Bureaucracy sees Hanoi workers give up on Covid aid

By Hong Chieu   August 14, 2021 | 05:00 am PT
Bureaucracy sees Hanoi workers give up on Covid aid
Immigrant construction workers are stuck without jobs in Hanoi as the city is under semi-lockdown, August 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
Faced with one bureaucratic hurdle after another, many workers in Hanoi have simply given up claiming Covid-19 support after losing their jobs to the pandemic.

Vu Thai Hoa visited Thanh Xuan Ward People's Committee in Hanoi's Thanh Xuan District Wednesday morning to enquire about the financial support package for informal workers amid Covid-19. Worth around VND26 trillion ($1.14 billion), the Hanoi package would provide each informal employee affected by the pandemic VND1.5 million, should their documents be valid and approved by authorities.

Hoa, 25, sells clothes on Truong Dinh Street, but has been off work since July 24 when the capital imposed social distancing. At the local People's Committee, he was told to apply for aid via the appropriate civil groups.

As a temporary resident, Hoa would need to confirm he would not receive additional aid back in his hometown.

Learning that 'selling clothes' was not on the 'list', Hoa soon gave up on securing any financial support. Besides, wards would only start accepting applications from Aug. 25 onwards, after Hanoi supposedly ends its social distancing period on Aug. 23, he added.

"The procedures are too complicated, especially since I would need confirmation documents from my hometown," Hoa lamented.

By Thursday, Hanoi had finalized procedures to provide a total VND7.75 billion in financial support to over 5,100 informal workers, according to the municipal labor department. But tens of thousands more informal workers in the capital are still waiting to have their applications approved, with many calling the process simply too complex.

"People are requested to refrain from going out, and if they must, do so along with approval documents. As print shops are all closed due to the pandemic, we don't know where we could print out the forms. Trying to secure documents back in our hometowns is even more impossible, seeing how vehicles entering Hanoi are all stopped," said Tho, who lives in Cau Giay District and had lost her job as a cleaner in May.

Pham Minh Hai, chairman of the Vietnamese Fatherland Front of Quan Hoa Ward, said not all procedures, for example seeking confirmation documents from one's hometown, are that difficult. They can be mailed through the post office, he added.

A representative for the Hanoi labor department said the requirement to gain confirmation documents from one's place of permanent residence serves to avoid "taking advantage" of the policy, and to determine who exactly would get the money.

Thai Trung, secretary of Quan Hoa Ward, said these trying times are when workers need support the most, as many are already in precarious financial situations.

"If we wait until social distancing measures are over, the policy would lose its urgency," he said, adding authorities could make use of existing databases and technologies to lighten application procedures.

No more hoops

Numerous experts have proposed Hanoi simply scrap the requirement to get confirmation documents from one's hometown to receive Covid-19 support.

Nguyen Thu Giang, deputy head of Community Health Development Institute, said while such requirements might be necessary to prevent people from taking advantage of the policy, precarious financial conditions amid a pandemic should warrant immediate assistance.

Giang suggested Hanoi could consider either adjusting the requirement or even scrapping it entirely. For example, those who wish to receive financial support could provide a one-time document to receive the money, with local authorities informing each other of the transaction so one person could not receive aid twice.

"Instead of forcing workers in dire circumstances to prove their identities, local authorities could do that themselves," she said.

Certain localities have resolved such issues successfully. Nguyen Thi Hong Loan, an official responsible for poverty alleviation in Ward 15 of Go Vap District, Ho Chi Minh City, said the ward simply scrapped the temporary-permanent residency conundrum entirely, which lightened procedures immensely.

Informal employees would only need to contact their civil group leaders, provide information about their jobs and present their identity cards to receive the money. People would also not be able to receive money twice since their identity card information had already been recorded in a database, meaning duplicates would be detected immediately, Loan said.

Hanoi has recorded 2,395 local Covid-19 cases since the fourth coronavirus wave hit Vietnam in late April. Several past cases were contained within quarantine zones and locked down areas.

go to top