Ho Chi Minh City targets establishing a minimum 8 million VND (410 USD) in annual income per capita for all families, according to the city Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

The city aims to help nearly 20,000 needy families escape poverty and reduce last year's poverty rate of 5.7 percent to 5.4 percent.

To reach the target, the city will continue its preferential loan programmes and financial support policies.

These include tuition exemption and provision of scholarships and health insurance cards for poor families, including those with an annual income below 8 million VND per capita.

In addition, it will improve vocational consulting and training as well as create jobs for the poor, and offer job training for 1,200 labourers.

At least 10,000 new jobs will be created, and 100 people will be sent to other countries to work.

As part of its poverty reduction scheme, the city will continue to upgrade and build charity houses for poor families who cannot afford housing.

At the end of last year, the city had 105,326 poor families with an annual income below 12 million VND (600 USD) per capita, a decline in number from the beginning of the year when there were 130,917.

Of the total number, nearly 30,000 families have an annual income below 8 million VND.

Last year, the city provided a total of nearly 3 trillion VND (153.8 million USD) in loans to poor families, and more than 1,900 labourers received vocational training, an increase of more than 1,000 over 2009.

Fifty-one poor labourers were sent to work abroad, including in Slovakia , Malaysia , Japan and the Republic of Korea , and nearly 320,000 health insurance cards were provided to poor families.

The city also presented more than 120,000 gifts valued at 36 billion VND (1.8 million USD) to poor families for the Canh Dan (Tiger) Tet holiday last year.

By the end of 2010, 25,542 families rose above the poverty line. At least 76 percent of that number could do so by receiving loans from the city or by taking part in the city's vocational training and job creation programmes.

Nearly 2,800 poor families raised their annual income above 6 million VND per capita; 46,295 above 8 million VND per capita; and 34,642 began to earn more than 10 million VND per capita./.