WB approves $245m to strengthen safety-net programmes

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DHAKA, Dec 17, 2017 (BSS) – The World Bank has approved an additional $245 million funding to improve the equity, efficiency and transparency of major safety-net programmes in Bangladesh.

To support the poor and vulnerable, the government implements a number of safety-net programmes, said a World Bank press release today.

The release said the financing to the ongoing Safety Net Systems for the Poorest Project will benefit the country’s nine million poorest households.

With the additional financing, the World Bank’s total commitment to the project stands at $745 million. The project will close on June 30, 2019.

The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional lending arm. The credits are interest-free and repayable in 38 years, including a 6-year grace period, and carry a service charge of 0.75 percent.

The additional funding will help improve performance of some of the country’s largest safety-net programmes, which are implemented by the Department of Disaster Management. These safety-nets include public workfare and humanitarian assistance programmes.

“In FY 2017, Bangladesh spent around $3.5 billion on social protection, which is about 1.4 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” said Rajashree Paralkar, operations manager of the World Bank.

“By effectively identifying poor households and administering the safety- net programmes, the government will continue to reduce poverty and ensure effective use of public resources” he added.

To help streamline safety-net programme administration, the project is helping build common platforms for improved beneficiary targeting, information management, and digital payment.

The financing will support the Department of Disaster Management to roll out a management information system to administer beneficiary records and program processes, as well as expand digital payment to beneficiaries with greater efficiency and transparency.

It will also support the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) complete the country’s first universal poverty registry – the National Household Database – which will be integrated with external information systems, allowing various ministries and agencies to use its data for more equitable beneficiary selection.

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