The Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration has written to all local levels, requesting them to make the distribution of social security allowance systematic by avoiding duplication and identifying fake beneficiaries.

Persons appointed, elected, or nominated for any government or public office and those receiving pension from the government fund are not entitled to the social security allowance. In response to an array of irregularities pointed out by the 58th annual report (2019-20) of the Office of the Auditor General, the MoFAGA told the local units to update the records of beneficiaries on a regular basis and distribute the allowance only through banking channel.

According to the circular recently posted by the Financial Administration Section of MoFAGA on its website, the local levels are also required to conduct an inquiry regarding fake beneficiaries and duplication in distribution of allowance.

The OAG had interviewed people during the annual audit in which 50 per cent of respondents said the local levels were providing allowance through banking system, while 40 per cent claimed that employees and people's representatives distributed the allowance in cash. Likewise, one per cent of respondents said that the allowance was distributed by organising gatherings.

Regarding fake beneficiaries and duplication in distribution of allowance, 10 per cent of respondents said that it existed in their local levels, while 47 per cent said no, and 18 per cent shared that they had heard about it. Similarly, 17 per cent of respondents said that they did not know anything about it.

MoFAGA Under-secretary Baburam Gyawali said the local levels were requested to take the irregularities indicated by the OAG in its 58th annual report seriously and implement them accordingly.

Despite repeated instructions related to mandatory provision for distribution of social security allowance to beneficiaries only through banking channel, some local units have not complied with it. MoFAGA warned that there were reports of theft, robbery and loss of social security amount due to distribution of 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.

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.

As per the Department of National ID and Civil Registration, there were a total of 3,465,427 listed beneficiaries as of the fiscal 2020-21. The government has allocated Rs 100 billion for the purpose of social security allowance for the running fiscal.

Senior citizens above 60 years (Dalit), single women, senior citizens above 70 years and senior citizens above 60 years of specified areas benefit with security allowance of Rs 2,690, Rs 2,690, Rs 4,000 and Rs 2,690 per month respectively.

Differently-abled persons bearing red card and blue card get Rs 3,900 and Rs 2,690 accordingly.

Likewise, persons belonging to endangered ethnicity enjoy allowance of Rs 3,990.

Children from Karnali region, who are below five years and Dalits, get Rs 532 as nutrition allowance.

A version of this article appears in the print on September 16 2021, of The Himalayan Times.