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World Bank announces $1 billion social protection package for India

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New Delhi, May 15: The World Bank has announced a $1 billion social protection package for India linked government programmes, in wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has halted life across the country.

This takes the total commitment from the World Bank towards emergency of COVID-19 response in India to USD 2 billion. A USD 1 billion support was announced last month to support India's health sector.

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Of the USD 1 billion commitment, USD 550 million will be financed by a credit from the International Development Association (IDA) - the World Bank's concessionary lending arm.

USD 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 USD 250 million will be made available after June 30, 2020.

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The response to the COVID-19 pandemic around the world has required governments around the world to introduce social distancing and lockdowns in unprecedented ways, said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India in a webinar interaction with the media.

These measures, intended to contain the spread of the virus have, however, impacted economies and jobs - especially in the informal sector. India with the world's largest lockdown has not been an exception to this trend, he said.

The funds likely to be used for urban poor and migrant workers, enable India to integrate all of its 400-plus social security schemes at a technology level.

"The project will be crucial to re-balance 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 aftermarh of Covid-19," he added.

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