Poor identity cards will ‘help maintain transparency’

Government officials and stakeholders have said the proposed “poor identity cards ” will play a crucial role in reaching out to the targeted group and maintain financial transparency in social security programmes.

However, the scheme, which was announced two years ago, is yet to be implemented. It is currently stuck with baseline survey.

At an interaction titled “Social Protection Packages to Poverty Cardholders” held here on Thursday, participants said due to the scattering of programmes launched so far to alleviate poverty, the results have been poor.

Thirteen ministries have implemented 19 social protection schemes on skill development, children welfare, old aged people, single women, deprived sectors, handicapped, medicines distribution and maternal care.

Other programmes include “food for work” and nutrition for school children and conflict victims, Employees’ Provident Fund, Citizens Investment Trust and Pension for retired people.

The government is also planning to implement the Social Security Fund (SSF). The Rs 6-billion package will be launched as a universal social security scheme, including unemployment allowance, accident insurance and medical insurance, among others.

“Amid rising government expenses on social security, there is a need for maintaining transparency and controlling irregularities to fulfill poverty alleviation objectives,” said SSF Executive Director Kewal Prasad Bhandari.

Stating that the distribution of the facilities has remained poor, Bhandari

said the poor identity cards would ensure effective service delivery.

The government, some two years ago, announced to issue the identity cards to people below the poverty line. The Ministry of Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation (MoCPA) has so far collected statistics from 25 districts.

Dhundi Raj Lamichhane, director at Poor Household Identification and Identity Card Management and Distribution Board Secretariat, said the poor identity card scheme mainly focuses on four areas—essential services, cash transfer, social promotion and social security.

He said although there are 100-150 programmes related to poverty alleviation implemented in different parts of the country, the results have been poor due to scattering of the schemes.

Drona Raj Kafle, senior officer at the Ministry of Agricultural Development, said the cards would help farmers get subsidised agriculture inputs, including fertilisers, seeds and tools. “Based on the diverse agricultural products the farmers are producing, they should be provided subsidies accordingly.”

Shiva Wagle, under secretary at the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, said the programme would also help the government manage the benefits the poor have been receiving from community and leasehold forests.

Wagle said these forests, which are generally managed by the poor people in rural areas, provide timely availability of water, forage and fire logs. “These forests are also helping people earn money, which has increased their access to education and healthcare,” he said.

Source: eKantipur