PM to visit US in April on WB president’s invite
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to travel to Washington DC towards the end of next month to celebrate 50 years of partnership between Bangladesh and the World Bank.
"We are very happy that Honourable Prime Minister, HE Sheikh Hasina has graciously accepted the invitation from the World Bank Group President David Malpass to join to commemorate the 50 years of partnership between Bangladesh and the World Bank," Abdoulaye Seck, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan, told The Daily Star.
The event will take place at the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC on May 1.
"Earlier, in January, we jointly organised an event in Dhaka with the Ministry of Finance to celebrate the partnership that improved the lives of millions of Bangladeshi people," Seck added.
Before heading to the US, the PM would be flying to Japan. Hasina was scheduled to visit Japan, Bangladesh's largest bilateral donor, from November 29 to December 1 last year but the tour was postponed.
Over at Washington DC, the WB would be showcasing the outcome of its collaboration with Bangladesh, which has enabled the country to achieve lower middle-income status only within four decades of its independence, The Daily Star has learnt from finance ministry officials involved with the proceedings.
"It has reduced poverty by half in record time, reduced inequality significantly, and since 2000 maintained robust growth. It has shown the world that with commitment, resilience and visionary leadership, a country can achieve feats that very few dare to imagine. That is what they want to emphasise," said one of the officials.
While many development experts were sceptical, the WB realised the potential of the young nation while recognising the devastations caused by the war, he said on the condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak with the media.
In the ensuing years, Bangladesh became the largest recipient of funding from the WB's International Development Association (IDA), which provides concessional financing to poor nations, making the multilateral lender the country's largest external funder with more than a quarter of the total foreign aid the country receives.
Bangladesh currently has the largest ongoing IDA program totalling about $16 billion in 56 projects.
Since 1972, the World Bank has committed about $39 billion in grants, interest-free, and concessional credits to the country to address its development challenges.
However, there were some hiccups in the partnership when the WB pulled out of the Padma Bridge project in 2012 over allegations of corruption and imposed conditions for the continuation of the loan talks with the government, which was declined.
At the time of the Padma Bridge tussle, the Washington-based multilateral lender was annually committing to $1 billion, said Axel van Trotsenburg, the WB's managing director of operations, at a programme to mark 50 years of partnership with Bangladesh in Dhaka in January.
In recent years, the WB has been committing to more than $2 billion a year, he said.
Through a robust programme of technical, analytical and financial support, the World Bank Group is now helping Bangladesh achieve its vision of becoming an upper-middle income country by the next decade, the finance ministry officials said.