The Jordanian Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, the Social Security Corporation (SSC) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on Tuesday signed an agreement for the implementation of a new initiative titled Estidama++ Fund - Extension of Coverage and Formalisation.
The project will promote formalisation in the most vulnerable sectors in the Jordanian economy by providing income support and subsidising contributions of Jordanian and non-Jordanian workers, including refugees, so to promote their registration and participation in the SSC, according to an ILO statement.
The agreement was signed by Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Nasser Shraideh, ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Arab States Ruba Jaradat, and SSC Director General Hazim Rahahleh.
Minister of Labour Nayef Stetieh, Ambassador of the Netherlands Harry Verweij, ILO Deputy Director-General for Field Operations and Partnerships Moussa Oumarou, and Chargée d’Affairs at the Norwegian embassy in Amman Rita Sandberg attended the signing ceremony.
Both the Netherlands and Norway fund this programme.
During the official ceremony, Shraideh expressed appreciation for the partnership with the ILO for implementing projects in priority sectors such as employment and training and agriculture.
“We would like to thank Norway and the Netherlands for supporting to address the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges facing the economy,” Shraideh added.
The labour minister said that Estidama++ provides an opportunity to support workers in MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises) or in other key sectors such as agriculture and transportation.
He added that such initiatives support the recovery of the national economy from the shocks of the pandemic, expressing his appreciation for the efforts of the ILO, the governments of the Netherlands and Norway for their support.
“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SSC and ILO have been working to identify gaps in social protection programmes and develop solutions that address informal workers' short-term needs and longer-term vulnerabilities,” Jaradat said.
She added: “We are pleased that based on our strong partnership with the Government of Jordan and the SSC, we will now be able to address some of the social protection gaps and guarantee a more comprehensive and inclusive social security coverage in Jordan."
Estidama++ complements the government’s existing Estidama programme and follows the successful initiatives of the SSC during the COVID-19 response that led a significant number of workers and enterprises to join the social security system.
"The project builds on SSC's ongoing strategic programmes to extend social security to all workers in the Kingdom, support the sustainability of the private sector, and strengthen the national economy. Estidama++ is an opportunity to support new sectors and informal workers such as agricultural workers, tour guides, taxi drivers, and self-employed workers," said Rahahleh.
The fund will be managed by the SSC, with technical support from the ILO.
Financial support will be provided by the Kingdom of Norway and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, while other international partners are also considering their participation, read the statement.
“Estidama++, which the Netherlands funds through the global PROSPECTS partnership, will provide income support to 13,000 vulnerable informal workers, both Jordanians and non-Jordanians, including refugees. The project supports the workers in joining social security schemes to help protect their income in times of need – ultimately strengthening Jordan’s economic resilience and social protection,” said Verweij.
“Support to economic recovery and retention of jobs is an important priority for Norway in Jordan. We are therefore very pleased to announce our support for Estidama ++ as the extension of social security coverage to vulnerable informal workers will support formalisation of jobs, and a more sustainable social protection system,” said Sandberg.
Estidama ++ will provide short-term support to vulnerable workers to enroll in the SSC while also supporting the development of systems, capacities, and medium-term approaches for sustainable extension of social security coverage.
A partnership between UNHCR and ILO will be key to ensure outreach to refugees across the country, the statement said.
The project will support the implementation of recently approved regulatory framework regarding mandatory coverage in social security of self-employed and agriculture sector workers.
The first phase of implementation will have a duration of 18 months and it is estimated to benefit 13,000 workers in key sectors.