Budget allocation for social security on the rise

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Aug 6, 2014-

The budget allocation for social security allowance meant for senior citizens, disabled, endangered communities and single women is found to have grown at an average of 18 percent annually for the last four years. According to the National Planning Commission (NPC), the estimated expense for social security allowance grew to Rs 14.69 billion in the current fiscal year from Rs 7.6 billion in 2010-11.

At present, the government provides Rs 500 per month to elderly (people aged 70 years or older), single women aged 60 years or older and widows. Similarly, people who are partially disabled and fully disabled are provided with Rs 300 and Rs 1000 per month respectively. People from endangered communities receive Rs 1,000 per month and Dalit children aged below five years get Rs 200 per month. The government has been providing these allowances through its local bodies. The NPC record shows that a total of 2.11 million people benefited from social security allowances in 2011-12, and they included 1.31 million senior citizens (along with those aged 60 or older in the case of the Karnali region), single women, and widows. Likewise, 21,989 people from endangered communities; 26,361 disabled; 458,135 children and 261,593 single women below the age of 60 received the social security benefit in the fiscal year.  

Presenting a paper during a programme on Wednesday, NPC member Chandra Mani Adhikari said that a total of 52,784 beneficiaries have been added in the last two years taking the number of people benefiting from social security allowances to 2.17 million in 2013-14. Compared to the fiscal year 1994-95, when the social security programme was first started, the number of beneficiaries has increased 6 fold while the amount earmarked for social security allowance has increased 28.5 times in 2011-12, according to Adhikari.

There are one and a half dozen social security programmes being run by various government agencies across the country. Most of them are related to health, elderly people, malnutrition in children, conflict affected people, among others.

In the recent years, the social security expenses have seen an upward trend. According to NPC, total expenses in this segment in addition to scholarship and retirement benefit was Rs 37 billion in 2011-12, and which subsequently grew to Rs 42 billion and Rs 58 billion respectively in the next two years. The experts, however, are skeptical about the effective utilisation of the expenses. Adhikari claimed that around 35 percent of the people in Bajura and 50 percent of the people in Manang district are benefiting from various social security schemes. However, he expressed his doubt on the effective distribution and utilisation of the schemes.

“Our main concern has always been whether the poor and the needy have really benefited from such social security schemes,” he added. He claimed the schemes are not “very effective” as they were being distributed seperately by several organisations.

“Due to this, there is high possibility of duplication along with emergence of fake recipients of the schemes,” said Adhikari, adding that distributing such schemes through integrated system along with proper social audit could go a long way in helping the poor who are in real need of such assistance.

Published: 07-08-2014 09:42

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