Govt stand not against privatisation: Muhith clears Barua’s earlier remarks

Differing with a recent statement of the industries minister that the government will no more go for any privatisation, the finance minister told donors yesterday at a meeting that the government has not taken such a stand, according to the officials who attended the meeting.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith was speaking at the meeting with Local Consultative Group (LCG) comprising representatives of the multilateral and bilateral donors at the National Economic Council (NEC) auditorium at the planning ministry.

Towards the end of April, Industries Minister Dilip Barua at a workshop on the draft industrial policy had said the government would no longer take up any privatisation plan. The draft industrial policy also mentioned that no more state-owned enterprises would be handed over to the private sector.

In his first meeting with the donors, the finance minister asserted that it was the industries ministry’s own opinion, not the government’s, the officials said.

The government will make an industrial policy on consultations, Muhith was quoted as saying.

World Bank Country Director Xian Zhu and Economic Relations Division Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan co-chaired the meeting.

In the LCG meeting, the finance minister and Planning Minister AK Khandker put forward the government’s priorities and policies, and sought more donors’ supports to implement the government programmes.

The donors suggested Bangladesh Development Forum convene a meeting, which was not held after 2004.

The meeting is now expected to take place in early next year.

The LCG meeting agreed on holding sector-based specific discussion with the donors and the ministers concerned would be present in the meeting.

The donors will discuss soon with the government about civil service reform, energy sector, digital Bangladesh, climate change issue and transport and communications.

Officials said the donors stressed that the government’s concerns should come to the donors from a single high level of the government. Normally the government priorities are conveyed to the donors through the finance ministry.

A minister sent a letter to the prime minister of a country regarding a project keeping the finance minister in the dark, which embarrassed both the finance minister and the country concerned. More similar incidents occurred recently, donors indirectly raised the issue.

When the donors raised question about what the government would do about corruption, the finance minister said, they would show zero tolerance to corruption and take action against graft.

The finance minister also said the government is going to bring more changes in the public procurement regulations.

The donors expressed frustration over implementation of ADP and said if the government fails to implement ADP, disbursement of foreign aid will be difficult.

The planning minister said the government is working on developing a ‘Perspective Plan’ for the period of 2010-2021. He said: “I assure you that the reintroduction of the five-year plan is not going to dislodge our development strategies.”

After the meeting Xian Zhu told reporters that the government has projected its vision, priorities and strategies and sought assistance from the development partners in light of those.

Source: The Daily Star, 15 May 2009


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