June 24, 2024, 12:50 pm

Social Safety Net Allocation Insufficient to counter inflation: Experts

  • Update Time : Sunday, June 9, 2024
  • 12 Time View
Photo: Collected

TDS DESK:

The government on Thursday proposed a budget of Tk1,36,026 crore for the social safety net programmes in the fiscal year 2024-25, posting a modest increase compared to the previous year’s Tk1,26,272 crore allocation.

However, experts argued that this increment is insufficient to address the challenges posed by the ongoing inflation and economic pressures.

“This increment is insignificant. Because the ongoing inflation will not come under control soon. So, the poor and marginalised people would require more support. The government should have increased it further,” prominent economist Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said.

One of the key highlights of the national budget is the expansion of the Government-to-Person (G2P) system for the electronic payment of allowances. The G2P system, which ensures direct payment to beneficiaries’ bank or mobile banking accounts, aims to enhance transparency and efficiency.

Currently, more than 93% of the cash-based social safety net programmes are being paid through the G2P system.

“The remaining cash-based programmes will also be brought under this system in the next fiscal year”, said Finance Minister AH Mahmood Ali while placing around Tk7.97 lakh crore national budget for FY25 at Jatiya Sangsad in the afternoon.

Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad welcomed this plan and said “This is a good step. However, selecting the eligible beneficiaries has always been a challenge. So, the government must select the target population groups,” he added.

In addition to these measures, the government has also introduced a capitation grant pilot programme for private orphanages using the Smart System (G2I). This programme, which has been piloted in four districts, will be expanded to all 64 districts in FY 2024-25, with plans to fully implement it by FY 2025-26.

The government plans to increase the number of disability allowance recipients from 29 lakh to 32.34 lakh in the next fiscal year. Additionally, the stipend for students with disabilities will be raised from Tk950 to Tk1050 at the higher secondary level.

The newly constructed 15-storey National Disabled Complex in Dhaka’s Mirpur will also support the disabled community by providing various services and aids.

A total of 103 service centres across 64 districts and 39 upazilas will continue offering therapeutic services and distributing free assistance devices, including artificial limbs, wheelchairs and sewing machines, benefiting around 1.30 lakh individuals.

Under the National Social Security Strategy, the Mother and Child Support Programme, which replaces the Rural Maternity Allowance and the Urban Working Lactating Mother Support Fund Programme, will see an increase in the number of beneficiaries from 15.48 lakh to around 16.55 lakh.

Beneficiaries will receive Tk800 per month for up to 36 months which is facilitated by an online application process.

Acknowledging the rising life expectancy, the government has allocated Tk4,351 crore for senior citizen allowances, increasing the number of beneficiaries to 60.01 lakh.

Similarly, the number of widows and abandoned women allowance receivers will rise to 27.75 lakh, with a budget allocation of Tk1,844 crore.

The budget also extended support to marginalised groups, including the Hijra and Vede communities. The number of individuals receiving allowances from the Hijra community will rise to 12,629, and a total of 9,832 individuals from other backward groups of the socially will be included in the allowance programme.

Education stipends will continue to support these communities, ensuring better educational opportunities.

Besides, the government remains committed to honouring freedom fighters, with a minimum monthly honorarium set at Tk20,000. Various allowances, including festival and Bengali New Year allowances, will be directly deposited into their bank accounts through the G2P system.

The construction of 30,000 ‘Bir Nibas’ houses for insolvent freedom fighters is underway, with 11,057 houses completed and another 10,889 are under construction.

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