Measures sought to increase rate of labourers joining social insurance
08/01/2019 09:15 AM
Nguyen Thi Ha, a Hanoi street vendor from Ha Nam province, has never dreamed of receiving a pension when she retires. In fact, Ha and other free labourers like her can enjoy pensions if they join social insurance thanks to a policy introduced 10 years ago. However, Ha has never accessed information on social insurance and pension policies, but just worked and tried to save.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Welfare, Vietnam has more than 50 million people at the working age group, but only nearly 15 millions of them have social insurance.
Resolution 28 of the Party Central Committee on social insurance policy reform sets a target of about 35 percent of people at working age group joining social insurance in 2021, 45 percent in 2025 and 60 percent in 2030. However, some National Assembly deputies have said that to complete the goal, it is necessary to design preferential policies for labourers in the non-official sector to enter social insurance. They pointed out that the implementation of social insurance has yet to match expectations.
Le Dinh Quang, deputy head of the Labour Relations Department under the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL), said the low percentage of free labourers joining social insurance is due to weak communications, leading to low awareness of the significance of joining insurance. Additionally, cost for the insurance is still high compared to income for many people.
Meanwhile, people have to join social insurance for at least 20 years to enjoy benefits, which is too long for many labourers, while their benefits remain modest. If those who join compulsory social insurance enjoy benefits for sickness, maternity, work accidents, occupational disease allowances, pensions and survivor benefits, people who with voluntary social insurance receive only two benefits - pensions and survivor benefits.
According to the Vietnam Social Security (VSS), the number of people joining voluntary social insurance has risen through years, but slowly. Among more than 234,000 people engaging in voluntary social insurance, only 30 percent are new. The VGCL revealed that only 47 percent of the nearly 500,000 operating enterprises pay social insurance for labourers. As of May 2018, the total social insurance debts in businesses hit 10.45 trillion VND.
It is good news for labourers that from January 1, 2018, those who engage in voluntary social insurance start to receive payment support. Specifically, poor households will get 30 percent support, while those living close above the poverty line will receive 25 percent and other cases will enjoy 10 percent. Bui Sy Loi, a congressman representing Thanh Hoa province said the earliest Vietnam could have all the elderly enjoying pensions would be in 20 years. He said that currently, only 29 percent of the workforce engages in social insurance. This is a great challenge to the goals set in Resolution 28.
Cao Sy Kiem, a deputy of the 13th National Assembly, said punishments for businesses with social insurance debts are not strict enough, leading to payment avoidance and a loss in labourers’ confidence in social insurance. Do Van Ve, also deputy of the National Assembly, also underlined the need for stronger measures to handle agencies and companies that fail to implement social insurance regulations, as they will adversely affect the image of Vietnam among the international community and the prestige of Vietnamese businesses.
Regarding measures to complete goals set in Resolution 28, Loi said the lesson learnt from the expansion of health insurance coverage is applicable to social insurance. With support for all poor households and children under six years old and 90 percent to those living near the poverty line, health insurance can cover all the population. Asserting that the current support in social insurance is too low, he said the Government should raise the support level to encourage people in joining social insurance.
At the same time, Kiem stressed that the most important measure is to raise the awareness and responsibility of employers. Alongside, it is necessary to adjust regulations that are no longer suitable, while punishing businesses who avoid paying social insurance for labourers and owe big social insurance debts.
Sharing Kiem’s ideas, Ve underscored the need to design more support policies for labourers in the informal sector, so they can afford social insurance, while expanding the benefits for those who join voluntary social insurance from only two benefits of pension and survivor benefit and strengthening communications on the preeminence of social insurance policy among labourers.
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