A study has recommended providing a monthly pension of Rs4,000 to farm workers after they turn 55. The proposed pension plan is part of the government’s effort to give due respect to the agricultural sector which employs 66 percent of the population and accounts for one-third of the economy.
As per the study report entitled Farmers Classification and Pension Scheme prepared by Hari Roka, former Maoist lawmaker and political analyst, farm workers will pay an annual premium of Rs5,000 into the pension scheme.
The proposed scheme has envisaged separate pension schemes for subsistence and commercial agriculture. Farmers will be classed into four groups on the basis of the size of their landholdings—farm workers, marginal farmers, petty bourgeoisie and large landowners.
A pension fund will be created with the government putting up half the money. Farmers will contribute the rest. For marginal farmers, the report has suggested an annual premium of Rs7,000, or 1 percent of their yearly production. When they reach 55 years of age, they will be able to draw a monthly pension of Rs5,000.
For the petty bourgeoisie category, the annual premium has been fixed at Rs9,000 or 1 percent of the annual income. Farmers in this category will get a monthly pension of Rs7,000.
The annual contribution for farmers with large landholdings has been set at Rs15,000. They will draw a monthly pension of Rs10,000 when they reach 65 years of age.
“The government should set up an integrated service centre which will collect the premiums and distribute pensions,” Roka said, presenting the report to Minister of Agricultural Development Haribol Gajurel on Tuesday. “The service centre should be run by the farmers themselves as they will know the right beneficiaries.”
The government should facilitate the centre. The local or provincial government and the federal government should monitor the centre and the pension fund, the report said.
The report has also suggested that the scheme should be piloted in 10-15 districts in the hills, Tarai and mountain regions by categorizing farmers and households. After six months, the scheme should be extended to another 20 districts.
Roka said that the baseline of 55 years would be appropriate for providing pensions in the context of Nepal. The age limit has been set by considering the fact that farmers involved in commercial production live longer compared to hard working farmers.
Source: The Kathmandu Post