Rs7 billion increased for social security

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Rs7 billion increased for social security

Jul 14, 2015-

The government has increased social security allowance by Rs7 billion. The budget for the fiscal year 2015-2016, unveiled by Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat on Tuesday, sets aside Rs22.67 billion to provide allowance for the next 12 months.

A total of 2,152,861 people, including 964,292 senior citizens, 621,980 single women, 60,656 people with disability and 4,83,034 children from Dalit communities and the Karnali zone, will enjoy state allowances. This makes 2.6 percent of the total budget.

As per the provision, elderly citizens who had been receiving Rs8,000 a year will now get Rs12,000.

Previously, senior citizens had been receiving Rs500 per month and an additional Rs2,000 per year in medical allowance. The budget said they will now be provided a medical allowance of Rs500 per month.

Senior citizens argue that the increment is not adequate to address their economic needs. “The additional Rs4,000 will not ease our financial burden,” said Maha Prasad Parajuli, chairman of a senior citizen protest group.

The finance minister announced strict provisions to avoid duplication of allowance. The government plans to distribute both social security and medical allowance through the banking system.

As per the budget, all the social security programmes will be integrated. “All the schemes will be channelised through one door in order to enhance the social security fund,” said Minister Mahat.

Female community health volunteers have got an increment in their dress allowance--Rs1,000 on top of the current Rs5,000.

The decision to exempt VAT in agriculture and animal farming, provide hostel to address school dropout rate of girls, and to run the Yogmaya Empowerment Programme to empower women has been hailed.

“Women play a major role in agriculture so VAT relief will ease their burden. The empowerment programme is also a good initiation. The challenge is how to address women’s issues as they are the main beneficiaries,” said Advocate Sapana Pradhan Malla.

The empowerment programme is aimed at addressing the needs of underprivileged, backward, single and marginalised women and the victims of domestic violence.

The budget has earmarked Rs750 million in health allowance for the underprivileged citizens. It has made annual kidney and uterus cancer check-ups free at government health institutions. A newborn will get free medical care in government hospitals for 25 days. The government will continue to provide grants for poor, under-privileged, elderly citizens and children suffering from heart, kidney, cancer, sickle-cell anaemia, Parkinson’s and the Alzheimer’s diseases.

The budget also mentions that insurance based on the contributions collected from various organisations will be integrated to avoid duplication. A pilot project on this will start in November in Kailali, Baglung and Ilam districts.

The government has set aside Rs160 million to complete a survey of poor households in 50 districts and to distribute identity cards to those in 25 districts where the survey has already been conducted.

The budget gives continuity to old programmes such as scholarship to children from Dalit, underprivileged and marginalised communities, training for people with disability, and street children’s rehabilitation.

The government also plans to introduce ‘One Village One Doctor’ programme across the country.

Published: 15-07-2015 08:09

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