Dhaka, Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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Govt, WB to ink $245m deal for safety-net programmes

DHAKA, Jan 9, 2018 (BSS) - The government is set to sign a US$245 million additional loan agreement with the World Bank (WB) to ensure equity, efficiency and transparency in safety-net programmes.

Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam and World Bank country director Qimiao Fan will sign the agreement on behalf of their respective sides at the NEC-II Conference Room at the ERD in the city's Sher- e-Bangla Nagar area today.

With the additional financing, the Washington-based lending agency's total commitment to the project stands at $745 million while the project will end on June 30, 2019, said an official of World Bank.

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 six-year grace period, and carry a service charge of 0.75 percent.

The government implements a number of safety-net programmes to support poor and vulnerable people in the country.

According to the World Bank, the financing to the ongoing safety-net systems will benefit nine million poorest households. It will also 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.

During the 2016-17 financial year, Bangladesh spent around $3.5 billion on social protection, which was about 1.4 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP.

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.

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 programme processes, as well as expand digital payment to beneficiaries with greater efficiency and transparency.

It will also support the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) to 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.