Vietnam’s poverty rate is dropping, but there is a high rate of people falling back into poverty, a government minister has said.
Speaking at a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee Monday, Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung said there were 1.6 million poor households last year, or 6.7 percent of the total number of 24.5 million.
The poverty rate declined on average 1.6 percentage point each year from 2015 to 2017, Dung said.
But of the poor households, 5.1 percent had once escaped poverty before falling back under the poverty line.
The number of households falling below the poverty line was 23 percent of the number escaping it. Roughly, this meant that for every five households that escaped poverty, one became poor for the first time, he added.
Another challenge was the growing income gap. The Gini coefficient of income distribution worsened from 0.430 in 2014 to 0.431 in 2016.
The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion intended to represent the income or wealth distribution of a nation’s residents, and is the most commonly used measurement of inequality.
Nguyen Thuy Anh, Chairwoman of the National Assembly’s Committee on Social Affairs, said there were 12 provinces where the number of poor households rose by more than 0.03 percent.
Even some provinces with conditions conducive for economic growth such as Vinh Phuc in the north, Khanh Hoa in the central region and Kien Giang in the south were among the 12.
Dung said, “Poverty reduction is not steady, and the gap between the rich and the poor has not been decreased, especially in the northern mountains and central highlands.”
Vietnam defines poor households as those with an income per member of less than VND700,000 ($30) a month in rural areas and VND900,000 ($38.7) in cities.