MPs Want Social Protection Expenditure Increased

Members of the Ugandan Parliament sitting on the Committees of Budget and Gender, Labour and Social Development want government to increase social protection expenditure to at least 2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Our funding to social protection is still very low at less than 1% of GDP. It is important we come up with policies to cover the vulnerable groups in the country and see that expenditure rises to 2% or more of GDP” said Patrick Omara, MP Otuke County and member of the Budget Committee of Parliament.  

Orientation session for Members of Parliament sitting on the Committee of Gender, Labour and Social Development and the Committee on Budget was held at the Serena Hotel in Kampala days ago.

Currently, Uganda spends about 0.7% of GDP on Social Protection as compared to the sub-Saharan average of 2.1% and continental average (Africa) of 3.8% according to the World Social Protection Report by the International Labour Organization.  This effectively covers a paltry 2.8% of the population with at least one social protection benefit. 

The MPs also argued for the need to reduce the age of eligibility for the Senior Citizens Grant from the current 80 years to at least 65 years so that more vulnerable persons are covered.  This is in line with a commitment made by government to progressively reduce the age of eligibility.

According to Silas Aogon, UPFSP’s Committee member, social protection advocacy in the 11th Parliament should be able to address such issues as health care, disability, unemployment among other vulnerabilities.  

“We need to come up with a clear  strategy so that when we are making  petitions or raising motions and  questions on the champions who are empowered and  have a clear understanding of social  protection,” Silas Aogon, MP  Kumi Municipality.  

In his presentation, social protection expert, David Lambert Tumwesigye, who is also the Global Advocacy Advisor for Save the Children International, underscored the critical role of social protection in achieving Uganda’s national development agenda and overall Vision 2040. 

“Social Protection is a proven tool for reducing poverty and fixing inequality.  Our inequality levels are on the rise especially in urban areas and as shown by the IMF, this hurts economic growth,” Tumwesigye.  

The role of Social Protection as explained by Tumwesigye is to reduce the demand side barriers. These include barriers to health, food, education, decent employment among others.  

Delivering social protection interventions according to Patrick Kiconco Katabaazi, UPFSP’s coordinator, lies in building a system that relies more on guaranteeing the right to social protection rather than good will.  

The Chairperson of the Committee on Gender, Labour and Social Development, while closing the engagement, emphasised the need to build a strong social protection system that cushion the population against vulnerabilities along the lifecycle.  

“We are here to build blocks for a social protection system. The different  international and regional protocals  that Uganda is signatory to provide  a substantial framework on which we  can start designing, implementing and  monitoring social protection system  from a rights based approach ,” she  said.  

The meeting was intended to introduce members of the two committees of Parliament to the work of the Forum and the advocacy agenda for the 11th Parliament that is hinged on “Increasing Social Protection Coverage and Financing in Uganda”. 

The members resolved to;  advocate for increased investment  in social protection to cover all  vulnerabilities, empower social protection  champions, ensure reduction of the age of  eligibility for the Senior Citizens  Grant, advocacy on the operationalisation  of the social protection single  registry and ensure that all eligible beneficiaries  of the Senior Citizens Grant are  enrolled on the programme to  avoid exclusion.  

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