A third of the beneficiaries of the old age and widows' allowance feel that they are not eligible for it, according to a survey by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a private research organisation.
Publishing the findings of the survey at an event on Sunday at the capital's Brac Centre, CPD said that beneficiaries from different areas of Bangladesh believed they were receiving the benefit due to nepotism or a faulty selection process.
At the event, jointly organised with the Christian Aid, the CPD said that the survey results also revealed that many eligible individuals were not availing themselves of the allowances.
It further showed that many beneficiaries did not have enough land and income.
However, some of the elderly and widows owned land and had their own dwellings.
Even beneficiaries of other social security programmes like pension and vulnerable group development are getting old age and widow allowances.
Rashed Khan Menon, president of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Social Welfare, who was the chief guest of the programme, said social security should be considered a right.
He said the state was politically and economically trapped by a small group of rich people, and while poverty was decreasing, inequality was increasing.
Social security programmes should be increased to reduce inequality. However, the social security sector does not have the resources to increase allocations, and this can only be done if tax evasion is stopped.
He suggested increasing the manpower of the Social Services Department.
The survey also showed that some parents of students surveyed said they had to pay bribes of Tk4,000-6,000 to receive primary education stipends.
Many wealthy people are taking advantage of this by paying bribes, respondents said.
Meanwhile, many poor students are still not receiving benefits.
The survey revealed that 18% of the elderly pensioners and 13% of the widow pensioners were seriously ill.
On the issue of nutrition, it was found that pulses and vegetables were the main sources of nutrition for allowance recipients.
The CPD said that to achieve the government's development goals, all eligible individuals in the country should be brought under social security.
For this reason, the organisation proposed to make an allowance of Tk2,500 and an education scholarship.
An additional allocation of Tk90,000 crore will be required annually, which can only be earned by stopping tax evasion, it said.
CPD Executive Director Fahmida Khatun, at the event, said nepotism and political considerations were present in the selection of beneficiaries of social security programmes.
The bigger problem was that those affected were not receiving the security benefits and those receiving it were getting less than what they should.
She recommended increasing the number of beneficiaries and allocations for building a just society.
Presenting the survey results, the Research Director of CPD Khondaker Golam Moazzem said various challenges exist in the social security programme, including the beneficiary selection process.
Selection is not based on criteria, and there is a shortage of skills in this sector. Monitoring is not done properly, and as a result, the objective of social security is not being properly fulfilled.
The CPD conducted this survey to gather the opinions of 486 social security beneficiaries of 29 upazilas in 15 districts of eight divisions of the country.
Among them, 108 are old-age pensioners, 200 are widows or beneficiaries of spouses, and 178 are primary stipend beneficiaries.
This survey has been conducted in poverty-prone upazilas of the country identified by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics' Income and Expenditure Survey and the World Bank report.