Govt widens social safety net to cut poverty rate further

DHAKA, -The government has widened further the social safety net in the proposed budget for fiscal 2019-20, aiming to include more marginalized and vulnerable population to cut further the poverty rate.

The poverty rate will be brought down by 10 percent in the next four years through a coordinated approach by engaging the private sector to supplement the government's anti-poverty initiatives, according to the budget placed in the Jatiya Sangsad on June 13.

Bangladesh's poverty rate came down at 21.8 percent while the poverty rate, as per the lower poverty line or people living in extreme poverty came down to 11.3 percent in 2018, said Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS).

The budget for fiscal 2019-20 proposed to allocate Tk 74,367 crore for social safety net programme from Tk 64,404 crore of the last fiscal.

We are implementing programmes for marginal people along with physically challenged groups under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Social Welfare Minister Nuruzzaman Ahmed told BSS.

He said the allocation for this particular programme is 14.21 percent of total budget and 2.58 percent of GDP.

In the budget, the government has targeted to reduce poverty to 12.30 percent and the extreme poverty rate to 4.50 percent by 2023-24.

The government increased the state honorarium for the valiant freedom fighters to Tk 12,000 from Tk 10,000. The number of recipients of adult allowances has been increased to 44 lakh from 40 lakh, the widows and victims of domestic violence to 17 lakh from 14 lakh and beneficiaries of allowances for all insolvent persons with disabilities to 15.45 lakh from 10 lakh.

The number of recipients of stipends for disabled students will be increased to 100,000 from 90,000. The amount of the stipend would be increased to Tk 750 from Tk 700 for primary students, to Tk 800 from Tk 750 for secondary students and to Tk 900 from Tk 850 for higher secondary students.

As per the government's plan, the number of beneficiaries under Third Gender Livelihood Development Programmes will be increased to 6,000. Additional 20,000 gypsies and disadvantaged communities will be added to the existing list of 64,000 persons.

The number of beneficiaries under the financial assistance programme for patients suffering from cancer, kidney, liver cirrhosis, paralyzed due to stroke and congenital heart diseases would be increased to 30,000 from 15,000.

Beneficiaries of maternity allowances for poor mothers would be increased to 7.70 lakh from existing 7 lakh and that of the lactating mothers' assistance programmes would be increased to 2.75 lakh from 2.50 lakh.

The government has also planned to increase the number of beneficiaries under the livelihood development programmes for tea-garden workers to 50,000 from 40,000.

Priority has been given for ensuring the selection of genuine beneficiaries to enhance the effectiveness of social safety net programmes, said the minister.

Steps have been taken to establish MIS for all programmes and create a database for all beneficiaries, he said, adding, Payments are being made directly from the government to the beneficiaries through the G2P system to ensure transparency.

Nuruzzaman said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman started the struggle for independence with a dream to free the people from poverty and exploitation and the present government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been working relentlessly to materialize this dream of Bangabandhu.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)