Tuesday, 26 September 2006

31st sitting of the Committee on Labour, Ex-Servicemen’s and Social Issues

On 26 September, the Committee on Labour, Ex-Servicemen’s and Social Issues of the National Assembly held its thirty-first sitting.

On 26 September, the Committee on Labour, Ex-Servicemen’s and Social Issues of the National Assembly held its thirty-first sitting. The sitting, set up as a roundtable, was chaired by the Committee’s chairperson, Ivana Kovacevic.

The sitting discussed the National Employment Strategy and the implementation of the National Employment Action Plan 2006-2008; the roundtable was taken part in by members of the Assembly’s Education Committee, Local Self-Government Committee, Poverty Reduction Committee, and Agriculture Committee, as well as officials of the appropriate ministries, agencies, trade unions, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Implementation Team, UN Development Programme, OSCE Mission to Serbia, etc.

At the start of the sitting, the participants were addressed by the Chairman of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, Predrag Markovic. He underlined that the key of the Assembly’s oversight role – also exercised through the work of the Committees – was for everyone ‘to hear each other well’, from public authorities, through to the media, to all those who should work on the resolution of Serbia’s unemployment issues. ‘It is good that Serbia has adopted the Poverty Reduction Strategy, but before an action plan is brought to life, it needs to come into action, be implemented’, Markovic said. The issue of unemployment can have no swift answers, and this poses a problem, regardless of how good a strategy is or how many experts work on it. ‘The issue of unemployment cannot be solved quickly. Therefore we must face what we need to do, each one of us in his field; a necessary precondition is to learn what is being done, and what the benefits of it are’, Markovic concluded. Wishing success to Committee members in their work, Markovic invited the deputies to give their contribution to reducing poverty and unemployment by giving up part of their salary for this cause.

The participants were also addressed by the Minister of Labour, Employment, and Social Policy, Slobodan Lalovic, who stressed that the Government is committed to taking an active stance towards the issue of unemployment. ‘We have managed to keep unemployment from rising significantly during transition’, Lalovic said, adding that restructuring was expected to finish in 2007, thereby stopping the inflow of unemployed people.

At the end of the discussion, roundtable participants adopted the following conclusions:

    - The National Employment Action Plan is hereby adopted; implementation of measures foreseen should continue, and better mutual co-operation should be ensured;

    - An active approach to employment should be fostered, while the severance pay system should be channelled to aid new employment;

    - A policy and strategy for reforming vocational and adult education systems should be adopted; a stratification system should be adopted, and informal education forms should be accredited;

    - Urgent work should be started on a national qualification system;

    - A more active role should be given to the Social and Economic Council in implementing the Employment Action Plan;

    - The possibility of introducing more flexible working options should be investigated, and expert and comparative analyses and assessments carried out;

    - Constant scientific research should be initiated to monitor performance metrics and ensure new measures are planned in due time, and

    - Better access to information should be provided for all stakeholders and members of the public.

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