Bureaucrats today suggested the Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) to start identifying the extremely poor and distributing identity cards in a phase wise manner.
During a joint meeting of two high level panels on poverty today, director general at the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) Uttam Narayan Malla, who also heads the technical committee, proposed to start the identification process from some 13 village development committees (VDC) as a pilot survey. "In the beginning, the CBS suggests to start the programme from 13 VDCs — four in Tarai, and three each in the Hills and Mountains — to identify households below the poverty line," he said, adding that the survey and distribution across the country will be completed in three years. "But the data needs to be updated every five years to delete the graduates from extreme poverty and add new ones, if any."
"These 13 VDCs have more than the average poverty incidence," he briefed the meeting that decided to complete the ground work for identifying the poor within the current fiscal year and start distributing identity cards to them from the next fiscal year.
"One in every four Nepalis are below the poverty line, according to the third National Living Standard Survey (NLSS) III that has stated 25.2 per cent poor in its report," said Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) vice chair Janak Raj Joshi, who is the coordinator of the steering committee that will identify the real poor and distribute the identity cards. "However, the decision to distribute the identity cards in either a phase-wise manner or at once has yet to be made," he said, adding that the PAF board will decide on the modality.
The meeting also decided to form a five-member working group including representatives from National Planning Commission, CBS, Ministry of Local Development, Ministry of Home and PAF to assist the technical committee to suggest a methodology and approach to carry out the task of developing an acceptable standard for identifying the poor.
The group that will be based at National Planning Commission, will finalise its groundwork by the end of April and the technical committee will forward it to the cabinet for approval, added Joshi.
The first meeting of the committees also tried to find synergy among the National Identity Card Management Centre under the Home Ministry, and the Election Commission that has distributed voter ID cards to enhance inter-agency cooperation.
Agreeing that a political commitment at the highest level is required to begin the task of identifying the poor and distributing the identity cards, the steering committee decided to meet senior leaders of major political parties after the working group prepares some indicators to identify households below the poverty line.
A board meeting of PAF, under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai on February 27 had formed a steering committee and a technical committee to begin the task to establish a national standard to identify the poor and issue identity cards to them.