The World Bank has approved a loan of ₹1,000 crore for the West Bengal government to aid its effort to help the poor and vulnerable groups access its social protection services, read the statement from the international financial institution.
The loan under the ‘West Bengal Building State Capability for Inclusive Social Protection’ operation will strengthen the capability of this state to expand coverage and access to social assistance and targeted service for poor and vulnerable groups, it said.
A recent survey found that while 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 elderly, widows and disabled persons, in particular, is also weak due to cumbersome application processes and 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.
“With its fast-growing urban population and pockets of the urban poor, West Bengal has recognized the need to move from a fragmented, scheme-based social protection system to providing an integrated basket of social protection benefits and services to its most vulnerable citizens,” said Junaid Ahmad, the World Bank’s Country Director in India. “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.”
A top West Bengal government official said the loan will strengthen the state’s ability to expand its coverage and reach thousands of poor people with its welfare programmes. The Mamata Banerjee government runs more than 400 programs that provide social assistance, protection, care services and employment, the statement said.