World Bank approves $1 bn for India as social security fund for urban poor, migrants

The World Bank said that this is the largest project after a similar package announced for health earlier.

World Bank approves $1 bn for India as social security fund for urban poor, migrants

The World Bank has approved US $1 billion for India as social security technology fund for country’s urban poor and migrant workers during the coronavirus crisis.

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

The focus will be to enable India to integrate all of its 400-plus social security schemes at a technology level, the bank said.

“The project will be crucial to rebalance social security towards urban poor, as much as rural,” said Junaid Ahmad, country director, World Bank.

“I think PMs ‘Atmanirbhar mission’ is very important in terms of directions and India is not making distinction between life and livelihoods in the aftermath of Covid-19,” he added.

Of the US $1 billion commitment, US $550 million will be financed by a credit from the International Development Association (IDA) - the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm and US $200 million will be a loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), with a final maturity of 18.5 years including a grace period of five years.

The remaining US $250 million will be made available after June 30, 2020.

“The World Bank said the support in collaboration with the government is aimed at integrating platforms so that people should not have to run around from one place to another to access a myriad of social schemes,” said Shrayana Bhattacharya, senior World Bank official.

Last month, the bank had approved a plan to roll out US $160 billion in emergency aid over 15 months to help countries deal with the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The board of the Washington-based development lender announced the first set of fast-track crisis funding, with an initial $1.9 billion going to projects in 25 countries, and operations moving forward in another 40 nations.

India was the largest beneficiary of the first wave of programmes with a facility for US $1 billion.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a Rs 20 lakh crore or $266 billion support package for the economy on Tuesday to help mitigate the damage caused by the coronavirus and the lockdown it has triggered.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been announcing the details on the package, equivalent to around 10% of India’s GDP.