13 lakh more people under social safety

The number of beneficiaries of various social safety net programmes (SSNPs) will be increased by nearly 1.3 million in the 2019-20 financial year. Following the inclusion of new beneficiaries, the total number of people under major social safety net programmes would increase to 8.7 million in the next budget as about 7.4 million people are currently getting various social safety allowances at present, said officials involved in budget preparation.

Sources, however, said the monthly allowance for those who are enjoying social safety benefits at present would not be increased that much in the upcoming budget. There would be a proposal seeking increased allowance on some particular sectors. Under the instruction of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, all the physically and mentally challenged people would be brought under the SSN. Moreover, monthly allowance of autistic persons and freedom fighters would also be increased.

Sources said in a meeting on April 29, the finance ministry decided in principle to bring about more poor people under the SSN. In the meeting Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal stressed on two particular issues; one is to make the capable people self-reliant and the other is to bring all social safety beneficiaries under one online database.

The minister said the many of beneficiaries who are enjoying allowances are capable of working. They have to be excluded from under the SSN by time through organising income-related training for them. At presence several allowances including old age and widow allowances are being paid digitally as the money is directly deposited to the beneficiary’s account from the government exchequer. Initiatives would be taken so that all the beneficiaries get the allowance digitally.

Sources said at present 10 lakh autistic poor get monthly Tk 700 allowance. In the next budget the number of autistic poor would be increased to 15 lakh while the monthly allowance would be increased to Tk 750. Mentionable, at a programme of International Autism Day, the premier instructed to take necessary preparations so that all the surveyed autistic poor get the monthly allowance.

A survey of social welfare ministry has found out 15, 50,000 autistic poor in the country. Monthly allowance of freedom fighters would also be increased in the next budget. At present, about 10, 00,000 FFs get monthly 10,000 as allowance which will be increased to Tk 12,000 in the next fiscal. Sources said at present old age allowance is the biggest programme under the social welfare ministry.

 At present, about 40 lakh people of the country get monthly Tk 500 allowance. Keeping the amount of allowance unchanged, the number of beneficiaries would be increased to 44 lakh in the upcoming budget. Widow allowance is another big programme under the ministry. About 14 lakh widows get monthly Tk 500 allowance at present. In the next budget, the number of beneficiaries would be increased to 17 lakh.