IntroductionUzbekistan, being a lower-middle-income country with a population of 35.27 million (2022), emerged after 2000 with a pro-poor and equity enhancing growth. Official poverty suggests that the poverty rate decreased from 27.5% in 2001 to 17% in 2021. The Government of Uzbekistan has announced its intention to halve the share of low-income population by 2026 and achieve upper-middle-income status by 2030. Social protection and employment promotion measures are among key contributors to poverty reduction.
Recent estimates show that about half of population is covered with at least one social protection benefit and that approximately 50-60 % of workers are engaged in informal economy. Household survey data (L2CU, 2018) indicate that the SP system (including social assistance, social insurance, and labour market programmes) supports approximately 55% of the population. Public social expenditure on social protection represents around 10.6% of GDP (including healthcare) a level below that of some of the other countries in the sub-region. Sustainable financing for social protection is critical to ensure the extension of social protection and requires strong technical engagement and coordination of key actors: the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations and social partners.
In 2021 the President of Uzbekistan signed a decree (No. F-5634) and approved the Concept of the National Strategy for Social Protection until 2030 (NSSP). ILO’s technical assistance included support and guidance to drafting full-fledged and costed NSSP with an objective to frame social protection for the next decade in line with the SDGs, Social Protection Floors Initiative and international social security standards.
Along with this, it is important to support a) analysis of the impact of the tax reform on social protection financing, b) explore options to extend coverage with social protection by estimating investments needed in particular schemes and by linking contributory and non-contributory sources of financing and c) digitalisation and expansion of electronic management information as well as its use for the monitoring of the implementation of National Strategy for Social Protection Strategy, improved inter-ministerial coordination and overall policy making.
This project is aligned with Goal 4 of the Strategy of New Uzbekistan for 2022-2026 which prioritizes the enhancement of social protection policy and development of human capital. It is also in-line with the new UNSDCF 2021-2025 and the DWCP 2021-2025 signed between the Government of Uzbekistan and the ILO in September 2021, contributing to CF Outcome 4 (DWCP Priority 3: Extending the access of the most vulnerable groups to equitable, inclusive and quality education and social protection).
Project overview:The project “Uzbekistan: Accelerating progress on SDG target 1.3 – Social protection systems and measures for all” is a part of global project “Accelerating progress on SDG target 1.3 – Building Social protection Floors for All: Support to the 2nd phase of the ILO Global Flagship Programme (2022-2025)” supported by the GIZ. In Uzbekistan it will support the country through advisory services, costing and actuarial assessments, use of digital technologies to improve the coordination and monitoring of the system and capacity building trainings of constituents to design social protection measures so that the population has better access to more sustainable, resilient and gender-responsive social protection system.
The primary project partners are national government institutions and social partners receiving training and support in carrying out country analytical work to lead to improved social protection design and delivery structures - which will ultimately have an impact on the well-being of the population in terms of improved income security and access to services.
Project’s main output: Improved national knowledge base and capacities to inform social protection financing and digitalisation has the potential to contribute to other beneficial, long-term change working towards a virtual cycle of social, financial and economic multipliers, such as higher levels of social protection, improved investment in social protection reduced poverty and inequalities, and increased employability and access to decent employment. Project outputs include:
(a) Options for combination of non-contributory and contributory financing mechanisms;
(b) Digital solutions for social protection system monitoring via National Social Protection Observatory, and
(c) Capacity Building of constituents on social protection financing and use of electronic management information system for monitoring progress in implementation of national social protection system.
The project supported by the GIZ will be crucial for the costing and financing of unemployment benefits scheme and for establishment of National Observatory for Social Protection which would ensure regular, independent and transparent monitoring of social protection system delivery and realisation of the right to social protection for all until 2030.
The project supports Uzbekistan’s participation in, and contribution to ILO’s Flagship Programme Building Social Protection Floors (2022-2025) – Second Phase