$250m ADB loan for safety-net overhaul

FE REPORT | Saturday, 19 June 2021

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) would provide US$250 million policy-based loan to Bangladesh for facilitating reforms in improving social safety-net programmes amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Board of the Manila-based lender approved the loan on Friday, said a statement from the ADB.

Under the 'Strengthening Social Resilience Programme', the Bangladesh government will reform its institutional and policy capacity to improve the coverage and efficiency of the social protection system following the coronavirus impact.

The programme will expand its outreach to vulnerable women by increasing the coverage of both the old-age allowance for women over 62 years and the allowance for widowed, deserted and destitute women in 150 sub-district units or upazilas, the ADB said.

Other reforms under the programme include promoting the use of mobile financial services and simplifying identification and documentation requirements for opening a bank account and broadening the scope of social protection from mere poverty relief to life cycle social and health responses, including social insurance system.

Although Bangladesh made remarkable progress in reducing poverty over the past two decades, Covid-19 pandemic had recently affected many people who went down the poverty level.

"Enhancing social protection support is critical to cushioning the effects of the pandemic," said ADB Senior Social Sector Specialist for South Asia Hiroko Uchimura-Shiroishi.

"ADB supports the government's intention to leverage the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to strengthen its social protection programmes as an essential means of building the resilience of the poor and supporting an inclusive recovery."

The ADB will also provide a $1.2 million technical assistance grant to support programme implementation, policy analyses, and capacity development for social development-related ministries, the statement added.

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