Issue brief: Unified Social Registry: Towards An Efficient Social Protection System

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Issue brief: Unified Social Registry: Towards An Efficient Social Protection System

April 28, 2021

The right to social protection is an acknowledgement of our collective obligation to fellow human beings in times of need; a recognition that illness or unemployment, pregnancy or old age, disability or injury cannot be allowed to push people into vulnerability. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the stabilizing effect of well-functioning social protection systems and how their absence exacerbates inequality and poverty. Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, the time was right for a major strengthening of social protection system in the country. Potential innovations in the data on the poor can include: (i) household registries, primarily focusing on providing a standardized targeting and registration tool for multiple programmes; and (ii) integrated beneficiary registries, which make it possible to consolidate information on beneficiaries across existing programmes that may use different registration modalities

In the longer run, the government could explore ways to implement social protection floors to ensure segments of the population who has no social protection coverage whatsoever are well protected. Population ageing, migration, urbanization, natural disasters and climate change, as well as the changing nature of work make these challenges ever more urgent. One of the key policy prescriptions put forward is a Basic Income (BI), which promotes regular, unconditional cash payments to all individuals, serving as a financial lifeline as the people navigate the worst immediate effects of COVID-19.  UNDP Malaysia plans to pilot a Temporary Basic Income (TBI) programme to see if by enabling nearly people to stay at home as much as possible; by giving them the means to buy food and pay for health and education expenses, both people’s quality of life's deterioration and the COVID-19 spread can be slowed down.