month in April, May, and June. About 984,000 poor households and 1,260,000 near-poor households across the country will receive VND1 million each month also in April, May, and June. In Vietnam, income-wise, poor households are those earning less than VND1 million a month in urban areas, or less than VND800,000 in rural areas.

Workers who were laid off or put on leave without pay due directly to the COVID-19 pandemic will be provided VND1.8 million per person per month. A monthly payment of VND1 million paid for three months will be given to an estimated five million workers who either lost their jobs, don’t have a labour contract or had their contracts terminated when their social insurance contribution period is not sufficient for unemployment benefit payout.

Individual business households with yearly revenues below VND100 million who have to temporarily close down as part of the Government’s stay-at-home order and social distancing measures will be given VND1 million per month over the three-month period. About 760,000 households are eligible for this support. Employers can borrow from the Vietnam Social Policy Bank with a zero interest rate over 12 months to pay the salaries of furloughed workers during the three-month period.

The initiative is being carried out on the principle of supporting people who have a deep reduction in income or lost their jobs and can’t afford the minimum living standard directly due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Meanwhile, the State and enterprises share the responsibility to ensure living standards for workers; at the same time the support must pursue the right objectives and be implemented in a public and transparent manner.

It can be seen that this social security support package is a really necessary and timely move, solidifying the message of our Party and State as a society of solidarity and mutual caring with a slogan “no one will be left behind”. When the Resolution of the Government is issued, it is necessary to have practical and effective ways to shorten the time and procedures for its application so that labourers and families in difficult circumstances can receive support as quickly as possible in order to proactively overcome difficulties and stabilise their lives.

In addition to financial assistance, it is also necessary to further promote information dissemination and raise public awareness and self-awareness of disease prevention strategies among poor and vulnerable households and people. Therefore, sectors at all levels and socio-political organisations in each residential area should continue to take appropriate measures so that each citizen understands and voluntarily joins the fight against both the COVID-19 epidemic and fake news on the disease.

Each individual, regardless of their circumstance, should promote the spirit of patriotism and national self-esteem, as well as show responsibility to protect the health of themselves as well as of the community, joining hands with the whole political system to push back this pandemic and soon once again stabilise people’s lives.