Thứ Tư, 25 tháng 1, 2017

Even it up: Tackling income inequality in Vietnam

After nearly two decades of institutional and economic reform, the poverty rate in Vietnam has begun to show signs of rapid decline, says Oxfam International in a post on its website.

even it up: tackling income inequality in vietnam hinh 0

In 1990, Vietnam was among one of the world’s poorest countries with a GDP per capita of just US$98. By 2010, the GDP had reached US$1,000 per person per year resulting in the World Bank reclassifying the country upwards into the ranks of the lower middle income status.  

Notably, however, out of the total Vietnamese population of 95 million, 13 million still live below or at the poverty line and millions more remain in the classification of near poor, notes Oxfam.
However, recently poverty reduction has begun showing signs of slowing down because of persistent deep pockets of poverty remaining impervious to governmental actions. This is especially true for ethnic minorities, who account for 14% of the population, but make up more than half of the country’s poor.
Despite the strong record of poverty reduction over the past 20 years, today, Oxfam says increasing inequality in these pockets threatens to erode that progress unless drastic measures are undertaken.
Per Oxfam, the 210 wealthiest Vietnamese today earn enough in one year to lift 3.2 million people out of poverty and end extreme poverty throughout the Southeast Asian country, but inexcusably the poor continue to be left out in the cold when it comes to reaping a fair share of the benefits of economic integration.
Today, economic inequality continues to be reinforced by inequity of voice and opportunity, with the poorest excluded in favour of the richest.
Millions of people – ethnic minorities, small scale farmers, migrants, informal workers, and women – are still more than likely to remain poor and excluded from services and political decision despite the economic gains of recent, says Oxfam.
To tackle the dangerous repercussions of the sizable gap between rich and poor, Oxfam underscores, the Vietnam government should urgently implement progressive policies on governance, taxation, public spending, public services, labour rights, and civic engagement.
Economic expert Pham Chi Lan says the poverty reduction achievements of the government are undeniable and commendable, however, inequality has become wider not by design but principally as the result of unchecked market mechanism.
Left unchecked, says Lan, open markets will not find by themselves equilibrium to balance the three pillars – the government, market mechanisms and society.
They must be controlled through effective and comprehensive legislation.  The middle-income class is fundamentally a creation of the government and will not exist or flourish absent thorough governmental oversight.
Open markets in and of themselves will create a nation of those who have and those who do not have— with very few, if any, people remaining in the middle, Lan postulates as the middle-income class is by its very nature a creation of the government.
Ngo Truong Thi from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs agrees with Lan, saying the government has never been more focused on tackling and narrowing the gap between rich and poor.
Any setback from the exemplary achievements made over the past couple of decades is just a natural part of the process of moving to a more industrial and higher income society, he adds.
There are always ebbs and flows in any major undertaking, but no one should doubt the government’s firm commitment to ensuring there is a fair and equitable distribution of income among the country’s citizens.
Thus in 2017, poverty reduction programs will refocus their concentration on poor communities and the creation of novel avenues for which all citizens from all walks of life and heritage will have equal access and opportunity to prosper and lift themselves out of the grips of poverty.

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