Vietnam’s National Assembly pushing for sustainable poverty reduction

Vietnam's National Assembly pushing for sustainable poverty reduction

Hanoi, The Gulf Observer: In the ongoing session of the 15th National Assembly, discussions focused on the implementation of resolutions concerning key national programmes for rural development, sustainable poverty reduction, and the socio-economic development of ethnic minority and mountainous areas.

Presenting the monitoring report, Y Thanh Ha Nie Kdam, Chairman of the National Assembly’s Council of Ethnic Minorities and Deputy Head of the National Assembly’s Supervision Delegation, noted that this marks the first mid-term monitoring by the National Assembly. With the wide scope of these three national programmes, the supervisory delegation faced significant tasks and a substantial workload. To address these challenges, they adopted appropriate approaches and methods.

Their main focus was on monitoring, evaluating policy implementation progress, and the direction, management, and organisation of the programmes. This was especially crucial given the current delays and shortcomings in achieving the specified objectives.

The supervisory delegation conducted direct monitoring at various levels, including the government, 11 ministries and sectors, and 15 provinces, representing diverse regions, areas, and the catagories of programme beneficiaries.

Regarding the results of the National Programme for New Rural Development, Mr. Y Thanh Ha Nie Kdam pointed out that the 2021-2025 phase had a minimum budget of VND196.332 trillion (US$7.9 million). In addition to the general policy framework, the programme included six key areas and was implemented in all 63 provinces and cities across the country.

The programme’s organisational structure, from the central to local levels, was revamped. Planning and budget allocation were implemented in accordance with established principles.

As of June 30, 2023, the nationwide results indicated that 6,022 out of 8,177 communes (73.65 per cent) met the criteria for new rural areas. Among them, 1,331 communes achieved advanced new rural standards, and 176 communes attained exemplary new rural standards. Furthermore, 263 out of 644 district-level entities (40.8 per cent) were recognised for completing their tasks or meeting the new rural criteria. All 19 provinces and centrally-governed cities had 100 per cent of their communes reaching the new rural criteria.

However, the implementation process faced several challenges. There were many central and local-level policy documents issued, but their issuance was slow, and they remained inconsistent, requiring post-release revisions. The allocation of the central budget investment for development was also delayed, especially concerning important local projects, which caused difficulties for several regions, particularly impoverished provinces.

The disbursement of central budget funds for the years 2022 and 2021-2025 lagged behind the requirements, especially for public investment. As a result, the results of new rural development remained uneven and not entirely sustainable, with some regions lacking determination and experiencing difficulties in guiding and implementing new rural construction.

Y Thanh Ha Nie Kdam stated that the programme’s implementation had generally adhered to the overall objective of “Implementing multidimensional, comprehensive, and sustainable poverty reduction; following the principles and solutions outlined in Resolution No. 24.” Many localities had developed effective models and innovative approaches to achieve their goals.

By September 2022, it was the first of the three national target programmes to have basically completed the issuance of guidelines at the central level. Planning and budget allocation were in compliance with legal regulations.

However, there were challenges related to delays in the issuance of programme-related documents and budget allocation. These challenges prompted localities to make changes that did not necessarily align with objectives.

Despite achieving and surpassing many of the objectives, the delegation observed that ethnic minorities continued to face significant difficulties, including slow economic and social development, high poverty rates, near-poverty conditions, and the risk of falling back into poverty.

The supervisory delegation made several specific recommendations to the National Assembly, the Government, the Prime Minister, relevant ministries, sectors, the Central Committee of the Viet Nam Fatherland Front, and political and social organisations, as well as localities.

They proposed that the National Assembly, through its Council of Ethnic Minorities, committees, and individual deputies, enhance their supervision of the implementation of national target programmes at all levels.

The delegation also suggested extending the allocation of 2023 funds that were not disbursed by the end of the year to continue implementation until December 31, 2024.

Additionally, it was recommended to pilot a decentralised approach at the district level for making decisions on the allocation and adjustment of funding and investment projects for national target programmes in their respective areas. This approach would improve effectiveness, feasibility, and alignment with actual conditions while avoiding waste and inefficiency.

According to the monitoring report, the progress of disbursement of central budget funds for all three programmes is lagging. The monitoring delegation assessed that “completing the disbursement of central budget funds by 2025 is very challenging.”

Deputy Nguyen Quoc Luan (Yen Bai) pointed out that while the direction and management documents for implementing the programmes have been issued, many of these documents are vague and not clear, making them difficult to understand and implement. Excessive references within a single document create difficulties, especially for grassroots officials in economically disadvantaged mountainous areas.

Therefore, deputies proposed the government urgently review and amend the policy and guidance documents to make them detailed, clear, easy to understand, and practical. They recommend that guidelines for local implementation should be issued in the form of an implementation handbook.

Regarding the Sustainable Poverty Reduction Programme, deputy Tran Quang Minh emphasised the need to focus on supporting livelihoods for the poor, as this is a way to achieve sustainable poverty reduction. He suggested establishing criteria for assessing and including poor communities in support programmes for necessary purposes.

“It is essential to assess whether poverty reduction efforts are effective, as in some areas, local authorities are only striving to achieve the targets set by resolutions and annual plans, often leading to various approaches with the goal of reducing the numbers. However, the quality of poverty reduction and the sustainable escape from poverty have not been genuinely evaluated,” said the deputy.

Minh also stressed the importance of improving the dissemination of information, especially for people, particularly among the impoverished ethnic minority communities. In reality, many people, especially those in remote and economically disadvantaged areas, do not have access to sufficient information about their rights and obligations.

Therefore, deputies recommended that more efforts should be made to direct information to the people, especially the poor, and ethnic minority communities.

During the 6th session of the 15th National Assembly, the focus is on the methods and quality of national target programmes. Deputies stress the need for these to exhibit high levels of sustainability.

While acknowledging the accomplishments of these three national target programmes, deputy Tạ Van Hạ pointed out that the main reason people are still reluctant to escape poverty lies in the lack of sustainability and the insufficient long-term vision in how these programmes are carried out.

“When the programmes and projects end, poverty returns,” Hạ stated, emphasising the importance of addressing the methods and quality of these programmes. He stressed that these programmes must ensure a high degree of sustainability as “this is the crux of the matter.”

Speaking during the session, deputy Tran Nhat Minh from Nghe An highlighted the practical challenges faced in the local implementation of national target programmes.

“For highland communes, achieving the new rural standards poses significant difficulties. If these communes no longer fall under the category of special hardship areas, residents will lose access to social security benefits, including health insurance, rice support for students, and benefits for public servants,” Minh said.