Social security bill not getting due priority

Kathmandu, May 21

Social security does not appear to be a priority with the government.

Presenting the budget for fiscal year 2015/16, then finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat had announced that social security measures would be consolidated through a separate bill to address poverty and promote the well-being of the people.

The then state minister for labour and employment Tek Bahadur Gurung had registered a Bill on Social Security proposing a separate fund from the joint contribution of labourers of both formal and informal sectors and the government. However, a year later, the bill is yet been tabled at the Parliament.

Neither the erstwhile government nor the incumbent government have taken the bill forward.

The line minister is solely responsible for tabling the related bill. The ministry’s Joint Secretary Aabha Shrestha Karna said she didn’t know why the bill had not been tabled.

Sociologist and former member of National Planning Commission Ganesh Gurung said the social security bill is important as it is directly related to controlling corruption and crime in society.

“If the government provides social security, corruption and crime can be reduced,” Gurung said, adding, “Unfortunately, with their short life span, successive governments have not been able to focus on social security programmes that have long-term impacts on society, he said.

The proposed bill identifies nine areas of social security, including basic health service, education up to secondary level, residence and food security, protection of culture, drinking water, environment protection and utilisation of forests and forest products, utilisation of basic energy, income generation programmes, protection of seeds and insurance in agriculture and other programmes.

The bill proposes to operate eight social security programmes. They include unemployment security, maternity protection, treatment and health facility, accident protection, pro-elderly security; facility for dependent families, protection for the incapacitated and other programmes determined by the fund. The fund collected through combined contribution from labour of all sectors and the government can be used to provide social security to the people as proposed by the bill.

Also, Article 43 of the new constitution mentions that indigent, the incapacitated and helpless, single women, the disabled, children, citizens who cannot take care of themselves and citizens belonging to tribes on the verge of extinction, shall have the right to social security, in accordance with law.