Strengthening Social Protection in Vietnam
To help reduce poverty, the Government of Vietnam sought to consolidate and modernize social protection programs. Vietnamese officials visited China and India to learn about ways to design, target, and manage social protection and social insurance programs. The visits built consensus on next steps for reform in Vietnam, including possible support for social protection through a Bank lending project.
To improve the welfare of the poor, the Government of Vietnam (GoV) adopted a resolution supporting reforms to strengthen social assistance and social protection between 2012 and 2020. This resolution focused attention on the role of social protection (SP) in Vietnam’s poverty reduction framework. It called for consolidating and modernizing SP policies and programs, for example by establishing an integrated beneficiary database and modern payment mechanisms. A key aim was to reduce fragmentation of cash transfer programs in Vietnam’s decentralized environment.
However, Vietnam's Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MoLISA) faced challenges in designing and implementing SP reforms. MoLISA officials had insufficient knowledge and skills to design, target, and monitor social protection programs; track and administer social insurance benefits; and manage pension funds. Vietnamese officials sought to learn international good practices and ensure the success of reforms.
In 2010, the GoV was working with the World Bank to improve social programs. As part of this support, the Bank had organized an exchange with Vietnam learning from China and India about how to modernize its social security administration. Inspired by this collaboration, MoLISA officials requested a second visit to learn how to design and implement SP policies and programs.
China was selected given its successes in expanding social insurance coverage and targeting and monitoring social benefits under its Di Bao income protection program. India could share its experiences designing, targeting, and managing social benefit programs, including through universal identification numbers.
World Bank staff helped organize this visit and provided background materials on participating countries. In 2011, twelve officials from MoLISA and other Vietnamese agencies visited China from March 27 to April 2 and India from September 4 to 11.
In China, delegates met with officials from the Ministry of Civil Affairs to learn about urban and rural Di Bao programs, and with representatives from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the International Poverty Reduction Centre to understand rural pension initiatives. They also visited offices of Di Bao and rural pension programs in Guangzhou and Guangdong.
In India, delegates met with officials from the Ministry of Labor and Employment, the Ministry of Rural Development, and the Pensions and the Unique Identification Authority. They learned about policies to expand social insurance coverage in rural and semi-urban areas as well as approaches for designing, targeting, and monitoring assistance programs. They visited Haryana, Delhi, and Rajasthan to investigate first-hand approaches for enrolling beneficiaries, providing social services, and involving beneficiaries in social auditing.
Officials developed reports on the visits. On November 17-18, 2011, delegates held a workshop to share lessons with representatives from MoLISA and other agencies.
The delegates increased their capacity to develop and implement policies and programs to protect the poor and vulnerable in Vietnam:
- Delegates increased their awareness of new approaches and mechanisms for designing and targeting social programs for the transient poor and the poor in rural and urban areas.
- Delegates increased their knowledge and skills to manage and monitor social security and social insurance programs and benefits, including through use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). As suggested by the Vice-Chair of MoLISA, the "efficiency of the record keeping system of the new pension system in India is extremely relevant to strengthening SP programs in Vietnam." The Vice-Chair of the Vietnam Social Security Administration also noted that "the application of ITCs in management work on a large-scale [in India] is extremely well-organized . . . and lessons could be applied . . . in modernizing the social security system [in Vietnam]."
- The exchange helped officials within MoLISA agree on ways to support social protection in Vietnam. Since the exchange, Vietnamese officials have conducted workshops and technical meetings to share lessons and build consensus on next steps for reforms.
- It is important to carefully prepare study tours with the participation of staff from the knowledge receiving and providing countries. The World Bank's Country Offices can facilitate connections, share background materials, and organize visits.
- Participants from a knowledge receiving country should be selected based on their degree of influence over reforms and the programs addressed by the exchange.
- Participants should plan activities to share lessons with broader stakeholders after their visit to ensure learning is sustainable and permeates appropriate levels.
World Bank staff brokered this exchange and proposed China and India based on their knowledge of global good practices. A grant of about $75K from the South-South Experience Exchange Facility financed the travel and accommodations of the delegates. Staff from the World Bank Country Offices in Vietnam, India, and China provided logistical support to organize and implement the exchange.
The key agencies that shared knowledge from India and China are listed below:
- Ministry of Labor and Employment
- Ministry of Rural Development
- Pensions and Unique Identification Authority
- Department of Rural Government, Rajasthan
- Ministry of Civil Affairs
- Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security
- International Poverty Reduction Centre of China
Since the exchange, officials from MoLISA have applied lessons from the exchange to develop and execute assessments of social protection systems and to design and implement national policies in social insurance. The Bank has also discussed with MoLISA the possibility of preparing a new Bank lending project to strengthen social assistance and social protection.
The delegates from Vietnam—many of whom were members of a technical advisory group for advancing social protection in Vietnam—included the following:
Delegation to China
- Mr. Nguyen Trong Dam, Vice Minister, Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA)
- Mr. Dang Kim Chung, Deputy Director General, Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs (ILSSA), MoLISA
- Mr. Luu Quang Tuan, Director of Center of Strategic Information Researches and Forecast, MoLISA
- Ms. Tran Thi Thuy Nga, Director General, Social Security Department, MoLISA
- Mr. Tran Hai Nam, Officer, Social Security Department, MoLISA
- Mr. Nguyen Van Hoi, Deputy Director General, Social Assistance Department, MoLISA
- Mr. Nguyen Thuy Nguyen, Officer, Social Assistance Department, MoLISA
- Ms. Nguyen Thanh Hai, Head of the Multilateral Cooperation Division, International Cooperation Department, MoLISA
- Mr. Dinh Ngoc Quy, Deputy Director, Department of Social Affairs, National Assembly
- Mr. Dang Si Dung, Interpreter Chinese-Vietnamese, Deputy Director of the Secretary Division, Ministerial Office, MoLISA
- Mr. Thai Dinh Hoang, Deputy Director General, Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Danang City
- Mr. Bui Hanh Chung, Officer, Administrative and Service Department, Ministry of Finance (MOF)
- Mr. Dao XuanTue, Deputy Director General, State Budget Department, MOF
Delegation to India
- Mr. Pham Minh Huan, Vice Minister, MoLISA
- Ms. Bui Thanh Binh, Official, MoLISA
- Ms. Nguyen Thi Lan Huong, Director General, ILSSA, MoLISA
- Ms. Tran Thi Thuy Nga, Director General, Social Security Department, MoLISA
- Mr. Nguyen Duy Cuong, Officer, Social Security Department, MoLISA
- Ms. Le Tuyet Nhung, Vice-Director General, Social Assistance Department, MoLISA
- Ms. Vo Thi Hoai Thanh, Deputy Director of National Target program on Poverty Reduction, Social Assistance Department, MoLISA
- Mr. Chu Quang Cuong, Director General, Department of Finance and Planning, MoLISA
- Mr. Le Bach Hong, Director General, Vietnam Social Security Administration (VSS)
- Ms. Dao Thi Hai Nguyet, Director, Accounting Division, Payment Department, VSS
- Ms. Do Thi Thuy Hang, Vice-Director General, Department of Civil Services, MOF