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Covid-19: Government mulls cash aid disbursement for underprivileged again

  • Published at 08:17 pm April 15th, 2021
covid-19
File Photo: People out on the streets of Dhaka with masks during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

According to the plan, five million vulnerable households across Bangladesh will get Tk2,500 each

Although the inconsistencies identified in distributing cash aid last year are yet to be fully addressed, the government has been preparing again to allocate financial support among vulnerable households hit hard by the ongoing nationwide strict lockdown enforced to contain transmission of Covid-19.

According to the initial plan, a total of five million families will get Tk2,500 cash aid each.

The beneficiary families will receive the cash aid through mobile financial services (MFSs) to ensure direct transaction during Eid-ul-Fitr.

“We are working on distributing cash assistance among five million families like last year,” said Shirajun Noor Chowdhury, joint secretary of the Finance Division.

“A couple of meetings have recently been held in this regard. The final decision on distribution will be taken after the completion of preparations,” he added.

“If the nationwide lockdown continues for two more weeks, then it will likely be disbursed,” he told Dhaka Tribune.

On May 14, 2020, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched the disbursement of over Tk1,200 crore cash aid for five million poor families hit hard by the pandemic.

Rickshaw-van pullers, day labourers, construction workers, agriculture farmers, shop employees, small business employees and poultry labourers were included in the beneficiary list.

However, the government has managed to disburse a total of Tk902.16 crore out of Tk1,250 crore so far to 3.6 million families.

The government could not pay the other Tk347.84 crore as around 1.4 million comparatively affluent people were detected on the list due to inappropriate listing.

Earlier, the list was prepared by the deputy commissioners (DC), upazila nirbahi officers (UNO), union parishad chairman and members in the designated areas.

However, the Finance Division spotted massive inconsistencies while scrutinizing the list of beneficiaries.

According to the Finance Division, huge irregularities occurred in recording 493,000 people out of 1.4 million in the list. Of them, 107,386 were beneficiaries of other social safety net schemes and 2,855 were government employees.

There were also 557 people in the list who owned Tk5 lakh in savings certificates. The list also included 6,786 pensioners while 295,919 names came up more than once.

The list included people who did not have registered mobile phone numbers against their NIDs and people whose mobile phone numbers were different from those registered with their NIDs.

“We are working to fix the inconsistencies in the fresh cash assistance. Restaurant workers, salon workers and transport workers will be incorporated in the fresh list,” said Shirajun Noor Chowdhury.

Disaster Management and Relief Secretary Md Mohsin said: “The government is yet to decide on disbursing the cash aid, but preparations are going on. It will be disbursed after evaluating the Covid-19 situation and nationwide lockdown extension.”

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