Bangladesh To Come Out Of Difficult Patch: WB MD

Desk Report

Published: 25 Feb 2024, 05:22 pm

Finance Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood. Photo: Collected

Finance Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood. Photo: Collected

World Bank's Managing Director of Operations Anna Bjerde today said that Bangladesh would be able to come out of the difficult patch owing to ongoing global economic situation.

"I should say that we're very confident that Bangladesh would come out of this difficult patch especially given that Bangladesh has a very successful track record in reducing poverty and in implementing projects that have helped the population at large," she said.

 The World Bank managing director, in her one-day tour to Bangladesh, was talking to reporters after holding a meeting with Finance Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali at his office at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) in the capital's Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area today.

Finance Division Secretary Md Khairuzzaman Mozumder, ERD Secretary Md Shahriar Kader Siddiky, World Bank Vice President for the South Asia Region Martin Raiser and World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan Abdoulaye Seck were present, among others, at the meeting.

Anna Bjerde said that during the meeting, they focused very much on the need to address inflation which many other countries of the world including Bangladesh are dealing with. "We talked about the most important measures in order to address inflation and we can support that through a number of instruments that we have and we're looking forward to going forward to finalizing some of our assessments together in supporting these reforms."

She went on saying, "Other reforms that we talked about are very important in the financial sector and we talked about making sure a strong social protection and a strong social safety net in place with some of these reforms to adjust economic parameters to protect the people who might be the most affected. Overall there was a very good discussion."

Noting that the global economy is going through a very difficult time with crisis coming one after another over the past few years, the World Bank managing director said this has affected the global economy as well as each and every country they work with.

"Bangladesh is not isolated from these challenges. So, this morning we have a very good discussion on our programme, the implementation of our programme which is valued at about $16 billion ranging over 50 projects. But, also discussions were held on the reforms that are needed in order to address the economic situation here in the country," she added.

Emphasizing on the current World Bank-Bangladesh partnership, Anna said Bangladesh is the largest client of IDA and both are enjoying many years of fruitful engagements.

Finance Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali said whatever challenges and problems that Bangladesh is now facing are not new while the World Bank has lauded Bangladesh the way the country is facing those.

Ali said that the World Bank delegation lauded the government of Sheikh Hasina for implementing mega projects like metro rail (MRT Line 6), elevated expressway, Bangabandhu Tunnel under River Karnaphuli and adding that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has materialized those considering the present and future benefits of the country's people.

Answering to a question, he said that efforts are on to address the inflationary pressure and also to deal with the foreign currency reserve situation adding, "We'll have to wait as noting can be done overnight. We'll have to manage...adjust..."

The Finance Minister was also critical about the stance of Begum Khaleda Zia on the Padma Bridge and BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on the country's overall development.

Finance Division Secretary Dr Md Khairuzzaman Mozumder said that the general point to point inflation would drastically come down after the ensuing Holy Month of Ramadan and the Eid-ul-Fitr while it would stay at 7.5 percent by this June.

He informed that the World Bank delegation has welcomed the government measures in stabilizing and improving the macroeconomic situation of the country.

Mozumder said the World Bank delegation has termed the government measures and programmes as 'right on track' in the country's macroeconomic sector.

Acknowledging that the country's current inflation situation is mostly 'imported inflation', he said the World Bank team has also lauded the ongoing monetary policy and fiscal policy measures as well as suggested for continuing those.

ERD Secretary Md Shahriar Kader Siddiky said that financing agreements worth $2.25 billon were signed with the World Bank last year during Prime Minister's visit to Washington while financing agreements worth $2.6 billion were signed this year with the Washington-based lending agency.

"We've informed them (WB) that we're very much interested to work on project readiness and on important projects. We've also talked on how to utilize effectively the support which remained in the pipeline and also how to implement speedily the important projects. They have assured us of extending highest possible cooperation," he added.

Shahriar said the more government would be able to implement the aided projects, the faster would be the disbursements of foreign loans and grants.

The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh after its independence. Since then, the Bank has committed more than $41 billion to Bangladesh, mostly in grants or concessional credits. Bangladesh currently has the largest ongoing program supported by the World Bank Group's International Development Association (IDA).


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