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December 2, 2013

WB Panchayat Department to receive World Bank honour

WB Panchayat Department to receive World Bank honour

West Bengal Panchayat Minister Mr. Subrata Mukherjee will be flying to the World Bank headquarters in Washington on Tuesday. “The World Bank is very pleased with the speed of our work and they have invited me to visit Washington to hold talks with them on several ongoing Panchayat schemes in our state,“ the Minister said. He said that he will publicize all the developmental projects in the state that have been taken up on the initiative of the Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee. The Chief Minister has personally taken the initiative to help the Minister in preparing the presentation.

“Performance of Gram Panchayats has improved substantially on annual plan preparation, financial management including audit, accounting and financial reporting, absorption capacity of untied grants, project execution and service delivery and ensuring participation, transparency and disclosure of information,“ Mr.  Mukherjee said quoting a recent World Bank report.

In 2010, the state government had signed a loan agreement of USD 200 million, amounting to Rs 920 crore, with the World Bank for a project on institutional strengthening of Gram Panchayats, enabling them to improve service. “Overall, the project has made significant progress in the past two years and three months of implementation,“ the Minister said. The loan was approved for the state to use to improve the effectiveness of service delivery by Gram Panchayats, the lowest level of government in India. It approved the West Bengal Institutional Strengthening of Gram Panchayats Project, designed to bolster the institutional capacity of Gram Panchayats in the state, enabling them to improve service delivery and governance in rural and peri-urban areas, where most of the poor in the state reside.

Based on the first full annual performance assessment of 1,000 Gram Panchayats spread over nine districts, 792 of them have already qualified for performance-based block grant for 2013-14.

“They are very pleased with the speed of our work. Now I have requested the World Bank to add another 1,000 GPs in this project,“ Mr. Mukherjee said. He also said the international financial institution has approved another project of around Rs 1,500 crore on implementing a drinking water project in the state. He said that there is around 3000 Gram Panchayats in the State. The financial aid from World Bank can serve only 50% of these Panchayats. The Minister is going to ask for help so that all the Panchayats in West Bengal may get assistance.

A recent World Bank report has also commended the state for growth and poverty reduction in the Ganga basin.

The Panchayat Minister will also have a meeting with the World Bank Officials on the project of creating an International Institute to study and research on Gram Panchayats; he will also hold another meeting at Toronto, Canada for a project on providing Arsenic-free water supply to the state.