Asian Development Bank, ADB

Session 2B: Financing Social Protection: Fiscal Space and Domestic Resource Mobilization

The average social protection expenditure in Asia-Pacific countries is around 3.7% of GDP but the figure masks significant variations across countries (Australia 19% of GDP). The composition of social protection expenditure also varies widely across the region. There is still significant room for improvement, particularly in terms of extending coverage to informal workers and other marginalized groups. The informal economy is not covered by formal social protection systems. Many countries in Asia and the Pacific have limited fiscal space which constrains their capacity to mobilize resources and finance social protection programs. Factors such as low tax revenues, high levels of debt, and limited external financing options are common limiting factors. The demographic changes in the region, together with urbanization and migration may lead to increased demand for social protection services and a need for more targeted approaches to financing. This session invited panelists to reflect on the evidence and practicalities of leveraging sustainable financing options, fiscal space and domestic resource mobilization for social protection in Asia and Pacific countries.