Social protection allocations for workers demanded
After the signing of National Finance Commission (NFC) award and passage of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan, provinces have gained greater administrative and economic powers.
In this situation, it has become extremely important to re-access the budgets of the central government and provinces, especially in Punjab and Sindh. The purpose of this exercise is order to find out whether these governments try to strike the balance between running the affairs of the state and supplying the much needed equity and social protection to the poor, undefended sections of the society, the women and workers in the informal sectors -home based women and men.
This was discussed in a seminar jointly organized by HomeNet Pakistan and PILER here on Tuesday Titled "Analysis of Pakistan's Budget (Federal & Provincial) 2015-2016 A gender perspective of Informal Sector ". The event featured renowned economist Dr Qais Aslam analysis on the negligence in budgetary allocations for the marginalized sections of the informal sector of the country and its adverse effect on the country's development process.
The analysis of the budget is a series of in depth critical discussions on the national and provincial budgets with regard to informal sector and social protection aimed to find our gap analysis among budgetary allocations for the marginalized sectors including informal economy. This was informed by Ume Laila Azhar , Executive director , HomeNet Pakistan. Sharing the findings with the audience she quoted articles from the Constitution of Pakistan which provide basic human and economic right to its citizens.
The analysis laments' the fact that governments one after the other had denied most of these rights to its citizens. Pakistan is signatory to international conventions ILO but unfortunately the level of compliance is dismally low. She said according to ILO figures, out of the total working population in Pakistan, 75 per cent has been engaged in the informal sector of economy and out of those, 50 per cent are women. Among the working women in the informal sector, around 80 per cent are home-based workers, which make a huge proportion of economy of Pakistan.
Farhat Fatima from PILER said that the majority of HBWs suffer work related medical problems, but do not get any medical treatment. Majority of workers have to squeeze money out of their earnings or borrow and take credit from others. Yet only 1% said health insurance was a work related need.72% of respondents faced health problems resulting from work, with posture related problems, joint pains and eye problems being the most common. Three fourths of them had not undergone any medical treatment for their ailments. The general state of health was low, 29% saying they suffered from medical conditions, which for 62% had lasted over two years. Medical emergencies and treatments were financed mostly through their regular income, or by borrowing money. Protection of HBWs is important through proper budgetary allocation , she stressed .
Mahnaz Rahman Resident Director Aurat Foundation briefed the audience on the existing situation of the informal sector of Pakistan's economy and the plight of people associated with it. Dr Qais Aslam said that the gaps in the budget making processes have resulted in failure of the government to cater to the requirements of the informal sector in Pakistan. He said the existence of undocumented labour in the economy and lack of social protection for them results in their exploitation. Quoting Provincial budget analysis on women , labour and youth 2015-16 . He highlighted several gaps in the budgetary allocations for women , youth social welfare and in labour.
The overall allocation for the women development is 0.1 billion, for labor and human resource it is 0.5 billion and for youth it is 0.4 billion for social welfare department it is 1 billion and for katachi abadi development it is 0.03 billion. The government of Sindh should include the needs of the women in informal sector in the annual budget plan 2015-2016. Linking the informal sector and specifically home based workers with the social protection is the way forward in policy implementation.