UN official calls for social protection reforms in the Arab world
Beirut, April 20 (IANS) The UN has highlighted the need to implement major reforms of social protection systems in the Arab region.
“Legislative reforms focusing on taxation, broadening the contributory base and other sources of financing are needed,” said Rola Dashti, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). ), reported the Xinhua news agency.
Dashti made the remarks as ESCWA launched a report titled “The Covid-19 Pandemic in the Arab Region: An Opportunity to Reform Social Protection Systems”.
The report says that before the pandemic, most social protection programs in the region, which were funded by government budgets or external aid instead of contributions from beneficiaries or employers, suffered from underinvestment and excluded vulnerable populations.
Dashti said that in the midst of the Covid pandemic, the region has shown strong political will to meet the needs of vulnerable populations, and has also included in its programs the “missing middle”, such as informal workers who often did not receive any social protection benefits before the pandemic.
However, as most of the pandemic response measures were temporary, they will not contribute to the transformation of social protection systems in the region unless major reforms are put in place, according to the report.
These reforms include legislative reforms, particularly on taxation, broadening the contributory base and other sources of funding, he said.