Population support during the pandemic situation: experience of two countries - Uzbekistan and Germany
On 12th of October, Nationwide movement “Yuksalish” together with partners organized a second meeting within the framework of International Discussion Club. The theme of the meeting was “Financial support of socially vulnerable sectors of the population during the pandemic: the experience of Uzbekistan and Germany".
Leading foreign experts from Europe, several independent experts, representatives of Parliament, ministries and departments, international bodies, civil society with expertise in social and economic well-being of the population discussed aspects of financial support of socially vulnerable sectors of the population during the pandemic in the format of open dialogue.
Apart from that, the discussion also covered experience of Germany and a number of other countries in the world with the mentioned problem.
Sherzod Saparov, Deputy Chairman of Nationwide movement “Yuksalish”
Financial support of socially vulnerable sectors of the population during the pandemic has become urgent challenge both for Uzbekistan and for many countries in the world. In this complicated circumstances, different organizations, such as Anti-crisis fund, institutions of civil society, public organizations, try to unite and overcome the crisis. To assist families in need of social protection special list was formed - so called «iron notebook». However, there were cases, when Mahalla chairmen ignored some income support recipients, which resulted in situations, when people were left without government support for some objective or subjective reasons.
In this case, the human factor played an important role. Experts mentioned that criteria for assessing the welfare of low-income families are not standardized and based on subjective indicators in many cases. For example, when «iron notebook» was formed, Mahalla and sector managers evaluated the financial situation based on accumulated assets over several years (cars, real estate, etc), without taking into consideration that some families were left without source of income during pandemic situation.
Such terms as «social protection» and «rehabilitation» has deepened significantly. It requires a full assessment of the state of our lives, studying of the working with the population principles and introduction of new working methods of highly educated public officials in the field of social protection. Currently, three universities have programs of social workers training. In fact, more than 900 students are receiving higher education in this area every year, but, sadly, most government agencies do not have social workers.
Moreover, it can be a huge human resource for public institutions. It is important to create countrywide system of social workers, who could provide social services for those who are in desperate need of them. Also, social protection can be not only in the form of material assistance but also in the form of patronage services for families in crisis, older people living alone, orphans and operation with migrant workers families.
Martin Shebesta, Political Adviser, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Germany
The German government has sent about €50 billion to support small enterprises and offer transition unemployment benefits. Thus, this country managed to avoid a big round of layoffs. A lot of companies submit an application to the government about financial problems and inability to pay worker’s wages and they requested to provide governmental support.
The government undertakes to pay 50-70 percent of salary fund (depending on the type of enterprise and the number of family members). Consequently, currently situation with unemployment is stable, with some businesses starting to pay the workers rest of the salary.
In addition, tax incentives are provided. Also, delayed payment of rent can be an option for socially vulnerable families.
Ilhom Mamatkulov, Head of the Poverty Reduction Policy Department of the Ministry of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction:
In the face of the current pandemic, there are some issues or certain grievances regarding the protection of the people in need. To ensure the transparency of the process, the information system "Unified Register of Social Protection" was created. The mentioned process is carried out through the online system.
Furthermore, working groups have been set up to provide material and non-material support to the local population. Provisional lists of persons in need of social protection were established by decisions of local Kengashes.
For maintenance and monitoring of this list an automated electronic program «saxovat.argos.uz» has been launched online. Nowadays, inclusion of a list of the population in need of assistance, determination of the source of income and employment of the working population are offered online in this program. When citizens start to have a permanent income, they estimate from «iron notebook» directly online.
Based on international experience, there are three tools, which can be used for poverty reduction:
One of them is stimulation of aggregate demand. During the pandemic, aggregate supply capacity was limited. The State has provided incentives for enterprises that have suspended their activities to resume their activities. For poorer segments of the population, government provided an «instrument» by involving them in cooperatives, allocating of land from unused land in agriculture and granting subsidies.
Second tool is the development of human capital. For example, provision of soft loans and direct financial assistance to the population. Currently, unemployed citizens receive training in various professions. For this purpose, Mono-centres have been established. To develop the skills of the population at a level that does not require high qualifications and education, courses for improvement of qualification are offered locally. For instance, The Higher School of Business and Entrepreneurship offers courses in entrepreneurship.
Third tool consists of providing direct financial and material assistance to families included in the «iron notebook». Kindergarten fees are waived, and children are provided with seasonal clothing. According to the presidential decree, more than 182,000 low-income families had received financial assistance for almost 154 billion sum to the Eid al-Adha holiday.
One of the major challenges for us is to ensure inclusive economic growth, creation of permanent jobs, and, as the most important target, to reduce poverty by increasing human capital. In fact, The United Nations set a goal to halve poverty in Uzbekistan by 2030.
The discussion resulted in proposals and recommendations of improving the system of material support and incentives for the population.
For the record: The International Discussion Club was created with support of the National Movement "Yuksalish" in accordance with the presidential decree of March 2, 2020.
The main purpose of the Club is to hold discussions on socio-economical and socio-political issues, create trends in different spheres, formulate proposals, and promote innovative ideas and views with experts including foreign and international organizations. The UzReport TV channel supports the media version of the International Discussion Club.
Press Service of the National Movement "Yuksalish"