Three years after China promised to provide around USD 20 billion to Bangladesh, only one-fourth of the amount has been released for use. As per the initial agreement in 2016, 27 projects are supposed to be funded with the USD 20 billion. But until last July, only seven projects involving USD 5.4 billion were signed and USD 981.36 million was disbursed.
Although the speed of project implementation in Bangladesh has sometimes been sluggish, and projects must get approval from several committees which further slows down the process, lengthy bureaucratic procedures in China have also contributed considerably in impeding the process. For example, for a minor clarification which can be sought over so many fast means of communications that are available today, files are sent back to Bangladesh for the process to begin from scratch. Certain limitations of China’s Exim Bank have also resulted in funds being released very slowly.
Projects in Bangladesh often takes longer to complete than initially planned. If the flow of funds takes so much time, how and when will these tasks be completed? The amount of fund that China had pledged is significant for a country like ours. It is mainly because of that reason that this delay should not be taken lightly.
The recent decision by the two sides to form a joint working group to probe the slow progress is an encouraging development. A similar working group formed with India had previously borne some fruit; and we expect similar results with China. But the Bangladeshi side should press for the urgent release of the remaining funds and we hope our Chinese partners will do everything necessary to ensure that it happens.