Social security number unlikely to come in handy for citizenship card

New Delhi, April 19 | Updated: Apr 20 2005, 05:30am hrs
The government is set to drop the proposal to use the National Social Security Number (NSSN) as a citizenship card.

The NSSN is to be issued to about 3.75 crore subscribers to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

Also, the procedure for issuance of numbers may undergo major changes to avoid further delay, according to the recommendations made by the task force set up by the labour ministry.

The recommendations are to be considered by the eight-member sub-committee meeting on Wednesday, consisting of employers and TU representatives, as well as senior labour ministry officials.

The scheme, anounced by the NDA government in February 2003, has already been delayed. The deadline for issuance of cards was March 2005.

While the task force has recommended many procedural changes in issuance of NSSNs, official sources said about 25 lakh cards had already been issued.

As per the lastest recommendations, an August 31, 2005 deadline for employers has been set for sumbission of data to the PF authorities. Also, the cards will now be available at a lower cost than the existing Rs 40.

Calling for expediting the process, the task force has suggested a two-stage process to complete the project by 2005-end.

In the first stage, a laminated photo identity card with a unique number may be issued. This number can be retained in the second phase, too, and will be centrally generated till all the 106 PF offices in the country are networked and electronically linked. Also, before issuance, the ID cards should be verified by PF officials to ensure accuracy.

Among various other suggetions are measures to decentralise the preparation and printing work. In addition, the existing data collection camps by vendors is to be done away with, to save costs and labour.

If the existing vendors are genuinely aggrieved by the decision to rescind their contracts, ways and means can be explored to allot them some work, but on revised terms and costs, recommends the task force.

Three years ago, the EPFOs NSSN scheme ran into controversy as the then labour minster, Sis Ram Ola, in response to a starred question by Dipankar Mukherjee in Rajya Sabha in August 2004, had said that EPFO had not been confirmed as the designated nodal agency for the purpose nor had it been authorised to issue NSSNs.

Mr Mukherjee, who is also a Citu leader, had also written a letter to the Prime Minister demanding a comprehensive inquiry into three issues: the social security scheme for unorganised sector workers, launch of the NSSN, and the unauthorised role of EPFO in allotment of social security cards.