The Financial Express

WB to give $245m deal for BD safety-net schemes

It’ll help complete country's first ever national household database

| Updated: January 10, 2018 11:47:38

WB to give $245m deal for BD safety-net schemes

The World Bank (WB) has agreed to sign a US$245 million additional loan agreement with Bangladesh for ensuring equity, efficiency and transparency in the latter’s safety-net programmes.

An agreement in this regard is expected to be signed on Tuesday at the NEC-II Conference Room at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) in Dhaka’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.

ERD secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam and WB country director Qimiao Fan will sign the agreement on behalf of their respective sides.

The Washington-based lending agency's total commitment to the project, with the additional financing, stands at $745 million while the project is expected to end on June 30, 2019.

A WB official said the credit is from the International Development Association (IDA), the WB's concessional lending arm.

The credits, according to the official source, are interest-free and repayable in 38 years, including a six-year grace period, and carry a service charge of 0.75 per cent.

In Bangladesh, the government implements a number of safety-net programmes to support the poor and vulnerable people.

WB says 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.

BSS says public workfare and humanitarian assistance programmes are included in these safety-net schemes.

Bangladesh during the 2016-17 financial year spent around $3.5 billion on social protection, which was about 1.4 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP).

The government by effectively identifying poor households and administering the safety- net programmes will continue to reduce poverty and ensure effective use of public resources.

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

WB sources say 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.

The loan arrangement 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.

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