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HCM City to spend $10m to support freelancers affected by pandemic

The HCM City Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs has proposed that the Department of Planning and Investment spend VND230 billion (US$9.97 million) to support freelance workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Workers and the poor receive free rice from a 'rice ATM' in HCM City. — Photo

As many as 230,000 freelance workers in HCM City have lost their jobs, have had income reduced, or now have no income since the social distancing period began several weeks ago, according to the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

Each worker will receive VND1 million, which will be sourced from the city budget and the Fund for COVID-19 Prevention and Control and other sources, according to the department.

To be eligible for the support, freelancers must legally reside in the city, including temporary residence, and must be earning less than the city’s near-poverty level during the social distancing period.

They include street vendors, retail traders on the streets, people who collect garbage for sale, and lottery ticket sellers; and the self-employed or workers in business households in catering, accommodations, tourism, health care, and others.

Eligible participants include freelance workers at places subject to suspension of operations under the direction of the city People’s Committee dated May 30 (such as amusement parks, entertainment venues, music stages, wedding restaurant centres, monuments, museums, walking streets, parks and others). 

Support for workers

Earlier, the city Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs petitioned the People’s Committee to ask the People’s Council to fund more than VND1 trillion to support businesses and workers affected by the pandemic.

Le Minh Tan, director of the department, said the agency in the second half of the year would create measures to safeguard workers’ incomes and jobs.

The city so far has spent VND465 billion ($20.2 million) to support more than 336,550 business households and workers severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis, according to the department.

As many as 47,533 workers at 2,862 city enterprises have been laid off, and authorities have provided assistance to 20,000 of them.

The city is also expected to provide a second financial relief package for affected businesses and workers.

Tourism, transport, small and medium-sized businesses, teachers, laid-off or terminated workers, and informal sector workers will be beneficiaries of payments to be made between this month and December.

Charity organisations and individuals have been donating food and setting up hundreds of so-called ATMs to dispense free rice and “zero-dong” supermarkets, while landlords have reduced or deferred rents.

More than 9 million jobs were affected due to the impact of the pandemic in the first quarter, with the services sector being the worst hit, according to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam.

This figure includes 540,000 people who lost jobs and 2.8 million who were forced to take time off work due to suspension of production by their companies, while the rest had their working hours reduced, Pham Hoai Nam, director of the office’s population and labour statistics department, said.

More than one in five workers in the services sector have been affected.

Last year, the city implemented a policy to support nearly 541,200 people people affected by the pandemic, worth a total of VND597 billion.

Source: Vietnam News

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