Contract employees and foreigners authorised to work in Vietnam would be included in the Government's social insurance programme, under a new draft revision to the Law on Social Insurance, compiled by the Ministry of of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs.

The draft law was discussed at a meeting on February 27 held on the management of the social insurance fund. At the meeting, head of the ministry's Social Insurance Department Tran Thuy Nga said that currently employees on labour contracts of at least three months can benefit from the government's social insurance programme.

Under the draft, from 2018 the programme will cover all contracted employees, including foreigners permitted to work in Vietnam.

By the end of last year, around 10.8 million people (about 20 percent of the labour force) joined the compulsory social insurance scheme, with 173,000 also opting for voluntary social insurance.

The low percentage meant that millions of people would not be able to receive the retirement pension in future at their retirement age, placing an astronomical burden on the Government to ensure an adequate safety net for elderly citizens.

In 2011 alone, the Government spent nearly 3 trillion VND (142.85 million USD) to support people over 80 years-old who did not join social insurance, Thoi bao kinh te Viet Nam (Vietnam Economic Times) reported last week.

Labour Minister Pham Thi Hai Chuyen said that it was imperative to make more people eligible to join social insurance. Presently, Vietnam is aiming to have around 29 percent of its population or half of its workforce join social insurance by 2020.

The revised Law on Social Insurance is expected to be in the National Assembly's agenda for approval this year.-VNA