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Pension bodies tipped on key sector reforms

A pension sector law that was established in the nineties will struggle to expand coverage due to changes in the business environment, says Hiroshi Yamabana, a social security specialist at the International Labour Organization (ILO).

He said this last week at the 10th East and Central Africa Social Security Association (ECASSA) policymakers’ conference aimed to devise ways of improving social security coverage in the region.

“Building trust in social security through better designs and services, education and participation of stakeholders is essential,” Yamabana said.

ECASSA was formed in response to the need for social protection /security schemes in East and Central Africa. Its mission is to foster cooperation and promote the management and development of social security for optimum stakeholder benefits.

Current pension laws across the region, according to Yamabana, are not flexible enough to tap into emerging market especially in the informal sector that would otherwise increase their scope of coverage.

The 2017 Uganda Economic Update report from the World Bank indicates that the pension sector coverage in Uganda is only 2.1 per cent of the total Ugandan population and about five per cent of the working population.

Richard Byarugaba, the NSSF managing director, said although strides have been made to improve the social security landscape, the region is still faced with a myriad of challenges which require concerted effort from respective governments.

“Low coverage remains a major challenge. This is exacerbated by the informal sector, which forms a large segment of the labour force, remaining outside the reach of social security and is not covered by any other forms of social protection,” he said.

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