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 South Asian Forum of Employers || SAFE :: Summary of last meeting at Colombo, Sri Lanka, 4th & 5th October 2011
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 Subject :1. INTRODUCTION.. 02-11-2011 22:52:35 
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Mr. Gotabaya Dasanayake, Senior Specialist in Employers’ Activities, ILO ACTEMP –South Asian sub-region, commenced the workshop with his welcome address. On behalf of the ILO, all the delegates from South Asian Employers’ Organizations (EOs) were welcomed by Mr. Dasanayake. A list of participants is attached to this report.

Mr. Dasanayaka stated that the main objective of this workshop would be to enable EOs to reflect on what they currently do and consider options to enhancing their overall effectiveness in the context and background of socio-economic trends in South Asia and challenges faced by the private sector. He said that in depth discussions among participants with inputs from the key facilitators should enable the EOs to also prioritize identified areas for action and strengthen EO partnerships in the South Asian region. He concluded his welcome address by thanking the Dutch Employers Cooperation Programme (DECP) and the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (hereinafter referred to as the EFC) for extending their support to organize this forum.

 

Mr.Donglin Lee, Country Director ILO Sri Lanka, also welcomed the delegates and highlighted the role played by ILO country offices in assisting Workers and Employers Organizations in capacity development for more effective engagement in national policy initiatives and providing membership services.

 

Mr. Jan Karel Bout, from the DECP explained few aspects about the DECP. The DECP is a public – private partnership of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign affairs and the Dutch EO. DECP works with EOs in identified countries to strengthen and support private sector businesses by providing knowledge and facilitating business membership organizations to shape markets through effective engagement with their respective governments. He noted the importance of governments and the need for EOs to work with governments in breaking market barriers and also the importance for greater intra regional co-operation among EOs and other business membership organizations in developing and sustaining markets in a volatile world economic environment.

 

Mr. Kamran Rahman representing Bangladesh also addressed this session in his capacity as ,Vice President IOE, and Deputy member of the ILO GB from the sub region. With reference to an ADB study he highlighted the importance of the Asian region to the world economy. 21st century is referred to by many as the ‘Asian century’ and Asia’s rise is pre-ordained.

However, the rising disparity within the region could challenge the social and political stability and hinder economic growth and these must be overcome with “smart thinking” for which much needs to be done and achieved. Solutions should be based on an ‘Asian Paradigm’ i.e., have to look for an Asian path or Asian labor market models, to sustain the ‘Asian Economy.’ In this context, he referred to the work of the IOE in studying Labour Market trends and giving leadership to representing employer interest in shaping efficient and sustainable Labour markets.

Asia is a highly diverse region and there is a higher degree of poverty among the middle and lower income countries. Whereas, this situation  calls for stronger social  protection measures to alleviate  poverty, he said it needs to be recognized that employment is the best form of social protection and employment generation should receive top priority  in order to protect the most vulnerable groups of people in the Asian region.  This responsibility cannot lie with the private sector alone and governments have a lead role to play.

Finally, he noted that this is a timely initiative to find ways and means to further enhance EO services to business and other stakeholders in the South Asian region.

Finally, Mr Arnout de Koster (ILO ITC Turin) welcomed the participants and gave a brief introduction to the work of the ITC with EOs in particular.

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