ADB increases annual assistance to $800m

The Asian Development Bank has increased its annual financial assistance package to Bangladesh to $800 million for the next three years, which is 33.34 per cent higher than the amount that the lending agency provided the country during the last three years.
   The ADB provided Bangladesh with $600 million annual assistance during 2006 to 2008, an official announcement of the bank said in Dhaka Thursday.
   The announcement of enhanced assistance came after separate meetings of the visiting ADB president, Haruhiko Kuroda, with the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, and the finance minister, AMA Abdul Muhith, Thursday.
   Haruhiko arrived in Dhaka Thursday morning on a two-day visit and meet the prime minister and the finance minister where he discussed the bilateral issues, including ADB’s assistance to the country’s development efforts.
   Later in the afternoon, the ADB chief addressed a press conference at Sonargaon Hotel in the capital city when he assured the government of continuous assistance.
   Referring to the present government’s development initiatives, he said, ‘The new government’s commitment to continue with critical reforms will benefit the people of Bangladesh, particularly its commitment to scale up infrastructure investment.’
   He said infrastructure was essential for a faster and more inclusive economic growth.
   He also suggested establishing regional cooperation particularly among Bangladesh, India and Nepal to scoop up ultimate benefit in areas of transport and power.
   ‘The three countries can get substantial benefit from regional cooperation in transport and power sector’, he said.
   Without citing Tipaimukh issue, he recommended effective regional efforts to keep climate unhurt and improve environment and observed that such regional cooperation would eventually help the countries in increasing growth and reduce poverty.
   He said the ADB would provide $50 million grant to Bangladesh to integrate climate change dimensions into core development planning.
   The ADB president suggested that the government should take strong measures to improve governance and law and order to attract private investment.
   ‘Unless these aspects are strengthened, they will become obstacles to private investment, both domestic and foreign,’ he said.
   He, however, praised the inclusion of public-private partnership policy in the national budget and said the ADB was keen to assist the government on this agenda.
   Responding to the newsmen, he said Bangladesh had not been affected much by the global recession as the country’s economic activities were less integrated with global economy.
   But he apprehended that some sectors like exports have adverse effect if the downturn continues.
   Citing some recent rally of Asian economies he, however, said that Bangladesh would see similar improvement sometime in the next year should the regional recovery trend accelerates.
   He said Bangladesh would get a share in the ADB’s three billion dollars regional risk management fund. ‘This will allow
   the government to scale up development programmes in response to the [global financial] crisis, particularly infrastructure investment, while strengthening social safety nets to cushion the impacts on the poor and vulnerable’, he said.
   Haruhiko will meet Nobel laureate and micro-finance guru Muhammad Yunus at the Grameen Bank today before his departure from Bangladesh.

Source: The Daily New Age, 24 July 2009


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