To strengthen social protection in the country, especially amid COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Uzbekistan set a goal to develop National Strategy for Social Protection as a part of the Annual State Programme for 2020. The Concept of the Strategy, developed by the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Uzbekistan jointly with the UN Joint Programme on Strengthening Social Protection, is available online for public discussion from 24 September till 9 October 2020.
Earlier this month, on 14 September 2020, the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Uzbekistan jointly with the International Labour Organisation, one of the three agencies of the UN Joint Programme on Strengthening Social Protection in Uzbekistan, introduced a draft Concept of the National Strategy for Social Protection (NSSP) to the Technical Working Group. The Group consisted of the representatives of Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Public Education, Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, Ministry of Makhalla and Family Support, Ministry of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction, Pension Fund, General Prosecutor’s Office, social partners, UNICEF, the UN Development Programme, the World Bank, and other international organizations.
“Adoption of the National Strategy for Social Protection is envisaged in the state programme for implementation of the National Action Strategy on five priority development areas 2017-2021. Ministry of Finance has been entrusted by the Government to implement the NSSP jointly with the UN Joint Programme on Strengthening Social Protection in Uzbekistan”, Mr. Jamshid Abruev, Deputy Minister of Finance, the head of the Working Group highlighted.
Ms. Jasmina Papa, Social Protection Specialist, ILO Moscow, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic proved that social protection coverage plays a strategic role in social stability. Social protection is integral to achieving poverty reduction, maintaining living standards, achieving economic growth, and creating a functioning labour market. The Government’s approach to strengthening social protection is comprehensive, involving reforms in all three pillars: social assistance through the development of the social registry and reform of social benefits, labour, and jobs through the revamping of key labour market programmes and social insurance through the pensions reform. Comprehensive social protection strategies promote integrated approaches which define National Social Protection Floors (SPF). The SPF are nationally defined sets of basic social security guarantees which should ensure, at a minimum that, over the life cycle, all in need have access to basic income security and essential health care which together secure effective access to goods and services defined as necessary at the national level. Nationally defined SPF sets a ground for progressive extension of social protection, both horizontally – to as many people who need protection, and vertically –enabling achievement of higher levels of protection.
During the presentation, the national and international experts noted that fragmented institutional framework is the main reason for the weakness of the social protection system in Uzbekistan and its low effectiveness. Currently, social protection is provided by many ministries and agencies, including: Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, Ministry of Public Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction, Ministry of Mahalla and Family Affairs, Pension Fund. The quality leadership in social protection system integrates effectively social security, social assistance, social services and active labour market programmes into one comprehensive, accountable and effective system.
Experts also endorsed Uzbekistan’s efforts on expanding coverage of some social protection measures to cope the effects of shocks of poverty, unemployment and loss of livelihoods generated by COVID-19. It was also suggested that Uzbekistan will need to adapt and expand social protection measures to cope with short, medium and longer-term impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Unified Single Registry, developed by the Ministry of Finance jointly with UNICEF, launched in Syrdarya region and being expanded throughout Uzbekistan is expected to be one of the core instruments of the National Strategy for Social Protection.
The discussed pillars of the Strategy’s Concept are included into the draft Decree of the President of Uzbekistan “On approving the Concept of the National Strategy for Social Protection of the Population of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2021 – 2030” which is placed onto the state www.regulation.gov.uz portal for public discussion.
The UN Joint Programme, sponsored by Joint SDG Fund and implemented by ILO, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) jointly with the Government of Uzbekistan, aims to support the Government in building and delivering a high-quality social protection system that offers all citizens of Uzbekistan – in particular, those at risk of being left behind – income security and social support throughout their lives.