NEW DELHI, March 17, 2016 ─ The Government of India, the Government of Madhya Pradesh and the World Bank today signed a US$ 35 million credit agreement for the Citizen Access to Responsive Services Project to improve access to selected public services for the people of Madhya Pradesh (MP), particularly those belonging to disadvantaged groups.
In an effort to improve service delivery, in 2010 the Government of Madhya Pradesh adopted the Public Services Guarantee Act (PSGA). Under the PSGA, services are provided by Lok Seva Kendras (LSKs) or kiosks, which allow citizens to apply for multiple government services at a “one stop shop”. The LSKs are privately operated under a public private partnership (PPP) arrangement. Currently, there are 334 LSK centers throughout the state – one in every block - and more than 10 million applications have been processed since 2010.
The project will support the Government of Madhya Pradesh expand the number of services under the 2010 Public Services Guarantee Act, open another 200 LSK centers in underserved and remote areas, streamline government procedures and reach out to citizens so they all benefit from access to key public services “anywhere, anytime” through transparent and accountable governance as per the government’s “Vision 2018”. This will help ensure that citizens in rural and remote areas also benefit from these improvements.
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. The project will support the government in notifying another 50 services under the Act.
“The PSGA has contributed to reducing citizens’ transaction costs, speeding up service delivery and improving accountability of public officials. It is aligned with the Government of India’s National e-governance program that stresses on putting in place transparent systems and time bound delivery of government services. This project will further help improve access to public services by reaching out to those citizens in remote and underserved areas that may have been left out,” said Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India.
The credit agreement for the Citizen Access to Responsive Services Project was signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India; M. Selvendran, Executive Director, State Agency for Public Services, Department of Public Service Management, on behalf of the Government of Madhya Pradesh; and Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director in India, on behalf of the World Bank.
“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 MP a reference for other low-income states striving to provide access to public services to its people,” said Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director in India.
Three guiding principles will drive the next generation of PSGA reforms in MP: 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 (ie. kiosk, phone, web or mobile technologies). The MP 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.
“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,” said Ana Bellver and Vikram Menon, Senior Public Sector Specialists and World Bank’s Task Team Leaders for the project.
The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm with a maturity of 25 years, including a 5 year grace period.