LaRRi proposes universal social protection schemesBy: CATHERINE SASMAN
WHILE agreeing that Namibia should do more to bring more into the mainstream of social protection, Social Security Commission (SSC) CEO Kapara Tjivikua said caution must be taken in the design of such initiatives not to cause damage to society.
In Greece, which is buckling under an economic crisis and dragging much of Europe with it, the crisis is partly due to social security programmes that Tjivikua said has created a dependency syndrome that is difficult to reverse in times of economic crisis.
The Labour Resource and Research Institute (LaRRi) suggested that Namibia develop a special protection programme that caters for the unemployed, women and youth and should explore universal protection schemes, since such schemes are currently largely based on contributions made in a formal employment – and urban – setting, to the exclusion of those working in the informal sector and the unemployed.
The new book ‘Social Protection Schemes in Africa’, compiled by the African Labour Research Network, looks at social protection schemes in 11 countries, including Namibia.
The chief editor of the book, Dr Trywell Kalusopa, said social protection schemes should be but one of the instruments of social development to address poverty and social exclusion, where people are put at the centre of such development.
Director of LaRRi, Dr Hilma Shindondola-Mote, and co-author of the Namibian section, Risper Auma Kojwang, said a universal protection scheme would thus qualify to get a monthly grant, whether rich or poor.
“Of course, the rich will not see the benefit of such a grant compared to the poor. However, the trickle-down effects will be wide-ranging,” the authors suggested.
They further suggested that such grants be financed through taxes, where the higher income earners will be expected to pay more income tax.
People registered with the SSC for social security are 154 665, of which the majority are men because they are the majority employed in the formal sector.
Of these, 72,1 percent are in the urban area.
Furthermore, Namibia’s social protection schemes are still stacked in favour of the previously advantaged.
As an attempt to rectify this, Namibia in its Constitution has made provisions for publicly funded social welfare programmes like the old-age programme, and grants to orphaned and vulnerable children.
About 12 percent of the Namibian population – or about 250 000 – are beneficiaries of various social grants. These are 150 893 for old-age pensions, 1 767 are war veterans, 99 493 are child maintenance and child foster care grant beneficiaries.
Funeral benefits are accessed by about 500 people per month.
Most of the social protection schemes are publicly funded, estimated to have made up about two per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and six percent of the 2008 national budget.
The old-age and war veterans’ subsidy take up two-thirds of the resources and early predictions were that for the 2009/10 financial year, the share of the budget earmarked for war veterans would match that of child maintenance and child grants.
Between 2009 and 2010, Government spent N$880 million on social pensions, which was four percent of government expenditure.