Govt. strengthens Samoa's social protection systems

The Government is working to strengthen Samoa's social protection systems with the Samoa Bureau of Statistics (S.B.S.) leading the way in making it happen.

Social protection consists of policies and programmes designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability by promoting efficient labour markets, diminishing people's exposure to risks, and enhancing their capacity to manage economic and social  risks, such as unemployment, exclusion, sickness, disability, and old age.

A consultation workshop between S.B.S. and its stakeholders started on Tuesday 20 October 2020 and will conclude on 11 November 2020.

It is funded by the United Nations (U.N.) Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (E.S.C.A.P.).

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi on Tuesday stated that the S.B.S. is collaborating with U.N. E.S.C.A.P., as part of the 2030 agenda of Sustainable Development Goals.

He said that as all nations strive to eliminate poverty at all levels of society, and lessen the impacts of the COVID-19, this has indicated the more urgent need for efficient and effective policies and strategies to manage existing social protection systems or to design new ones. 

Tuilaepa also named a few social protection systems in Samoa.

“The Government has in place the old age pension for all citizens 65 years and over,” he said.

Additionally, there is free education for all public schools; free medical treatment for all persons below 15 years and also pensioners.

“There is free overseas treatment for complicated health cases for all ages.

“And, the government also allocated annual grants from the national budget for selected community programs in all villages, civil societies, churches, disabilities, non-government-organisations, and, others.

“We do acknowledge that the existing social protection systems are fragmented and not linked to any national social protection framework.”

Therefore, it is not possible to monitor and track the beneficial as well as the human and financial resources involved,” he added.

“We hope that a central social protection data framework which S.B.S. will work on with U.N. E.S.C.A.P. and stakeholders will inform the Government whether the poor and the most vulnerable people, mainly the children, elderly, and people with disabilities are not left behind.

“It is the government’s goal to bring equality and equity of prosperity to all people of Samoa today and tomorrow, and, we look forward to the result of this social protection data framework.

“On that note, I wish to thank all our data stakeholders, our development and donor partners, who are here with us today, and also those who are joining from a far, for supporting our statistical services in Samoa.”

The Government’s Statistician, Ali’imuamua Malaefono Ta’aloga said that the new project is on “strengthening resilience of pacific islands states through universal social protection.”

“The purpose of this is to actually create a framework for all social protection systems in Samoa right now.

“There are different social protection schemes that are already in place but there is no coordinated framework so that we can link and trace and monitor who is benefiting from all this.

“But, if we are able to put it under one umbrella then we should be able to check how much the Government is spending and who is actually getting the benefit because right now we don’t know whose getting the benefit.”

She also explained that social protection systems can help alleviate poverty.

“There are all different kinds but for people themselves, it can be anything, alleviate youth from unemployment or alleviate a person from food poverty.

“This is a project that we are working on to see where it is happening because some Ministries are doing their own or some companies are doing it for their own employees but we are not sure.

“This is why it is very interesting, we want to find out, and that’s why we asked all our main stakeholders to share with us what they have so we can put together the whole system for Samoa.”

Ali’imuamua also stressed that their objective is to try and compile a national data framework for Samoa to see where all the social protection system is working and whether we need to improve those systems or create new ones.

“If you see overseas there’s different kinds of social protection, there’s unemployment benefits, but we just want to build a foundation and hopefully to send it to Government and to see for them to have a good foundation framework to plan in the future.”

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