News | 16 October 2023: Informal workers, the self-employed and youth in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) will soon benefit from a campaign being developed by the Government in collaboration with the ILO Decent Work Team and Office of the Caribbean.
The innovative campaign was recently reviewed and validated by officials of the Virgin Islands Social Security Board (SSB), during ILO-facilitated high-level meetings and working sessions held between 18 and 20th September 2023.
SSB staff who attended the meetings and sessions included Mrs Jeanette Boynes, Director, and nine members of the technical planning team. Participating ILO Caribbean team members included Ms. Joana Borges Henriques, Specialist for Social Protection and Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), and Ms. Kyana Bowen, National Project Coordinator.
The validation process included an agreement on activities under the campaign to be implemented by the SSB. The achievement signals a significant step towards a more inclusive social protection system that reaches the three target groups through a package of incentives that encourages their awareness of and access to social security.
With technical support from the ILO under the Joint Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Fund Programme (JP) “Resilient Caribbean: Engaging and training youth, strengthening integrated social protection sector delivery,” the development of the campaign focuses on transitioning to the formal economy by facilitating contributions to social protection measures. The campaign will also seek to sensitize delinquent contributors so they better understand the importance of coverage, particularly in the context of crises which can disrupt earnings and productivity.
“Informal workers typically endure multiple decent work deficits, such as irregular incomes and lack of protection by labour legislation, that can impair their livelihoods and limit their advancement. The ILO is pleased to collaborate with the Government of the British Virgin Islands to address these challenges by advancing a more extensive social protection system that puts these workers on a path to sustainable resilience,” said Ms. Joana Borges Henriques, ILO Caribbean Specialist for Social Protection and Occupational Safety and Health.
Strategies outlined in the campaign will serve as a roadmap to close gaps in the current social protection system in order to achieve greater efficiency that reduces barriers to participation and increases registration and contributions, strengthens compliance and improves beneficiary experience and attitudes.
The campaign is a direct outcome of a workshop titled “Extension of Social Security Coverage to the Informal Economy” which was hosted by the ILO in September 2022 to help officials increase their knowledge of challenges faced by informal workers, youth and the self-employed as a result of their exclusion from social protection systems. Participating SSB staff identified the action plan as a key opportunity under the Joint SDG Fund Programme for 2022 – 2023 to close gaps in coverage and lower associated risks identified through the training.
As it relates to the value of the action plan to improve the quality of life of the people of BVI, Mrs Jeanette Boynes, SSB Director said “the workforce of the British Virgin Islands is diverse and ever-growing, and our social protection systems must reflect the same. Thanks to the implementation of the action plan and the support of the ILO, the people of the BVI are set to receive a heightened social security system; one that facilitates the extension of coverage with key focus on the informal sectors, in order to manage and overcome the contingencies of life; especially in these dynamic times.”
As a next step in the process, the SSB will soon begin implementation of the action plan, through the campaign. In a related area of support, the ILO also met with other key high-level officials including Ms Petrona Davies, Permanent Secretary in the Minister of Labour, and Ms Tasha Berties, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Development in an effort to understand needs for improving data production, including statistics, to establish stronger linkages between contributory and non-contributory social protection in the territory.
This article was originally published by ILO.
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