The Financial Express

BB seeks Tk 8.0b for ESF to fund agro-based projects

| Updated: January 18, 2019 09:37:31

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BB seeks Tk 8.0b for ESF to fund agro-based projects

The central bank has sought an allocation of Tk 8.0 billion for its 'Entrepreneurship Support Fund' (ESF) in the upcoming fiscal year (FY) 2019-20 for financing agro-based projects.

Besides, it has projected a requirement of Tk 35 billion for its ESF between 2020-21 and 2023-24.

Currently, some Tk 20 billion will be required for smooth operation of the agro-based projects under ESF.

"We have requested the finance ministry to allocate Tk 8.0 billion for the agro-based projects in the next fiscal year under ESF," a Bangladesh Bank official said.

"We have received a number of applications from entrepreneurs that are lying pending with us. But ESF agro fund faces a capital deficit whereas the information technology sector has a surplus of fund," he added.

When contacted, an official of Financial Institutions Division said, "We have received a letter from the central bank. We are now working on the issue."

The government introduced the Equity and Entrepreneurship Fund (EEF) in the fiscal year (FY) 2000-01 to help promote entrepreneurship and create employment opportunities in the areas of agro-based industry (excluding conventional sub-sectors such as rice and flour mills, fishing trawlers, cold storage, etc), and information technology (IT).

The much-hyped 'Entrepreneurship Support Fund' (ESF) was launched in July 2018, replacing the EEF, a finance ministry source said.

The nearly two-decade-old EEF was earlier managed by Bangladesh Bank (BB). In June 2009, the central bank handed over its management to state-owned Investment Corporation of Bangladesh (ICB).

ICB Capital Management Ltd acted as a project appraisal arm for EEF. A sum of Tk 1.0 billion was allocated to begin with.

Since its inception, the government allocated Tk 22.25 billion in favour of the ESF to date. The money was apportioned into Tk 17.13 billion for agriculture and Tk 5.12 billion for ICT, according to officials.

ICB sanctioned over Tk 34.57 billion against 1,923 agro-related projects under ESF till November, 2018. Some Tk 14.26 billion was released for the projects, according to the latest data.

On the other hand, ICB sanctioned over Tk 2.18 billion in favour of 140 ICT projects. Some Tk 1.30 billion was disbursed against 130 projects until November last.

The BB has requested the government to release a sum of Tk 3.0 billion, earmarked in the current budget, for smooth operation of the agro-based projects.

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