NEW DELHI: The World Bank on Friday announced $1 billion in funding for accelerating India’s covid-19 social protection response programme to support the country’s efforts at providing social assistance to poor and vulnerable, hit the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.
This is over and above the $1 billion in support provided by the multi-lateral agency last month for strengthening India’s health sector.
"This new support will be funded in two phases – an immediate allocation of $750 million for fiscal year 2020 and a $250 million second tranche that will be made available for fiscal year 2021," World Bank said in a statement.
The first phase of the operation will be implemented across the country through the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) announced by the government in March.
“It will immediately help scale-up cash transfers and food benefits, using a core set of pre-existing national platforms and programs such as the Public Distribution System (PDS) and Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT); provide robust social protection for essential workers involved in covid-19 relief efforts; and benefit vulnerable groups, particularly migrants and informal workers, who face high risks of exclusion under the PMGKY," the World Bank said.
In its second phase, the programme will deepen the social protection package, whereby additional cash and in-kind benefits based on local needs will be extended through state governments and portable social protection delivery systems.
The programme will also create a system that will strengthen the delivery of India’s social safety net operations. This will include helping India move from 460-plus fragmented social protection schemes to an integrated system that is fast and more flexible, acknowledging the diversity of needs across states, enabling geographic portability of social protection benefits that can be accessed from anywhere in the country, ensuring food, social insurance and cash-support for all, including for migrants and the urban poor and moving India’s social protection system from a predominantly rural focus to a pan national one that recognizes the needs of the urban poor.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday announced digitizing the ration cards by March 2021 to roll out One Nation One Ration Card, that will allow migrant workers to access public distribution system facility from anywhere in the country.