World Bank approves $35m for access to public services project in India

By on 01/02/2016

The World Bank Board has approved a US$35m credit to improve citizen access to public services in an Indian state.

The money will go towards the Citizen Access to Responsive Services Project, which aims at improving access to selected public services for the people of Madhya Pradesh, particularly those belonging to disadvantaged groups.

In an effort to improve service delivery, the government of Madhya Pradesh in 2010 adopted the Public Services Guarantee Act (PSGA), which has contributed to improving public service delivery.

Under the PSGA, services are provided by Lok Seva Kendras (LSKs) or kiosks, which are privately operated under a public private partnership (PPP) arrangement and allow citizens to apply for multiple government services at a “one stop shop”.

Currently, there are 334 LSK centers throughout the state – one in every block.

However, challenges remain to ensure that citizens in rural and remote areas also benefit from these improvements.

This Citizen Access to Responsive Services Project will provide support to the government of Madhya Pradesh to expand the number of services under the 2010 PSGA, open LSK centers in remote areas, streamline government procedures and reach out to citizens so they all benefit from access to key public services.

Around 126 public services have been notified under the Act which include water and electric connections, various government schemes like the widow allowance and pension schemes, caste and property certificates, and legal agriculture documents among others.

Onno Ruhl, World Bank country director in India, said: “Madhya Pradesh was the first state in India and worldwide to approve a Right to Public Services legislation and since then, 14 states have emulated the initiative.

“By focusing on providing a more responsive service delivery, particularly for the poor and underserved groups, the project will go a long way in making Madhya Pradesh a reference for other low-income states striving to provide access to public services to its people.”

The next generation of PSGA reforms in the state will be driven by three guiding principles: inclusiveness, simplification and accountability.

It will integrate various service delivery platforms currently under operation and develop a “Sarv Seva portal” to allow citizens to access services through the channel of their choice – kiosks, phones, web or mobile technologies.

The Madhya Pradesh government is also working on simplifying government procedures so that some certificates are not needed at all, or are available real time at a single repository.

Ana Bellver and Vikram Menon, senior public sector specialists and the World Bank’s Task Team Leaders for the project, said: “Not only will these efforts have a higher impact on all poverty alleviation schemes, but by promoting equity in service delivery for all citizens, gathering user feedback and strengthening accountability systems, the project will also contribute to increasing citizen’s trust in government.”

The $35m credit is from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm with a maturity of 25 years, including a five-year grace period.

About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World – the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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