No conditional WB fund for climate projects: PM

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said the government would not take the World Bank’s fund, earmarked to help Bangladesh to tackle the adverse impacts of global warming, if it does not agree with conditions imposed by the global lender.
   She said the government would take up a plan for dredging the major rivers, including the Padma, Meghna, Jamuna and Brahmaputra.
   ‘We will not take the fund from the World Bank if we have to accept their conditions,’ said the prime minister in reply to a question in the parliament. ‘They will have to give us the fund as per our terms.’
   She said that Bangladesh would get enough funds to face the adverse impacts of global warming.
   As the developed countries are responsible for global warming, they will give Bangladesh funds to face the climatic catastrophes, said Sheikh Hasina.
   She said the government would propose allocation of Tk 300 crore in the new fiscal year’s budget to initiate adaptation measures to face the impacts of global warming.
   ‘A guideline titled Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan has been formulated to face the probable disasters caused by climate change. A cabinet committee is working to finalise the action plan. Another cabinet committee is finalising the formation of the Climate Change Trust Fund with budgetary allocation,’ she informed the House.
   Sheikh Hasina said the government plans to dredge the major rivers in order to prevent desertification and facilitate flood control and land reclamation.
   ‘I myself will head the committee to be manned by ministers for some related ministries including finance, planning and agriculture. It will require a huge amount of money for dredging the rivers, but we will do it,’ she said. ‘Regular maintenance dredging will also be continued.’
   She said the government had already started discussion with the World Bank, the Netherlands and other lenders to get assistance for river dredging.
   ‘In the past the lenders were unwilling to provide funds for dredging, but now they are responding to our requirements. I signed a file today to send a representative to the World Bank to discuss various programmes including dredging of the rivers,’ said the prime minister.
   Answering another question raised by independent lawmaker Mohammad Fazlul Azim, the prime minister said the government had a plan to form marine police as part of the existing police force to root out pirates and forest bandits in the deep sea and Sunderban.
   ‘There is also a plan to increase the manpower of thana police and provide speedy vessels to them for the same purpose,’ she said.
   The prime minister said the law enforcement agencies under the home ministry were carrying out their responsibilities with utmost sincerity and integrity to ensure safety and security on river routes, and check smuggling in coastal areas, piracy, trawler robbery and abduction of fishermen.
   ‘These agencies like Coast Guard, BDR, RAB and police are engaged in checking smuggling and piracy and also ensuring safety of the fishermen,’ she said.
   Hasina said the present government had undertaken steps to further strengthen the Coast Guard and make it more effective.
   She said the river patrol teams of police were active in eliminating pirates, forest and land robbers in the rivers and char areas of the coastal districts.
   She also told the house that setting up of river police outposts and investigation centres in coastal char areas was under process. ‘Security of life and property of the people there will be ensured if the outposts and investigation centres are established,’ she said.

Source: The Daily New Age, 11 June 2009


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