The Cabinet Division and the European Union (EU) Technical Assistance to Support Social Security in Bangladesh (TA SSSR) held a workshop on 'Lifecycle Based Social Protection Systems in Bangladesh' today (17 April).
Government officials from the Cabinet Division and other social protection focal ministries attended the event, held at the InterContinental Dhaka hotel, said a press release.
The European Union funded the workshop under the framework of its budget support programme in the social protection sector, which aims to support the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) to accelerate social security reforms, in line with the spirit of the 2015 National Social Security Strategy (NSSS).
This budget support operation amounts to €247 million, as direct tranches to the government, and €6.5 million for technical assistance, to support the Cabinet Division and other ministries to better deliver services and increase the number of citizens reached through social security plans and programmes.
Md Rahat Anwar, additional secretary, Coordination Wing, Cabinet Division, Md Shamsul Arefin, secretary, Coordination and Reforms, Cabinet Division and Khandker Anwarul Islam, cabinet secretary, Cabinet Division participated in the event respectively as special guests and chief guest.
The technical session, led by Kavim V Bhatnagar, TA SSSR, reviewed the NSSS focus to consolidate social security programmes within a lifecycle framework.
"In a typical life cycle, ranging from early pregnancy (i.e. birth) to old age, individuals face different risks and vulnerabilities at different stages. Thus, the need for policies to support individuals at each stage of their life, and for social protection strategies to mitigate risks at each stage. It also highlighted the needs for the GoB to address the most important gaps in lifecycle coverage, for the early childhood and the working-age populations," said Bhatnagar.
Moreover, the technical presentation explored the possibilities of providing social insurance (unemployment, injury, sickness and maternity) and contributory pension, as envisaged under the National Social Insurance Scheme (NSIS), embedded in the NSSS.
With rapidly aging population of the elderly, the NSSS acknowledges the need to develop a comprehensive pension system that provides a state-guaranteed minimum income for senior citizens belonging to the poor and vulnerable group, while building a contributory pension system for those working age families who want to provide for themselves a higher level of pension income in old age.
Syed Saad Hussain Gilani, chief technical advisor, ILO and Syed Moazzem Hussain, senior technical advisor, GIZ presented their recent projects to pilot an employment injury scheme in the formal sector, showing how the NSIS spirit is translated into reality.
Among the discussants, Dr Md Khairuzzaman Mozumder, additional secretary, Finance Division, highlighted the progressive increment in the national social security budget over the past years and the achievements in the digitalisation of beneficiaries' data and in the number of cash transfers' beneficiaries paid through G2P.
Mohammad Khaled Hasan, joint secretary, Cabinet Division, presented the Beveridge model, which inspired the lifecycle approach embedded in the National Social Security Strategy and presented the way forward for important social protection institutional reforms.
Hans Lambrecht, head of Cooperation (Acting), Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh, said, "One of the challenges for delivery pro-poor, inclusive and shock responsive social assistance and social insurance interventions, is the absence of updated and reliable beneficiaries' data. For this reason, the EU welcomes with enthusiasm the new MoLE planned project to develop a Labour Information Management System (LIMS), with a module on a digital workers registry. Data are a fundamental asset, which needs to be placed in the hand of the GoB to ensure that the social security interventions reach the people in need in the shortest time possible. The EU is ready to support the GoB to accelerate this essential reform."
Khandker Anwarul Islam, cabinet secretary, reminded the audience that social safety nets have played a vital role in containing the socio-economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and requested the Development Partners to join hands with the government and envisage innovative policy instruments to combine social security and capacity building, in order to provide the poor and vulnerable with the instruments for a sustainable development.