The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India on 2 Dec. signed a $50 million policy-based loan to improve financial management procedures and operational efficiencies aimed at achieving more fiscal savings, promote informed decision making, and improve service delivery in the state of West Bengal.
The signatories to the West Bengal Public Finance Management Investment Programme were Dr. C. S. Mohapatra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance who signed for the Government of India, and Mr. Takeo Konishi, Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission who signed for ADB.
Dr. Mohapatra stated that integration of the state’s financial and information systems through the programme’s whole-of-government approach will help improve delivery of public services and generate fiscal savings that could help the state augment growth-enhancing development financing.
Mr. Konishi said that through support to interoperable e-Government platforms, the programme will ensure streamlining of social protection benefits such as pension and provident fund, facilitate gender-disaggregated data, tax payments, and revenue collection.
Development projects could be better tracked and monitored with the help of a new module within the integrated financial management system (IFMS) leading to improved project management. A centre for fiscal policy and public finance will be established to deepen capacity of the state government officials on public finance management while developing a web-based grievance redress system for transport corporations and urban local bodies will provide a credible citizen-government interface.
The loan builds up on past ADB policy-based programmes in 2012 and 2017, supporting the Government of West Bengal on sustainable public financial management reforms. These programmes helped develop and implement an IFMS, established successful e-Governance systems for improved revenue administration, undertook measures for expenditure rationalisation, and promoted the private sector’s involvement in service delivery.
The loan is proposed to be supplemented by a $350,000 technical assistance grant for capacity building, monitoring of IFMS reforms, and strengthening the integration of social and gender aspects in reform areas.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.