Social Security Coordination Forum calls for social security extension to workers in the informal economy

Pakistan’s Social Security Coordination Forum agree on strategies to enhance social security schemes effectiveness.

Press release | Islamabad, Pakistan | 02 August 2021
ISLAMABAD (ILO News): The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development chaired the third (virtual) meeting of the Tripartite Social Security Coordination Forum (SSCF) on 22 April 2021.

The meeting featured presentations and updates by provincial Employees Social Security Institutions, Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution, Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF) and Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP) on initiatives to promote social security compliance and coverage. Social Security agencies shared their vision to move towards the universalization of coverage. Updates included the following:
  • Punjab Province announced an Amnesty Scheme allowing inactive enterprises to renew their contributions without paying arrears. A self-assessment scheme in Punjab is also another incentive to allow voluntary compliance.
  • Sindh Province shared that the Benazir Mazdoor Card (Universal Coverage) will be distributed on May 1st 2021. With this card, workers in the formal and informal economy, will avail social security benefits. Sindh is also putting in place a verification system in collaboration with NADRA to allow dependents of workers to avail these benefits.
  • Khyber Pakhtunkhwa announced that it was in the process of finalizing the domestic workers' law while;
  • Baluchistan is planning to widen its coverage through awareness-raising seminars planned in industrial regions, focusing on improving workers' knowledge on their rights.

PWF and EFP apprised the meeting of their efforts towards better compliance through capacity building, awareness raising and dialogue at the unit level. They also shared recommendations on making governance and implementing schemes more participatory, sharing Pakistan specific examples of returns on contribution to social security, designing innovative and fast track approaches of extending coverage instead of the long route of legal reforms and minimum wage adjustments. While these can continue in parallel with more pilot projects exploring and testing viable options.

The meeting also featured a presentation on the study for extending coverage of social security to brick kiln workers being supported by the ILO Project on Promotion of Decent Work Opportunities for the Economic Empowerment of Vulnerable Segments of Society, funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

The study recommends gradual extension of social security scheme to the brick kiln sector through necessary amendments in the existing legislation and issuance of sector specific regulations.

The Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and HRD concluded the session by appreciating the participants and lauding all stakeholders' efforts in coordinating on the important issue of social security, which has gained even more importance in the wake of the pandemic. She committed to the role of effective coordination that the Ministry is expected to play in ensuring that these exchanges are effective and there is a coherent and consistent effort in implementing coordinated schemes. She also asserted that the knowledge products are essential, and the repository of information with ILO on best practices may be discussed at length in the upcoming meetings of the Forum.

To universalize social protection coverage, studies are underway with the technical support of the ILO to inform evidence-based dialogue and policymaking on social security coverage and to move towards universalization. These include; Brick Kiln sector, Domestic Workers, Mining and Construction, exploratory study on registration of enterprises and workers under a national registry, unemployment insurance, options for extending social security benefits to dependents of trans provincial workers and continuity of health benefits to retired workers and Social Protection Profile for Pakistan.

Coordinating Social Protection

The establishment of the SSCF in October 2020 and its operations were supported under the Project, 'Achieving SDGs and Ending Poverty through Universal Social Protection' supported under the UN Peace and Development Trust Fund by the Government of China and is jointly implemented by UNDESA and the ILO, until June 2021.