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Vietnam Ranked 2nd in ASEAN in Efforts to Reduce Inequality: Report

Only Thailand rated higher than Vietnam in the region.

Oxfam International's Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index 2020, published last week, was the third edition of the report which looks at global commitments to reducing economic inequality.   

Overall, Vietnam ranked 77th out of 158 countries in the index this year, behind Kenya and above Malaysia. Thailand ranked 68th, while Norway, Denmark and Germany made up the top three.

According to the report's authors, the CRI Index "measures government policies and actions in three areas that are proven to be directly related to reducing inequality," namely public services (health, education and social protection), taxation, and workers' rights. Within these areas, researchers looked at three indicator levels, namely policy commitments, who these policies cover, and the impact of these policies on inequality.

Vietnam scored 89th on public services, 12th on tax and a poor 119th on labor rights.

The report notes that the Vietnamese government has increased its health spending since 2018, the first year the CRI Index was compiled, but "it must do even more to reduce health inequalities and the significant amount ordinary people need to pay for the cost of healthcare." The country is lauded, however, for its world-class response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The country's score on tax collection was solid, but the authors note that "it could still do more to eliminate tax incentives for corporations." Furthermore, they explain that "Vietnam's abysmal score [on labor rights] does not reflect its recent positive agreement to allow independent unions from 2021."

This decision is part of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, which saw the Southeast Asian nation agree to ratify the ILO Convention on Freedom of Association by 2023.

While there are positive developments contained in the report, it takes an overall dim view of the world in terms of inequality, particularly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the authors write in their introduction: "Only one in six countries assessed [...] were spending enough on health, only a third of the global workforce had adequate social protection, and in more than 100 countries at least one in three workers had no labor protection such as sick pay."