AfDB gives $250 million to strengthen social protection

The government yesterday signed an agreement with the Asian Development Bank (AfDB) for a $250 million policy-based loan to further improve the social protection system in Bangladesh to support the vulnerable population in the face of challenges socio-economic.

The program aims to accelerate reforms by increasing the coverage and effectiveness of social protection measures, to improve the financial inclusion of disadvantaged people and to strengthen the response to diversified protection needs.

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The loan is the second sub-programme of the Social Resilience Building Program (SSRP) approved in 2021, which has helped implement institutional and policy reforms that have strengthened the inclusiveness and responsiveness of social protection in Bangladesh .

Fatima Yasmin, Secretary of the Economic Relations Division, and Edimon Ginting, AfDB Country Director, signed the agreement via a virtual program.

“The AfDB remains committed to helping Bangladesh accelerate its socio-economic recovery and to supporting the government in promoting an integrated social protection program,” Ginting said.

“The integrated social protection program will improve the management of social safety nets, deepen financial inclusion, respond to needs based on demographic, geographic, age, gender and other diversities and expand the coverage and effectiveness of social protection,” he added.

Reforms supported under the program will help improve efficiency through digitization and integration of systems as well as harmonization of government social protection programs, the AfDB said in a statement.

Greater financial inclusion of the disadvantaged will be expanded by improving the user-friendliness of mobile financial services through Quick Response (QR) code payment services, especially in rural areas.

The program also supports a contributory protection scheme with an emphasis on a workers’ compensation insurance scheme.

The reforms will help Bangladesh integrate by June 2023 at least 80% of social protection programs with cash benefits into a standardized and integrated management system with connection to the G2P platform.

At least 60% of social protection cash benefits will be paid to disadvantaged women, and the fragmentation of social protection programs will be reduced in three ministries.

In addition, at least 50 mobile clinics will start operating in 10 municipal corporations while at least one social insurance scheme (contribution-based protection scheme) will be launched on a pilot basis by 2023.

Joel C. Hicks