Enhancing Digital G2P Transfer Capacities in the Asian LDCs

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 1,414 social protection measures have been either planned or implemented across 222 countries or territories as of December 2021. These included various social assistance, social insurance, and labor market measures. Social assistance measures constituted 55 per cent of such measures on average (in East Asia and Pacific, it is higher at 61 per cent and South Asia, it is at 70 per cent) and within that, 42 per cent were cash transfers (Gentilini and others, 2020). The capacity of countries to manage G2P transfers effectively as well as to ensure inclusion, especially of informal workers, has become more important in light of the use of cash transfers as a policy response to the pandemic. Lessons from the rapid scale-up of G2P systems in various countries suggest three building blocks for a system: a unique ID (preferably digital with biometrics), socio-economic databases that are linked to the unique ID, and a channel for digital delivery.

This paper reviews the three building blocks in eight Asian LDCs – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nepal, and Timor-Leste – and discusses measures that can enhance the capacity of these countries. It also looks at whether the reviewed LDCs offer any lessons for others in the region. The paper also reviews the regulatory frameworks for digital payments and digital delivery channels in the reviewed LDCs