Recommendations of the Task Force under Mihir Shah

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MORD has constituted a Task Force under the Chairmanship of Dr.  Mihir Shah, Member, Planning Commission to suggest comprehensive reforms to the National Social Assistance Programme

The recomendations of the report can be accessed at :

http://www.nsap.nic.in/nsap/Report_Task_Force_Comprehensive_NSAP.pdf

 SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS

The recommendations of the Task Force focus on improving the reach and level of assistance provided by NSAP. They also focus on ensuring timely delivery of the pensions to
the beneficiaries.
The main recommendations of the Task Force are summed up below:
ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA AND RATE OF ASSISTANCE
IGNOAPS: Immediately, with effect from financial year 2013-14
o Increase central assistance under IGNOAPS from Rs. 200 per month to Rs.300 per month for the age group 60-79 to make it equal to pensions under the other two schemes for this age group.
o This revision will require an additional outlay of Rs 1762 crore per annum. This will benefit the existing 1.47 crore old age pensioners in this age group.
IGNWPS: Immediately, with effect from financial year 2013-14
o Revise eligibility norms for IGNWPS by reducing minimum age from 40 years to 18 years, providing pension at Rs 300 per month.
o To implement the recommendation, IGNWPS will need an additional outlay of Rs 392 crore per annum, which will benefit an additional 11 lakh poor widows.
Pension for Women in difficult circumstances:
o Presently, the IGNWPS covers only widowed women and does not cover single women, divorced/separated/abandoned women. Single women and divorced/abandoned/separated women face the same kind of discrimination as widows especially stigmatization leading to social exclusion and imposition of restrictions on socio-economic development. States like Tamil Nadu, Kerala include these categories also as eligible for social pensions. Government of
India needs to follow suit. Therefore, the pension may be extended to single never married women above 40 years and divorced/abandoned/separated women above 18 years.
o In addition there are women whose husbands are „missing‟ / disappeared but not formally proved to be dead. Such „half widows‟ should be treated at par with widows. In such cases the 7 years condition for „missing‟ / disappeared
persons should be reduced to 3 years. It must be noted that cause of Page 8 Report of Task Force on NSAP
disappearance / missing / death of the husband shall not be a reason for denial of pension.
o Pension to divorced/separated women (18 years and above) and never married women (40 years and above) in below poverty lines households will benefit 12
lakh beneficiaries with additional expenditure of Rs 428 crore (assuming that
on par with widow pensions, the pension amount will be Rs 300 per month
until the age of 80 years, and Rs 500 per month thereafter).
IGNDPS: : Immediately, with effect from financial year 2013-14
o Remove age restrictions and reduce disability level from 80% to 40%.
o Provide, double the pension amount, for those with severe (80% disability) or
multiple disabilities.
o This will help to reach an additional 22 lakh disabled persons at an additional
outlay Rs.1156 crore
National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS):
o At present, one time assistance of Rs 20,000 is being provided under NFBS, in
the event of death of “the primary breadwinner” (male or female) in the age group
of 18-59 years in BPL families. This has been generally interpreted at the field
level to mean the death of a male member. In poor families all adult members
contribute to the family‟s livelihood and more so, women who are homemakers.
Therefore, the assistance may be made available on the death of any adult member
to the bereaved family.
o As per the present estimates, the number of cases to be covered under NFBS is
4.50 lakh. If the benefit is to be extended as recommended, the number is
estimated to double to 9 lakh. The additional financial implication would be Rs.
900 crore per annum.
Inflation Indexation and Phased Universalisation:
For all NSAP Pension schemes –
o Rates of assistance should be indexed to inflation annually using the criteria
adopted for payment of Dearness Allowance to Central Government
employees.
o Coverage should be expanded over the 12th Plan Period in a phased manner,
with the ultimate objective that all households eligible for benefits under the
National Food Security Act will also be provided pensions under the National Page 9
Report of Task Force on NSAP
Social Assistance Programme by the end of the Plan Period (2016-17). Based
on present discussions of the National Food Security Act, coverage is
projected to expand to 75% of the population in rural areas, and 50% in urban
areas.
DELIVERY OF PENSIONS
o Pro-active identification of beneficiaries with no demand for documentary
proof from the applicant is recommended. In the case of disability,
government will reach out and make arrangements for provision of disability
certificates. Priority to be accorded to SC, ST and Minority households
fulfilling eligibility criteria.
o Ensure convergence with other Poverty Alleviation Programmes across
Ministries/Departments.
o Strengthen Administrative Structure at field level.
o Convert NSAP to CSS.
FUND MANAGEMENT FOR SOCIAL SECURITY PENSIONS
o State governments may declare Social Security Pension as “a green channel
scheme” on par with salaries of government servants to allot funds on priority.
o Funds to be managed by establishing a state level nodal NSAP account, with fund
flows enabled by core banking solution.
PENSION PAYMENTS TO BENEFICIARIES
o Pension payments or credits must follow a fixed monthly schedule for
disbursement on 1st of every month irrespective of the mode of payment. Such a
monthly payment schedule should be mandated as a non-negotiable requirement.
o Cash payments are subject to significant fiduciary risks and are to be discouraged.
States may move to Bank or Post office based systems.
o The payment methodology adopted and related payment processes should be
designed such that a beneficiary will not have to travel more than three kms to
access her pension account. The ultimate goal should be to provide door-step Page 10
Report of Task Force on NSAP
services to the pensioners, given the profile of the target and their attendant
physical difficulties.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY FOR PENSION MANAGEMENT
o MORD should facilitate and encourage States to establish a transaction based IT
solution for program implementation and monitoring for strengthening service
delivery under NSAP, in a time-bound manner.
o MORD should support states to develop their own customised software based on
key guidelines specified by MORD.
o The state IT applications must be designed to cover all administrative processes
such as identification, application, sanction, payment reconciliation, grievance
management, disability certification, accounting and generation of Utilization
Certificates.
o The IT application should interface with eFMS, IT solution of MORD and that of
other partner agencies.
o The IT application should be web-based including web-based MIS that provides
all key physical, financial and exception reports for monitoring of performance of
NSAP.
MONITORING ARRANGEMENTS
o Monitoring has to be a continuous process and has to be done at all levels. Nodal
Officers in each State should be appointed for updating the database of
beneficiaries and disbursement details every month. NSAP-MIS may be
developed for the purpose of monitoring not only at the Central level but also at
the State and District level.
GENERAL PRINCIPLES
o All reforms proposed and implemented must be undertaken with citizencentricity or beneficiary-centricity, as its focus.
o The success of implementation will lie in proactive identification, enrolment
and coverage led by the State without imposing entry level or other
subsequent burdens on the potential or existing beneficiaries.
o The onus for transition to reforms shall vest fully and unambiguously on the
implementing agencies. There shall be no burden imposed on the
beneficiaries. At no time and in no circumstance shall reform or change in
norms result in withholding or delay in payment of eligible pensions. The
transition period needs to be very carefully managed.

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