Experts say Oman must prepare for social insurance challenges

Muscat - 

With a young population, Oman should now prepare for future social insurance challenges, officials said at the Regional Social Security Forum for Asia and the Pacific 2015 on Monday. 

The three-day conference, which is being organised by the International Social Security Association (ISSA), is being attended by representatives of Asian countries and Oman.

PASI-Stoove

Addressing the gathering, Errol Frank Stoove, president, ISSA, said, “The main challenge for social security in this region is the greying society. Can we provide old people with social security in the coming years?”

The social insurance concept not only includes pensions for retired people, but also general social welfare such as maternity benefits and workplace safety, another official said. The Public Authority for Social Insurance (PASI), which is hosting the conference, manages social security for Omanis in the private sector.

Saleh al Araimi, general manager of PASI, said the authority has gradually been increasing the insurance cover to citizens under its pension scheme since its inception in 1991. PASI recently offered voluntary insurance for the self-employed, he said. “Our vision is to have the Omani population covered under social security,” he said.

PASI has recently approved 2016-20 plan. “A part of the authority's next focus will be on unemployment benefits that are under study and in cooperation with other international bodies that might be part of this [2016-20] initiative,” he said.

H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Abdullah al Bakri, Minister of Manpower and president of board of directors, PASI said, "We have to work together for a new mechanism for investment and on the other hand, sustain these kinds of schemes in the future.” Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, secretary general, ISSA, said Oman must also find a way to accommodate expatriate workers. “The aim is clearly to cover all Omanis. There is also the issue of people who are coming to Oman to work and their coverage,” he said.

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