The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is finalising a draft national social security policy aimed at addressing issues of social protection for employees in the country.
Labour and Social Security Minister, Ronald Mukuma, disclosed this when he launched the social protection expenditure, performance review, social budget report and executive summary in Lusaka today.
The launch is an output of the first year of work of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) funded projects in Zambia called, ILO Global campaign for social protection and coverage for all as a means to reducing poverty in Africa and Asia.
Mr. Mukuma said government was committed to mainstreaming various projects into the main social welfare programmes under the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services.
He added that the Sector Advisory Group (SAG) on employment and labour would be meeting with other SAGs for a joint framework for the next stage of the project to address the composition of a social protection system and funding mechanisms.
He noted that there was need to strengthen the coordination mechanisms among the concerned stakeholders in order for the social budget model to be implemented.
“The launch of the social protection and expenditure review report on Zambia provides the country with an opportunity to identify the fiscal space needed to finance social protection expenditure,” he said.
Mr. Mukuma said the implementation of the findings and conclusions in the report would form an integral component of the decent work country programme that was launched in December 2007.
He added that the report provided a comprehensive synopsis of existing social protection arrangements in Zambia, saying the SAGs that have been established within the context of the Fifth National Development Plan would consider the provision of minimum benefits that would serve as benchmarks for poverty alleviation.
Mr. Mukuma has also pointed out that the improvement in the Zambian economy has created opportunities for sustained livelihoods for Zambian citizens, adding that stakeholders should translate these gains into reduced poverty levels.
The Minister commended the ILO member countries for electing Zambia to serve on the ILO governing body, saying the country considered it an honour to represent the interests of the constituents during the tenure of office which runs from 2008 to 2011.
Speaking earlier, ILO Country Representative Gerry Finnegan said social protection was an important tool for achieving poverty reduction.
Mr. Finnegan called for concerted efforts in addressing Zambia’s poverty levels which were currently high, saying there wais need to prioritize the well being of the poor in the country.
He stated that there can be no decent work in Zambia without social protection of workers.
And Zambia Federation of Employers president, George Chabwera commended the cooperating partners for providing a comprehensive analysis of the need for social protection of workers.
Dr. Chabwera said social protection has, in the past, not been addressed well, adding that it was high time to start addressing it.
And Zambia Congress of Trade Unions Vice President, Sam Phiri, said there was need for equal distribution of wealth in addressing social protection of workers.
Mr. Phiri expressed concern on the delay by some employers to pay workers their pensions noting that in most cases, workers received their pensions posthumously.