Govt to pitch development plan to donors
After a gap of five years, the Bangladesh Development Forum, where the government will present its plan to invest $10 billion annually in the country's infrastructure, starts in the capital today.
The two-day meet is a platform where the government places the country's funding needs to its multilateral and bilateral development partners.
But no aid commitment will be made by the donors at the meeting, said Mohammad Mejbahuddin, secretary to the Economic Relations Division, at a press briefing yesterday.
Bangladesh will simply present its needs and priorities at the meeting, and on that basis, the donors will decide on the size of the assistance they would provide later.
The government will highlight the infrastructure needs at the BDF but it does not expect to receive the full amount from the development partners, he said.
The private sector, banks and public-private partnerships, will chip in to help meet the infrastructure gap.
Bangladesh currently invests two to three percent of its gross domestic product in the infrastructure sector. But it needs to invest 10 percent of GDP, meaning an amount in the neighbourhood of $15 billion will be needed every year.
“At the moment, this is not possible,” Mejbahuddin said.
Jin Liqun, the president-designate of the new China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, will participate in the BDF meet.
The ERD secretary said the government was hopeful that the infrastructure-focused AIIB would be of big help in meeting its annual needs for the sector.
Janina Jaruzelski, co-chair of the Local Consultative Group, a forum for development dialogue and donor coordination, said the development partners were looking forward to fruitful discussions on how they can support Bangladesh to become a middle-income country by 2021.
Not only that, the development partners are fully committed to helping the government implement the next five-year plan and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
They will support Bangladesh in building its infrastructure sector for ensuring economic progress, decent working environment and combating the affects of climate change.
Jaruzelski, also the head of mission of USAID Bangladesh, pledged strong commitment on behalf of the development partners to enhance robust cooperation for its economic development with the aim of making it a “Sonar Bangla”.
In the meet, the development partners will discuss issues of education, health, agriculture, macroeconomic management and governance in a total of seven sessions.
Alongside the government officials, the development partners and representatives of civil society organisations will participate as panellists in the sessions.
Irene Wennemo, Sweden's deputy minister for labour; Martin Rama, chief economist of the World Bank's South Asia region; Wencai Zhang, vice-president of the Asian Development Bank; Kingo Toyoda, deputy director-general of Japan foreign affairs ministry; will participate among others.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the event while Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and several ministers including Finance Minister AMA Muhith will attend it.
Among the private sector personalities, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder and chairperson of BRAC; Hossain Zillur Rahman, executive chairman of Power Participation Research Centre; Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue; will participate in the sessions among others.
The last BDF meet took place in 2010. Earlier, the meeting used to be held in Paris, where donors would commit an amount of money to be released in the following year.