ADB gives $250m for social dev schemes
Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a loan of $250 million to Bangladesh to help its finance reforms aimed at improving the inclusiveness and responsiveness of the country's social development and resilience programmes.
The ADB approved the policy-based loan on Saturday, said a press release.
The regional development bank also said Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty over the past two decades for which the poverty incidence declined from 48.9 per cent in 2000 to 20.5 per cent in 2019.
However, while many people were lifted from extreme poverty, a considerable number continue to live at a subsistence level.
The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly affected the socioeconomic situation of Bangladesh, with the country's gross domestic product estimated to have declined to 5.2 per cent in 2020 from 8.2 per cent in 2019.
"Enhancing social protection support is critical to cushioning the effects of the pandemic," said Hiroko Uchimura-Shiroishi, ADB senior social sector specialist for South Asia.
"The 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," she said.
The strengthening programme will include institutional and policy reforms to address cross-sector issues of social development in Bangladesh.
These include improving the coverage and efficiency of the social protection system through improving the administrative efficiency of social protection management.
The programme will expand its outreach to vulnerable women by increasing the coverage of both the old age allowance for women over 62 and the allowance for widowed, deserted and destitute women in 150 sub-district units or upazilas.
Other reforms 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.
The ADB will also provide a technical assistance grant to support programme implementation, policy analyses, and capacity development for social development-related ministries.
The technical assistance is estimated to cost $1.2 million, which will be financed on a grant basis by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction.