Govt plans to allocate Tk 344b for social safety net in FY23

Friday, 21 January 2022

The government is planning to widen the coverage of the social safety net for the marginalised and vulnerable people as the Covid-induced loss of income and livelihood might push more people into poverty.

To tackle the situation, the government is planning to allocate Tk 372.35 billion in FY 2023-24 in the social safety net and welfare sector and Tk 344.07 billion in FY 2022-23.

The allocation in this sector in the running FY2021-22 is Tk 343.19, reports UNB citing an official document.

The allocation was Tk 295.58 billion in the revised budget of 2020-21 fiscal while Tk 240.86 billion and Tk 239.20 billion in 2019-20 fiscal and 2018-19 fiscal respectively.

Social welfare ministry, women and children affairs ministry, liberation war affairs ministry, food ministry and disaster management and relief ministry are responsible to implement social safety-linked programmes.

The document, however, said that the government has set a target to bring down the poverty rate to 12.3 per cent and the extreme poverty rate to 4.5 per cent by FY 2023-24.

One of the responsibilities of the social welfare ministry is to distribute various social transfers and social security services among people to eradicate poverty and extreme poverty, it said.

"This is considered as an effective tool to ensure inclusive growth, and to achieve that the government has taken the social safety net programme as one of the priority activities," said the document.

Govt steps to reduce poverty

The government has achieved tremendous success in reducing poverty and extreme poverty over the years, according to the document.

It has reduced the poverty and extreme poverty rates to 20.5 per cent and 10.5 per cent respectively in 2018-19 fiscal from 40 per cent and 25.1 per cent respectively in fiscal 2005-06.

At present, as much as 25 million people are getting financial assistance under various social safety net programmes.

The government has increased the allocation as well as coverage of social safety net benefits to tackle the adverse impact of the pandemic on the poor, said the document.

For example, the Old Age Allowances and the Allowances for Widows and Women deserted by husbands was expanded under the stimulus packages in 2020-21 fiscal to cover all eligible persons in 112 poorest upazilas of the county.

In the medium term, the document said, these two programmes will be further expanded to cover 150 more poorest upazilas, and the process has begun in the running 2021-22 fiscal.

The government has a plan to bring all beneficiaries under the G2P (Government to Person) system for ensuring accountability and transparency. The government has made a target to bring one crore beneficiaries under this G2P by this running 2021-22 fiscal.

The ministry of social welfare has set a priority for continuation of the provision of social security benefits in the areas of old age allowance, widows and deserted women allowances, disability allowances, and stipend for disabled students, as per the official document.

It also provided allocations for bedeys (nomads) and other marginal groups, transgenders, tea-garden workers, and patients suffering from cancer, kidney disease, lever cirrhosis, paralysis due to stroke, and congenital heart disease.

It has made provisions for rehabilitation of people with autism, disability and suffering acid burns, created autism resource centres, and established 11 schools for children with autism.

To ensure children's welfare, the ministry has drafted the Child Day Care Act 2021 that has been submitted to Parliament for enactment. The government has established child day care centres to assist working women.

The liberation war affairs ministry is working to improve the socioeconomic status of the freedom fighters and ensure their welfare by raising their honorarium to Tk 20,000 from Tk 12000 in the current fiscal.

The government is trying to alleviate poverty by providing training to farmers, facilitating agricultural loan and supplying irrigation and other modern agricultural machinery to them.

The official document said that interest free micro-loans of Tk 5000 to Tk 30,000 per family are being distributed to the extreme poor of villages through Rural Social Service (RSS) activities, Rural Maternal Centre (RMC) activities, rehabilitation of burnt and disabled persons, and urban development programmes.

The ministry of disaster management and relief focuses on reducing the risks to the poor and disadvantages people due to natural, environmental and human induced hazards. In the medium term, the ministry will continue its existing programmes like EGPP, VGF, Kabita, TR, GR, etc.

Other priorities will include- building multipurpose cyclone shelters, disaster resilient building and flood shelters, construction of houses for the ultra poor, and construction of mujib killas and bridges/ culverts to combat disasters.

During the COVId-19 pandemic, the ministry has implemented a direct cash transfer programme to targeted households of 35 lakh families with Tk 2500 for each families.

Considering the loss of income during the second wave of the pandemic last year, the second round of the direct cash transfer programme to the same beneficiaries has already been rolled out.

It will complete by end of this fiscal 2021-22, the document said.