a year ago

World Bank to push limping projects

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Negotiators are doing hectic homework as the World Bank sits shortly with government side to clear bottlenecks to slow-going projects it has financed in Bangladesh, sources say.

A number of the World Bank-funded projects, worth US$2.80 billion, turned "problematic" and "slow-going" for a slew of reasons, insiders said Monday.

Ahead of the reappraisal meeting, the government agencies concerned are going to sit tomorrow (Wednesday) to get armed with preparations to face the WB evaluation, they said.

The Washington-based lender is learnt to be unhappy with the dreary progress on at least 10 development projects bankrolled by it in Bangladesh as those are performing bleak over the years, they added.

"Some ongoing projects have been selected as slow-moving and problematic. The Bank will sit for a tripartite review meeting next week to find ways of their acceleration," says a senior Ministry of Finance (MoF) official.

Some other WB-funded projects which also have different types of problems would also be discussed at the review meeting, he adds.

Economic Relations Division (ERD) will arrange the virtual meeting, scheduled for January 30-31, which WB executives and project directors will attend.

A senior ERD official said they would sit for an inter-ministerial meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) before going to sit for reviewing the problematic and slow-moving projects.

"We will work out the ways of overcoming the complexities on way to implementation of the development projects," he adds.

"If there is heedlessness of the implementing agencies, we'll look into the matter at the tripartite meeting. Similarly, if there are any problems from the donor side, we will also try to tackle the issues," the ERD official further says.

Another ERD official says: "We will sit for reviewing the slow-moving projects. The meeting will discuss possible solutions to the hurdles standing in the way of implementing these projects."

He adds: "We've selected some projects whose progress is rather slow although funding from the WB (for those) has already been confirmed. So, we need to streamline the projects."

The projects include $202 million-funded Modern Food Storage Facility Project (MFSFP), $500 million Livestock and Dairy Development Project, $360 million Bangladesh Water Transport project 1 (inland waterways), $217 million Ghorasal-4 repowering project, $356.70 million Bangladesh investment promotion and financing facility project-II, $700 million Quality learning for all programmes, $150 million health and gender-supported project for Cox's Bazaar, $100 million safety-net system for the poorest, $150 million Bangladesh regional connectivity and $65 million Bangladesh insurance-sector development project.

According to WB and ERD officials, the 10 projects are on the weak trajectory in terms of implementation despite WB's approval given several years ago.

Among the projects, the Modern Food Storage Facility Project was approved by the WB board in December 2013. But it had been a very slow-moving project since then, whose closing date was extended up to April 2022.

The Livestock and Dairy Development Project, which got the go-ahead in December 2018, has also been on the slow lane.

Similarly, execution of many of those projects was being affected due to multiple hurdles, the ERD officials also said.

"We are hopeful of finding out some solutions and certain action plans for implementing the projects in the remaining period of their respective tenure," he adds.

Currently, WB's development-financing portfolio in Bangladesh consists of more than 50 projects with a commitment of some $15 billion in loans and grants.

In the last fiscal year, 2020-21, the agency made a commitment to provide nearly $2.12 billion worth of assistance to Bangladesh.

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