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Nepal’s social security initiative hailed for uniting stakeholders for inclusive change

Khabarhub

December 3, 2023

7 MIN READ

Nepal’s social security initiative hailed for uniting stakeholders for inclusive change

KATHMANDU: The International Network for Social Protection Rights (INSP!R) Nepal, with financial support from We Social Movement (WSM), organized a dialogue session on December 1 in Kathmandu to mark a social protection week/day 2080.

The objective of this program was to discuss on the roles of stakeholders in advancing social security programs. The event was managed and organized by Social Protection Civil Society Network, convening key figures at the forefront of the nation’s social protection landscape, according to a press release.

During the deliberations, Dr. Dipesh Ghimire, Associate Professor at Tribhuvan University, delivered a presentation addressing existing social security policies, their implementation status, and proposing suggestions to overcome current challenges while outlining future prospects.

The program shed light on the complexities of Nepal’s social security landscape, tackling issues such as accessibility, ongoing problems, and the coordination necessary for effective implementation.

In the context of Nepal, social security aims to alleviate risks and hardships throughout the human life cycle, extending financial and material support to citizens. Constitutional provisions, notably Article 43, underscore the government’s responsibility to ensure social security rights for economically vulnerable individuals, disabled individuals, single women, children, and marginalized communities.

Participants from trade unions highlighted contributory social security in Nepal, involving individuals making financial contributions to designated programs during their active working years.

However, issues persist for informal workers, and participants emphasized the need for local government contributions to support them in contributing to social security. These contributions form a collective pool used to provide benefits such as pensions, disability support, and healthcare coverage during retirement or times of need. The Social Security Fund and various related acts, including the Social Security Act of 2075, govern these contributory schemes, emphasizing financial participation for sustainable social protection.

In contrast, participants from CSOs highlighted non-contributory social security programs that do not require direct financial contributions from individuals. Instead, these initiatives are funded by the government or other sources, aiming to provide a social safety net for vulnerable populations. Constitutional provisions, particularly Article 43, highlight the government’s responsibility to ensure social security rights for economically vulnerable individuals, disabled individuals, single women, children, and marginalized communities.

They suggested to the government of Nepal to expand the child grant allowance as well as day food programs up to grade 10. Non-contributory schemes play a crucial role in addressing immediate needs and reducing inequality.

The majority of the participants raised the necessity for improved data governance mechanisms, emphasizing that a well-structured and unified approach to data management is essential for ensuring the success and sustainability of social security programs at the grassroots level.

Alongside this, Om Thapaliya, a member of INSP!R Nepal representing from HomNet Nepal made an attention to everyone for designing the policies and program align with shock responsive/adaptive social protection.

The event underscored the imperative for enhanced coordination among federal, provincial, and local governments to facilitate effective social security implementation.

Despite the enactment of various laws, including the Social Security Act of 2075, the Social Security Program Act of 2074, and the Health Insurance Act of 2073, challenges persist, such as lack of coordination, unequal distribution, and monitoring difficulties, it was pointed out at the progam.

The event, presided over by Tilottam Paudel, Chairperson of the Social Protection Civil Society Network, featured distinguished speakers and panelists, including Lekhanath Pokherel, Advisor of NARMIN and former Chairperson of Chhatradev Rural Municipality, Arghakhachi; Kabiraj Adhikari, Executive Director of the Social Security Fund; Kalanidhi Devkota, Executive Director of MuAN; Ajay Kumar Rai, General Secretary of NTUC and member of ITUC-NAC; and Ms Dolma Tamang, a member of the Constituent Assembly. The inclusive event drew active participation from development partners, civil society organizations, trade unions, and journalists, with over 45 attendees contributing to the discussions.

Speaking in the session, a panelist Pokheral, highlighted the active involvement of local governments in addressing the immediate needs of vulnerable communities. This inclusive approach encompasses essential services, financial aid, and various forms of support tailored to the specific urban or rural context, targeting those facing economic hardships, disabilities, or other challenges. However, he acknowledged persistent gaps in reaching all individuals in the informal sector. Additionally, he expressed his commitment that, NARMIN will develop a model guideline of social security for local government and distributed to all.

During the session, Devkota, executive director of MuAN, responded to inquiries about data management, emphasizing the increasing recognition among local governments of the value of digital platforms. He highlighted the systematic collection of information, especially about the unemployed. Despite this, he acknowledged the need for additional efforts to gather data on informal sector workers and enroll them in the Social Security Fund.

Kabiraj Adhikari, the executive director of the Social Security Fund, underscored the fund’s pivotal role in managing contributory schemes, ensuring financial participation for sustainable social protection, and aligning operations with constitutional provisions. He urged all stakeholders to join efforts in this crucial program.

Tamang, a member of the Constituent Assembly, emphasized the importance of vital registration for effective implementation of social security programs. She noted a registration gap in many remote areas that needs urgent attention.

Concluding the session, Chairperson of SPCSN, Paudel, summarized key findings, highlighting the collaborative efforts between the government, NGOs, and trade unions in Nepal. The government provides regulatory support and financial aid, NGOs focus on community outreach and capacity building, and trade unions advocate for workers’ rights and contribute to implementing social security initiatives at workplaces. This collaborative approach, he stressed, is crucial for establishing a robust and inclusive social security system in the country.

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