The Financial Express

Projects languish as WB aid for B'desh withers

ERD is waiting for the loan agreements for some projects completing negotiations or other formalities

| Updated: August 04, 2019 18:14:31

Picture used for illustrative purpose only — Collected Picture used for illustrative purpose only — Collected

At least 10 projects have been suffering from the implementation delays as the World Bank's fund meant for Bangladesh has dried up, officials said.

The officials said the Washington-based lender has assured the government of providing nearly US$2.0 billion funds for 10 development projects.

"We've concluded negotiations on many of the projects. But since the Bank's aid package for Bangladesh has already finished, it cannot confirm the assistance," said a senior Economic Relations Division (ERD) official.

Under the three-year IDA-18 package through fiscal year 2019-20, the WB's $4.3 billion portfolio for Bangladesh has almost dried up, he said.

Almost all the pipeline funds had been confirmed by signing agreements for the development work despite one year to go before the tenure of IDA-18 package ends.

"Bangladesh has borrowed almost entire amount within the first half of the current package," said additional secretary of the ERD Md Zahidul Haque.

He said, "Since Bangladesh needs more funds for the development work, we've requested the Bank to extend its support from other options it has."

"The Bank has given Bangladesh some assistance from its special funds like refugee fund, scale-up facility fund, etc. But those are not enough. We need more than $2.0 billion at this moment," Mr Haque told the FE.

According to the ERD, it is waiting for the loan agreements for some projects completing negotiations or other formalities.

The ERD is waiting for $470 million fund confirmation for the second phase of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)-3 project, $200 million for the skilled labour and employment generation project and $100 million for public financial management.

Other pipeline projects and programmes, including Development Policy Support Credit (tranche-II), are public transport improvement project, a higher education-related project of the education ministry, and leveraging microfinance for improved sanitation and water supply.

Another ERD official said they are expecting to get more money from the Bank as some funds from war-torn countries could be diverted to Bangladesh.

But the diversion of those funds has become uncertain as the war-torn countries had not agreed to relinquish their portfolio meant for them, he added.

The WB announced a record level of contributions to its IDA-18, designed to benefit the world's poorest countries.

Donor countries had pledged some US$75 billion funds for replenishing the IDA-18 package that ends in June 2020.

Mr Haque said they are expecting more funds in the next package, which will start from July 2020.

The WB is expected to finalise the IDA-19 package in December for all of its members countries.



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