Exchanging Experiences, Expanding Opportunities

Social Protection Floors in Latin America and the Caribbean

Social Protection Floors in Latin America and the Caribbean

In the framework of the Social Protection Floor Initiative (SPFI) of the United Nations system (led by the ILO and the WHO), on the dates August 26th and 27th of 2013, the Regional Seminar “El Rol de los Pisos de Protección Social en los sistemas integrales de seguridad social en América Latina y el Caribe”. The event was organized by the ILO and the PAHO in Lima, Peru, and had participation of various members of international agencies concerned with Social Protection issues - including the OAS through the IASPN-, and workers representatives, entrepreneurs and governments of 9 Latin American countries.

The framework for the discussion of the event was based on a document that presents the development of the SPFI concept for the region, and on the experiences of some countries of the hemisphere.

The discussions held during the seminar clearly reflected a multidimensional social protection nature, and the need for Intersectoral Coordination to tackle public policy in this issue. At the same time, emphasis was made on the challenge of not only the fiscal scope and the necessity to count with progressive tax regimes for social protection policies, but also the challenges of the political scope, since the social investment in social protection depends on political will.

The ECLAC expert Ana Sojo stressed during the seminar that “the strategy of universalization cannot be centered in only an increment in resources, but also on the morphology of social protection: institutional change such as locus of innovation”. At the same time, a representative of the government of Uruguay spoke on the necessity of a simultaneity of reforms (in terms of social security policies, labor, tributary, social protection) for the implementation of the Social Protection Floors.

Additionally, some of the topics discussed based on the presentations of the representatives of international organizations, governments, employers and workers, included:

  • Understanding that the Social Protection Floor is flexible, and it has to be adapted to the different necessities and realities of each country of the region.
  • Recognition from the various actors involved in the field of social protection with respect to the incorporating a human rights approach, and about the importance of the SPFI in the process of construction of consensus and dialogue on the matter. At the same time, stress was made on the necessity of transforming the focus of social protection rights in concrete actions for its implementation in the region.
  • Necessity to integrate the contributory and noncontributory components of the social protection systems of the region and avoid for these systems to be excluding; and account for the existence of coverage gaps and of continuity in the provision of social protection in the region (in terms of social security, health care, family allowances, etc.).
  • Importance of guaranteeing the continuity in the contributions, welfare rights, provision of social protection and not only coverage of the unprotected sectors. This, considering the internal rotation in the labor market and the high mobility (between wage employment, informal employment, inactivity, and unemployment); and the social mobility (descending) in relation to the field of revenue and to the population concentration on the issue of poverty threshold.
  • Necessity to take into account the impact of the demographic transitions in the social protection systems of the region (increase of women in the labor force, increment in the number of elders and reduced birth rates).
  • Necessity to formalize informal employment and its link with social security; and the issue of inclusion of independent worker to the systems of delivery (for example the systems of monotax).

Finally, the event provided the opportunity for representatives of international organizations to participate in an Inter-agency group for the monitoring of the Social Protection Floor Initiative in the region, coordinated by the ILO and the PAHO.