The poor need help through market reforms

The government’s leading priority should be increased support for the poor as they are set to pay the price of our new and sweeping market-oriented policies.

As a new member of the WTO, Vietnam is looking forward to fully integrating into the global economy.

The doors are open, investment is flowing in and development is underway.

But the early stages of reforms are always hard on those who need them most.

In the 1980s, the poor might have been poorer, but blanket state subsidies were still in effect.

Now, as we move towards a market economy, we’re cutting our subsidies.

We can still see the benefits of state support in the north right now.

The ongoing cold front has killed thousands of cattle, stripping whole communities of their livelihoods.

The government has been quick to provide households who lost their cattle VND1 million (US$62.6) each.

But our inflation problem is another story.

Soaring prices have hurt the poor more than anyone.

Many low-income households have had to start eating less.

Construction material price hikes have discouraged many flood victims in the central region from building new houses for their families.

In a bid to ease traffic jams, the government has slapped a ban on modified vehicles, effectively banning many young people’s meal tickets.

A plan to reduce Vietnam’s commercial fishing fleet by 36,000 vessels to protect marine life could bankrupt many fishermen.

Considering the host of tribulations the poor face, we, however, cannot re-adopt our old blanket subsidies.

Our most vital task is to help the poor help themselves.

Let us not move too fast.

Let Vietnam’s newfound economic success help those who need it until they are strong enough to stand on their own.

Remember, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Let’s move slowly and make sure that every link is as strong as it can be.

– By Ngoc Minh of Thanh Nien News

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