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World Bank to increase its assistance for Bangladesh by 50 percent, its President Kim says

  • Chief Economic Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2016-10-17 11:33:39 BdST

bdnews24

World Bank President Jim Wong Kim has promised to increase its assistance to Bangladesh in 2017-18 fiscal by 50 percent as part of a larger global initiative.

At a press conference of Monday after meeting Finance Minister AMA Muhith, the global lender's chief said they will also give an extra $1 billion to Bangladesh for tackling malnutrition.

Kim, the 50th President of the World Bank, arrived in Dhaka on Sunday evening and met Finance Minister Muhith on Monday morning.

The visit is an attempt to celebrate Bangladesh’s success in reducing poverty.

The WB has provided International Development Assistance (IDA) loans to Bangladesh in a three-year bundle at a low rate of interest. Under these conditions Bangladesh has received around $28 billion.

The global lender has committed to $4 billion in IDA loans to Bangladesh between the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 fiscal years.

$940 million in IDA loans was disbursed in the 2013-2014 fiscal year and $1.16 billion was disbursed in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

The total amount disbursed under the IDA loans will be estimated after the loans expire at the end of the current 2016-2017 fiscal year.

World Bank officials hope this visit will erase memories of the troublesome episode between the global lender and Bangladesh over the Padma Bridge project.

The World Bank had pledged $1.2 billion for the $2.91 billion infrastructure project, but when it raised allegations of corruption, Bangladesh withdrew the funding request and decided to fund the project with its own resources.

Nine other World Bank officials, including Vice President for the South Asia Region Annette Dixon, Chief Economist Paul Romer and Bangladesh Country Director Qimiao Fan joined President Kim in Monday's meeting.

The finance minister’s team included Finance Secretary Mahbub Ahmed and Economic Relations Secretary Mohammad Mejbahuddin.

The joint press conference was held after the meeting at the finance ministry.

“The World Bank is a very important development partner for Bangladesh,” said the finance minister.

The World Bank provides support to Bangladesh in all sectors, including communication, said Muhith.

The Padma Bridge issue has been resolved and the World Bank’ has provided funds for other projects, he said.

The minister said he had great expectations for future cooperative projects with the World Bank.

During his remarks, President Kim evaded questions about how and where funds had been diverted from the Padma Bridge project.

"We are with Bangladesh. We continue to assist Bangladesh in several areas including climate change, infrastructure development," said Kim.

The WB President said he was visiting Bangladesh on World Poverty Day to celebrate Bangladesh’s success in poverty reduction.

In the past few years Bangladesh’s GDP has grown at a rate higher than 6 percent a year and this year it was growing at 7 percent, he said.

Sustaining this growth will require greater investment in education, health and infrastructure, he said.

In the future the World Bank will focus on alleviating the impact of climate change, he said.

On Tuesday, President Kim will be going to Barisal to inspect several projects that use World Bank funds.

He will meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on his return to Dhaka and end his visit with a press conference at the World Bank offices in the capital.


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