Jai Bangla initiative: West Bengal to get Rs 952 crore loan from World Bank for welfare schemes

The West Bengal government runs more than 400 programmes that provide social assistance, care services, and jobs, and most of these services are offered under the umbrella platform -- Jai Bangla.

Published: 10th March 2022 04:04 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th March 2022 04:04 PM   |  A+A-

Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee addresses the media in Kolkata on Sunday.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee (File Photo | Bibhash Lodh, EPS)


NEW DELHI: The West Bengal government will receive over Rs 952 crore loan assistance from the World Bank to support its social welfare schemes under the 'Jai Bangla' initiative, and a tripartite agreement in this regard was inked on Thursday.

The Centre, West Bengal government and the World Bank have signed a USD 125 million (Rs 952.61 crore) loan agreement to support efforts to help poor and vulnerable groups access social protection services in the state of West Bengal, the multilateral lending agency said in a release.

The West Bengal government runs more than 400 programmes that provide social assistance, care services, and jobs, and most of these services are offered under the umbrella platform -- Jai Bangla.

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 as households in the state's disaster-prone coastal regions, the release said.

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 even as food and in-kind transfers reach most poor and vulnerable households in West Bengal, the coverage of cash transfers is weak. Access to social pensions by the elderly, widows and disabled persons is also weak due to cumbersome application processes and a lack of automated systems for application and eligibility verification.

Over the next four years, the operation will help strengthen the state's capability to expand coverage and access to social assistance and to deliver cash transfers for the poor and vulnerable through a consolidated social registry, the release said.

The eastern state faces challenges related to manual data entry, inconsistent beneficiary data across departments, and a lack of data storage and data exchange protocols.

The operation will help digitise the state's unified delivery system Jai Bangla platform to help consolidate disparate social assistance programmes and speed the delivery of social pensions to vulnerable and poor households, it added.

The project will also support the creation of a teleconsultation network for social care services, complemented by a cadre of case management workers who can help households with advice on elder care and links to health services and facilities.

It will also create an institutional platform to improve coordination and effectiveness of government interventions to address the state's low participation of women in the labour force. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to have seamless systems in place to deliver inclusive and equitable social protection in times of crisis.

The project in West Bengal will focus on building the capabilities of the state government to expand coverage and access to social assistance and targeted services for poor and vulnerable groups within the state, the Union Finance Ministry said in the release.

"With its fast-growing urban population and pockets of the urban poor, West Bengal has recognised the need to move from a fragmented, scheme-based social protection system to provide an integrated basket of social protection benefits and services to its most vulnerable citizens. The project will support and strengthen the state's capability in this area to ensure that it can deliver social protection services - both cash and in-kind - to all its vulnerable citizens," Ahmad said.


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