A social security insurance scheme for the unorganised sector is likely to be the next big announcement the government will make as part of its inclusive politics agenda in the run-up to the 2014 general elections.
The government is gearing up to launch the scheme, flagged by the National Advisory Committee (NAC) headed by Congress president and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi. She held a meeting of the NAC today, where department of financial services secretary D K Mittal and labour secretary M Sarangi made a presentation on the salient features, coverage planned, implementation plan and timelines for implementation of the Comprehensive Social Security Insurance Scheme (CSSIS).
In its meeting in March this year, the NAC had pulled up the government for its failure to formulate a social security programme for unorganised sector workers, estimated to be 430 million, though the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act was passed three years ago. NAC pointed out this lapse on the part of the government in a communication to the latter.
Earlier, it had made recommendations to the government on a comprehensive social security package for the workers that could be made part of the Social Security Act, through an amendment.
A working group, headed by Mirai Chatterjee, had recommended a package that included health insurance, maternity assistance, a life-cum-disability insurance scheme and a pension plan which should be provided through a single window, backed by an inter-ministerial committee .
The CSSIS, which is the result of all these consultations, will cover life, disability, girl child education (Class IX-XII), optional co-contributory pension (Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 a family per year) on a tripartite basis (government of India, state and beneficiary), and health insurance under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana.
Implementation will be entrusted to dedicated verticals in the Life Insurance Corporation.
The scheme, based on the NAC suggestions, is to be rolled out by the central government in 2013-14, after consultations with the states, the council said in a press release issued after its meeting today.
The CSSIS might be part of the Budget 2013-14 announcements.
“In its meeting in March 2012, the NAC had deliberated on social security for unorganised workers to make the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008, as inclusive as possible, with a comprehensive social security package to be provided through a single window, backed by a common ICT (information and communication technology) architecture,” NAC stressed.
The recommendations of the council were communicated to the government this April.
The NAC meeting was chaired by Sonia Gandhi and was attended by Anu Aga, Narendra Jadhav, Mihir Shah, Pramod Tandon, N C Saxena, Ashis Mondal, Mirai Chatterjee, Farah Naqvi, Deep Joshi and A K Shiva Kumar.