The World Bank on Friday announced $1 billion social protection package for India in wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a $1 billion Accelerating India’s COVID-19 Social Protection Response Program to support India’s efforts at providing social assistance to the poor and vulnerable households, severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said.
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, it said.
The first phase of the operation will be implemented countrywide through the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY). 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 statement said.
In the second phase, the program 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, it said.
“The response to the COVID-19 pandemic around the world has required governments to introduce social distancing and lock downs in unprecedented ways. These measures, intended to slow down the spread of the virus have, however, impacted economies and jobs – especially in the informal sector. India with the world’s largest lockdown has not been an exception to this trend,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. “In this context, cash transfers and food benefits will help the poor and vulnerable access a ‘safety bridge’ towards a time when the economy will start to revive.”