The government yesterday signed a $300 million loan agreement with World Bank to improve transparency and efficiency of its major cash transfer programmes for the poorest and vulnerable, including the elderly, widows and people with disabilities.
The Cash Transfer Modernisation Project will help the Department of Social Services (DSS) modernise the country's four major social protection programmes using cash transfers by improving beneficiary targeting, programme administration and benefit payments.
The programmes are: the old age allowance; allowances for the widow, deserted and destitute women; allowances for the financially insolvent disabled, and stipends for disabled students, the World Bank said in a statement.
These programmes collectively reach about six and a half million of the country's poorest people.
“An efficient, automated and transparent social protection service delivery system is critical to building resilience and creating opportunities for the poorest,” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank's country director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.
The agreement was signed at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) in the capital by Fan and Mahmuda Begum, additional secretary of the ERD.
“The World Bank is helping the government build common digital platforms to better administer safety net programmes. This will help reduce administrative costs and errors by identifying the most vulnerable people with greater accuracy and transferring cash in a timely manner.”
In fiscal year 2018, Bangladesh spent about $5.8 billion on social protection or about 2 percent of its gross domestic product and improving the efficiency of these programmes will help Bangladesh use public resources more effectively, according to the statement.
The DSS has already started digitising beneficiary records of its cash transfer programmes, and the project will help further strengthen case management and payment processes.
To accurately identify recipients of cash transfers, the project will integrate DSS's management information system with the National Household Database of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
For more secure and accessible payments to beneficiaries, the system will be linked to the finance division's centralised payment platform, and use a network of banking agents, among others.
The credit is provided by the International Development Association, the World Bank's concessional lending arm, which provides grants or zero-interest loans.
The credit has a 38-year term, including a six-year grace period and a service charge of 0.75 percent.