2020-06-26 00:19:31 BdST

Safety net outlay goes up substantially for FY '21

The government has substantially increased the allocation on the social safety net programmes mainly due to supporting the coronavirus affected people.

It allocated Tk. 955.74 billion or nearly 17 percent of the proposed budget for fiscal year 202-21, with some programmes designed directly for the virus affected people.

The social protection programmes are also directly linked with the assistance for partial interest waiver of deferred loans of the commercial banks, refinancing scheme for low income farmers and traders, and interest subsidy for small industry and service sector enterprises.

The government has allocated a total of Tk 80 billion for the above programmes for the next fiscal year.

However, there are a large number of programmes meant for the non-poor people under the social security programmes.

The pension payment for the retired government employees is the biggest programme in terms of resource allocation. The government has proposed Tk 230 billion for over 600,000 pensioners.

Apart from this, interests on saving certificates, stipend ranging from primary level to higher secondary level, agriculture subsidy, honorarium for freedom fighters and food subsidy are also included in the social safety net programmes.

Md Azizul Alam, an additional secretary at the finance division said that the definition of social protection is large and all the programmes are more or less linked with providing supports to the vulnerable people.

He said that some programmes have been taken to support the traders and small enterprises.

Mr. Alam said the government wanted to raise the volume of cash supports instead of materials. He said corruption is almost zero in cash transfer.

He said that the government has planned to enhance the coverage of the safety net programmes in the next fiscal year.

The budget documents show that the coverage will increase to 66.11 million in the next fiscal year.

On the other hand, the economists say that the enhancement of the social safety net programmes would actually serve the non- poor.

Dr. SM Zulfiqar Ali, a senior research fellow at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), said that actually this allocation will be around 1.0 percent of the GDP.

The government has proposed the allocation meant for social protection in the next fiscal year is over 3.0 percent of GDP.

Mr Ali said that there is a need for proper selection of the people - they may be corona affected ones or genuine poor.

However, the government has nine categories of social protection.

Under the categories, there are 123 programmes designed to disburse the allocation.

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