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NEW UPDATES Asean Affairs  10 June 2015  

Loans proposed instead of aid for ethnic minorities

Vietnam: A plan to replace non-refundable financial aid with lending policies that can effectively run hunger elimination and poverty alleviation programmes for ethnic minorities is being prepared for submission to the Prime Minister, a senior official said on Sunday.

Minister-Chairman of the Government Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs, Giang Seo Phu, also told e Viet Nam Television (VTV)'s "People ask – Ministers answer" Programme that the committee would propose the addition of another part to National Programme 135 that focuses on increasing people's competence in poverty alleviation.

Specific policies that match particular characteristics would also be set for each locality to make them really effective, he said.

The new moves are being made following a failure to meet several 2015 goals on poverty reduction. One of the shortcomings identified was target beneficiaries' dependence on non-refundable aid, which it was claimed, did not encourage proactive action.

Phu said that limited funding for poverty reduction activities was also to blame.

For example, only 64 per cent of the total capital was allocated for the National Programme 135 on poverty alleviation, which was approved in 2012, he said.

In 2015, just VND6 trillion (US$282 million) was invested in poverty reduction, while the schedule was VND12 trillion, he said.

The committee will continue advising the Government to adjust polices towards providing more support to ethnic minority communities and rapidly narrowing the development gap among regions and ethnic groups.

Ethnic minorities still account for over 47 per cent of the total number of households living under the poverty line, despite remarkable achievements of recent years, he explained.

Phu said ministries and localities should closely co-operate with each other in order to expedite poverty-reduction activities. They should simplify administrative procedures and boost disbursement in order to help ethnic minority people have easier access to capital.

Statistics compiled by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs say the country has about 1.8 million poor households at present.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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