Industry Desk: The government is keen to introduce a national social insurance scheme in Bangladesh in phases with an aim to enhance social safety of the factory workers and common people, according to an official document.
Officials with knowledge of the process say a study has already been conducted on this prospective scheme, initiated by the Cabinet Division, by laying emphasis on the gradual introduction of four types of social insurance services in the country.
It envisages unemployment insurance, maternity insurance, sickness insurance and employment injury Insurance, which is focused on the country’s factory workers, according to a document.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment has already taken steps to launch a pilot of the employment injury scheme to protect factory workers from injuries.
Officials involved with the process say that ensuring workers’ safety in line with global standard is crucial as human rights organisations and workers’ rights groups are more vocal than ever about workplace safety and the workers’ rights at home and abroad. Global brands, especially in the garment sector, are concerned about compliance when it comes to workers’ welfare.
According to a 2021 survey by Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS), an NGO, a total of 1,053 workers were killed and 594 others injured in workplace accidents across the country.
BILS analyses that such casualties and injuries took place mainly because of road crash, electrocution, lighting, fires, toxic gases, waterway accidents, wall or roof collapse and explosion of gas cylinders
According to the document, various other steps have been taken and implemented to use such insurance services as “a disaster management tool.”
It says steps have also been taken to introduce crop insurance, livestock insurance, and health insurance for both the government employees and the common people.
“Particularly, the government is encouraging the introduction and widespread expansion of crop insurance,” reads the document.
It says there are initiatives to fully automate the insurance sector to ease the hassle of collecting the payouts of insurance claims.
Steps will be taken to strengthen financial inclusion and promote national savings by increasing the coverage of insurance, it says.
Streamlining workers’ welfare, such steps are vital as about 85 percent workforce of Bangladesh’s labour market is employed in the informal sector.
“As there is no institutional social security framework for the informal sector and expatriate workers, there are chances of uncertainty of livelihood at their old age,” it says.
In 2000, the number of the country’s total workers was 4.7 crore, which rose to 6.35 crore in 2018.
The number of expatriate workers in 2000 was 28.6 lakh, which crossed 90 lakh in 2018, the document says.
In 2020, the 60-plus population in Bangladesh was 1.20 crore, which will stand at 3.10 crore in 2041 and 5.57 crore in 2061.
Currently, the expected average life expectancy is 73 years, which will be 79.9 years in 2050 and 84.3 years in 2075.
Over the next three decades, there will be a life expectancy of 20 years even after retirement.
Presently, the dependency ratio is 7.7 percent which will rise to 24 percent in 2050 and 48 percent in 2075.
“The aging population will continue to grow due to the expected increase in average life expectancy,” according to the document.
In the country, the culture of societal safekeeping that prevailed in the villages for the elderly people through joint families is on the wane.
The increasing tendency to live in unit families is making the safety of the elderly people increasingly threatened.
In the 2008 election manifesto, Awami League promised to introduce a universal pension scheme nationally to ensure old-age protection for the elderly citizens under a sustainable and well-organised social security framework.
Accordingly, the government, in its 2015 ‘National Social Security Strategy’, proposed the creation of a comprehensive, integrated and participatory pension scheme.
In the budget speech for 2019-20 fiscal year, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal outlined the establishment of the universal pension scheme.
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