The European Union (EU) has transferred 24 million euros (Tk 230 crore) to Bangladesh to support key national reforms in social security amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which has put the country's economy under serious stress.
"With this grant, the EU recognises and supports the government's commitment to the eradication of poverty and extreme inequalities, and its commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals," said a statement issued by the EU Delegation in Dhaka today.
This is the first disbursement under the EU sector budget support programme on National Social Security Strategy (NSSS) reforms in Bangladesh, signed in June 2019.
The disbursement comes after a positive decision of the Budget Support Steering Committee of the European Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development in April 2020.
The NSSS sets an important roadmap to enhance governance, institutional capacity and accountability of the social security system to better serve the needs of Bangladeshis who are living in poverty or are vulnerable.
"Effective and inclusive social protection systems are essential to safeguarding people in need when a crisis hits, such as the ongoing Covid-19 emergency," said the statement.
"Social protection lies at the heart of the European social model and represents a fundamental area of cooperation in Bangladesh," the statement quoted Rensje Teerink, EU ambassador to Bangladesh, as saying.
"The Covid-19 pandemic has created a public health emergency with immediate and long-term economic consequences for millions of Bangladeshis who are at a heightened risk of being pushed into poverty or extreme poverty.
"Ensuring a safety net for all is critical to mitigate these impacts. The EU stands ready to join forces with the Government of Bangladesh and development partners to enhance the preparedness of the national social protection system."
The programme of support to NSSS reforms intends to provide a total of 130 million euros as budget support linked to the jointly-agreed performance indicators. The programme addresses core elements of system strengthening and policy development.
Technical assistance is also available to support the cluster of institutions responsible to coordinate and deliver NSSS reforms, the statement said.