The Ministry of Federal Affairs has directed the local levels to sincerely abide by the mandatory provision, which requires them to distribute social security allowance to beneficiaries through banking channel only.

In response to a recent notice of the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives that some local levels had distributed social security allowance in cash, the MoFAGA today issued a circular to the local units directing them to ensure that the provision of banking system was adopted for the purpose.

The MoFAGA also warned that some local levels of accessible districts had been found to be distributing the allowance in cash despite the existence of banks and financial institutions in their areas. "All local units are instructed to distribute the allowance though banking channel from now onwards, maintaining the records of beneficiaries," Under-secretary Baburam Gyawali said in the circular.

Recently, the federal government had made the provision of banking system mandatory for distribution of allowance by publishing a notice in the Nepal Gazette 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 the date as specified by the Government of Nepal in a notice published in the Nepal Gazette."

This provision had come into effect from 16 November 2020 in 340 local levels, and from March 14 in 159 local levels.

However, this provision will be applicable to 247 local levels with effect from July 16, and the remaining seven local levels (Mikwakhola, Netrawati Dabjong, Ruby Valley, Narphu, Junichade, Thalara and Saipal rural municipalities) from 27 November 2021.

The local units distribute allowance on the basis of beneficiary identity cards.

Senior citizens (Dalit), senior citizens (single women), senior citizens (above 70 years) and senior citizens of the specified areas benefit from 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 ethnic groups 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.

Currently, the local levels have been distributing allowance in the form of cash where there are no banks and financial institutions.

Social security allowance was introduced in 1994.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 31, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.