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ILO bemoans absence of social security for four billion people

By Collins Olayinka, Abuja
05 December 2017   |   4:31 am
There are about four billion people that do not have access to any form of social security, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has said.

There are about four billion people that do not have access to any form of social security, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has said.

In its flagship report entitled: ‘World Social Protection Report 2017-2019’, said the report shows that massive efforts are still needed to ensure that the right to social security becomes a reality for all.

The report blamed lack human right to social security for the rising number of people without access to any form of social security despite significant progress in the extension of social protection in many parts of the world.

The report reveals that only 45 per cent of the global population is effectively covered by at least one social benefit, while the remaining 55 per cent – 4 billion people – are left unprotected.

The new report also shows that only 29 per cent of the global population enjoys access to comprehensive social security – a small increase compared to 27 per cent in 2014-2015 – while the other 71 per cent, or 5.2 billion people, are not, or only partially, protected.

The report recommends an increase of public expenditure on social protection to extend social protection coverage, especially in Africa, Asia and the Arab States, to provide at least a basic social protection floor to all.

The report highlights that universal social protection contributes to eradicating poverty, reducing inequality, promoting economic growth and social justice, as well as achieving the Sustainable Development Goals  (SDGs), and shows how many developing countries have developed universal schemes. The report stresses the need to extend social protection to workers in the informal economy as a way of formalizing and improving their working conditions.

The research says that, worldwide, 68 per cent of people above retirement age receive an old-age pension, which is associated with the expansion of both non-contributory and contributory pensions in many middle- and low-income countries.

With expenditure on pensions and other benefits for older people accounting for 6.9 per cent of GDP on average with large regional variations, the report underlines that benefit levels are often low and not enough to push older people out of poverty. This trend is often fuelled by austerity measures.

Some states are reversing their pension privatizations due to the fact that privatization policies did not deliver the expected results. Countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Hungary, Kazakhstan and Poland are returning to public solidarity-based systems.

On her part, Director of the ILO Social Protection Department, Isabel Ortiz, noted: “However, short-term austerity policies continue undermining long-term development efforts. Fiscal consolidation adjustments have significant negative social impacts and jeopardize the achievement of the SDGs.

“Fiscal space for extending social protection exists even in the poorest countries. Governments should be proactive in exploring all possible financing options to promote the SDGs and national development through decent jobs and social protection.”

Commenting on the findings of the report, the Director General of ILO, Guy Ryder said: “The lack of social protection leaves people vulnerable to ill-health, poverty, inequality and social exclusion throughout their lifecycle. Denying this human right to 4 billion people worldwide is a significant obstacle to economic and social development. While many countries have come a long way in strengthening their social protection systems, major efforts are still necessary to ensure that the right to social protection becomes a reality for all.”