At the same time, there is growing demand for the expansion of social security coverage to large segments of the worlds population. This is a major challenge these institutions are confronting and require imperative solutions because vast numbers of the world's population are economically weak, vulnerable and need social protection.
International Indicators and Strides
The International Labor Organization (ILO) states that fwere than 10 percent of workers in least-developed countries are covered by social security, compared to between 20 to 60 percent of those covered in middle-income countries.
In most industrialized nations, social security coverage has reached close to 100 percent. However, on the global scale, only 20 percent of the world's population has adequate social security coverage and more than half lack any coverage at all. In its 2011 review, the International Social Security Association (ISSA) indicated the expansion of coverage in one of the greatest challenges for social security today.
ISSA estimates that between 70 to 80 percent of the world's population live in a state of "social insecurity." It said, however, there is a growing recognition of the contribution of social security systems to social stability and poverty reduction. ISSA said the World Social Security Forums have always discussed issues and defined challenges for coverage extension, identified specific opportunities for social security institutions and outlined a collaborative process for extending coverage.
To enhance the expansion of coverage, ISSA, together with international organizations, including the World Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) held discussions on social protection at the 100th International Labor Conference in June 2011.
ISSA welcomed proposals for basic "horizontal" social protection guarantees for the whole population which should be accompanied by the "vertical" strengthening of higher protection through contributory coverage. These organizations also recognized that more needs to be done to extend social security coverage to the world's population, especially those within the informal sector as a means of reducing poverty.
Low Development Index
Social protection is critical for Liberia because as a post-conflict nation, its demographic make-up reflects a large vulnerable population. Liberia ranks very low in the Human Development Index and its poverty headcount represents 63.8 percent of the population. Since the cessation of hostilities and a democratic process set into motion for nearly nine years, sustained poverty reduction through economic growth remains a major challenge.
In an attempt to address the issue of human development the government, under the leadership of Her Excellency, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, in 2008, launched the Poverty Reduction Strategy. Its objective was to improve national security, revitalize economic growth, create appropriate structure of governance and rehabilitate infrastructure. The government has made some commendable progress in building institutional and human capacity, strengthening the rule of law reforming the security sector, rehabilitating basic physical infrastructure and providing social service in the health and education sectors. Despite these gains, sustained human development stands as a herculean task in the transformation vision of the nation.
The Social Security Factor
Cognizant of the need to enhance the social-economic well-being of a cross-section of the population, the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) has, over the past six years, worked to ensure the operations of the corporation benefit the covered population and others in the society.
During this period the corporation restructured and automated its entire record system and all of its prudent reforms have reinvigorated the social security program. Today, NASSCORP is efficiently and effectively fulfilling its statutory obligations to employers and employees covered under the social security program and meeting its obligations as enshrined in the 1975 act creating the corporation.
In spite of these achievements, the issue of expanding social security coverage to the bulk of the population is a major challenge. Towards this end, the management is strengthening the system in the formal sector and has begun mustering the requisite strategies that will eventually lead to extending services, mainly to the informal sector.
As part of its existing reforms, management has included the expansion and decentralization of services and effective structural changes that will affect majority of the people who are self-employed and remain unprotected by formal means of social protection.
The Way Forward
With significant strides over the years to improve the overall operations of NASSCORP, it is time for the corporation to begin ensuring social security schemes meet the challenge of the changing demographic make-up of the country by expanding benefits to an ever-increasing population.
The ongoing reform process demands that the corporation ensure the expansion of the social security system reach to reach the informal sector. This provision must be highlighted during consultations with stakeholders while the corporation contacts the requisite international body to assist it in carrying out feasibility studies to achieve this objective.
The informal sector of the economy, which includes small-scale production; repair and service units; petty trading and related activities, as well as small-scale construction and transportation, constitutes the largest segment of workers in the country and thus allows NASSCORP to address the issue of poverty in the country.
With indicators that fewer workers world-wide are covered under social security systems, and in recognition of a high level of poverty engulfing the bulk of the world's population, it is imperative to increase social security service to workers in the formal sector and extend service to the informal sector so that benefits can be enjoyed by majority of the people.
Both sectors are equal driving forces that have contributed to national and international development. Since social security coverage is limited worldwide, ISSA and its member organizations should prioritize increasing coverage and strive toward human development and poverty reduction.Last modified on Tuesday, 21 April 2015