Emergency expenses amidst the pandemic

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating social inequalities, the budget packages for social security, which have been proposed and carried out in many countries around the world, are of great significance in ensuring social equity and sustainable development.

At a session of the US House of Representatives in Washington, DC. (Photo: AFP/VNA)
At a session of the US House of Representatives in Washington, DC. (Photo: AFP/VNA)

The United States House of Representatives has passed a social spending bill which was proposed by President Joe Biden. With the passage of the “Rebuild Better Act”, the 1.8 trillion USD package is expected to promote education, health, childcare and help stop climate change. This was also an important step of President Joe Biden’s administration. The bill has been submitted to the Senate for discussion and a vote. The bill shows the government's concern for social issues and ignites hope for a more equitable and sustainable future for the country after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In many other countries, social security has become “hot spots” in parliament and a focus of the economic recovery agenda. In Europe, France spent over 130 billion EUR, equivalent to nearly 6% of gross domestic product, to support families. Meanwhile, the Italian government approved a 32 billion EUR relief package to support businesses and workers affected by the pandemic, of which 8 billion EUR was used for social welfare, including unemployment benefits.

Asian countries also spent large budgets on supporting economic recovery and narrowing the income gap caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Korea (ROK) said the 2022 budget was offered at 604.4 trillion won (520 billion USD), a year-on-year increase of 8.3%. In particular, the budget for health, welfare and employment sectors were at 216.7 trillion won, with 83.5 trillion won earmarked to reducing the income and social gaps. The Indonesian government has allocated 682.8 trillion rupiah (47.4 billion USD) to health care and social security in the draft State budget of 2022.

The above budget packages were proposed and implemented when the COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe consequences and is still complicated. The International Monetary Fund recently warned that COVID-19 has worsened long-standing inequalities around the world. In fact, the epidemic has exposed inequality in income and access to basic social security services such as health care and vaccinations around the world. Therefore, together with economic stimulus packages, the above social security expenditures need to be placed at the heart of development recovery programmes of countries for 2022 and the following years.

Translated by NDO