KMA Hasnat: The government has taken a decision to increase the rate of ten types of allowances in the social security sector in the upcoming budget for next fiscal year.
The government has also planned for increasing the numbers of beneficiaries.
A source at the Finance Ministry confirmed the matter to risingbd.com.
According to the source, the government has been giving priority on social security sector in every budget. As a sequel of it, ten types of allowances will be increased in the upcoming budget for 2017-18 fiscal year that begins on July 1.
Expenditure under the social safety net programmes, including allowance for the elderly and the widowed, deserted and destitute women, financially-insolvent disabled people, education stipend for insolvent disabled students, maternity allowance programme for the poor lactating women, transgender people, the gypsy community (locally known as bede community) and other lagging populations will be increased substantially in the next fiscal year to give more benefits to the ultra-poor.
The number of beneficiaries and the amount of money under the programmes will be increased, the source said.
According to the source, the freedom fighters' honourarium of Tk 10,000 will remain the same. They will get two festival bonuses each year totalling Tk 20,000.
Of the schemes, the biggest is the one for the elderly, whose count of beneficiaries will be raised to 35 lakh people in the next budget that will be announced on June 1.
At present, the total number of beneficiaries for old-age allowance is 31.50 lakh. Each beneficiary gets Tk 500 per month and from next fiscal year they will get Tk 600.
The government has already prepared a national social security strategy with the aim of bringing all vulnerable citizens under the social safety net.
More than one crore people will qualify for old-age allowance if all poor people above 60 years of age were to be brought under the social safety net scheme as per the plan.
The strategy also recommended giving Tk 800 as allowance per month to the beneficiaries.
Introduced in 1997-98 with four lakh beneficiaries who got Tk 100 each, Bangladesh's old-age allowance scheme has one of the lowest transfer values in the world.
Due to fund constraints, the old-age allowance programme could not be expanded as much as the document recommends, but efforts are ongoing to raise it gradually, said a finance ministry source.
The allowances for the widowed, deserted and destitute women will be raised to Tk 600 a month from existing Tk 500 in the upcoming fiscal year.
The number of beneficiaries will be increased 10 percent to make it 12.65 lakh. The existing number of beneficiaries is 11.50 lakh.
The allowance for financially-insolvent disabled people will be Tk 700 in fiscal 2017-18, up from Tk 600.
The number of beneficiaries under the programme will be increased to 8.25 lakh in fiscal 2017-18 from existing 7.5 lakh.
The programme started in fiscal 2005-06 with a budget of Tk 25 crore; each person was given Tk 200 per month then.
Education stipend for insolvent disabled students is Tk 500 at primary level, Tk 600 at secondary level, Tk 700 at higher secondary level and Tk 1,200 at higher level. It will be kept unchanged.
However, the number of beneficiaries will be increased by 5,000 at both the primary and secondary levels, to make the total number of beneficiaries 80,000.
The maternity allowance programme for the poor lactating women will be extended to all municipalities from next fiscal year. At present, the scheme is being run in 10 municipalities.
The total number of beneficiaries for maternity allowance will be six lakh instead of five lakh. In both cases the allowance will be Tk 700 from next fiscal year from existing Tk 500.
The fund to provide assistance to cancer, kidney and liver cirrhosis patients will be raised by Tk 30 crore to Tk 50 crore. Each of them will get a maximum of Tk 50,000.
The allowance for transgender people in the next budget will be Tk 700 per month from existing Tk 600.
Some Tk 11.35 crore will be allocated in the next budget to give allowance to about 7,550 transgender people.
Each of the elderly from the gypsy community (locally known as bede community) and other lagging populations will get Tk 700 instead of Tk 600 from next fiscal year.
Tea labourers are likely to be given Tk 5,000 per head instead of food assistance.
risingbd/DHAKA/May 15, 2017/Hasnat/Amirul