Roundtable Discussions on the reform program in connection with social security benefits
- By Khin Yadanar
Photo May Oo Moe
(Continued from Yesterday)
MRTV aired a live program 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 Officer Dr. Thein Than Htay have participated in the discussions.
Moderator: As the DG and responsible persons of the Social Security Board have already explained the work programs, the Representative of the Employers may kindly discuss the view please.
Representative of the Employers: On the part of the employers, we are very much satisfied over the functioning of the Social Security Board. As the responsible person have explained, the founder of the nation had desired in uplifting the health and social security of the main workforce of the country, and therefore it has been formed the SSB. While implementing the program of employees, I am of the view that life is indeed like the daring slow walk on the tight rope of luck.
At the regular period, there is no problem at all, but if the problem of wave rolled in, then the workers may suffer illness and may sustain injury, their social security benefits covering (15) categories might bailed them out and assist them.
In such social security issues, the role and responsibility of the employers play an enormous position. The employers involved in sharing three per cent of the contribution for each employee. Regarding the financial issue, majority of the people and the workers are not fully aware of the functioning of the Social Security Board despite its implementation for (60) years. The Social Security Board is only in a position in handling the workers that they have contributed funds in percentage.
In the meanwhile, there are workers that were left behind with no benefits and entitlements whatsoever as they are not covered with the legal stipulations and prerequisite. We are all trying to accommodate them in the benefit scheme. The Trade Unions are trying their best while the ILO is facilitating to streamline the nationals as a whole in the Social Security System. Each and everyone are doing their best for the workers.
Moderator: We would like to hear from the perspective of the Representative of the workers.
Representative of the workers: Today, I would like to talk on the theme covering social security matter which has two sorts of approach. The first one is on the universal approach and the other one is life cycle approach. I would like to share on the topic such as working age population. In our country, the working age group range from (15) years to (59) years. We have labor force survey which shows that we have a workforce of (33) million. Actually, (22) million are in the employment, and therefore, we might have to explore how many of them would be covered in our scheme.
Moreover, there is Universal Declaration of Human Rights that came into force in 1948, which stipulated that all workers are entitled the social security benefits. This factor is very much vital.
Another factor is that we have a standardize approach which is based on the adopted prescription of (102) points recommendation by the ILO in 1954. It is in connection with the lowest norm on social security benefits to be provided that having appeared between 1948 and 1954 at the earlier period.
In 2012, the ILO has laid down the better norm for social protection for all. Similar norm is covered in the Sustainable Development Goals. In the year 2030, Myanmar would have better and most comprehensive social security system.
When we looked back into our system, the employees are much more satisfied with the new social security system. It is also the reflection of the hard work and endeavors of all the responsible persons and the basic staff members of the Social Security Board.
Our vision is much broader as we intend to go ahead for comprehensive social security coverage for the national as a whole. I would like to share two points in this regards.
We have covered 1.2 million workers in the scheme, which means that we also have workers left outside the social security scheme. We received some feedback from the employees on some unfortunate experiences encountered at the hospitals and clinics for not being receptive with necessary hospitality. Moreover, they wanted much easier and uncomplicated procedures and mechanism in getting social security benefits.
For example, an employee could take treatment at the social security hospitals, and in some cases the worker could need treatment at the general hospital. At such situation, they face a lot of complicated procedures which they could not understand. Therefore, we need to address such situation.
Hlaing Thar Yar Township in Yangon Region has good proactive response as their leaders of trade unions and the workers understand the social security scheme well enough. Such proactive townships bring effective system. Some areas need more awareness campaign. Some employers as well as the workers are not well understood on the effectiveness and usefulness of social security system, and therefore, resulted with some unwanted issues among them. In making a better system, we need to establish good communication methods and to keep in touch with the service providing boards.
Now we are at the cross road of one way communication. Despite we are providing information, they are not responding with feedback what they actually wanted. Only when we are being informed of the necessity, then we could bring a better system that may be much reliable and trustworthy by the whole of the workers.
Another factor is about the worker left outside the social security scheme that could be termed as informal sector. Some workers are not covered with the 2012 Social Security Law, and that should not have happened. All workers must be pulled into the scheme. We need to take care of the workers who have no specific employer. This is to be considered in our future plan.
Director-General: We are providing social security benefits direct at the door steps of the employees. At the workers hospitals, we even provided Thanakha and Kyauk Pwin (tradition facial cosmetics tools of Myanmar women) in the past, but the practise has faded away.
As more workers are involved in the scheme, the current service for them is not adequate for which we are trying to fix it.
Another factor is about the provision of cash on death compensation to a worker who met the fatal injury at the worksite. The cash compensation should be delivered at home before the dead body is being disposed at the graveyard. This has been told to the staff members handling such matters and that we are trying to provide better service.
Moderator: We would like to hear from the view of ILO.
ILO Representative: The ILO means the International Labor Organization, one of the organizations under the United Nation, which existed even before the UN. Since 1919, it was founded with the participation of the workers, the employers, and the government. When the UN organizations are formed, the ILO took up the role for providing technical expertise for the workers, the employers and the governments.
We are to be proud of the fact that we cooperated with the UN through the 1954 Act as well as the 2012 Law, and up till now. We involved ourselves through the social security systems, and that we worked together with the UN and overcome the difficulties and hurdles as well as the challenges. We would like to step into a developed status and period, with the social security coverage of all the nationals as a whole in the country.
When we review the situation, some aspects are not covered with the law. Some are covered in the Article 11 (a) and some are not relevant with the Article 11 (b) and some portions are not connected with the ground reality. Therefore, when we are incorporating and covering all the aspects, we need to be flexible with more concessions, with the intention to loop in more workers with more coverage of social security system.
Currently, when an establishment employs five or more workers, it has to apply for their social security. In many foreign countries, concessions are being made from five workers to three workers, and then from three workers to one worker, resulting with the status that even one employer and one worker could be covered with the broader social security system.
With the nature of social security system, when the security payments are more, then the funds would grow. It would stand strong to deal with the unexpected mishaps, injuries and fatal cases, and that compensation would be facilitated as necessary covering all eventualities. Therefore, it is necessary to provide more assistances and services to make the system strong.
Translated by UMT (Ahlon)