Empowering Social Security System for the Workforce

  • By Khin Yadana
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Union Minister for Labour, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe presents social pension for three months to an elder aged over 90 years in Nay Pyi Taw Council Area last year. Photo: MNA

Being a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Myanmar has a policy to ensure that workers have a good and appropriate working environment and the need for skilled workers in all sectors becomes critical for development of the country. It is very important to implement programmes to develop qualified human resources for nation building efforts and to develop a better socio-economic future for Myanmar workers by creating more job opportunities. The population of Myanmar is over 51 million and – among them 32 million people participate in the workforce. Social welfare schemes are led by Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Population and Immigration, aiming to provides social security programs for the benefits of the employees.

Social Security Board (SSB)
The Social Security Board (SSB) was established in 1956 after the adoption of the Social Security Act, 1954. The SSB has 77 township offices covering 110 townships in the country. In 2012, the State Government has adopted a new Social Security Law, 2012. This new law provides for an extended social security system. The SSB is progressively implementing the new law. In April 2014, the SSB started the implementation of the new contribution and benefit levels for the existing benefits including medical care, sickness, maternity and work injury as well as the collection of contributions for the new family benefits.
The SSB has implemented a social security scheme covering employees working for firms, state-owned, private, foreign and joint ventures. Moreover the social security scheme is contributory. The SSB administers social security programme for public employees, including members of the civil service, state boards, state corporations, municipal authorities and military personnel, as well as employees in private sector industries. On 31 August 2012, the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw enacted the Social Security Law of 2012, which introduced benefit systems for invalids, the elderly, survivors and unemployed individuals. The board has operated three hospitals and 93 social security clinics, other 43 clinics, 3 divisional offices and 77 township offices.
Reform efforts
The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw replaced the 2012 law legislation which had enacted in 1954. It included changes to contribution rates and benefits for medical care, sickness, maternity leave and workplace injuries, introduced new family benefits and also provided for registered workers to be issued with smart cards. These clinics have their own doctors and nurses, and supply the medicine. The Insurance sector has been actvie in Myanmar and globally, with a total consumer base of about 699,586 people according to the data of Social Security Board. Of those, only few tens of thousands of people are provided life insurance as a benefit from their employers.
Myanma Insurance sells public life insurance, government services personnel life insurance, defenses services personnel life insurance, snakebite life insurance, sportsman life insurance, workmen’s compensation insurance, marine hull insurance and farmer’s life insurance. Majority of the people in Myanmar dislike long-term life insurance plans because their value can be reduced over time by rapid inflation and they want to buy the insurance for the surgeries because health insurance premiums can be paid with installments.

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A pregnant woman receives medical care at the social security clinic. Photo: Supplied

Social Affairs
Labor inspection officers are working to make sure that workers who are working in factories, shops and offices are getting benefits and rights in accordance with the law with respect to pay, work days and holidays, work hours, workplace safety, and health. Workers are being provided with social security rights in accordance with the Social Security Law-2012 and efforts are being made to expand coverage of the social security system. As Myanmar became a member of the ASEAN Social Security Association-ASSA and International Social Security Association-ISSA, the Union Government has carried out the good practices of the international social security systems to improve the livelihood of workers by managing the social security funds effectively.
The Government guarantees not only for the security, provision of food, shelter and clothing of its citizens, but also for the stability of social existences such as education and health. It is undeniable that the Government has been making its concerted effort of its social sector to promote the standard of the workers. Moreover the State Government has the duty to continuously monitor, assess and take action by taking into consideration international labor standards and ensure that workers are getting the rights and benefits they are entitled to get in accordance with the country’s internal labor laws, rules, regulations and instructions; and furthermore to make sure that they will get better benefits and rights, that their socio-economic lives will improve and that their standard of living will be elevated.

Grasp job opportunities through free vocational trainings
The Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population is opening schools for skill training for skill development of workers in Myanmar, under 1950 employment and training act. Now there are 5 schools like this in the country—basic welding course, air-conditioner repair works, basic electrical course, lathe and moldings works. Vocational training is aimed at assisting the workers, who are seeking job opportunities in ASEAN countries, as Myanmar is a part of the ASEAN economic community. International Labour Organization’s survey showed that the demand is high for skilled labour in electronic field, carpenter, infrastructure, hotel and tourism, garment and social and human resource sector.
While Myanmar is working together with ASEAN countries on regional labor issues, concerted efforts have been made to develop better job opportunities for the workers and cooperate with the International Labor Organization (ILO). With the aim of providing better rights and benefits for workers, the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population has allowed the private sector which can produce more skilled workers and to build up capacity; more technical and vocational schools have been opened across the country.

Translated by Win Ko Ko Aung

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