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WB to provide $120m to Bangladesh for boosting regional connectivity, trade

Friday, August 12, 2016 > 09:04:56

(Daily Star)

The World Bank (WB) will provide $120 million to Bangladesh for developing infrastructures in the bordering areas to increase regional connectivity and for increasing regional trade under the BBIN initiative.

The government will spend the money to improve the infrastructures in the bordering areas as four nations Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) agreed for regional multimodal connectivity, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed told journalists at his secretariat office after a meeting with WB Country Director Qimiao Fan in Dhaka today.

“The transportation of goods among the four nations would be easier as each country agreed to allow use of each other’s territories for carrying goods,” the minister said.

The BBIN, which was signed last year in Bhutanese Capital Thimphu, will come into effect once Bhutan ratifies the agreement in its parliament; the other three nations have already done so.

The WB country director said the ‘Bangladesh Regional Connectivity Project-1’ is a project that will help Bangladesh to reduce time and cost on regional trade.

The project which is now under preparation has number of components, he said.

Firstly, the project will support investment to improve a couple of land ports and will support the national board of revenue to set up a wide single window for trade which will connect with, for example ministry of commerce or other ministries, for support of the trade.

It (the project) will also support to improve the capacity of willing traders by building capacity and by providing support and services to them.

“The project will of course support the government’s overall coordination for regional integration and will support the national trade and transport facilitation committee,” Fan said.

“We hope through this project we can help to enhance the regional integration through trade, transport, power, trade as well as other aspects of regional integration,” he said.

Fan also said Bangladesh is now the WB’s concessionary arm for International Development Association (IDA) and is the largest IDA recipient across the world.

Bangladesh accounts for over 9 percent of overall IDA in three consecutive fiscal years like 15, 16 and 17.

“So, obviously, Bangladesh is extremely important partner for World Bank. At the moment we have a total investment commitment just under $10billion of active investment projects in the country with about just 40 up projects currently under implementation,” Fan said.

He said Bangladesh government has been implementing a lot of projects in many areas like in education, in health, in social protection, in agriculture, in rural development, in water resource management and regional integration in rural road and financial sector.

“So, a wide range of areas those we are financing to support the projects that the government sees as prior. We are not just only bringing financing but also experiences from other countries,” he said.

Regarding the country’s development progress, he said in many ways, Bangladesh itself is a successful development story.

“Bangladesh itself has a lot to offer to the rest of the world in terms of its development achievements. Very often I am amazed to see the country with so many people with so little land that Bangladesh has been able to feed of all its people today,” he said.

The country has no famine since 1974 that of and itself a remarkable achievement that beyond food security.

Bangladesh has also made tremendous progress in terms of poverty reduction in terms of its human development particularly in gender equality in education and in fact I think this is one of the very impressive stories of Bangladesh’s development.

In women empowerment particularly through the ready-made garment sector where majority of the workers are women most of them are from rural and from poor rural households.

Obviously, Bangladesh aspires to be a middle income country in a few years, clearly to get to the level the country will have to face a number of challenges.

The country has been facing the challenges in infrastructure, particularly in energy, the reliable supply of power is critical. “I think it has become a binding constraint to further growth in the country,” he said.

The road sector transport is also important and clearly going forward Bangladesh is also faced with many of the challenges associated with climate change, he said.

This is a delta country, obviously one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change in the world.

The country again has a lot of works and achieved a lot, particularly in providing for example the shelters to people living in the vulnerable areas that going forward climate change will continue to impact the country.

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