The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has confirmed US$$2.6 billion and pledged another tranche of $1.96 billion in assistance for Bangladesh to facilitate socioeconomic recovery and bankrolling its development recipe respectively.
A release from the bank said Wednesday that the first amount for the last fiscal year was meant for helping the country's recovery from the Covid-19 shocks. And the second tranche is committed for financing projects and programmes.
A big chunk of the assistance was $500 million in budgetary support, approved in April 2020, within around one month after receiving Bangladesh government's request.
The aid package helps Bangladesh strengthening its public health system, speeding up the country's social and economic recovery by widening social safety-net coverage, providing salary support to workers in export-oriented industries, and extending low-interest loans to affected industries and farmers, the ADB claims.
The coronavirus impact has affected the country's gross domestic product (GDP) growth which had fallen sharply to 3.5 per cent in the fiscal year (FY) 2019-20 from 8.2 per cent in FY2019.
Besides, some 5.0 million people lost their full-time jobs in Bangladesh, the International Labour Organization in November 2021 estimated.
The provisional growth rate for FY2021 was also estimated lower at 5.5 per cent against the expected growth of 8.2 per cent.
The ADB in its statement said its assistance for Covid recovery benefited more than 15 million poor and vulnerable people in Bangladesh.
More than 3.8 million workers in export-oriented industries (53 per cent women) received wage subsidies of Tk49.45 billion or $576.3 million, the bank says in its lending statement.
Industries, and micro, small, and midsize enterprises, which were affected during the pandemic, received Tk481.50 billion or $5.6 billion loans, the ADB said.
Around 20,845 doctors, nurses and other frontline medical workers received two months' basic pay as honorarium.
"I am happy to note that the ADB was the first development partner to come up with assistance to deal with the immediate challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic in Bangladesh," says ADB Country Director in Bangladesh Edimon Ginting.
"It is also heartening that we were able to stand beside Bangladesh when it needed our support the most," he adds.
"I am confident Bangladesh will return to its pre-COVID19 high-economic-growth path soon by successfully implementing its robust economic and fiscal measures to protect the poor and vulnerable, including women, and cushion trade and businesses," Mr Ginting hopes.
Bangladesh has managed the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic well so far, through the stimulus and incentive packages and expanded social-protection programmes under a pragmatic policy to support both lives and livelihoods, he noted.