World Bank assure additional funding of $300 million for construction of Padma Bridge

World Bank President Dr Robert B Zoellick assured additional funding of US$ 300 million for the proposed Padma Multipurpose Bridge.

Zoellick gave the assurance when Bangladesh Finance Minister Dr AMA Muhith met him at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington on Thursday, said a release of the Bangladesh Mission in Washington.

Zoellick lauded Bangladesh’s achievements in development fields particularly her performance in economic and social sectors. He mentioned Bangladesh’s impressive success in enrollment in schools, women empowerment and in reduction of child mortality.

The World Bank President also mentioned the significant increase of revenue collection, improvement in the management of public finance, strengthening of various institutions and initiative for expanding regional cooperation.

He also appreciated the government’s recent moves in power and ICT sectors, focus on renewable energy, and success in the conservation of biodiversity.

Encouraged by the government’s commitment and performance, Zoellick assured that the World Bank will finance in these areas in future to help sustain the progress already made.

The Finance Minister informed that despite recent global economic meltdown, Bangladesh was successful in avoiding its negative fall-out in its exports due to prudent policies taken by the government which was further boosted by remittances sent by Bangladeshi expatriates.

While emphasizing that democracy and development should go hand in hand, he briefed the World Bank chief on transparency in budgetary management which stipulates open discussion on financial issues both inside and outside the parliament.

Muhith said that the institutional mechanism to present report on the government income and expenditure on a quarterly basis in parliament has greatly contributed to bringing transparency within the system which eventually led to healthy competition.

He said initiatives taken by the present government to expand regional cooperation also added impetus in the region’s economic cooperation. Myanmar and China remain on board in the integration process along with India and Nepal, he added.

On ensuring good governance, the Finance Minister mentioned various legal steps including enactment of Money Laundering Act, Anti-Terrorism Act and formation of National Human Rights Commission. He said effort will be made to ensure proper utilization of foreign assistance by framing strategy papers in line with the understanding with the 18 development partners.

The World Bank President agreed to undertake a visit to Bangladesh when the Minister invited him to visit the country.

The Finance Minister was accompanied by Economic Affairs Advisor to the Prime Minister Dr AKM Mashiur Rahman, Bangladesh Ambassador to USA Akramul Qader, Finance Secretary Dr Mohammad Tarek, Economic Relations Division Secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Atiur Rahman, and Kazi Md Aminul Islam, Alternate Executive Director of Bangladesh to the World Bank.

The World Bank President was assisted by Justin Lin, Vice President and Chief Economist, Ms. Isabel Guerrero, Vice President, South Asia Region, Ms. Ellen Goldstein, Country Director for Bangladesh, and other senior officials.

Muhith is currently leading the Bangladesh delegation to attend the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting and the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group being held at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington DC.

unb