Modi readies Rs 2 lakh crore social security plan for 50 crore Indians, rollout likely in 3 phases

New Delhi: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has given its approval to the labor ministry proposal on universal social security cover for 500 million workers, including those in the farm sector, seeking to start the process of putting in place a more secure welfare net a year before the general election.
The finance and labor ministries will work out the details of the scheme that will require nearly Rs 2 lakh crore when fully rolled out for the lower 40% of the country’s total workforce.
The remaining 60% of the workforce is expected to make contributions out of their own pocket, either fully or partially. “PMO has asked labor ministry to go ahead with the social security cover at the recent high-level meeting with them where labor ministry officials made a presentation on the universal social security code,” a senior government official told ET, requesting anonymity. “Even the finance ministry is on board with the idea.”
According to the official, the labor ministry has suggested to the finance ministry that the government roll out the scheme gradually, with poorest being the first beneficiaries.
“This would require a significantly less amount to start with and the fund allocation to the scheme can be enhanced later over the next 5-10 years to make it universal,” the official added.
The labor ministry has proposed a comprehensive social security system to provide retirement, health, old-age, disability, unemployment and maternity benefits to the 500 million workers.
This will be the second mass-benefit social scheme after the National Health Protection Scheme announced earlier that will provide Rs 5 lakh health cover to 100 million poor families.
The plan is to implement the scheme in three phases over a 10-year period after which the government hopes to make it universal.
The first phase will see all workers getting the bare minimum coverage, which includes health security and retirement benefits. The second phase will see unemployment benefits being added while other welfare measures could be launched in the third phase.
The 500 million beneficiaries will be classified into four tiers. The first will comprise the destitute and those below the poverty line who cannot contribute to security payments with the cost being entirely borne by the government through tax-based schemes. Workers in the unorganized sector who have some contributory power but cannot be self-sufficient may be covered under subsidized schemes in the second tier.
The third tier will include those who either by themselves or jointly with their employers can make adequate contributions so as to be self-sufficient. The fourth tier will comprise the relatively affluent who can make their own provisions for meeting contingencies or risks as they arise.

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