Social Security chief wants new Act
The Social Security Commission’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Kenandei Tjivikua has raised calls to reform the Social Security Act to expand social security coverage to the informal sector. Speaking at a function of the Namibia Informal Sector Organisation in Windhoek recently, Tjivikua highlighted the need for social security protection in the informal sector.
Drawing attention to the act in its current form, Tjivikua said, “it excludes a large section of the informal sector from participating in the current social security programme. In addition, “the administration of current programmes is laden with non-compliance in terms of the mandatory registration and contribution payments of workers in the informal sector. This implies that the majority of Namibians of working age remain uncovered as they operate in the informal sector. This is a major challenge since informal sector operators, being bona fide members of the Namibia society, are entitled to social protection as defined within the International Labour Organization (ILO) Social Protection Floor (SPF) framework.
The act, Tjivikua commented, is bound to create a long-term structural problem that would affect in particular, poor working class women in the informal economy. “What is needed is a system-wide approach to social protection that is designed to handle a wide range of contingencies or shocks for all strata of the population and workforce, through a range of financing mechanisms,” said Tjivikua.
He said, “such an approach should be based on the fact that the informal workforce contributes to the overall economy, that social protection for the informal workforce is an investment, not just a cost, and that the risks of the informal workforce cannot be addressed solely through short-term safety nets or targeted social assistance.” Urging policy makers to pay attention to the needs of the informal workforce he said the informal workforce needs to be integrated into social insurance, in addition to social assistance.
Partnering with a range of stakeholders, the Commission has initiated the debate to extend social protection to the informal sector. A concept paper will be shared with all the stakeholders. It is also envisaged that a study will be conducted to assess the current state of the informal economy and determine its specific social protection needs.
Tjivikua said [it] might require the introduction of new and innovative products that are different from the current SSC offering for those in formal employment.