“Currently, rules have been relaxed further to allow workers to seek treatment at private clinics in case of work-related emergencies with provision for refund of medical costs.”

  • Daw Than Than Nu, Director, ssb

Roundtable Discussions on the Reform Program in connection with Social Security Benefits (Part Two)

MRTV aired a live program (Part Two) on talks under the theme “On the Reform Program in connection with social security benefits”, in which U Maung Maung Aye, Director-General of the Social Security Board; Daw Than Than Nu, Director of the SSB; U Win Naing, Representative of the Employers; Daw Phyo Sandar Soe, Representative of the Workers; and ILO National Project Coordinator Dr. Thein Than Htay have participated in the discussions.

  • By Khin Yadanar
    Photo: May Oo Moe

(Continued from the previous day)
Moderator: Discussions are valuable. Representative of the workers, may kindly share your view.
Daw Phyo Sandar Soe: First of all, I would like to talk about reform with a view to making the system strong. In fact, the social security fund is initiated with the contribution of the employers, the workers, and the government.
In making the social security system sturdy and strong, more contributions are poured in. Therefore, we do not wanted the social funds to be mixed up because the source of fund is not in the form of revenue and tax of the state. It is in fact the contribution of the employers and the workers.
Moreover, the social security funds could never be diverted to other budget headings and spend them out. For instance, the funds are being collected as the medical care and the sickness benefit on health grounds, and therefore, the expenditure should be utilized for the health purpose only.
We are always thinking in providing better service, and that we are representing the workers on the ground reality what the workers really wanted to have. We submitted proposals on our part as the representative of the workers as well as the representative of the employers.
We have continuous and constant communication and contact with them, and therefore, our submissions may kindly be considered and implemented by the Ministry of Labor and the Social Security Board.
If we just go back in the same route as before, we might have difficulty in managing budget matters. Our 2012 Social Security Law is not ostensibly to be autonomous and up to the standard in the eyes of the ILO.
The functioning and procedure involved partly in the budget allocation of the ministry that needs approval and decision of the Parliament, making some delays in the work program. We wanted to expand our program, but we are not in a position to carry out.
It is therefore the intended work programs are being streamlined in the reform plan so that they may finally come under the scope and purview of the law. Another factor is to expand manpower. If more recruits could not be made under the government budget, we must be in a position to spend staff budget out of our own social security funds.
When we are facing shortages of doctors, we could be able to recruit by our own funds, and also we could provide them more enhanced salary if the pay is inadequate. We may have to persuade them to join us with fair wages. We have some problem in between the government budget allocation and the desire of the SSB to implement for better management.
On the part of implementation in the social security tasks, we wanted to tell the employers and the workers that the system and the mechanism is meant to salvage and compensate when there is any danger, harm or hazard.
Some people do not understand the endeavors of this nature for which we could accept and understand their naïve ignorance. However, some people understand the system and the scheme, but never ever try to put into practice. If such concept persisted, then our social security system might collapse.
Therefore, I would like to urge to all sides to study the system and put into practice and move into action.
We are allowing maternity leave and benefits to female workers such as six weeks, eight weeks and totaling (14) weeks. In such situation, the female workers did not enjoy maternity leave due to the reason that they have pity and embarrassed by feeling of respect or be restrained by fear of offending towards the employers.
We provided them maternity leave as it is necessary on health grounds. We accorded them with this gift as it is needed. We would like to urge the workers to enjoy what the rules have provided and take the benefits.
If and when the benefits and services are inadequate and insufficient, they are urged to inform us without fail. The social security offices have opened up hotlines for complaints and grievances, and we told them to report immediately so that prompt response could be given and fulfilled the needs.
On the part of the employers, there are cases that they failed to pay in full share as contribution of all the workers. If and when accident occurred at the worksite, the main responsibility remains on the shoulder of the employer. The social security system protects and prevents the heavy burden of the employer with regards to the compensation, and it is the duty of the employer to contribute their fair share regularly. They must not be afraid of adding their share.
If they do not follow the rules and regulations, then the SSB may find it difficult to expand the new plans. Some of the plans must be implemented at the earliest; otherwise more problems would arise if it is delayed. For example, it is in connection with the old age pensions in the country as the demographic change shows that the number of aging citizens is still low.
It is time to go ahead with the pension system while the ageing workers are still small. If we started the old age pension at a later time we may have more difficulty implementing the scheme as the number would grow.
The pension system and the pension fund are very much vital, firm and important. When the nation is in need of financial beef up, the spare funds could be temporarily utilized by lending out to the needy business people. This method is instrumental in many countries.
We must keep the pension fund in a firm and solid foundation. In our new social security system, we have already agreed to work on tripartite mechanism, and that we must move fast for the expansion of pension system. If we are delayed, then the number of old age pensioners would be high and make us difficult to start.
There are multiple tasks to be implemented at the same time. We have to consider for the reform in the legislation, where we need to listen and include the voices of the employers and the workers in the reform process.
This is part of the social partner relationship, and we have witnessed that the ministry in connection with the social security is working with all good faith. We requested to all stakeholders such as the lawmakers and the citizens to come forward for the successful implementation of the system.
Moderator: We understand that the matters in connection with the social security plan are required in making some relaxations with less restriction. Please discuss.
Daw Than Than Nu: We need to step ahead with moderate speed on the legal reform by negotiating with the employers and the workers. On the part of the ILO, things are to be done in international standard and norm in regular timeframe.
Meanwhile, the SSB would like to loosen up the existing restrictions as they happened to be too much and too many. Some steps were skipped in the process as the demand of evidence is too bulky.
Some relaxation has been made in connection with the benefits. When pension is submitted, medical treatment is allowed in the law for (50) per cent compulsory entitlement. However, at the social security clinics, (7) days free medical treatment have been approved. Even the worker failed to contribute his contribution for some period, he is entitled (7) days medical treatment in a month.
Another factor in the past is that the worker was allowed to take medical treatment at the private clinic only on the condition of emergency basis, and the medical cost incurred was not reimbursed. In the law, cost of medicine was reimbursed; actually meaning the drug being bought from the outside market was paid back. If the treatment was taken at the People’s Hospital, the cases such as that of coronary surgery and that of kidney dialysis, the cost of drugs are refunded.
Currently, rules have been relaxed further to allow workers to seek treatment at private clinics in case of work-related emergencies with provision for refund of medical costs.
In the past, the worker could enjoy medical benefit only at the place where he contributed his share, in other words, if he paid contributions in Yangon, he could enjoy benefits only in Yangon.
Currently, the worker can take medical treatment at any place, if he has paid his social security contribution. We are now arranging to enable to take out cash benefits at the hospitals and at the clinics. In making the process smooth on the clearance of medical treatment and the cash benefits, township to township communication and exchange is facilitated.
In order to prevent from deprivation and denial of benefits of the worker, they must never re-register their ID card if they moved to other work establishment.
In the case of child delivery, the female worker may have taken SSN number at a certain work establishment, and then she might move to another unit and register again at another place. In such situation, the case is being regularized and put in order.
If she has paid contribution for (6) months and the registration reached for (12) months, the maternity benefit is allowed. Based on the wage and salary, maternity and delivery benefits could be enjoyed in full. When the female worker is registered with social security system, she could enjoy maternity leave, and that they are entitled to deliver child at the hospitals in conjunction with the medical treatment added with the cash benefits.
Translated by UMT (Ahlon)

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