THORNY WAY TO TARGETED SOCIAL AID

On 15 April 2006 the Ministry of Labor and Social Security set up collection of applications from Baku residents requesting targeted social assistance, while from 1 May the rest regions. So, the Ministry has received 66,000 appeals. However, the documents of 9,700 - 10,000 citizens were admitted, which is explained by two reasons.

Firstly, there were revealed attempts of fraud among claimants, which are not referred to the category socially vulnerable. According to the Minister for Labor and Social Security, Fizuli Alasgarov, those claiming at targeted social aid use different means to turn out in the list. With this reset some residents even re-register their property on others name, or sell their cattle. Over half families state their official salaries, whereas earn more than this sum through unregistered sources.

Meanwhile, according to the law on targeted social assistance only people with profits due to reasons not depending on them (unemployment, loss of bread-winner, loss of labor ability) lower than the necessary standards have a right for the targeted social assistance. Today the figure has been set in the amount of the minimal salary which comprises 30 manats. If average monthly salary of every member of the citizen is lower than 150,000 old manats, the difference will comprise the assistance to the said family. Thus, the selection is carried out on unified terms without any privileges. The assistance will be rendered to people over 6 months. If the familys incomes increase, it will not receive social assistance over the subsequent 6 months.

As a rule the countries applying the targeted social assistance connect the level of needs with the level of living minimum. Unfortunately in Azerbaijan it is equal to minimal salary (30 manats). At the same, in accordance with the monitoring of the Confederation of the Trades Unions the living minimum is 78 manats, though the official sources set the figure at 42.6 manats in 2005.

A deputy head of the Targeted Social Assistance Department of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, Vafa Mutallimova, notes that only in the initial stage of application of the system it was designed to relate the level of needs with the minimal wage. In accordance with the relevant legislation, the level will be annually defined through conduct of special monitorings in the country.

As of initial calculations, the new system will cover 250,000 low-income families, of some 1.2 million. The number of underage children will play the key role in the families referred to the low-income category.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security ceased the distribution of allowances for children in connection with the transition to targeted social assistance system.

AS t the second problem, it is linked with the collection of documents needed for issue of targeted social assistance. 17 types of documents are required in this respect.

The distribution of targeted social assistance to people will start on 1 July, though earlier process was expected to start on 1 April.

The Ministry could not set up the process due to failure to complete the preparatory work though the development of the legal-normative base was compete in the beginning of February, there are some technical reasons which impeded the commencement of the distribution of targeted social assistance in accordance with schedule. At present preparatory work covering selection of personnel, establishment of unified information network, is underway. The tender was issued for purchase of software and computers at the expense of the World Banks financial aid under the project on reforming the pension and social security reforming system.

The Ministry establishes database on low-income families to ensure a control over distribution of targeted social security in regions. All documents collected from the citizens will be placed database and people to receive the benefits will be defined on its basis. After the establishment of such database the Ministry will be able to control over the process in the regions.

There is necessity for bringing in order the laws on Targeted Social Assistance and on Living Minimum. They should supplement each other for full efficiency of the mechanism. Besides, in accordance with the presidential decree on Social allowances, the Cabinet of Ministers is committed to develop and present to the President proposals on bringing the exiting the legislative acts in line with the Law on Social Allowances.

The 2006 public budget allowances for the distribution of the targeted social assistance is 72m manats. The sum is not exact, as the government has not a concrete mechanism on definition of a criteria of needs..

However, since the beginning of the year the financial expenses for social programs implemented at the expenses of the 2006 public budget touched upon the measures on improvement of social security of definite pf definite category of people. Thus, The Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev signed a Decree on 19 January 2006 for establishing the presidential pension for the Martyrs (Shahids) families who died on 20 January 2006. For the family members of the Shahids, who died for freedom and sovereignty of the Azerbaijan Republic in January 1990 the presidential pension in the amount of 300 AZN a month is being established aimed at strengthening of the social protection and enhancing the state care.

On 23 January the Azerbaijani President signed a decree on strengthening of socials security the military of the Azerbaijan Defense Ministry. The salaries of the military have increased twice since 1 January 2006.

The essential change in the social life of the citizens is expected in the second half-year on of 2006. Let s be patient.

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