As the final deliverable of the pension team of the SPSS project, ending September 30, 2009, we are pleased to present a paper on several scenarios of pension reform. This work was done pursuant to the parametric reforms articulated in the GOAM November 2008 reform program. In this paper, the SPSS project provides scenarios reflecting the reform proposal and the changed assumptions of the GOAM, including changes in economic conditions over the last year.
USAID-FUNDED SPSS PROJECT MARKS THREE YEARS OF SUCCESS
Yerevan, Armenia - On September 3, 2009, the USAID-funded Social Protection Systems Strengthening (SPSS) Project marked the successful completion of its three-year program in Armenia at a celebration held in Congress Hotel in Yerevan. Guest speakers at the event included First Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Issues Araïk Petrosyan, USAID/Armenia Acting Mission Director John Seong, AECOM International representative Elly Preotle and SPSS Chief of Party Jane Daly. Following the remarks, project staff presented program accomplishments related to pension benefits, employment services, labor protection, social assistance and management information systems.
Designed as a comprehensive social-reform project, SPSS has helped the Government of Armenia advance pension reform, modernize employment services and their facilities, promote safe and healthy working conditions, decentralize social services, and support NGOs provide customized programs for people with disabilities. In his opening remarks John Seong noted that social protection is a critical link to economic growth and sustainable development. “In these times of global economic crisis, programs like SPSS are essential for building Armenia’s capacity to effectively respond to the increasing demand for social protection while targeting programs that could reduce unemployment,” he said.
Jane Daly noted the impact of SPSS in Armenia and acknowledged the high level of collaborative support the project received from the Armenian ministries of labor and social issues, finance and economy, the Pension System Reform Working Group, the State Employment Service Agency (SESA), local communities and NGOs.
SPSS and counterpart accomplishments include:
4 draft pension reform laws sent to the Armenian government, and amendments to 8 existing laws developed;
Assessment of pension reform risks, costs and critical staff capacities;
Introduction of 5 proactive employment programs within SESA;
Renovation of the National Institute for Labor and Social Research
Renovation of 3 model regional employment offices with self-service kiosks;
Draft regulations on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) for mining industry; explosive environment and petroleum/gas handling;
Publication of two employer handbooks on occupational safety and health issues for State Labor Inspectorate;
13 grants to improve local social service to vulnerable people.
The SPSS project has been implemented by AECOM International Development (doing business as The Services Group) together with six sub-contractors, Armenian partners and counterparts. More photos>>>
Latest news from the Social Insurance Component
The SPSS team is publishing a comprehensive review of five forms of social insurance: unemployment, maternity, temporary incapacity, occupational injury, and disability. For each form of social insurance SPSS presents: international good practices, the current status of this form of social insurance in Armenia, the regulatory framework, institutional arrangements, GAP analysis and SPSS recommendations. The analysis is accompanied by annexes with examples of good practices from the ILO, as well as Austria, Estonia, France, Germany, Portugal, Poland, Sweden, UK, and US.
This review was drafted by SPSS experts Karine Bouvry-Boyakhchyan, Jane Daly, Hasmik Ghukasyan, Christopher Hartwell, Anna Hovhannesyan, Arsen Manukyan, Amy Ramm, Tigran Tananyan, and Lena Zezulin. The project also wishes to acknowledge the guidance of the USAID Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative, Volodymyr Yatsenko, in the preparation of this document. The document is also being translated into Armenian.
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New Craft Markets Provide Income for People with DisabilitiesHigh unemployment in Chambarak, a border town with primary employment is agriculture and Military defense offering no employment opportunities for people with disabilities. “Astghatsolk” Public Organization is very active in the town, working with the local government and businesses to improve employment for disabled individuals in the region. Using government funds this NGO organized woodcrafts and hand crafts trainings for 11 disabled individuals. The trainings assisted these individuals to develop rafts skills and become self-employed. READ MORE>>>
Partnering for Raised Awareness on Child Protection in Armenia
On February 17, 2009, the RA Ministry of Labor and Social Issues (MLSI) hosted the launch of the guidebook on “Children Protection system in Armenia” with representatives from MLSI, RA National Assembly, USAID/Armenia, local government bodies and NGO community.
Among other functions, MLSI has been making efforts to achieve the goal of making child protection system in Armenia more efficient. The key challenge in this system is the deficient collaboration mechanism between its main role-players MLSI- local government social services and the civil society, which is crucial for ensuring access to available resources of social assistance. The issue of public awareness is of no less importance. Insufficient awareness on social rights often results in potential abuse of authority, raising the dependency of population on social services. In this context, the issue of social advertizing is accentuated as it is not getting adequate state attitude so far. Respective NGOs currently make efforts to draw state and public attention to this problem in an attempt to identify solutions by means of state budget allocations, policy decisions or drawing the attention of mass media and the civil society. READ MORE>>>, MLSI website
SESA Pilots a New System for Better Employment Services
SPSS Expert Tom Ivory trains SESA’s Vanadzor Regional Employment Center staff on how to use Performance Measures indicators to improve their services.
Measuring SESA program effectiveness by developing performance measures has been a critical element in USAID Armenia, Social Protection Systems Strengthening (SPSS) Project action plan. During 2007 and 2008, trainings and working groups were organized to develop “Employment Programs Performance Measures.” Key participants included the RA Ministry of Labor and Social Issues (MLSI), the State Employment Service Agency (SESA), the National Institute of Labor and Social Researches (NILSR) and the NORK Information-Analytical Center (NORK) representatives. SPSS expert Thomas Ivory, who has extensive Employment Service management background, guided the capacity building process, including the work of the SESA Performance Measures Committee that developed the SESA-specific Performance Measure Indicators.
This system is designed to build the skill and knowledge within SESA to provide data and information that assesses program outcomes and results within the employment service delivery system. It is captured in a Performance Measures Manual that provides an overview of performance measurement elements including the purpose and the use of a Performance Measurement System to strengthen active labor market programs (ALMP’s). READ MORE>>>
Building SESA’s Capacity to Implement Active Labor Market Programs
In the process of developing Employment Programs Performance Measures
Since its 2007 launch, USAID Armenia, Social Protection Systems Strengthening (SPSS) Project has been actively partnering with the State Employment Service Agency (SESA) of the Ministry of Labor and Social Issues of Armenia (MLSI) to transform from a passive government agency, that pays people when they are not working, into an active leader in active labor market programs, that help people get back to work. The use of active programs versus passive aims to reduce unemployment, assist employers in finding qualified workers and provide on-going job seeking support to SESA clients.
Active Labor Market Programs (ALMPs) are a worldwide best practice used to reduce the risk of unemployment and to increase the earnings capacity of workers. Although SESA had received information about active labor measures from other donors, such programs had not been comprehensively implemented in Armenia until SPSS introduced job fairs, job clubs, group job search, employer relations and performance measures. Each has important social and economic objectives and has been implemented to enhance labor supply, increase labor demand (e.g., public works, subsidies), or improve the functioning of the labor market with core principles of efficiently provided customer service, continuous improvement and accountability. READ MORE>>>
| ||New Jobs for Workers Who are Blind|
Mr. Soghoyan says that the grant helped Echmiadzin Union of Blind and its headquarters to recover from effects of the financial crisis and produce better quality products as well as meet market requirements. As a result the enterprise has signed a two year agreement with a Russian Company and will have sustainable income to employ at least 35 blind people. Currently, there are about 112 blind job seekers in Echmiadzin and surrounding villages which are registered and waiting for jobs. READ MORE >>>
Keeping Track of Individual Pension Contributions
The Government of Armenia (GOAM) has been considering pension reform options for many years, and USAID has supported several different initiatives to assist this process. GOAM appointed a Pension Reform Working Group (PWG), which had already initiated its work when the SPSS project started in January 2007. The SPSS pension experts worked closely with the PWG as it developed pension policy. The SPSS project has assisted the Government of Armenia’s Pension Reform Implementation Working Group in a number of areas. In previous months, the project has assisted in modeling pension system finances and drafting legislation. READ MORE >>>
SPSS Study Drives Improvements in Pension Services
In January 2008, USAID Social Protection Systems Strengthening (SPSS) Project began a thorough Survey on Business Processes in 10 SSSS offices located in Yerevan.
Varduhi Gevorgyan is the Head of Kanaker-Zeytun State Social Security Service (SSSS) office. She passionately embraces the Business Process Assessment done by the USAID’ SPSS project: “The reports became the basic instrument to get better facilities which can be easily accessed by our basic customers, pensioners.” READ MORE>>>
The Feminine Face of Poverty in Armenia
“Why are we so poor? We all work in our family!” asks 52-year old Ann.
Being employed in Armenia does not yet mean earning enough for a decent life. Besides the risks of being single females with dependents, Ann’s family found itself in an additional risk zone also due to their choices of occupations. Education and healthcare are the most “feminized” sectors in Armenia and the most low-paid. READ MORE>>>
I SEEK ADVICE!!!
We always need advice on how to behave correctly in this or that situation, but what can help in matters like daily violations of women’s rights, personal violence?
Young Mary married right after school. Her grandfather and uncle’s family, where she lived after her mother was deprived of parental rights and she lost track of her father who went to work in a distant country, wanted to arrange her life and find a good home for her. They found a 30-year-old hardworking guy with a two-room flat in Yerevan, a father and a mother. Mary didn’t want to marry, but...READ MORE>>>
Latest news from the Social Insurance Component
SPSS experts have updated the SRC personified recordkeeping IT system specification in September after additional meetings with the SRC and other stakeholders. This document is an update of the SRC IT system specification delivered in the spring. It was delivered to the SRC, MLSI and other members of the Pension Reform Implement more
Latest news from the Social Insurance Component
The four draft pension reform laws (on the solidarity pension system, on the funded pension system, on the unified income tax and on personified recordkeeping) were submitted to GOAM in April; after revisions these four laws plus the law on investment funds were discussed by the GOAM during meetings in June. SPSS experts r more