Allowance raise brings cheers to elders

By Arpana Adhikari

old manKathmandu, June 6: Elderly men and women these days could be heard talking about the increase in social allowance and their plans to spend the money. The announcement made by the government to increase the old age allowance by Rs.1, 000 was widely appreciated by the greying population over the country. 

Sharing his happiness, 76-year-old Shyam Kumar Adhikari of Chappalkarkhana said the communist-led government always seems to be at the forefront while making progressive decision over senior citizens. “From now on, I can afford my medicines and don’t have to spread my hands in front of my children,” said Adhikari, adding that he was very much elated.
Welcoming the decision, Ram Kumari Thapa, a 73-years-old street vendor at Gaushala said this increment would, in some way, ease poverty-stricken elders. “However, the amount is still less for persons like me whom no one is there to take care and who have to make daily struggle to arrange livelihood.” From the next fiscal year, the old age social security recipients will get 50 per cent raise in the allowance. Following the announcement, the Senior Citizen Struggle Committee, a group of senior citizens, who have been staging daily sit-ins at Minbhawan for the last eight years demanding an increment of the allowance, among others, has called off their protest. “We are happy with the decision, though our demand is to increase the allowance up to Rs. 5,000,” said Maha Prasad Parajuli, chairperson of the committee adding that they would keep fighting for their demands till the end of their life.
Some have been criticising the decision to increase social security allowance for various groups of people claiming that this will put an additional burden on the state coffers, said Mohan Bahadur Basnet, chairperson of the Jestha Nagarik Sewa Samaj, Nepal. Applauding the government decision, Basnet said the increment has added protection to elderlies.
“I have heard people saying that this large chunk of annual budget should rather go to the development sector. But we should remember that developing infrastructure solely cannot bring country’s growth and developing human resources is equally important.”
Krishna Murari Gautam (Chatyang Master), Chairperson of the Ageing Nepal, said the increment in the elderly allowances by Rs. 3,000 was one of the major agendas of Nepal Communist Party during the provincial and parliamentary elections.
“But in front of its high promises, the increment of only Rs. 1,000 was like cheating with the feelings of the elderly people.”
He said there was no use of increasing elderly allowance until the government would not

ensure that the allowance would benefit the needy people, said Gautam, adding that allocating same amount of allowance for the elderlies of high class families of the capital and for those of rural villages living under the poverty line was not justifiable.”
The senior citizen allowance scheme was first introduced by then finance minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari of CPN-UML in 1994-95 with Rs. 100. The allowance was increased at the tenure of various party-led government.
The senior citizens above 70 years are receiving the allowance under the Social Security Allowance Scheme. It is stressed to implement the people’s fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution. The latest data shows there are total 12,76,137 recipients of old age allowance. 

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