Bangladesh and Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday signed a $250 million loan agreement to finance reforms for improving the inclusiveness and responsiveness of the country’s social development and resilience program.
Economic Relations Division (ERD) secretary Fatima Yasmin and ADB country director Manmohan Parkash virtually signed the loan agreement on behalf of Bangladesh and ADB respectively.
The Strengthening Social Resilience Program will include institutional and policy reforms to address cross-sector issues of social development in Bangladesh, according to a release from ADB.
These include improving the coverage and efficiency of the social protection system through improving the administrative efficiency of social protection management.
The program 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, socially marginalized, and destitute women in 150 poverty-stricken 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.
ADB will also provide a technical assistance grant to support program 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.
“A strong social protection program, backed by the Government’s stimulus and incentive packages, largely contributed to the commendable 5.2% estimated GDP growth in fiscal year 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ADB Country Director Manmohan Parkash.
He said that ADB is pleased to support Bangladesh through this innovative program, in further widening, deepening, and harmonizing its social protection actions for increasing the resilience of the poor and promoting an inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Building on our cross-sectoral experiences in inclusive and sustainable development, we will support Bangladesh in improving the efficiency, financial inclusion, consolidation, standardization, integration, streamlining and continuous evaluation of the social protection system,” Parkash added.