NEW DELHI: The Government of West Bengal will receive loan assistance of over Rs 952 crore from the World Bank to support its social protection programs under the “Jai Bangla” initiative, and a tripartite agreement in this regard was signed on Thursday.
The Government of Central, West Bengal and the World Bank have signed a loan agreement of $125 million (Rs 952.61 crore) to support efforts to help poor and vulnerable groups access social welfare services in the state of West Bengal, the multilateral lending agency said in a release.
The West Bengal government runs over 400 programs that provide social assistance, care services and jobs, and most of these services are offered under the Jai Bangla umbrella platform.
The West Bengal Building State Capability for Inclusive Social Protection Operation will support these interventions at the state level, with particular focus on vulnerable groups such as women, tribal and scheduled caste households, and the elderly, as well than households in coastal disaster-prone areas of the state. regions, according to the statement.
The agreement was signed by Rajat Kumar Mishra, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Finance; Sudip Kumar Sinha, Secretary, Finance, Government of West Bengal; and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, India, on behalf of the World Bank.
Citing a survey, the World Bank said that while food and in-kind transfers are reaching most poor and vulnerable households in West Bengal, cash transfer coverage is low. Access to social pensions for the elderly, widows and people with disabilities is also low due to cumbersome application processes and a lack of automated application and eligibility verification systems.
Over the next four years, the operation will help strengthen the state’s capacity to expand coverage and access to social assistance and provide cash transfers to the poor and vulnerable through a registry consolidated company, according to the press release.
Eastern State faces challenges with manual data entry, inconsistent beneficiary data across departments, and a lack of data storage and exchange protocols.
The operation will help digitize the Jai Bangla State Unified Distribution System platform to help consolidate disparate social assistance programs and accelerate the distribution of social pensions to vulnerable and poor households, he said. added.
The project will also support the creation of a teleconsultation network for social care services, complemented by a cadre of caseworkers who can help households with advice on elderly care and links to services. and health facilities.
It will also create an institutional platform to improve the coordination and effectiveness of government interventions to address the low participation of women in the labor force. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for seamless systems to deliver inclusive and equitable social protection in times of crisis.
The project in West Bengal will focus on building the capacity of the state government to expand coverage and access to social assistance and targeted services for poor and vulnerable groups within the state, said the Union Finance Ministry in the statement.
“With its rapidly growing urban population and pockets of urban poor, West Bengal has recognized the need to move from a fragmented and scheme-based social protection system to providing an integrated basket of social protection benefits and services. to its most vulnerable citizens. The project will support and build the capacity of the state in this area to ensure that it can provide social protection services – in cash and in kind – to all its vulnerable citizens,” said Ahmad said.