Kyrgyzstan is one of 10 countries participating in the EU-SPS, a four-year initiative co-financed by the European Commission, the OECD and the Finnish Ministry of Health and Welfare. For more than a year, the OECD Development Centre in Paris has been conducting in-depth research of social protection in Kyrgyzstan: the objective of the workshop was to discuss the results of this analysis and identify possible policy responses to a number of challenges currently facing Kyrgyzstan, with a particular focus on how a systemic approach to social protection can maximise the impact of public policy and spending in this sector.
Representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Development (MLSD), Ministry of Finance, Social Fund, Mandatory Health Insurance Agency, the National Institute of Strategic Studies and the National Statistics Committee of Kyrgyzstan took part in the event. They were joined by experts from Unicef, the International Labour Organization, HelpAge International and other development partners, along with representatives of the European Union Delegation in Bishkek and a team of the OECD Development Centre in Paris, which arranged the workshop on behalf of the EU-SPS. The event was opened by the Deputy Minister of Labour Social Development, Mrs. Pulotova, the Head of the Cooperation Section of the Delegation of the European Union to the Kyrgyz Republic, Mr Johannes Stenbaek Madsen, and Alessandra Heinemann, project co-ordinator from the OECD Development Centre.
A presentation from the OECD Development Centre team identified Kyrgyzstan’s achievements in reducing poverty and highlighted the range of social protection instruments that exist for different vulnerable groups. At the same time, it recognised the challenges that confront Kyrgyzstan today and into the future in terms of further reducing poverty and vulnerability, improving coverage and enhancing the efficiency of the different programmes. Given the wide range of policy instruments in social protection, the high level of expenditure and the extensive public support for social protection, Kyrgyzstan has the potential to derive significant gains from a more systematic approach to this sector, as envisaged by the current social protection strategy (2015-2017).
Participants then brainstormed possible policy responses to the challenges identified by the EU-SPS team based on three main themes: defining poverty and vulnerability to improve the targeting of social protection, enhancing coverage through greater efficiency and sustainable financing for social protection. These discussions – and the recommendations that emerged – will be incorporated in the final Social Protection System Review, which will be presented by the EU-SPS in Kyrgyzstan in the middle of 2017. It is hoped that this review will in turn inform the government’s next social protection strategy.