Terms and Reference (ToR) of
National Forum for Social Protection (NFSP)
Social protection has been adopted as a national strategy for poverty reduction in Bangladesh.The diverse underlying causes of poverty in Bangladesh include vulnerability, social exclusion, and lack of assets and productive employment; although the main symptom is often hunger. The extreme vulnerable poor can potentially lift themselves out of poverty with appropriate short to medium-term support. The extreme dependent poor, who are old, disabled or chronically sick, will depend on long-term social protection to survive.[i]
Public spending on social protection is consistent and remarkable; in recent years which exceeds 2% of GDP. In FY 2013-14, Government spent Tk. 267 billion that has reached to around 77 million people[ii]. However, the impact of social protection on the lives of poor and marginalized is not that much significant. Research shows that there are serious mismanagemet in the beneficiary selection process which leads 33.5% inclusion and exclsion error, prevalence of bribe to have been enlisted as beneficiary and huge leakage in the food based social safety-net programs[iii].
Bangladesh however does not use its resources well and this significant expenditure could generate far greater results. Evidence shows that better, sustained results require systemic change including more focused strategic leadership; fewer, larger programmes which are better targeted to the poor and more focused on helping them lift themselves out of poverty; larger average transfers; greater coordination across Ministries and transparency of decision making.
In view of above, DFID and Ministry of Finance of Government of Bangladesh initiated Strengthening Government Social Protection Systems for the Poor project (here after mentioned as SGSP) expecting that Government of Bangladesh will be able to establish policies, budgets and costed plans to make the delivery of social protection benefits more efficient and effective. Among other outcomes, this will result in a higher proportion of the poorest people benefiting from social protection schemes, an increase in the size of benefits, less leakage of benefits to corruption and patronage, and more regular and reliable transfers to beneficiaries.
Rationales for a national platform:
In a pluralistic society, government is not the only stakeholder who is responsible for governmance; citizens, in deed, the Civil Society has substansial responsibilityin ensuring governance. The key role of civil society should be: a) Holding government accountable, b) Influencing government policy and lobbying for change, c) Demanding efficient public services and d) Delivering essential services, where there is an added advantage or greater capacity[iv]. Thus, engagement of the citizens in the social protection programs in Bangladesh is pivotal to enhance governance of this public service.
According to the Sixth Five Year Planof this country- the key challenges of implementing government social protection in Bangladesh are coverage issues, targeting beneficiaries, leakages, and disparity in regional distribution; which are mostly caused by the lack of good governance.Enhancing transparency in the social protection services, participation and voices of the poor and marginalized people who are the intended target of social protection support and the practice of social accountability can leverage the situation.
Service providers account primarily to policy makers and politicians rather than the poor who receive these services. A vibrant civil society can hold social accountability of the countries social protection service authorities accountable to the beneficiaries and other common people.
The civil society platform can participate in the process of social protection, watchdog on the planning and distribution process, organize voices of the poor and marginalized people and push forward their recommendation to the policy table. The effective role of civil society members can prevent ‘quite corruptions’[v].
Vision and Mission statements will be set in the formal meeting of NFSP.
How the NSFP represent Voice of the common People?
The National Forum will be linked to the citizen forums at implementation level. These forums will be created by the project at District, Upazila, Union, Pourashav level.Poor people and the beneficiaries of various social protection programs will represent in these local forums with the local level civil society members. National Forum for Social Protection (NFSP) will be the highest organizational structure of the forum. The forum will be responsible to bringing on grassroots beneficiaries views for the policy changes.
General Eligibility of Membership:
- Both individuals and organizations working on rights &governance and social protection in particular and having high integrity, honesty and willing to work as volunteer will be the members of the Forum.
- The individual members will generally be an Academician, Researcher, Retired Government Officials- in particular relevant line ministry, Retired Justice, Lawyer, Human rights activist, social worker, development activists, Media personnel, etc.
- The organization members will generally be the civil society organizations; like- NGOs, think-tank, networks, Representation of State Human Rights institutions, news-media agencies.
- Program sub-committee shall be formed headed by designated members or selected members in the meeting
The forum will convene meeting on a quarterly basis to discuss work plan and finalize strategies.
Secretariat: MJF will act as the secretariat of the ‘National Forum for Social Protection (NFSP) andprovide secretarial, logistical and technical support.
Modality of NFSP formation:
- Setting selection criteria for NFSP (draft TOR)
- Identifying potential CSOs and individuals
- Communicating purpose of NFSP with enlisted organizations and individuals
- Organizing discussion meeting with the agreed members
- NFSP formation meeting
- NFSP Launching Program
[i]Sixth Five Years Plan for Bangladesh, 2011-2015, Part-1, Chapter-6, Page-163
[ii]FY 2014-15 budget, Ministry of Finance, Government of Bangladesh
[iii]Barakat, Abul, et.al. study on Improving Targeting Effectiveness of Social Satety-nets in Bangladesh, June 2013
[iv]Governance and the Role of Civil Society, Dóchas, Ireland, November 2001
[v]‘How Quiet Corruption undermines Africa’s development’ ADI-2010, The World bank.