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Dhaka Tribune

Improve targeting of safety nets

Update : 15 Mar 2015, 06:53 PM

Better co-ordination and targeting is needed to ensure social safety net programs deliver the most positive impact for the funds spent.

Over 11.5% of the government’s budget, Tk25,370cr, is allocated this fiscal year to support schemes such as food for work and vulnerable group feeding which are aimed at helping the nation’s poor.

With 99 different such programs being undertaken by 19 different ministries, there is ample scope for improving co-ordination of safety net schemes to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness.

The government also needs to ensure better monitoring of funds. Many beneficiaries have alleged favouritism and local political influence plays a part in the allocation of assistance. It is imperative to improve transparency and tighten oversights so that the right beneficiaries are reached.

Experience shows that good targeting delivers good results.  The government should use data from improved district level poverty maps to better target the poorest people in the poorest communities.

It is well established that money spent on improving childcare and encouraging education makes the most difference in the long term to reducing poverty rates. Programs for poor children and mothers are particularly crucial. Social inequality means that our nation’s achievements in reducing poverty by around 1% each year still lag far behind increases in GDP.

Directing more funds to invest in education and skills is the best way to overcome inequality and to prevent poverty. Building human capital so that more people can gain useful employment is key to lifting the multiple disadvantages that poverty imposes on so many people.

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