Supporting Improvement of Social Assistance Scheme

Parliamentary Committee on Health, Labor and Social Welfare supported by UNDP - Parliamentary Development for Social Policies Project and UNICEF, organized a workshop and gathered relevant stakeholders form Government and Civil society organizations, in order to discuss the Social Assistance Scheme in Kosovo.
The workshop included the majority of members of the Committee on Health, Labor and Social Welfare, representatives from the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, UN Development Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Kosovo Ms. Osnat Lubrani, UNICEF Deputy Head of Office Mr. Luciano Calestini, representatives of ECLO, child protection NGO coalition (KOMF),  the Ombudsperson institution,  and Office of Good Governance.     
The chairperson of the Committee Mr. Fikrim Damka opened the workshop by presenting the objectives of the workshop, with a specific emphasis on the continuous engagement of the commission on the draft law on amending and supplementing the law on Social Assistance Scheme No. 2003/15. He specified that it affects the most marginalized groups in Kosovo, taking into account that it regulates the provision of financial assistance to families living in poverty. The head of the Working group on the draft law on amending and supplementing the law on Social Assistance Scheme, Ms. Nazane Breca indicated the most critical issues identified for special attention while amending the law. The UNDP Resident Representative and UN coordinator in Kosovo, Ms. Osnat Lubrani, addressed the participants by indicating the relevance of this law to alleviating the poverty in general, indicating the importance of overcoming the financial obstacles as an obligation to improve the situation of the recipients of social assistance. Mr.Luciano Calestini urged the Parliamentary committee members to consider this unique opportunity to realize the basic human rights of the most marginalized groups in particular of young generations. UNDP programme Analyst, Mr. Mytaher Haskuka presented some of the statistics of poverty in Kosovo and its relations to social assistance, emphasizing the role of international organizations in combining the efforts to alleviate poverty.  Mr. Dren Rexha, provided a brief overview of the UNICEF study with clear findings on the profile of child poverty in Kosovo, policy options with concrete recommendations to be taken into account while amending the draft law on social assistance scheme.
Ms.  Donjeta Kelmendi presented the child protection coalition position on the provisions of the draft law on social assistance scheme. Considering that the poverty has a negative impact on physical, psychological, emotional and social development of children,   KOMF recommends to modify and remove some of the provisions and criteria that are not promoting the best interest of the child.
The debate was led by comments and suggestions made by various present stakeholders. In general, the debate concluded that the draft law on social assistance scheme does not provide any substantial changes towards adopting the social scheme that would contribute to alleviating the poverty. Some of the provisions of the draft law were considered rather discriminatory. At the other amendments to the law  with budgetary implication were raised as a major concern by the MPs.    
Mr. Damka concluded the meeting for the recommendations from the discussion to be considered in the upcoming formal meeting of the committee, pledging the continuous support to improving the social assistance scheme.