EU contributes EUR45m to strengthen Bangladesh's social protection system

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The European Union (EU) today, Sunday, transferred a grant of EUR45 million to the government of Bangladesh  following its successful implementation of several social protection reforms, in line with the 2015 National Social Security Strategy and its action plans.

This substantial payment is part of the EU's broader commitment to support Bangladesh's social protection system under an ongoing budget support operation of EUR 247 million. Through this partnership, the GoB has committed itself to implementing crucial actions to improve social protection institutions and programmes and, ultimately, help poor and vulnerable people to weather unforeseen shocks. Successful implementation triggers the release of EU funds.

In fiscal year 2022/2023, the Government of Bangladesh upgraded digital governance institutions such as the Single Registry Management Information System and the Government to People digital payment platform. This infrastructure enables policymakers to make informed decisions for those most in need and facilitates the direct delivery of benefits to beneficiaries, mitigating the risk of pilferage and leakages.

I commend the Government of Bangladesh for its efforts to enhance its social protection system, emphasizing its significance within the Team Europe Initiative (TEI) on Decent Work, co-chaired by the EU, Denmark, and the Netherlands
Charles Whiteley, EU Ambassador

Additionally, the Bangladesh government improved the central Grievance Redress System, allowing all Bangladeshi citizens to file complaints against specific schemes, if they believe their rights have been violated. This system promotes transparency, empowers citizens to exercise their rights, and holds institutions accountable.

Moreover, the Mother and Child Benefit Programme saw a rise in beneficiaries, ensuring that more families can provide nutritious food for their children during their critical first 1,000 days. Additionally, the government initiated the implementation of the Employment Injury Scheme pilot in the Ready-Made Garment (RMG) sector.

This pilot offers income replacement for permanently disabled workers and dependents of deceased workers, covering all factories within the export-oriented RMG sector. Finally, the government is also developing a digital workers’ database to further streamline the delivery of social benefits to the working age population.

EU Ambassador Charles Whiteley, said, “I commend the Government of Bangladesh for its efforts to enhance its social protection system, emphasizing its significance within the Team Europe Initiative (TEI) on Decent Work, co-chaired by the EU, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Over the past three years, the EU and Member States have implemented more than 40 active programmes in decent work, social protection, and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in Bangladesh, totalling over EUR 500 million. In particular, the EU, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands are collectively funding the new flagship program ‘Advancing Decent Work in Bangladesh’ with a budget of EUR 23 million, aimed at expediting labour reforms aligned with international standards. This effort is crucial for Bangladesh's future application to the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) and sustaining duty-free access to the EU market beyond 2029.”

The Team Europe approach contributes to the EU Global Gateway Initiative, reinforcing engagement with global partners for growth and stability. Bangladesh's strategic location in South Asia, coupled with its economic growth and vibrant society, positions it as a key partner in promoting sustainable development in the region, observed the ambassador.

The Ambassador also underscored that “in the global challenging economic context, the fight against poverty and inequality has become paramount. Social protection is a powerful tool in this battle, safeguarding the most vulnerable segments of the society. It is essential that investments in social protection not only remain steadfast but are boosted. The European Union reaffirms its commitment to supporting Bangladesh in this endeavour and in leaving no one behind.”

The disbursement of this payment comes after a positive decision of the Budget Support Steering Committee of the European Commission's Directorate-General for International Partnerships in May 2024.