In the framework of the SP&PFM Programme, the ILO Country Office for Bangladesh held on 11 November the Consultation Meeting “Fostering Unemployment Protection Measures in Bangladesh”. The event aimed to engage the Government, employers and workers organizations, as well as relevant social partners in understanding the potentials and challenges, guiding the way forward for appropriate policy actions to foster unemployment protection measures.
The initiative results from a process that started on 7 April 2020, when representatives from employers’ and workers’ organizations called for establishing an Unemployment Fund undertaking initiation to mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following this, the ILO has started a preliminary assessment on the feasibility of Unemployment Insurance.
About 50 people attended the event, including the Honourable Minister, M.A. Mannan, Ministry of Planning of Bangladesh, Mr Md. Ehsan-E-Elahi, Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of Bangladesh, Mr Tuomo Poutiainen, Director of the ILO Country Office for Bangladesh, Mr Maurizio Cian, Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation to Bangladesh and Ms Peyron Bista Celine, Chief technical Advisor, ILO-Geneva. In addition to government officials, representatives from employers and trade unions, business associations and foundations, United Nations agencies, and other development partners also participated and shared potential opportunities and challenges for this issue.
Mr M.A. Mannan of the Ministry of Planning stated that there is political will, resources, and an environment in place to begin the process of establishing a full-fledged Unemployment Insurance program. According to him, “If we had this kind of national (social) insurance, then we would not pay this large amount to overcome the (COVID-19) situation”. Mr Md. Ehsan-E-Elahi, Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, stated that ‘The NSSS-2015 adopted by the envisions for a National Social Insurance Scheme (NSIS) in Bangladesh. The National Social Security Action Plan 2nd phase (2021-2025) under this strategy has assigned the Ministry of Labour and Employment for introducing unemployment, employment injury, sickness and maternity insurance. Mr Maurizio Cian, Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation mentioned that he hopes Bangladesh will find a permanent structural mechanism to protect the possible unemployed and employed people. After very active participation of social partners, the ILO reaffirmed its commitment to work in cooperation with the European Union and GIZ to provide technical assistance to the Government of Bangladesh to prepare a technical proposal for an Unemployment Protection Scheme that is adapted to the national context and aligned with ILO social security standards.