HCM City will offer relief and support to people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sài Gòn Giải Phóng (Liberated Sài Gòn) newspaper asked Lê Minh Tấn, director of the city Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, about these efforts to ensure people can enjoy a happy Tết (Lunar New Year).
What kind of support are HCM City authorities planning to provide to city residents affected by COVID-19 ahead of the upcoming Tết holidays?
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the lives of many people in the city. City authorities are making efforts to provide financial support to every individual affected by Covid-19 and help make it a happy Tết for all households. This year the city’s Tết support programme will be expanded to cover families of employers who died of COVID-19.
Around VNĐ900 billion (US$39.54 million) will be earmarked for people to have a happy Tết holiday, VNĐ100 billion ($4.39 million) higher than last year.
Tết gifts worth VNĐ1.15-1.25 million ($50-55) will be given to beneficiaries of welfare policies, including poor and near-poor households.
Seniors aged 80 and above, disabled people and those under social protection will receive Tết gifts worth VNĐ1.15 million each.
Nearly 1.5 million people affected by the COVID-19 crisis have yet to receive financial support under the city’s relief packages. Is it possible they will all get the assistance before Tết?
The city has added VNĐ4.16 trillion ($182.6 million) to its COVID-19 relief package. Thủ Đức City and districts in HCM City will make the payments to affected people from the three financial relief packages by mid-January.
What are the lessons learnt from the recent support measures for people affected by the pandemic?
I truly feel the depression and financial strain caused by the pandemic. The city has provided three emergency support packages worth a total of VNĐ9.86 trillion ($432.8 million) for nearly 8.5 million people this year. The remaining nearly 1.5 million people in the list of beneficiaries will receive their payment next month.
It shows the huge efforts made by the city authorities to provide unprecedentedly large financial support to help people overcome their financial difficulties quickly.
There have been shortcomings in making payments from the relief packages such as missing and overlapping lists of beneficiaries, prompting public concern. The city will step up the use of IT and digital transformation in the implementation of social welfare policies and support.
What is your assessment of the spike in poverty as the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted the lives of people? What measures are proposed to mitigate this?
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increased number of people going below the poverty line. A survey in October found that the number of poor and near-poor households in the city rose by nearly 4,200 since the beginning of the year to 58,000, accounting for nearly 2.3 per cent of the total number of households.
Concerted efforts and incentive policies are needed over the long run to help these households escape poverty post-COVID. The city will have policies to help these households get low-interest loans and subsidise school and vocational training fees for their children. — VNS