India requires funds to benefit vulnerable groups, particularly migrants and informal workers who have suffered hugely due to Covid-19 related crisis

In order to accelerate India's covid19 social protection response programme, aimed at supporting its poor and vulnerable households severely impacted by the pandemic, the World Bank has offered a $1 billion fund to the country.

The fund will be provided 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.

In this regard, an agreement was signed between Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, India on behalf of the World Bank on Friday.

This takes the total commitment from the Bank towards emergency COVID-19 response in India to $2 billion. A $1 billion support was announced last month towards immediate support to India’s health sector.

According to Sameer Kumar Khare, the first phase of the operation will be implemented countrywide through the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY).

He added the fund will immediately help scale-up cash transfers and food benefits, using a core set of pre-existing national platforms and programmes 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.

In the second phase, as per Sameer Kumar Khare, 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.

Social protection is a critical investment since half of India’s population earns less than $3 a day and are precariously close to the poverty line.

IVD Bureau