The European Union (EU) has transferred €24 million or Tk230 crore to the government of Bangladesh to support key national reforms in social security.
With this grant, the EU recognises and supports the government's commitment to the eradication of poverty and extreme inequalities, and its commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This is the first disbursement under the EU sector budget support programme on National Social Security Strategy (NSSS) reforms in Bangladesh, signed in June 2019, the EU delegation to Bangladesh said in a press releases on Thursday.
"The NSSS sets an important roadmap to enhance governance, institutional capacity and accountability of the social security system to better serve the needs of Bangladeshis who are living in poverty or are vulnerable," the press release reads.
Effective and inclusive social protection systems are essential to safeguarding people in need when a crisis hits, such as the ongoing Covid-19 emergency, the EU delegation added.
"Social protection lies at the heart of the European social model and represents a fundamental area of cooperation in Bangladesh," said the EU Ambassador to Bangladesh Rensje Teerink.
She said the Covid-19 pandemic has created a public health emergency with immediate and long-term economic consequences for millions of Bangladeshis who are at a heightened risk of being pushed into poverty or extreme poverty.
The ambassador said ensuring a safety net for all is critical to mitigate these impacts.
"The European Union stands ready to join forces with the government of Bangladesh and development partners to enhance the preparedness of the national social protection system," Teerink added.
The programme of support to NSSS reforms intends to provide a total of €130 million as budget support linked to jointly-agreed performance indicators.
The programme addresses core elements of system strengthening and policy development. Technical assistance is also available to support the cluster of institutions responsible for coordinating and delivering NSSS reforms.
Disbursement of this first payment comes after a positive decision this month by the Budget Support Steering Committee of the European Commission's Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development.