Donors to hear needs for funds | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 05, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 05, 2015

Donors to hear needs for funds

Govt to highlight infrastructure and connectivity projects at a meeting with development partners on Nov 15-16

The government will seek funds from development partners, including the newly-formed China-led infrastructure bank, for projects in infrastructure and regional connectivity.

The country's demands will be placed at a meeting of Bangladesh Development Forum, a platform of development partners, at a two-day meeting beginning on November 15 in Dhaka after a lapse of five years.

Among a total of seven sessions, one will be dedicated to the infrastructure sector, and Bangladesh's investment needs in power, energy, roads, railways, water transport, and regional connectivity will be discussed.

The government may present proposals for projects worth $30 billion at the meeting, said officials of the concerned ministries.

The meeting will also discuss assistance of the development partners in attaining the United Nations' sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the country's seventh five-year plan, said Mohammad Mejbahuddin, secretary to the Economic Relations Division.

The main focus will be on how the goals can be achieved by building an effective partnership with the development partners, he added.

High officials of bilateral and multilateral development partners will also be present at the meeting.

Jin Liqun, president of the newly-formed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), has agreed to attend the conference.

How Bangladesh achieved 6 plus GDP growth in last several years, and the need for more effective cooperation to continue the pace of development will be presented in the meeting, said Mejbahuddin.

The government will highlight the need to build more infrastructure as Bangladesh's spending on infrastructure is still less than 2 percent of its gross domestic product, he said.

Early next year, the government will send a project proposal to AIIB, with details on which sectors require assistance, he added.

The Asian Development Bank and Japan are already making huge investments in Bangladesh's infrastructure, he said.

An official of the finance ministry said the meeting will also discuss issues such as corruption, delays in project implementation, and governance.

He said about $22 billion in aid money is still in the pipeline due to delays in project implementation; the meeting will present plans on how to expedite implementation.

However, Mejbahuddin said it is “not completely true” that aid money remains unutilised due to inefficiency of the government. Spending money on a project requires at least five to six years, he added.

But he admitted that the government's capacity to spend money of the development partners needs to be increased.

An action plan will be prepared at the meeting and the government will take steps on various issues in line with the plan, Mejbahuddin said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate the meeting that will also discuss topics like agriculture, food security and climate change, macro-economy, governance, health and education, and social protection.

The last biennial meeting 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 next one year.

At present, no commitment for money is made at the meeting; Bangladesh presents its needs and priorities, and on the basis of that, donors provide the assistance later.

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