Social safety roadmap | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 05, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:11 AM, April 09, 2015

Social safety roadmap

The government is set to unveil a new scheme that will bring 3.57 crore of the poorest and most vulnerable citizens under social safety plans.

Called the National Social Security Strategy (NSSS), it is supposed to take off next fiscal year, with a focus on effectively tackling poverty and inequality.

The planning commission's General Economic Division (GED) has already prepared a strategy paper, which will be placed at the weekly cabinet meeting tomorrow.

Under the strategy, Tk 37,100 crore will be required in fiscal 2015-16 to implement the programme, which is 20.5 percent more than what the government set aside for such purposes this year.

The aim of the NSSS is to ensure proper spending of government funds and reach out to those most in need of such handouts, GED Member Shamsul Alam told The Daily Star.

For instance, 30 percent of the old-age allowance goes to those under the age of 60, he said, citing a study. In many programmes, 27 percent of the benefits are enjoyed by rich people.

The NSSS will stop these leakages by bringing in all 145 social safety net schemes under a comprehensive programme, Alam added.

The comprehensive programme will be implemented in five big clusters, which will cover the entire life cycle.

The clusters are: children's programme (for those below the age of 4), programme for school-age children, programme for working-age population, comprehensive pension system for the elderly and programme for people with disability.

The government plans to bring around 50 percent of the 3.57 crore beneficiaries under NSSS in the first year alone.

Of the 3.57 crore beneficiaries, 55 lakh would be covered by the pension scheme, 10 lakh by the disability programme, 75 lakh under the children's programme, 1.79 crore under the school-age children programme and more than 32 lakh under the working-age programme.

The children's programme involves handing out Tk 800 as monthly allowance for strengthening immunisation, healthcare and nutrition to maximum of two children from a family.

The programme for school-age children involves providing each child aged 5 to 18 years with Tk 300 a month for primary school feeding. It also covers orphans and child maintenance costs for abandoned children.

The programmes for working-age will be applicable to those between 19 and 59 years of age. A law will be enacted to introduce National Social Insurance Scheme to provide coverage for unemployment, accident, sickness and maternity. Besides, food for work programme for the unemployed will be introduced under the same cluster. For work-capable women of the same age group, various cash programmes will be implemented, where each beneficiary will get Tk 800 a month.

Under the third cluster, a three-tier comprehensive pension scheme will be created where up to Tk 3,000 will be granted to those over 60 years of age from the government budget.

A related law will be passed for introducing two types of pension systems for the private sector employees.

The disability programme will involve handing out Tk 1,600 monthly allowance for people aged 1 to 59 years. The disabled citizens over the age of 60 will come under pension coverage.

Apart from these, there will be some special programmes to combat problems like vulnerabilities to climate change, environmental degradation and disaster preparedness.

In 2010, the cabinet gave the task of preparing NSSS to GED to bring all poor people under the safety net programme and reduce leaks in the existing system. GED prepared the NSSS and a high-level committee headed by Cabinet Secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan reviewed the draft. The draft has been finalised after it was discussed in detail at a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair last month.

The total NSSS will be implemented in three phases: initial consolidation and coordination (2014-2020); coordination and implementation (2021-2025); and implementation of lifecycle programmes approach (2026-onwards).

In the first phase, a leading ministry will head the implementation of the overall programme and in the second phase an autonomous social security organisation will be formed in which people from public and private sectors will be included.  

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