YEREVAN, March 25, /ARKA/. The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors approved March 24 a$21.2 million credit for the Social Protection Administration II Project (SPAP) in Armenia.
The project will support the Government of Armenia in improving social protection service delivery and strengthening analytical, monitoring and evaluation functions of the agencies delivering social protection benefits and services, the World Bank Office in Armenia reported.
It said in a press release that ‘Armenia has consistently reformed its social service delivery, emphasizing efficiency and targeting among other priorities. These efforts need further enhancement to cope with the protracted and high unemployment, poverty and vulnerability which disproportionately affect women. In response to the challenges, Armenia has chosen a model of functional integration of four existing agencies responsible for pensions, social assistance, employment and disability certification.
Under the first SPAP, the above service providers were co-located, with upgraded facilities, integrated management information system, and new case management procedures in 19 sites across the country.
Under the new project, this model will be rolled-out to another 37 Integrated Social Protection Centers. The activities, from civil works to furniture and IT equipment with software provision, as well as trainings and on-the-job mentoring along with a proactive communication with the public, will ensure the fully operational nature of the centers, delivering high quality services tailored to the needs of the beneficiaries.
“With the introduction of the integrated social services delivery model and new case management practices, Armenia has made substantial improvements in how the social protection system functions,” says Jean-Michel Happi, World Bank Country Manager for Armenia.
“The main beneficiaries of the project will be vulnerable children, women and men, including senior citizens, who face multiple and complex livelihood challenges and are usually furthest away from the labor market.”
Among beneficiaries, this project will also target registered unemployed and employers by promoting employment intermediation and employer-employee matching, and thereby increasing labour market efficiency and job opportunities.
Implementation of the Government’s New Employment Strategy will come in a number of ways, such as by capacity building of the state employment agency via trainings and modernised IT infrastructure, expanding career orientation through skills tailored distance learning programs. It is expected that about 1400 men and women will equally benefit from this orientation program, along with 700 being enrolled in Youth without Education and Skills Program.
The project will finance an integrated system of monitoring and evaluation of social protection benefits and services, targeting over 70 different programs. This would enable the Ministry of Labor and Social Issues to directly manage the beneficiary feedback, specifically collecting information on quality of delivered services.
“Vulnerable families often have incomplete information about available services and may find it particularly challenging to adequately choose the items that would maximize their well-being,” says Ivan Drabek, World Bank Task Team Leader of the project.
“Nevertheless, we are convinced that through this project the needs of each family member will be adequately addressed and services will be delivered in a coordinated and coherent way.”
In addition, the project will support the State Social Security Service in improving and upgrading its core business processes. A risk-based fraud-and-error supervision software and system along with improved human resource management capacity, such as central payment services for the integrated social delivery system, will be developed and made fully operational. In addition, it is expected that by the end of the project the average time required for processing a pension case would decrease by 3 times.
Total financing of the project is US$25.5 million, of which US$4.3 million will be the Government’s contribution. The World Bank credit of US$21.2 million will be provided on standard blend IDA terms at a fixed interest rate of 1.25% per annum with a maturity of 25 years and a 5 year grace period.
Since joining the World Bank in 1992 and IDA in 1993, the commitments to Armenia total approximately US$ 1,839.06 million. -0-