Social assistance schemes (or sometimes a minimum income) to assistance programs are non-contributory transfers targeted to relieve households that are trapped in chronic poverty. These programs include poverty targeted cash or in-kind transfers, either unconditional or conditional if recipients comply with certain behaviours. The usually related to education or health, price subsidies often for food or energy, labour-intensive public works schemes, and fee waivers for essential services such as healthcare, schooling, utilities, transport or disaster relief.
Social insurance facilitates households and individuals to hedge various risks along the lifecycle including old age, disability, ill health and unemployment. They are typically financed largely from payroll taxes with contributions from both workers and employers, but social contributions and allocations from the general budget are also used. In Punjab, like in the rest of Pakistan, social insurance is limited to old-age pensions and healthcare for workers in the formal sector. Expanding the coverage of social insurance to workers regardless of the sector of employment should be pursued over the next few years.
There are multiple types of old-age pensions to be considered to expand the coverage and accessibility of pensions to broader populations. Generally, a three-pillar approach is recommended: (i) non-contributory old-age pension for the elderly living in poverty; (ii) voluntary old-age pension/saving schemes; and (iii) mandatory contributory pension, typically for the formal sector including government officials.
Employment Creation and Labour Welfare
A key aspect of social protection is promoting employability and labour welfare for citizen’s self-sufficiency through income generating activities and graduation from poverty and social assistance. Such social protection programs include Active Labour Market Policies (ALMPs) that support insertion and re-insertion into the labour market and promote better earnings opportunities by upgrading worker skills and facilitating occupational or geographical mobility; microfinance or financial support for business development; labour policies and regulations that require basic job protection to workers and government employer-employee relations, or provide income support to the unemployed through unemployment insurance; and social funds and community development initiatives. ALMPs can serve as graduation programs that will assist transitioning out of poverty and exiting anti-poverty programs such as Benazir Income Support Program (BISP). As seen above, three groups have been identified in particular to benefit from social protection measures that promote employability, youth, women and migrant workers, so that these groups can engage in income generating activities.