SSC conference on social protection schemes kicks off

08 Jul 2015 10:30am
WINDHOEK, 08 JUL (NAMPA) – Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation Minister Erkki Nghimtina says the Social Security Commission (SSC) of Namibia is working hard to establish the National Pension Fund and the National Medical Benefit Fund as mandated by the Social Security Act, 1994.
Nghimtina said this during the welcoming reception of participants to the first ever Namibia Social Protection Conference under the theme 'Towards comprehensive social protection for all' in the capital on Tuesday.
The minister said these funds are national strategic projects that are envisaged to cover all working persons in both the formal and informal economy of Namibia.
He further noted that the SSC will recommend changes to its enabling legislative framework, namely the Social Security Act and the Employees’ Compensation Act in order to bring these funds into existence.
According to a report on the state entity’s progress, the SSC has so far contributed positively to providing a foundation for social protection for Namibian employees in the formal economy and their dependants through the establishment of the Maternity, Sickness and Death Benefit Fund, to which all employees and employers are required by law to contribute.
However, “The report observed that the effectiveness of this fund limited by the commission had not succeeded in extending coverage to the informal economy,” the minister noted.
He said the commission started a feasibility study in January this year, on the possible introduction of an Unemployed Insurance Scheme (UI) and a Return-To-Work (RTW) programme; rehabilitation programmes for workers in Namibia.
Nghimtina added that the adoption by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) of Recommendation Number 202 of 2012 concerning National Social Protection Floors gave the impetus to Government and its related institutions to review the adequacy and effectiveness of its social protection/social security programmes.
These include the universal social grants for the elderly and persons with disabilities; grants for orphans and vulnerable children; veterans’ subventions; and benefits for working people through a contributory scheme operated by the SSC.
Nghimtina noted the importance of establishing the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare to consolidate social welfare and social protection functions, and his ministry responsible for enhancement for employment creation in the country.
“Our ministry has oversight responsibility for the Social Security Commission. Our respective functions require us to keep abreast of developments worldwide in social security and social protection, and to learn from the experience of other countries in these areas so that we can improve the lives of our people,” he said.
Speaking at the same occasion, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Minister, Zephania Kameeta explained that social protection is important for mitigating and alleviating hardship, and poverty in the country.
He pledged Government’s continuous commitment to protect the senior citizens, people living with disabilities, and orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) by giving the social grants.
“These grants saved many lives, although the recipients are still facing many challenges,” he noted.
Thus, Kameeta supports the conference that will discuss how the features of Namibian social protection schemes compare to those of other countries and finding ways to improve the current programmes under the SSC.
The key objective of the conference is to disseminate important achievements in the area of social protection in Namibia and deliberate on crucial areas of dynamic and comprehensive social protection in the light of increased global interest and momentum in this area.
The conference brought together about 250 key stakeholders, academics, experts and decision-makers within the social protection arena to deliberate on future prospects in the context of global development, with the aim of strengthening the social protection system.
The conference ends on Thursday.