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Bangladesh to turn to China-led NDB seeking development support

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Amid the current global economic turbulence, Bangladesh is going to approach the China-led New Development Bank (NDB) to seek greater financial support for the country's infrastructure development, officials said on Tuesday.

A Bangladeshi delegation, headed by Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary Sharifa Khan, will participate in the NDB's board of governors meeting in Shanghai next week, officials said.

The delegation is scheduled to leave Dhaka for Shanghai on May 28 to attend the meeting, they added.

The board of governors will meet on May 30-31 at the NDB headquarters in Shanghai, China, under the theme "Shaping a New Era for Global Development".

With a high-powered committee, Bangladesh will join the highest forum of the NDB - the Board of Governors - for the first time since confirming its NDB membership in August 2020.

Established in Shanghai in 2015 by the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), the NDB serves as an alternative multilateral financing destination aimed at reducing economic and political polarization by the Western nations.

Bangladesh expects to receive over US$ 1.0 billion per year from the BRICS-led multilateral lender starting from the next fiscal year. The upcoming meeting in Shanghai will contribute to strengthening the relationship between the lender and the borrower, said a senior ERD official.

"Bangladesh will focus on the current global scenario and south-south cooperation. The delegation will also seek higher investment from the NDB for the country's development," he added.

The official said, "As the country's official development assistance (ODA) requirement is much higher than it is getting from different Western development partners, we will sit with the NDB for getting a significant amount of funds from the Southern partners."

The official development assistance (ODA) provided by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) is not increasing significantly on a yearly basis to meet Bangladesh's higher requirements. Therefore, the upcoming NDB meeting will play a crucial role in enhancing economic cooperation with the South, the ERD official said.

Another ERD official said that Bangladesh would seek increased investment in energy, power, transport, health and the social sector at the next board of governors meeting in Shanghai.

"We have already sent some projects to NDB for financing as Bangladesh joined the bank three years ago. After the discussion in Shanghai next week, we are expecting a big achievement with better cooperation of the multilateral lender," he added.

Bangladesh is now focusing on the South-South cooperation, he added.

ERD officials said they are engaged in discussions with the NDB regarding a big project worth US$ 235 million, aimed at improving water supply systems in Dhaka.

Besides, some five other projects are in the pipeline to secure financing from the BRICS-led bank, said the ERD official.

Currently, Bangladesh relies heavily on development partners from the Western bloc, including the World Bank, ADB and IsDB.

Bangladesh annually receives around US$ 7.0 billion in medium to long-term (MLT) loans and grants from various development partners, such as the World Bank, ADB, Japan, IsDB, AIIB, China, and Russia.

Out of this ODA, the largest multilateral lender, the World Bank, the ADB, and the bilateral lender Japan contribute nearly US$ 4.0 billion to support Bangladesh's infrastructural development.

From 2017 to 2021, the NDB approved loans amounting to around US$ 29 billion for its member countries. The bank now aims to disburse another US$ 30 billion in credit from 2022 to 2026.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh attained a 1.0 per cent share in the Shanghai-based NDB as one of the three privileged shareholders, following the five founding BRICS nations in August 2020.

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