Vietnam raises poverty line above 1 dollar a day, seeks better healthcare, housing

Thanh Nien News

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Handicraft vendors wait for customers in the northern resort town of Sapa. Photo: Reuters Handicraft vendors wait for customers in the northern resort town of Sapa. Photo: Reuters


Following its much-lauded efforts to reduce poverty over the past two decades, Vietnam seems ready to take a more comprehensive approach to ensure higher living standards for the most vulnerable citizens. 
Speaking at a meeting with legislators on Wednesday, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said the government will issue new poverty thresholds which will be defined by not only people's income but also their access to necessities and healthcare next week.
Under the new policy to be implemented over the next five years, whether one should be categorized as poor will also depend on how they access medical, educational, housing, information, clean water and hygiene services, the government website quoted Dung as saying.
In terms of income, the poverty line will be set at VND700,000 (US$30.6) a person a month in the countryside, and VND900,000 ($39.3) in urban areas, he said. In 2011-15, the benchmark has been VND400,000 ($17.5) and VND500,000 ($21.8) respectively.
The new poverty line is equivalent to between a little above US$1 and $1.30 per day. 
It is estimated that around 12 percent of Vietnamese households will be regarded as living in poverty and 6 percent near poverty when the new line is applied.
Vietnam is adopting the new policy on poverty as being recommended by international organizations such as the United Nations Development Program and the World Bank, Dung told legislators.
The multidimensional approach has been adopted by more than 30 countries around the world, he said.
The percentage of poor household has been reduced to less than 4.5 percent this year from 14.2 percent in 2011, according to the PM.
About 30 million people in the country have escaped poverty over the past 20 years, the PM said.
A few weeks ago the World Bank also revised the international poverty line, bringing it $1.25 to $1.90 per day.

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