Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has sought higher funds from the World Bank (WB) for completing ongoing development projects as the portfolio has almost run out before the deadline.
“Since Bangladesh is implementing many large projects, the government needs higher funds to implement those in time,” said Mr Kamal while speaking to journalists in Washington after a meeting with the WB’s interim President Ms Kristalina Georgeiva on Saturday (USA time). The meeting was held on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank Spring meeting 2019 at Washington DC, USA.
“We have explained her about the necessity of funds for many ongoing large projects. As we have to complete those in time, we need to prepare a financing plan; and accordingly, we will require higher funds,” he said.
The WB's portfolio for Bangladesh under its current aid package has almost run out resulting in the delay of implementing some ongoing and proposed development projects, officials said.
They said that under the three-year IDA-18 package, only some US$30 million fund has remained in hand of the WB for the disbursement to Bangladesh. The tenure of ongoing IDA-18 package will end by June 2020.
In the meantime, the global lender has confirmed nearly $4.3 billion worth assistance for Bangladesh in the last more than one and a half years, officials said.
The WB's current package, which was activated for its member countries, including Bangladesh, in July 2017 will conclude in June 2020.
“The WB interim Presdient has assured us that we can divert the unutilised funds in the pipeline for completing the priority projects,” the finance minister told the reporters.
“We have also sought financial support from the WB for the stranded Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. The WB has agreed to provide adequate support for the refugees,” Mr Kamal added.
The finance minister sought adequate support from the WB for the education sector as the government wants to conduct a massive overhaul in this sector to make the country developed.
“I have sought a good amount of financial support from the WB to develop Bangladesh’s education sector. If we do not conduct reforms in the educations sector, we can’t be able to go forward,” he added.
“We need the education that will make us the driver for the current and future days. So, we need a massive reform in the education sector.”
"If we go for learning about robotic, nano-technology, bio-technology and material science, we have to build subject-wise class rooms, Mr Kamal said, adding: "We have to develop our human capital for the sustained growth in the future."
The finance minister also sought necessary support for the Rohingya people during his meeting with the WB chief.
Mr Kamal met the Director General of the DFID Ms Lindy Cameron and some other high officials of the WB and IMF as well during his visit in Washington.
Meanwhile, at the end of the 2019 Spring Meetings on April 15 (USA time), the Development Committee, a ministerial-level forum of the WB Group, noted the Group’s progress on a set of policy reforms tied to the capital increase, and underscored its support for the Group’s twin goals, as well as the overarching strategy guiding its work through 2030.
The meeting agreed that the outlook foresees a moderate slowdown in economic activity, with lingering downside risks across the globe.
Global trade growth has weakened, while investment prospects have softened; both of these remain important engines of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation and sustainable development. Debt vulnerabilities persist, and policy uncertainty is weighing on confidence.
For developing countries, it is important to adopt growth-enhancing policies while containing risks and protecting the most vulnerable. The WB Group, in partnership with the International Monetary Fund, is able to help countries in addressing these concerns.
This was a key message from the Development Committee and the International Monetary Fund, in a communiqué issued at the close of the institutions’ Spring Meetings in Washington.
The committee, which represents 189 member countries, underscored its support for the WB Group’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, as well as the overarching strategy guiding its work through 2030.
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