This report sets out an action plan for the preparation of a National Social Protection Strategy for Bangladesh by December 2012. It explains the rationale for such a strategy as primarily being rooted in the need for reform in order to support Bangladesh’s progress to middle income country (MIC) status. In spite of many positive features the present system is fragmented and fails to focus sufficiently on poverty, risk reduction in an industrializing economy and social cohesion. There is an urgent need to consolidate good practices and provide a framework through which the social dislocations associated with economic growth and major changes taking place in Bangladesh, and the on-going environmental risks can be mitigated.
It identifies a four phase process to produce a final Strategy by the end of December 2012 for Cabinet examination in January 2013. These are:
1. Establishment of the Basic Institutional Framework (by mid-March 2012)
2. Strategy Development Process (completed before end of September 2012)
3. Launch of, and consultations on, the draft National Strategy (by end of October 2012)
4. Consolidation and official adoption of the National Strategy (by end of December 2012)
To drive this process the Cabinet Division will need to mobilise its Central Monitoring Committee for Social Safety Nets (CD-CMC) and appoint a Task Force of up to 10 members to drive the strategy development process forward. The Task Force will need to be chaired by a Government Secretary with the ability and energy to achieve cross-ministerial collaboration and members committed to long-term national development (not just day-to-day implementation). The General Economics Division (GED) in the Ministry of Planning is well placed, at least initially, to manage technical support and inputs, and provide the secretariat for such a Task Force (with inputs from inter alia national think tanks and international consultants) until such time that the CD-CMC Task Force establishes an alternative arrangement.
This report also calls on the development partners (DPs) to do all that they can to support the drafting and design process, through technical assistance and direct support. This appeal extends beyond the four partners who commissioned this report. A companion report (Report 2) has been prepared to identify the specific inputs which might be provided by DPs, indicative costs and how this support should be managed. However, the Mission Team underlines that the strategy design process must be nationally owned, and ultimately the resulting system, should be sustainable within national budgetary resources.