Lao PDR: Assessment-based national dialogue on Social Protection
Khemphone Phaokhamkeo , Sinta Satriana , valérie schmitt , Silas Theile
Towards a Social Protection Floor in Lao PDR
Building a national Social Protection Floor is of particular importance in Lao PDR in order to protect the most vulnerable groups in society, to develop better human capital and achieve more inclusive economic growth. As the country liberalizes its economy in the context of regional economic integration within the ASEAN Economic Community and strives towards graduation from Least Developed Country status, social protection is ever more essential. Much of the rapid economic growth has been concentrated in the formal urban sector (less than 30% of the workforce), which also enjoys the best access to formal social protection. With rising income inequality, ensuring that the benefits of increasing prosperity are shared by all remains a challenge. At the same time, continued economic growth means that the fiscal capacity of the government is expected to improve over the medium to long-term, enabling a gradual creation and expansion of social assistance programmes for the most vulnerable groups.
The Assessment Based National Dialogue (ABND) on Social Protection
In this context, the Government of the Lao PDR is considering to develop a National Social Protection Strategy setting out policies for the progressive implementation of a more comprehensive social protection floor. The ILO in collaboration with other UN agencies is supporting the Lao Government in conducting an Assessment-Based National Dialogue (ABND) exercise, providing an inclusive and evidence-based process for identifying priority areas for the extension of the social protection floor. The ABND exercise will benefit from the experience of similar exercises conducted or ongoing in several countries in the region, including Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Myanmar and the Philippines.
The ABND provides a unique opportunity to gather all stakeholders and develop a common diagnosis of the social protection situation and define policy priorities for the future. This consensus is achieved progressively, through consultations, workshops, and technical sessions where priority policy options are developed and revised to take budget requirements and fiscal constraints into account.
The ABND process commenced with a one-day consultation workshop on 26 April 2013.
As an outcome of this workshop, an inter-ministerial Drafting Committee for the National Social Protection Strategy was appointed on 9 September 2013, chaired by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and consisting of representatives of relevant line ministries and tripartite partners.
STEP 1: Assessment of existing social protection provisions and formulation of recommendations
A structured assessment is currently being conducted through consultations and workshops with all stakeholders, including line ministries, UN agencies, development partners, tripartite partners and civil society. As part of this step, the Drafting Committee's technical level Secretariat met on 28-29 April 2015 to collect information on existing social protection provisions and to provide inputs on implementation issues, gaps in social protection policy and on recommendations to address the identified issues and gaps.
As a next step, a preliminary assessment report will be developed in consultation with stakeholders, which will be the basis for discussion at the next national dialogue workshop.
STEP 2: Costing of priority policy recommendations
Once a consensus on priority recommendations has been reached, a set of potential policy scenarios for the extension of a social protection floor will be developed in consultation with stakeholders in order to calculate and project potential costs over the next 10 to 15 years, along with a projection of fiscal space. A national dialgoue workshop on the costing of policy scenarios can serve as a basis for discussions on financing strategies and government budget reallocations, and in turn help prioritize among social protection policy options.
STEP 3: Endorsement of a final report at a high level
The final ABND report will be presented to the Drafting Committee for the National Social Protection Strategy and relevant stakeholders, for consideration of the involved ministries and higher levels of government in order to provide costed policy options as a basis for any future efforts to develop a social protection strategy.
ILO's other social protection projects in Lao PDR: