Legislators discuss fiscal policies, support for workers

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Workers in Gò Quao District in the southern province of Kiên Giang receive gift packages from the provincial Labour Union. The recipients are those whose jobs were affected by the pandemic. VNA/ VNS Photo Lê Huy Hải

HÀ NỘI — Fiscal and monetary policies in support of economic recovery and development must be targeted to those hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and need help the most, according to legislators at a session of the 15th National Assembly on Friday.

The session was connected via videoconference to 62 delegations of NA deputies in centrally-run provinces and cities, excluding the capital city’s delegation who attended in-person.

Delegates discussed the draft resolution on fiscal and monetary policies in support of the socio-economic recovery and development programme.

Delegate Nguyễn Thị Thủy of Bắc Kạn Province highlighted the need to support rental costs for a large number of workers who have been negatively affected by the pandemic.

Citing the statistics, she said in the third quarter of 2021, as many as 28 million workers were adversely affected by the pandemic, of which 4.7 million people lost their jobs, 14 million had to suspend their jobs or businesses, and more than 10 million had working hours cut.

A survey from the private business development research department showed that among 43,000 participants who lost their job, nearly half of them only had savings enough for a month, 37 per cent had savings to sustain for three months and only 4 per cent for more than four months.

Both the demand and supply in the labour market shrank. A large number of immigrant workers returned to their hometown and haven’t come back to host localities due to concerns about the pandemic. Many decided not to come back and settle in their hometown while many others wait until after the Tết holiday, she said.

Meanwhile, many provinces that had immigrant workers returning to their hometowns, are facing pressure about job and social security, the delegate said.

This had created a paradox that some places do not have enough workers while some do not have enough jobs for workers.

The pandemic has also hit the vulnerable groups hard. Different from the past crisis, the disruption of supply chains, restrictions of travel and the possibility of working from home have led to a big reduction in jobs. Those doing simple jobs become vulnerable in the pandemic as the rate of unemployment in this group nearly doubled. They include unskilled workers, workers at advanced ages and informal workers who found it difficult to find new jobs, according to Thủy.

Due to job loss, many working in formal sectors tended to shift to informal sectors, leading to the highest number of informal workers in the last three years. They accounted for 57 per cent of employed workers.

“This means that a large number of workers are having to do unstable and unsustainable jobs. Meanwhile, the social insurance and maternal leave policy for these groups are limited,” said the legislator.

She said “labour is one of the most important issues that need to be tackled when the country returns to new normalcy and is on the way to recovery”.

The Party, National Assembly and Government have issued unprecedented policies that support workers and businesses.

The legislator proposed to increase the fund to support the house rent and this should be applied for both formal and informal workers, she said.

Under the draft, about VNĐ6.6 trillion is used for this and for formal workers only, which is not suitable, she said, adding that it would be also crucial to support building houses, testing, travels and job consultation for workers when they return to work.

At an earlier session on Tuesday, Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyễn Chí Dũng proposed a stimulus package of nearly VNĐ347 trillion (US$15 billion) for this and next year to revive its COVID-hit economy.

To enable this package the Government is set to up overspending to 5.08 per cent of GDP this year. This is an increase of 1.1 percentage points, or VNĐ102.8 trillion, from the spending plan approved by the National Assembly.

Other delegates said the fiscal and monetary policies in support of recovery and development must meet specific criteria, be based on principles and have commitments.

Delegate Vũ Thị Lưu Mai from Hà Nội said, if there was no commitment about results, it would be difficult to measure the efficiency of the policies. It would be necessary to have specific commitments. The results could be either intangible or tangible but they should be both measurable.

Citing the Law on the state budget and resolutions on budget allocation, she said one of the important principles was that all resources allocated must be based on principles, criteria and conditions.

“This time we allocate more than VNĐ346 trillion for many different targets. Some are direct allocation and some are made through tax or interest support mechanisms. Whether it is direct or indirect allocation, we must have specific principles and criteria for each package,” she said.

Mai said that the support should focus on sectors that had been hit the hardest by the pandemic and those that would have the most important roles in pushing growth.

“We don’t accept budget deficit or lend money to invest in the goals that are not so urgent,” she added.

Delegate Đàng Thị Mỹ Hương from Ninh Thuận Province said it would be necessary to identify clear criteria and principles as well as priority and specific tasks to ensure the feasibility. She also proposed to have additional solutions regarding mechanism reform, administrative reforms and improvement of investment and business environment as well as tackle the legal barriers that hinder business activities.

It is also important to have tight regulations about supervisions, examination and punishment of wrongdoings in state investment and state budget management.

“These are important issues that do not cost too much to invest but they are essential and must be done immediately to tackle the barriers,” she said.

Delegate Mai Văn Hải of Thanh Hóa said this was a large scale programme with nearly VNĐ350 trillion and it was important to clearly identify the sources of fund and estimate how much would be mobilised domestically and how much would be borrowed.

The interest support package of 2 per cent a year through commercial banks for businesses, cooperatives worth VNĐ40 trillion must target the right subjects which include sectors hit hard by the pandemic such as tourism, transport, and accommodations.

It was important to control the capital to avoid it being used for wrong purposes such as financial or real estate investment and other risky areas, he said. — VNS

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