Ensuring social security in conditions of adapting to safety, flexibility and effective control of COVID-19 pandemic

Member of Party Central Committee, Minister of Labour - Invalids and Social Affairs
Monday, December 12, 2022 08:47

Communist Review - Ensuring social security is the regular, important task, the responsibility of the whole political system and the entire society. For more than two years of COVID-19 pandemic as well as the current “new normal” state, the Ministry of Labour-Invalids and Social Affairs has given advice to the Party and the Government to promulgate a lot of important policies of breakthrough character, making a timely contribution to ensuring social security for tens of millions of people and enterprises.

Politburo member, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh visits and encourages fishermen who have docked their boats at the fishing port in Ca Na commune, Thuan Nam District, Ninh Thuan Province _Photo: VNA

In response to the appeal of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong: “Protecting the health and lives of the people is above all else and the first and foremost thing to do” and before the complicated, unpredictable development of COVID-19 pandemic, the Party and the State of Vietnam have got a lot of correct, timely and flexible instructions; the National Assembly, the Government and the Prime Minister with the motto “doing the job while drawing experience” has issued many advocacies, policies and solutions in order to carry out the dual target “To protect against epidemics and carry out economic and social development at the same time”, making a contribution to sharing and removing difficulties for production and business, supporting enterprises, people, labourers, concentrating on three policy groups: The group of protecting against epidemics; the group of ensuring social security and the group of supporting the recovery of production and business.

The COVID-19 pandemic, especially the fourth break-out, had made great impacts on labour, jobs and social security of the people. According to data of the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, it is estimated that the number of people who had lost their jobs occupied 5% and the number of people who had to temporarily cease working or stopped their production and business was put at 32%; about 50% of people had been cut with their working hours or been laid off or ceased working by turn; around 80% of people had their income reduced. The monthly income in the third quarter of 2021 averaged at VND 5.2 million, a VND 877,000 reduction as compared to that in the second quarter and a VND 603,000 year-on-year reduction. This is a considerable reduction, thus weakening the purchasing power and making negative impacts on the labourers’ life.

In this context, to carry out its assigned function and task, the Ministry of Labour-Invalids and Social Afffairs was proactive to make recommendation with the Party and the Government to deploy in a methodical and economical manner the social policies, focusing on giving ever better care to those people who had contributed to the revolution, who were the objects to enjoy social support or who were the disadvantageous objects, particularly in the stage when the whole country had been heavily impacted by COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry had given its advice to the Government to issue two resolutions stipulating in detail a number of articles of the Ordinance on Incentive for those people who had renderd great services to the revolution (2020), ensuring the better care to these people with both the material and spiritual life, expanding the coverage area and increasing the standards in social support through the advice to the Government to issue Decree No. 20/2021/NĐ-CP, on March 15, 2021, on the stipulations of the policy on social support to the objects under social patronage, to increase the standard level of social support for the objects under social patronage on July 1, 2021 to VND 360,000 a month, expanding to the groups of objects; to submit in time to the Secretariat to issue the Instructions No.05-CT/TW on June 23, 2021, on enhancing the Party’s leadership in the sustainable poverty reduction to the year 2030; to give advice to the Government to issue Decree No. 108/2021/NĐ-CP on December 7, 2021, to adjust the pensions, the social security benefits and the monthly benefits (it tood effect since January 1, 2022), with the adjustment of increasing 7.4% of pensions, social insurannce benefits and monthly benefits for those who have enjoyed low pensions and those who had retired before 1995; to expand international cooperation in social security and social insurance, the Government has signed the bilateral agreement with the Government of the Republikc of Korea on social insurance. This is the first government-level agreement on social insurance that Vietnam has signed with a foreign partner, ensuring the legal interests and rights for the labourers of the two countries.

The Ministry has also given its advice to the Government and the Prime Minister to issue many advocacies and policies, in which there are policies without any precedents yet, like Resolution No.68/NQ-CP, on July 1, 2021 on a number of policies to support the labourers and the labour users who had met with difficulties caused by COVID-19 pandemic and Resolution No. 116/NQ-CP on September 24, 2021 on the policy to support the labourers and the labour users  who had been impacted by COVID-19 pandemic from the Unemployment Insurance Fund; carried out a lot of solutions, issued in time a lot of support packages to the people, the labourers and the labour users, thus helping them overcome difficulties, making a contribution to reducing the negative impacts of the pandemic. It can be affirmed that the policies to support the people and enterprises who had been impacted by COVID-19 pandemic, particularly Resolution No. 68/NQ-CP and Decision No. 23/2021/QĐ/TTg on the support to the labourers and the labour users who had met with difficulties due to COVID-19 had been deployed in the right direction, in an effective way and to the right objects. These two resolutions had deployed with the open and clear procedures, helping reduce 2/3 of procedures and shortening 2/3 of time as compared to the policies already promulgated previously.

As a result, within only several months, with the very difficult condiions, in the context that localities were carrying out social distancing and enhancing social distancing, the implementation of Resolution No. 68/NQ-CP and Resolution 116/NQ-CP have brought about the practical effectiveness with high sympathy and appreciation from social opinion, labourers and labour users. These are the very humane policies, reflecting the care and support to the people and the labourers by the Party and the State who had joined hands and efforts with the people to overcome difficulties.

From these policies and the people’s joint efforts nationwide, most of the labourers and people were proactive to overcome difficulties to strive forwards, whereas most of the enterprises had shared with the labourers and together with the labourers, they had tided over the pandemic.

These policies had not only geared to the labourers, but also to a lot of disadvantageous objects, like old people, young orphans, the disabled and they had been implemented resolutely and fast with all the procedures streamlined to favour the people.

On the other hand, from Resolution No. 68/NQ-CP, many provinces and cities had deployed and created a lot of forms of diverse support, such as the security bags, the food bags being distributed to each households in the areas under social distancing so that the people there could feel assured to combat against the epidemics. Only in 2021, through the deployment of Resoluton No. 68/NQ-CP and Resolution No. 116/NQ-CP, the Central agency and localities had reserved the total fund of VND 74,106 billion to implement the policies, to support 741,930 turns of labour users (with the sum of VND 13,033 billion), over 43.78 million turns of labourers and other objects with the fund of VND 61,073 billion. In which, implementing Resolution No. 68/NQ-CP (amended because Resolution No. 126/NQ-CP on October 8, 2021 amended and added Resolution No. 68/NQ-CP on July 1, 2021 of the Government on a number of policies on the support to labourers and labour users who had met with difficulties caused by COVID-19 pandemic) and Decision No. 23/2021/QĐ-TTg (amendd because Decision No. 33/2021/QĐ-TTg on November 6, 2021 of the Prime Minister: Amended and added a number of articles of Decision No. 23/2021/QĐ-TTg, on July 7, 2021 of the Prime Minister, stipulating the implementation of a number of policies to support labourers and labour users who were in difficulties due to COVID-19 pandemic), there were 378,330 turns of labour users, over 30.9 million turns of labourers and other objects who had been supported with the total sum of VND 35,991 billion. To implement ResolutionNo. 116/NQ-CP and Decision No. 28/2021/QĐ-TTg on October 1, 2021 of the Prime Minister stipulating the implementation of the policy in support to labourers and labour users who had been impacted by COVID-19 pandemic from the Unemployment Insurance Fund, in which there were 363,600 turns of labour ursers and 12.86 million turns of labourers with the total sum of VND 38,115 billion from the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

The resources, however not really great, it had met in time all the urgent requirements of social security task, supported the economy, especially the centres and the areas with key growth, to overcome the difficult period of time. That the results had been achieved is due to the resolute participation and the highest determination of the whole political system, the entire people and all the forces on front line to combat against the epidemics who had brought into full play the spirit of unity, unanimity and joint efforts to mobilize all available resources to push back the epidemics, protect people’s health, to care and stabilize the people’s life, while trying to maintain production and business activities. Together with these was the outstanding endeavor of all the levels, sectors, enterprises, community and the people nationwide to have the labour market recovered rapidly in the year-end months of 2021 and to start to create “the strong resilience” for the time to come.

Having closely followed the development of the labour market, the labour, invalids and social affairs sector had focused on giving advice, warning and recommendations to take timely measures in order to overcome the state of having the locally broken supply chain of labour, resulting in stabilizing the labour market; was active and proactive to study and suggested with the Party Central Committee, the National Assembly and the Government to have the measures to recover, to have the policies on social security due to the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic. In the Program on Recovery and Development of  the labour market along with the guarantee of social security, the Ministry of Labour-Invalids and Social Affairs had reported to the Government and recommended the Program with two stages: The recovery stage and the breakthrough stage with the resolute, strong and synchronous mechanisms and policies. In which, it was focused on 7 policy groups: To give cash support to some groups of labour with a view to keeping the labourers and attracting labour to come back; to support the business households, the labourers to borrow money with preferential interest rate; to connect the labour supply-demand; to support the training and retraining; to make investments in the establishments which took care of the disadvantageous objects who were vulnerable to the epidemics; to carry out the digital transformation in the labour area in combination with the the national date base on population and to develop social houses for poor workers and immigrant labour.

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, we can understand better the important role of the system of social security which can be able to ensure safety to the people in the condition of turmoils in the economic and social life, to prepare the resources to ensure a number of fundamental social services so as to avoid risks and to create the opportunity of equality for the entire people. In 2022, the Ministry of Labour-Invalids and Social Affairs has been concentrating on implementing synchronously a number of key solutions:

Firstly, to review and perfect the system of law, mechanism and policy to ensure social security, it has focused on three main contents: labour skills, satisfactory jobs and sustainable social security with two main pillars: social insurance and health insurance. To study to build a network of social security in the direction of expanding the scope and objects in three links: prevention, reduction and overcoming of risks; with the viewpoint that it is to support and to encourage the the beneficial objects to strive to overcome their dependence and it is suitable and accessible to the international criteria.

Secondly, to support, recover and develop the labour market, to maintain the labour force, particularly in the industrial parks, the export processing zones, the growth centres, to enhance the measures to keep the labourers who are working and try not to have the labour supply chain broken in the enterprises where production and business are in operation; to support labourers to borrow money to solve the job problems from the National Fund of Employment. This is one of the prioritized tasks to recover the economy in the new stage.

Thirdly, to build and deploy synchronously and effectively the national target programs in the 2021-2025 stage, particularly the National Target Program on sustainable poverty reduction in the 2021-2025 stage in the comprehensive and multidimensional direction; to ensure the human resources, to carry out fully all the policies on the sustainable poverty reduction with the motto “The whole country join hands for the poor people, and nobody is left behind”.

Fourthly, to implement synchronously the content of reforming the policy on social insurance, to perfect the policy on unemployment insurance in the direction to be proactive in preventing and guarding against unemployment, ensuring jobs in the spirit of Resolution No. 28-NQ/TW on May 23, 2018 on the reform of the policy on social insurance; to submit the Government to amend the Law on Social Insurance, expand the development of objects participating in social insurance (including compulsory and voluntary), step by step to ensure  social security before negativities and risks of the labour market; to promote the application of information technology, the reform of administrative procedures in settling the regimes of social insurance and unemployment insurance.

Fifthly, to enhance the effectiveness of the current policies on social security, to make efforts with the aim of having the security system in response to the larger-scope shocks: to build a scenario and plan to ensure social insurance for the people, the poor households and the disadvantageous people in the areas in conformity with the implementation of the combat against COVID-19 pandemic. To continue to perfect the mechanism and policy on social security with a view to expanding the participation of all the subjects so as to supply the ever better quality services, creating favourable conditions for everybody to uphold their responsibility, enhance their capacities and take a practical part in ensuring social insurance and social welfare.

Sixthly, to enhance the application of information technology, promote the digital transformation in a basic, core way so as to manage these areas under the charge of the Ministry; to enhance the inspection and examination to create a healthy environment for development, to focus on protecting women and children and the disadvantageous people from risks./.

This article was published in the Communist Review No. 991 (June 2022)