UN official calls for social protection reforms in Arab world

UN official calls for social protection reforms in Arab world

Beirut, April 20 (IANS) The UN has emphasised the need to implement major reforms to the social protection systems in the Arab region.

“Legislative reforms focusing on taxation, expansion of the contributory base and other sources of funding are needed,” said Rola Dashti, executive secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Xinhua news agency reported.

Dashti made the remarks as the ESCWA launched a report titled “the Covid-19 pandemic in the Arab region: An opportunity to reform social protection systems.”

The report said that, prior to the pandemic, most of the region’s social protection programmes, which were funded through government budgets or external assistance instead of contributions from beneficiaries or employers, suffered from underinvestment and excluded vulnerable populations.

Dashti said that amid the Covid pandemic, the region demonstrated strong political will to alleviate the needs of vulnerable populations, and also included in their programmes the “missing middle,” such as those informal workers who often did not receive any social protection benefits prior to the pandemic.

However, since most response measures to the pandemic were temporary, they will not contribute to the transformation of the social protection systems in the region unless major reforms are put in place, according to the report.

Those reforms include legislative reforms, particularly on taxation, expansion of the contributory base and other sources of funding, it said.

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