Bangladesh Government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) today signed an agreement for a US$250 million policy-based loan to further improve the social protection system in Bangladesh for supporting the vulnerable population against socioeconomic challenges.
Fatima Yasmin, Secretary, Economic Relations Division, and Edimon Ginting, Country Director, ADB, virtually signed the agreement on behalf of Bangladesh and ADB, respectively, said a press release.
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 digitalization and integration of systems as well as harmonization of government's social protection programs. 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.
At least 60 percent 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 percent.
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.