(Article originally published in https://diliprajpaudel.blogspot.com/2017/02/rerforming-social-security-pension.html )

 Dilip Raj Paudel
PhD Research Scholar
(M. Phil., EMBA, MA(Soc), MA(Eco), B.Ed. B.L.)

The Context


The history of human being reflects that they have been facing various kinds of risks in their life cycle caused by illness, old age, disability, death, unemployment etc. Nowadays, social security system has been widely established as a major policy instrument for enabling people to have basic living standard and arranging financial support against unforeseen risks. As the prevailing schemes are maturing and socio-economic features are changing over time, the social security schemes are encountering various difficulties with respect to their sustainability, effectiveness and expansion or contraction to a preferable extent (Holzmann et al, 2000). Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization of social security through national legal provisions and international co-operation based on the institutional capacity and resources availability of each state. Social security is one of the basic fundamental human rights of people. It is essential for the well-being of society and has a significant impact on the livelihood of the human beings. It also has significant role in human beings for their old-age, either formal or informal sector of the country.



Social security makes a decisive contribution in establishing greater social justice and peace. The state sponsored social security system is promoted because of the weakening of the extended family system, which used to provide economic and social security to the family members. However, there is no strong and strategic plan and policy in Nepal. Actually we can say the issue arises only for the voting politics of the Nepalese leaders involved in different party. Social security as a synonym to retirement pension programs can be frequently found in literature. Social security in terms of retirement pension can be identified as a comprehensive program, which provides retirement security for workers and their dependents. Nowadays the concept of public pension is increasing. The pension benefit is guided by the national policy of state with the structural setup and influenced by the government policy led by the political leaders.  Pension is a component of a social security which is a major phenomenon of public social policy today. But only government employee is entitled to get this benefit in Nepal leaving large segment of population outside of its ambit in Nepal. Public servants play the role of an agent of the state to deliver the goods and services for the people including the welfare services at all levels.



The basic principle of social security is the pooling of risks in a fund which can be applied to all nine of the social security contingencies (ILO, 2006, p. 9). These are (1) Sickness benefit;(2) Maternity benefit;(3) Employment injury benefit; (4) Unemployment benefit; (5) Invalidity benefit; (6) Old age benefit; (7) Survivor benefit; (8) Medical care; (9) Family benefits. Basically, these nine branches of social security declared by the ILO 102 have been derived from the diagnosis of poverty in the industrial countries where employment or full employment in the organized sector is the must. Protections are designed to protect the employees when they are out of work due to unforeseen circumstances.


The International Labour Organization (ILO), Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention (No. 102), defined social security including the following issues:


  • Survival beyond a prescribed age, to be covered by old age pensions;
  • The loss of support suffered by a widow or child as the result of the death of the breadwinner (survivor’s benefit);
  • Responsibility for the maintenance of children (family benefit);
  • The treatment of any morbid condition (including pregnancy), whatever its cause (medical care);
  • A suspension of earnings due to pregnancy and confinement and their consequences (maternity benefit);
  • A suspension of earnings due to an inability to obtain suitable employment for protected persons who are capable of, and available for, work (unemployment benefits);
  • A suspension of earnings due to an incapacity for work resulting from a morbid condition (sickness leave benefit);
  • A permanent or persistent inability to engage in any gainful activity (disability benefits);
  • The costs and losses involved in medical care, sickness leave, invalidity and death of the breadwinner due to an occupational accident or disease(employment injuries).



Social security is a challenging issue in Nepal. The scope and benefit levels of social security are inadequate (Badal, 2005; Upadhyaya, 1998) and the coverage is limited. There is insufficient legislative provision regarding social security in Nepal. Upadhyaya (1998) says that a few provision of social security in labor law is limited only to formal sector. The level of benefits is not sufficient to provide adequate protection to the employees and their dependents while reviewing and considering the related rules and regulations.



There are very few study in the area of social security system and pension benefits with regard to sufficiency, adequacy, coverage and its sustainability in Nepal. No study on the reforming of the social security system in Nepal has been taken place in past. In such circumstances, designing a comprehensive framework of pension system as a social security based on people’s needs, government’s policy and capacity and other circumstances is one of the major concerns in Nepal.  Social Security is inscribed as fundamental right by the Constitution of Nepal and hence is responsibility of the nation. So there is a need to reform the policy regarding the social security & pension benefits for all Nepalese people within the national boundary.

Why there is a need to reform the policy regarding the social security & pension:


Social Security is a universal right : The first social security programme based on compulsory insurance were established in Europe in the late-19th century. The development of social security has also been supported by various international conventions and instruments, and the recognition of social security as a basic human right was enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In a few countries, for example Germany and Brazil, social security is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Today, most countries have some type of social security system. Worldwide, the most common type of programme is for old-age, disability, and survivors’ pensions, followed by programmes for benefits for work injuries and occupational diseases, sickness and maternity, family allowances and unemployment. Similarly the Constitution of Nepal provisions social security as fundamental right of people.


Social security is a key to long term social and economic development: The social importance of social security systems for society is now widely accepted. However, there is less unanimity regarding the economic importance of social security systems. Regardless, that social security systems should be understood as a productive factor in economic development is a view that is gaining ground.


When arguing the case for the economic importance of social security provision, European social security history is particularly instructive. Many European countries introduced social security programmes early in their development; before they were rich societies. European history also shows that efficient economies and efficient social security systems can grow hand-in-hand, and that the latter is not a brake on the former. Clearly, all countries must develop their social security systems according to their own socio-economic needs and circumstances. Nonetheless, on the basis of European experience, the message for developing countries is a clear one: effective and efficient social security systems are key to long term social and economic development. In this regard we have need to reform our social security and pension system for its sustainability and economic development to the way forward social security for all.


According to available estimates, around 50 per cent of the global population has access to some form of social security, while only 20 per cent enjoy adequate social security coverage. The need to extend coverage is therefore a key challenge for social security organisations in all regions. However this can only be done while also addressing wider policy issues, including the demographic ageing of populations, evolving family structures, the impacts of economic globalization, the growth of informal labour markets, and epidemiological and environmental developments.



The social security benefit plays a vital role to motivate the people that relates it with the efficiency on work and helps increase in overall productivity. Human relations management tried to satisfy security needs through fringe benefits that provided some protection against illness, old age, unemployment and the vicissitudes of life as well as through managerial policies that treated employees with fairness. ILO states that  social security contributes to economic growth by raising labor productivity and enhancing social stability.


In Nepal, there are various kinds of professions; business, workers, and those involved in agriculture, etc. Besides government and organized corporations’ employees, other people are not getting social security facilities provided either by government or by Employees Provident Fund (EPF). Government has started a part of social security’s facilities i.e. old aged allowance and disabled allowance which lacks the inclusion of  the entire population against the background that the concept of Social security should not be limited. Does the coverage and service provided by government and EPF sufficient?  What are the needs of the people and how can those needs be addressed- are the relevant questions to be answered. As pension is essential to everyone for secured future.



Pension and provident fund are the two most prominent forms of old age benefits to Government Employees (Civil, Police, Army, Armed Police force, Teacher etc) of Nepal.  The pension system in Nepal is non-contributory and the total liability of pension and gratuity is financed from annual appropriation of government budget. Rest of the population has not benefited by the pension or other social security benefits except the nominal old-age, widow allowances.  So there is a need to reform our social security system and pension system as well. Apart from understanding the various aspects of social security system through the reviews of literature, attempt will be   made to examine existing system of social security in Nepal from the perspective of pension system and its development in general.



As the given information from the Department of Civil Registration, Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, Government of Nepal has distributed the Social Security Allowances under the different category and rate, which are as given below:

Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, Government of Nepal has distributed the Social Security Allowances for the 22,89,282 persons for the FY 2073/74.



Status of Distribution of Social Security Allowances:

Source : Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, Government of Nepal




Similarly, 525000 employees from the government and non government, like civil servants, Nepalese Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police force, corporation, Government school teacher and some private organization, is benefited from Employees Provident Fund facilities  and only ….     Number of Pension holder (only the government service holder: civil servants, Nepalese Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police force, corporation, Government school teacher ) enjoying pension facilities.


No of beneficiaries of Provident Fund:



Source : Annual Report of Employees Provident Fund 2072-73




Status of Distribution of Pension:

Source : Pension Management Office, Government of Nepal




Current Status of Pensioners & Expenditure :


Fiscal Year Pensioner Total Pension Expenses (TPE) Average Pension Income / Year
Number NRs. NRs.
2011/2012 189560 11544493575 60901.53
2012/2013 196626 18299886523 93069.52
2013/2014 197963 22000000000 111131.88
2014/2015 212007 26010694707 122687.91

(8 Month)

219363 12334066323


Source : Pension Management Office, Government of Nepal



Mentioned data shows that very limited people of the country benefited by the pension as social security facilities. Similarly Old age people, single women, disable, indigenous and children from remote have received very small amount as social security allowances. In this scenario, we can raise the question regarding the social security responsibility of state regarding the coverage, adequacy and sustainability of the scheme. We can compare how many people benefited out of the total population? What amount or how many percentage for the social security benefits out of the total budget? What is the impact of this type of distribution? Is this type of modality to distribute social security benefits sustainable? how they can maintain their living standard and afford basic need for decent living.  So there is a great need to reform the social security and pension system in Nepal.



After the 9th amendment in Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Act 2019, EPF is interested to extend the social security coverage like, health insurance, provident fund for migrant workers and self employed people, contributory public pension scheme. EPF Nepal has been established as a provident Fund management. EPF has been providing some of the social security schemes and benefits for its contributors in two categories.  One is financial benefits and another is social security benefits. In social security benefits, EPF has provided the Accident Indemnity Scheme, Funeral Grants Scheme, Medical reimbursement scheme, Maternity and Child Care Scheme etc. In financial facilities; Special Loan, House Loan-2057, Education Loan-2058, Revolving Loan, 2068, Low cost Housing scheme.



Government of Nepal has established the Social Security Fund (SSF) to provide security to those under economic as well as social threat.  The Government has initiated works related to this field since few decades and hence, with the motive of extending its areas of work the organizational structure has been planned. Social protection which is being provided by various concerned authorities of the country to reduce the risks as well as assuring compensation in time of needs. However, SSF is not yet able to provide any social security benefits for the needy people.


Similarly a report published by the ILO in 2014 estimated that only 27% of the world’s population has access to comprehensive social security. The debate of social security in developing countries has emerged largely since 1980s, promoted by several factors (Guhan, 1994; 35). Consequently, in large number of developing countries major social security services, still limit. Government schemes not included to its coverage.



A pension is a fund into which a sum of money is added during an employee’s employment years, and from which payments are drawn to support the person’sretirement from work in the form of periodic payments. A pension may be a “defined benefit plan” where a fixed sum is paid regularly to a person, or a “defined contribution plan” under which a fixed sum is invested and then becomes available at retirement age. Pensions should not be confused with severance pay; the former is usually paid in regular installments for life after retirement, while the latter is typically paid as a fixed amount after involuntary termination of employment prior to retirement.


A pension created by an employer for the benefit of an employee is commonly referred to as an occupational or employer pension. We can say pension is that value of money which is provided as a compensations for the person who has spent young and energetic life on the work as his/her contribution to any organization or country as well. The common use of the term pension is to describe the payments a person receives upon retirement, usually under pre-determined legal or contractual terms. A recipient of a retirement pension is known as a pensioner or retiree.


One of three pension formats as outlined by the World Bank in 1998 and which has since been adopted by many economically reforming countries in Central and Eastern Europe. As defined by World Bank we can say the goal of the three-pillar system is to separate the major objectives of pension (retirement) plans into the following pillars:


Pillar 1 – A standardized, state-run pension system, which offers basic coverage and is primarily focused on reducing poverty.  The first pillar, a downsized successor to the old pay-as-you-go system where current workers pension contributions and taxes are used to finance current pensioners benefits.
Pillar 2 – A funded system that recipients and employers pay into; this includes pension funds and defined-contribution accounts/plans. The second pillar, a mandatory fully funded component of the pension system where each participant has an individual account and pension benefits are based on the contributions to this account and the returns on the investments of these contributions, and
Pillar 3–Voluntary private funded accounts, including individual savings plans, insurance, etc. The third pillar, a voluntary fully funded component, which refers to additional contributions each participant can make to her or his individual account in order to increase the future pension benefits.




Besides the three pillar system, research program related with social security raises the issues of four pillars. The Four Pillars is a research programme set up in 1987 by the Geneva Association, also known as the International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics. The aim of the Four Pillars research programme is to study the key importance in the new service economy of Social SecurityInsuranceSavings and Employment. The programme focuses on the future of pensionswelfare and employment. The Geneva Association launched itsFour Pillars research programme with a view to identifying possible solutions to the issue of the future financing of pensions and, more generally, to organising social security systems in our post-industrial societies. Demographic trends – especially increased life and health expectancy – could be seen as positive if we were able to devise ways of enabling “ageing in good-health populations” to make a valid economic and social contribution to the functioning of our service economies over the decades to come

Pension Indicators


In this volatile period, human beings want to secure their life and desires for safety. Normally, any Government has a responsibility to protect and providing the social security for the citizens. Pension is a kind of social security to secure their life in old age. Pension policy and provisions are different as country wise and rapidly changing around the world. As policy makers in more and more countries address the problems caused by population aging and the maturing of pension system, the demand for cross-country comparisons of pension indicators is both heavy and growing and day by day slightly changed in the area of pension reform floor.


World Bank’s approach to pension policy has evolved, and focuses on issues related to financial sustainability and fiscal sustainability. Social security is established as a Human right, but how to manage the social security for all in the world? This is the issue. Issues of adequacy of retirement benefits and old age poverty, security of pensions in the face of risk and uncertainty, and administrative and economic efficiency.


The World Bank established a data base in 1990 to inform the analysis in averting the Old Age Crisis: Policies to protect the old and Promote growth. Its objectives is to help the data collection and publish the report about the impact of population ageing on pension systems and the appropriate policy responses which will useful for the necessary reform. The database and indicators are organized into three sets of information. The indicators of pension:


  1. Environment: Environment analysis of demographic, economic, financial and institutional support for the performance of pension systems.
  2. System design: System design is concerned with the national tax systems for the retirement benefits provision. It is related with the World Bank’s multi-pillar framework.
  3. Performance: Performance indicators of pension have six objectives and principles for which is related with coverage, adequacy, fiscal sustainability, efficiency (Economic efficiency & Administrative efficiency) and security. They are :
    1. Coverage of the pension system, by both mandatory and voluntary schemes.
    2. Adequacy of retirement benefits.
    3. Financial sustainability and affordability of pensions to taxpayers and contributors.
    4. Economic efficiency: minimizing the distortions of the retirement-income system on individuals’ economic behavior, such as labor supply and savings outside of pension plans.
    5. Administrative efficiency: keeping the cost of collecting contributions, paying benefits and (where necessary) managing investments as low as possible
    6. Security of benefits in the face of different risks and uncertainties


Performance indicators of fiscal sustainability depend on underlying demographic pressures combined with the pension benefit formula. This framework illustrates the trade-offs inherent in the design of pension systems and reforms. All those key points are always important for the pension design and continuous process for pension reform.


To meet these challenges the World Bank Group’s pension financing team focuses on:


  1. i) Improving the coverage of good quality pensions: Our goal is to ensure that elderly poverty is alleviated by the provision of income in retirement through pension systems that have broad coverage and are adequate, efficient, sustainable and secure. Our work supports financial inclusion and financial integrity.


  1. ii) Increasing the supply of pension assets that can safely fund long-term investment: Promoting the productive investment of pension fund assets not only supports the goal of providing adequate and secure pensions, but also provides important sources of long-term finance for development.


To achieve our goals we work through country and regional engagements, as well as producing research and through our outreach program.


Country and regional engagements take many forms, and involve strong collaboration with World Bank Group colleagues working in the areas such as Social Protection and Labor, Capital Markets and Financial Inclusion. Projects include:


  • Designing, reviewing, and reforming the overall pension policy framework in a country
  • Drafting, reviewing, and revising the pension legislation and regulatory framework
  • Capacity building for supervision of the pension industry – including governance aspects
  • Improving pension market structure and dynamics including distribution and access; and
  • Reviewing and reforming the fiscal and taxation environment supporting a pension system.


Improving pension outcomes through comprehensive analysis and collaboration can be picturised on the given figure.



Source : World Bank


The given figure shows the elements of the efficient pension systems.




Source : World Bank

Social Security and pension system in Nepalese Context



In Nepal, there are various kinds of professions; business, workers, and those involved in agriculture, etc. Besides government and organized corporations’ employees, other people are not getting social security facilities provided either by government or by Employees Provident Fund (EPF). Government has started a part of social security’s facilities i.e. old aged allowance and disabled allowance. However this does not include the entire population. Social security’s concept should not be limited. Though it is being provided by government and EPF but is it sufficient?  What are the needs of the people and how can those needs be addressed. Pension is needed to everybody and lives with secure future. That’s why Nepalese social security system is a very suitable subject for sociology/anthropology. But there are very few anthropologists/ sociologists as well as other investigations that have focused on social security system in Nepal.


As the paradigm of development shifted from the investment in physical capital to human capital, the concern for social investments, human development, social development and integration; and poverty alleviation began to make inroads into Nepal’s development thinking as well. It is interesting to note on how the concerns for social security in developing countries is growing when the developed nations, all over Europe and Americas are grappling with the crisis of social security. The worldwide recession, demographic changes and the changes in the social structure have imposed tremendous pressure on their social security systems that are once portrayed as the pride of industrialized nations.


Pension and provident fund are the two most prominent forms of old age benefits to civil servants of Nepal. The civil servants having at least 20 years service period are eligible to receive the pension during his/her life. The amount of pension to civil servants will not be less than 50% of basic salary and not more than 100% depending upon the service period. The pension system in Nepal is non-contributory and the total liability of pension and gratuity is financed from annual appropriation of government budget.


A pension benefit is a most important form of old age benefits. In history of Nepal, first Pension scheme was established to the army personnel since 17th bhadra 1998 BS. similarly it was established to the civil servants whose post in between the nausind to  badakaji having at least 25 years service period are eligible to receive the pension as a 1/6 of taken salary. Thereafter, the civil servants having at least 20 years service period are eligible to receive the pension during his/her life. The amount of pension to civil servants will not be less than 50% of basic salary and not more than 100% depending upon the service period, last drawing salary and denominator.  The civil servants having the service period less than 20 years are eligible to receive lump sum gratuity.  The pension system in Nepal is non-contributory and the total liability of pension is financed from annual appropriation of government budget.


In 1936 A.D. non-contributory pension scheme was introduced to army personnel which was gradually extended to other government employees and employees of public enterprises. Recently more than 2,02,000 pensioners are enjoying the pension facility from government treasury and its cost is Rs. 11,54,44,93,575 (Approx). Out of them, 63000 civil servant pensioners are enjoying pension facilities. (Kaushi Toshakhana Karyalaya now called as Pension Management Office). Labour act, 1992 and Labour regulation, 1993 are the milestone for social security of private sector employees. They have ensured the work injury compensation, establishment of welfare fund, provident fund, gratuity, medical expenses and leave, accommodation facilities, childcare center, health and safety measures etc. (Pension Management Office, 2013)


A decade later, the Provident Fund scheme was extended to civil services as well. A separate organization named Nijamati Provident Fund was established in 1944 AD to manage the scheme for civil servants working within Kathmandu Valley. However, the scheme was not mandatory. In 1948 AD, the coverage of the scheme was extended and made mandatory providing the coverage to the entire civil servants working throughout Nepal. In 1959 AD, Employees’ Provident Fund Department was established under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs. This department was entrusted with the management of both Sainik Drabya Kosh and Nijamati Provident Fund. With this, the scope of the scheme was extended to cover all government employees including the police.


The social security scheme for unorganized sector started in 1995 with the introduction of non contributory old age pension to elder people  (70 + years), helpless widows (60 + years) and disabled persons, free medical treatment to elder people and establishment of old age orphan houses. These schemes are financed from government budget.


In Nepal, the social protection has been accepted as a fundamental right of the people by the Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007 AD (2063 BS). Section 35 (9) of the Interim Constitution of Nepal has stated that the state will follow a policy to pay special attention to protect the interest of women, orphans, children, old age people, the disabled, incapable and endangered race.  Similarly the constitution has also ensured the social assistance to elder, women, disable, deprived and unemployed people. In July 2009, Nepal Government has introduced the social security tax.


Before the Eighth Five Year Plan, there were no specifying provisions about this matter. The Ninth Plan (1997-2002 AD) has made notable deviation by including the chapter about the social security. The chapter envisaged about the social security like as a need of helpless, disabled, senior citizen and also of indigenous people, ethnic groups, marginalized and oppressed community which was focused on the enhance the living standard. The Three Years Interim Plan, 2010-2013 has also emphasized on the improvement of social security system in Nepal by introducing some Social Security Programs, Welfare Fund effective and Employment Promotion Programs.



However, it is the responsibility of the government to promote the concept of welfare state and social justice. These schemes are still with limited coverage and effectiveness to support those people who are in need. The concept of social security in Nepal is gradually shifting from the realm of the family to the state. Traditionally and even to date, to a large extent, the institution including the extended joint family system and the community has performed the role of social security in Nepal.

A theory of contribution density in contributory pensions: Throughout time, many efforts have been made to develop detailed theories and studies of pension, satisfaction, and self-awareness. Each of those theories at some point has been applied and tested as to its effects on people’s satisfaction on adequacy, sustainability to maintain the secure and minimum living standards and personal goals in life and in the old age. It is important to look into different styles of the existing social security benefits. Whether these schemes are satisfactory or not in terms of quantity, service in time and procedure. It is assumed that if old age peoples are satisfied from the pension as social security benefits then they are happy and feel secured life to maintain the living standard. Ultimately, they become responsible, accountable to the society and government as well.



Due to the government’s revenue and scarce resources, there is more limitation to the government and huge amount is used for the social security benefits. However these benefits are not sufficient and it’s not sustainable because those expenses are dependent on government treasury; there is no any fund and other support. So we can predict that there may be financial crisis for the socials benefits schemes. International practices also show that contributory schemes should be sustainable and no more burden to the government. In this context there is an immense need to reform the social security benefits and pension schemes in Nepal from financial perspectives for the sustainability and continuity.



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