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Government says cash transfer for pregnant women under FSA


The Maternity Benefit Programme—a conditional cash transfer scheme for pregnant and lactating mothers—announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 31, 2016 – has been introduced in accordance with the provisions of Section 4(b) of National food Security Act, the government has said. The cash transfer would be Aadhaar-linked through the individual bank or post office account.

While the scheme has come into effect from January 1, detailed guidelines for implementation and monitoring of the scheme will be issued shortly, the Ministry of Women and Child Development said. Under the scheme, all Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW&LM), those who are in regular employment with the Central Government or State governments or Public Sector Undertakings or those receiving similar benefits under any low for the time being are eligible. The cash incentive of Rs.6,000 will be payable in three instalments for the first two live births and in three phases. It is expected that annually about 51.70 lakh beneficiaries would avail of the benefit.

Expansion of MBP will have huge impact on the PW&LM as it will not only provide them compensation for the wage loss but will also provide them adequate nutrition and rest before and after delivery.  Mothers will have sufficient time to breastfeed the child during first six months of the birth.  Resultantly, it is expected that it will reduce mother mortality rate, IMR, under-nutrition and its adverse effects.

The Ministry said it was committed to ensure that every woman attained optimal nutritional status – especially from the most vulnerable communities as nutrition constitutes the foundation for human development.  This is all the more important during the period of pregnancy and lactation coupled with wage loss.  A woman’s nutritional status has important implications for her health as well as the health and development of her children.  

An under-nourished mother almost inevitably gives birth to a low birth weight baby. When poor nutrition starts in-utero, it extends throughout the life cycle, particularly in women. Owing to economic and social distress many women continue to work to earn a living for their family right upto the last days of their pregnancy.  Furthermore, they resume working soon after childbirth, even through their bodies might not permit it, thus preventing their bodies from fully recovering on one hand, and also impending their ability to exclusively breastfeed their young infant in the first six months.

The Scheme provides cash incentives to pregnant and lactating women for the wage loss so that the woman can take adequate rest before and after delivery; to improve her health and nutrition during the period of pregnancy and lactation; and to breastfeed the child during the first six months of the birth, which is very vital for the development of the child.

The first instalment of Rs 3,000 will be given in the first trimester of pregnancy after early registration of pregnancy and one ante-natal check-up. The second instalment of Rs 1,500 would be transferred at the time of institutional delivery and finally the three instalment will be three months after delivery after the child is registered and has received BCG, OPV and DPT-1 and 2 shots. 

The Maternity Benefit Programme is a Centrally sponsored scheme and the cost sharing between Centre and States is 60:40 for all the States and UTs (with legislature), 90:10 for NER (North-Eastern Region) and Himalayan States and 100% Central share for UTs without legislatures.  The total cost of the proposal for the balance period of 2016-17 and from 2017-18 to 2019-20 including Centre and State share is expected to be Rs. 12,661.00 crore.   Out of this, Government of India’s share for the balance period of 2016-17 ( Rs 584 crore) and from 2017-18 to 2019-20 (Rs 7348 crore) is expected to be  Rs 7932."

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