ADB to provide $250m to boost social protection in Bangladesh

| Updated: June 15, 2022 08:59:44

File photo used for representation purpose (Collected) File photo used for representation purpose (Collected)

Bangladesh Government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed an agreement for a US$250 million policy-based loan to further improve the social protection system in the country for supporting the vulnerable population against socioeconomic challenges. 

Fatima Yasmin, Secretary of, Economic Relations Division, and Edimon Ginting, Country Director, ADB, virtually signed the agreement on behalf of Bangladesh and ADB, respectively, reports BSS citing a press release. 

The programme aims to accelerate reforms in increasing the coverage and efficiency of social protection, improving the financial inclusion of disadvantaged people, and strengthening the response to diversified protection needs. 

The loan is the second subprogram of the Strengthening Social Resilience Program (SSRP) approved in 2021, which helped implement institutional and policy reforms that strengthened the inclusiveness and responsiveness of social protection in Bangladesh. 

"ADB remains committed to help Bangladesh accelerate the socioeconomic recovery and assist the government to promote an integrated social protection programme", said Country Director Edimon Ginting. 

"The integrated social protection programme will improve social safety net management; deepen financial inclusion; address needs based on demographic, geographical, age, gender, and other diversities; and widen the coverage and efficiency of social protection," he added. 

The reforms supported under the programme will help improve efficiency by digitalisation and integration of systems as well as harmonisation of government's social protection programmes. Greater financial inclusion of the disadvantaged will be broadened by improving the usability of mobile financial services through the quick response (QR) code payment services, particularly in rural areas. 

The programme also supports a contributory protection scheme by focusing on an employment injury scheme. This contributory protection scheme will offer protection to a wider population and help augment government financing for social protection. 

The reforms will help Bangladesh bring at least 80 per cent of social protection programmes with cash-based benefits under a standardised and integrated management system with connection to G2P platform by June 2023. 

At least 60 per cent of cash-based social protection benefits will be delivered to disadvantaged women, and social protection program fragmentation will be reduced in three ministries. The number of active mobile financial services accounts will be increased annually by 5.0 per cent. 

At least 50 mobile clinics will start operating in 10 city corporations. Besides, at least one social insurance scheme (contribution-based protection scheme) will be initiated on a pilot basis by 2023. 

As of 2021, ADB's cumulative assistance to Bangladesh since 1973 amounted to about $48 billion through loans, grants, and co-financing. ADB's active portfolio in the country stands at around $11 billion with 50 projects as of April 2022.  

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members-49 from the region. 

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