The Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration has issued a circular to all local levels, directing them to distribute social security allowance to beneficiaries only through banking channel.

Earlier, the government had published a notice in the Nepal Gazette, which made this provision in line with Section 17 of the Social Security Act- 2018. The Section reads, "The payment of social security allowance shall be made only through the banking system in such area and from such date as specified by the Government of Nepal by publishing a notice in the Nepal Gazette."

The MoFAGA said there were reports of theft, robbery and loss of social security amount due to distribution in cash in some local levels. In addition, various audit reports have also pointed out irregularities committed by employees of local governments as social security allowance was not distributed through banking channel.

"All local levels are requested to distribute the allowance to eligible beneficiaries only through the banking system to curb misuse of funds and theft and robbery experienced by beneficiaries," read the circular issued by the MoFAGA today. Similarly, the local units are required to distribute social security allowance on the basis of identity cards.

The concerned local level provides identity cards in the prescribed format to persons entitled to social security allowance. The identity of the guardian or caretaker of the person entitled to enjoy social security allowance is also mentioned in the identity card.

The prevailing law requires the local units to review, and update the records of identity cards.

Senior citizens (Dalit), senior citizens (single women), senior citizens (above 70 years) and senior citizens of specified areas benefit with security allowance of Rs 2,000, Rs 2,000, Rs 3,000 and Rs 2,000 per month respectively.

Similarly, differently-abled persons bearing red card and blue card get Rs 3,000 and Rs 2,000 accordingly.

Likewise, persons belonging to endangered ethnicity enjoy allowance of Rs 3,000. Children from Karnali region, who are below five years and Dalits, get Rs 400.

The allowances are distributed through the concerned local level on a four-monthly basis. However, the government has increased the allowance by 33 per cent, with effect from the next fiscal.

The government has already issued the 'Strategy on Payment of Social Security Allowances through Electronic System' to facilitate distribution of social security allowances in a more effective, systematic, transparent and beneficiary-friendly manner.

According to MoFAGA, the need to broaden and automate the payment system prompted it to issue and implement the strategy as part of a paradigm shift to banking channel from the cash-based system.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 11, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.