Draft social security plan for poor families finalised

July 30, 2017

The Kathmandu Post, 30 July 2017

The Poor Household Support Coordination Board has finalised a draft social security scheme for holders of poverty identity cards. Under the proposed plan, householders will receive subsidised healthcare, education and self-employment training.

The board will be issuing poverty identity cards to 391,831 poor households who were picked out in the first phase of a survey carried out in 25 districts. They have been divided into extreme poor, mid-poor and general poor.

As per the board, it has proposed to provide 100 percent subsidy on health insurance premiums to householders identified as being extreme poor. Mid-poor households will get 75 percent subsidy and the general poor will get 60 percent subsidy. The board has determined a family size of 5.5 persons as the standard for a single family.

The ambitious government programme, which envisages providing social security to identified poor people, was launched in September 2014. The coordination board secretariat under the Ministry of Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation has surveyed 25 districts to identify potential beneficiaries.

It has identified 391,831 households as being under the poverty line. Among them, 188,235 have been declared extreme poor, 119,748 mid-poor and 83,848 general poor.

The coordination board has also proposed providing financial support to buy education materials for two school or college going children of a poor family. The government has been providing free education at state-run schools, but poor families cannot afford to buy books and stationery which makes it difficult for the children to keep up.

Likewise, the board has proposed providing free skill development training to card-holding poor people so that they can work for themselves. In addition, the board has been mulling to provide one cylinder of cooking gas free of cost to each household every month.

Janak Lal Tiwari, executive vice-chairman of the coordination board, said they would be sending the final draft to a 13-member board headed by the Ministry of Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation shortly. “If the board gives the green signal, the draft will be submitted to the Cabinet for final approval,” Tiwari said.

The secretariat of the coordination board conducted the first phase survey in Bhojpur, Khotang, Siraha, Sindhuli, Ramechhap, Rautahat, Gorkha, Tanahu, Baglung, Kapilvastu, Arghakhanchi, Pyuthan, Rolpa, Rukum, Bardia, Jajarkot, Dolpa, Jumla, Kalikot, Mugu, Humla, Bajura, Bajhang, Achham and Kailali districts.

Tiwari said they aimed to distribute poverty identity cards in these 25 districts and conduct a survey in the remaining 50 districts by the end of this fiscal year.

“Identity cards will be distributed to the families identified as poor families. The poor family identification programme will be initiated in another 50 districts,” the government budget statement for 2017-18 said.

The coordination board has estimated that the survey will cost Rs250-300 million. Tiwari said they had changed a few parameters in the survey to be carried out in these districts.

“This time, we will include measures related to natural calamities and separate the urban and rural poor,” Tiwari said.

The coordination board said enumerators conducting the survey would be equipped with tablets. “Using computers will allow faster data processing and prevent duplication. People will not be counted twice,” Tiwari said. “This is particularly important when collecting information about the urban poor because of their high migration rate.”

Meanwhile, the Cabinet decided Thursday to distribute poverty identity cards to the 391,831 poor households identified during the first phase survey. The coordination board interviewed 1,224,400 households in 25 districts in the first phase.