Namibia has done well in terms of social protection, says the secretary general of the Namibia Employers’ Federation (NEF), Tim Parkhouse.
Speaking at the Namibia Social Protection Conference 2015 in Windhoek yesterday, Parkhouse said the government offers social benefits such as maternity, sick and death benefits, and orphan, disability and old age monthly pension grants, among others.
“This is a clear indication that as a country we are moving forward in terms of social protection,” he said.
However, he said, Namibia must not lose sight of the fact that countries such as the United Kingdom and Scandinavia have had such schemes in place for sixty years-plus, and have the advantage of massive populations.
Parkhouse says employers recognise and totally support the concept of increasing the social protection floor “but with some cautionary warnings”.
“We must also bear in mind that all social protection (SP) has to be paid by the workers,” he said.
“The way you pay will decide the way you benefit,” he said. “All SP must come from the pocket of the workers, don’t let me hear someone say ’but government must pay’ – and where does government get its money?” he said.
About 250 key stakeholders, academics, experts and decision-makers attended the conference that started on Tuesday and ended yesterday with the theme “Towards Comprehensive Social Protection for All.”
Participants included specialists from Botswana, Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, Kenya, Malaysia and South Africa.
The objective was to disseminate important achievements in social protection in Namibia and deliberate on crucial aspects of dynamic and comprehensive social protection in light of increased global interest and momentum in the related areas.
Speaking at the welcoming reception of participants on Tuesday, Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, Bishop Zephania Kameeta, commended the Namibian government for seeing the need and urgency to protect senior citizens, people living with disabilities, and orphans and vulnerable children by giving them social grants.
He said the grants have saved many lives, although the recipients face still many more challenges.
“Social protection is undoubtedly important for mitigating and alleviating hardship and poverty and therefore I wholeheartedly support the idea of this international conference to discuss how the Namibian social protection scheme features in international comparison, and whether there are new ideas and concepts on how to improve what is currently done,” he said.
Speaking at the same occasion on Wednesday,Vice-President Dr Nicky Iyambo praised the Social Security Commission and the line ministry for organising the conference which, he said, would complement the government’s quest for the acceleration of poverty eradication and social inequality.
“Poverty and social inequality are pervasive within and across nations. Our existence as human beings is characterised by different internal strengths and weaknesses, and unequal exposure to challenges or opportunity in our socio-economic and political environments,” he said.