Social security efforts essential for middle-income graduation: Speakers

Speakers at a conference on Wednesday observed that as Bangladesh moves forward towards becoming a middle-income country, ensuring social protection of every citizen is crucial for inclusive and sustainable progress, reports BSS.

They came up with the observation while speaking the inaugural session of a two-day Bangladesh Social Security Conference and Knowledge Fair-2019 at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Novo Theatre in the capital.

The Cabinet Division and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

organised the conference and fair, a UNDP press release said. The conference engaged social protection implementing ministries, practitioners, academics, NGO and private sector organisations and focused on

disseminating and discussing the findings of a number of researches on different burning issues of social protection and reviewing the implementation status of National Social Security Strategy (NSSS). Highlighting the key areas of focus for social security, Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury said, as the chief guest, that social protection increases

participation of poor and marginalised people in income-generating activities. “It contributes to reducing inequalities and is essential for supporting vulnerable communities. Combined effort is needed to create income generating opportunities,” she said. “Addressing the obstacles to income generation is significant to break the cycle of poverty, otherwise the poverty crisis will continue.” The speaker emphasised that social protection is not a cost but an investment and pointed out, “It helps to build social capital and empowers women. We must develop the capacity of poor and marginalised people. A long-

term strategy is required to make a sustainable impact and include everyone in the development of Bangladesh.” Social Welfare Minister Nuruzzaman Ahmed said in his speech as special guest, “The coming decade will be a time of huge importance for Bangladesh’s socio-economic development. Improved social security may drive the achievement of middle income country status in 2021. A series of strains on the social fabric are likely to emerge as Bangladesh moves towards middle

income country status.” “Social protection offers a means of supporting high economic growth with equity by boosting productivity. It reduces the tendency of risk aversion fostering economic participation,” he said. Sudipto Mukerjee, resident representative of UNDP Bangladesh, outlined four major priorities — implementing reforms for persons with disabilities,

improving the system for the urban poor, making concrete progress on flagship programmes and implementing NSSS gender policy strategy to make the system more gender-responsive. He said, “UNDP Bangladesh is pleased to have supported the government in undertaking research in some of these areas. This conference will launch key publications that can provide critical insights as well as expert recommendations on what needs to be done. We hope these will be useful in informing Bangladesh’s eighth Five-Year Plan which will be drafted soon.” Chairperson of the programme, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam, said, “The key features of NSSS include harmonisation of fragmented small programmes into a consolidated system. The delivery procedure will be digitised… for implementing it we will need intensive efforts of all government agencies, NGOs, civil society organisations and above all the political leadership. I hope all of us will work together to implement the NSSS within the stipulated time frame (which is 2025) and create a Golden

Bengal.” Dr Shamsul Alam, member (senior secretary) of General Economics Division, presented the keynote at the event while Secretary of Cabinet Division Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Country Director of ILO Bangladesh Tuomo Poutiainen, Country Representative of UNICEF Bangladesh Tomoo Hozumi, First Secretary of Development Cooperation of Australian High Commission Bangladesh Angela Naumann, Country Representative of DFID Bangladesh Judith Herbertson and Ambassador and Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh Rensje Teerink spoke, among others, at the programme.