The World Bank on Wednesday approved $300 million financing for improving transparency and efficiency of major cash transfer programmes in Bangladesh – benefitting about 5 million of the country's poorest and most vulnerable people.
With the finance, the World Bank's total commitment in the social protection sector stands at over $1.3 billion.
The credit provided by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank's concessional lending arm, is interest-free and repayable in 38 years, including a 6-year grace period and 0.75% service charge.
The Cash Transfer Modernization Project will help the Department of Social Services, under the Ministry of Social Welfare, modernize some of the country's largest cash transfer programmes taken targeting the poor elderly persons, widows, and people with disabilities, said a World Bank media release.
The project aims to shift the operating processes of these programmes from a manual and paper-based system to an automated, integrated, and electronically managed system.
"Bangladesh has cut the number of people living in extreme poverty by half. This is a remarkable achievement. Yet, [there are] many people [who] remain poor and vulnerable," said Qimiao Fan, World Bank country director for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.
"The World Bank is helping the government modernize its safety net programmes by improving pro-poor targeting, streamlining administrative systems, and addressing programme fragmentations. This will help reach people in need, and use public resources more effectively." added Qimiao Fan.
With a view to identifying potential recipients of cash transfers, it will integrate the department's management information system with the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics' National Household Database, added the release.
For more secure and accessible payments to beneficiaries, the system will be linked to payment service providers. Using existing digital systems, it will further develop an integrated social protection service delivery system in the country. The project will also help build human resource capacity and improve citizen engagement.