National Family Benefit Scheme is in urgent need of revival

News: The National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS), which is meant to help the survivors in difficult circumstances, is losing its purpose now.

About National Family Benefit Scheme

1) Launched in 1995 under the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP). 2) Restricted to BPL families. 3) Rs. 20000 will be given as a lump sum assistance to the bereaved household in the event of the death of the bread-winner.

What are the problems associated with National Family Benefit Scheme?

Budget Allocation: Central expenditure on NFBS declined from Rs 862 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 623 in 2020-21 (budget estimates), with revised estimates for 2020-21 even lower — just Rs 481 crore.

Government attention: The government is focussing more on promoting other contributory schemes like Atal Pension Yojana (APY).

Not implementing the committee suggestions: Mihir Shah panel suggested some changes to improve the lacunae associated with NFBS like higher coverage, extended eligibility of NFBS assistance, but all are simply ignored.

What needs to be done to revive the NFBS?

Increase in the amount of emergency assistance: According to K P Kannan, the initial intention was to peg NFBS benefits at around 80% of India’s per-capita GDP. Based on this benchmark, the benefits should be raised to nearly Rs one lakh.

BPL households: BPL lists are outdated, unreliable, and full of exclusion errors in most states. So, there is a need to update that list and include all the eligible families.

Inclusive Approach: There is a need to bring simplification, transparency, and people-friendliness in the process. Proper assistance should be provided in accessing information, completing formalities, tracking their application, submitting complaints, and obtaining a response in the event of any grievance.

Increase in budget allocation: For making NFBS run smoothly, the government should increase money for investing in this project.

Source: This post is based on the article “National Family Benefit Scheme is in urgent need of revival” published in the Indian Express on 4th December 2021.

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