Half of beneficiaries could be deprived of social securityAs per the Social security regulation, renewal of identity cards is a must by mid-August
Around two dozen beneficiaries from Durga Bhagawati Rural Municipality-2, Rautahat haven’t renewed their social security allowance identity cards amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
But the deadline to do so elapsed on Sunday (August 16).
“About 20-25 benificiaries from my ward haven’t renewed their identity cards,” said Suresh Chaudhary, chairperson of the ward. He said that the lockdown imposed in the district, meant that identity cards of all the beneficiaries could not be renewed.
It’s not just the people of Durga Bhagawati that haven’t renewed their identity cards to receive social security allowances. More than half of the beneficiaries across the country are believed to have missed the deadline.
As of last fiscal year, 3.21 million people received social security allowance from the government. But, according to Jitendra Basnet, director general at the Department of National ID and Civil Registration, only around 1.6 million beneficiaries have renewed their cards.
After the new social security regulation was introduced recently, all beneficiaries need to get their cards renewed by mid-August. For this, they need to visit the ward office personally and submit an application, according to clause 9 of the regulation.
As per the Social Security Act, senior citizens above 70, single women aged above 60, widows in helpless condition, members of the endangered community, disabled people and destitute children receive social security allowances between Rs 400 to Rs 3000 for elderly people. The government spent Rs 66.16 billion in distributing the social security allowance in the last 2019-20, according to the department.
Basnet finds two factors responsible for people’s failure to renew their identity cards: the lockdown and landslides and floods in the rainy season. “So, renewal rate in the Tarai, particularly in Province 2 is poor.” said Basnet
“Beneficiaries of many remote regions less affected by pandemic couldn’t renew their identity cards because of landslides and flooding that disrupted transport services.”
According to the Ministry of Health and Population, 7,785 were infected with the novel coronavirus in Province 2 as of Monday—the highest for among the provinces. Likewise, 5,212 tested positive in Province 5, which has recorded second highest cases of Covid-19.
“If the deadline for renewal is not extended, half of the beneficiaries will be deprived of the social security allowance,” said Basnet. According to him, officials can’t provide the allowance to people who haven’t renewed their card.
But, the department can’t extend the deadline as it was fixed by the social security regulation. The Cabinet is responsible for amending the regulation. So, Basnet said that his office has recently forwarded a proposal to the Cabinet to extend the deadline until mid-November.
Even though the regulation requires the beneficiaries to renew their identity cards by mid-August, people could not travel to get their cards renewed due to suspension of transportation services during the lockdown or fear of being infected even in the place where limited transport service is available.
The government had imposed nationwide lockdown on March 24 and it came to an end only on July 21. But, the government has continued to impose strict restrictions on public transportation across the country considering the resurgence of the Covid-19 cases.
Local governments are responsible for collecting details of beneficiaries for renewal of their identity cards. Office bearers and staffers in local governments said that the beneficiaries have been unable to visit the ward office.
Local officials said they are wary of inviting senior citizens to their offices as they are more vulnerable to Covid-19 compared to younger people. “Our staff offered door-to-door services to collect details of beneficiaries for renewal of their identity cards,” said Jumadin Ansari, chairperson of Sakhuwa Prasauni Rural Municipality-4, Parsa.
The ward office said that it completed collecting details of beneficiaries, but it hasn’t updated the details online as the office has remained closed for the last two weeks due the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19.