ADB with Bangladesh – a firm commitment to strengthening its partnership with the government

ADB-BangladeshThe Asian Development Bank yesterday celebrated its 40th year in Bangladesh with a firm commitment to strengthening its partnership with the government, civil society and stakeholders to help the country unlock its potential.
The Manila-based lender also expressed strong determination to continue its support and reminded Bangladesh of the challenges it faces in the coming days.
“We are happy to see Bangladesh progressing fast despite daunting internal and external challenges,” said M Teresa Kho, country director of ADB, at Westin Hotel in Dhaka.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith thanked the bank for extending its support to all spheres of the economy and for venturing into areas where other development partners do not go.
He, however, urged the bank to devise separate policies for every country, instead of any uniform policy for all countries.
“The ADB has done well in supporting all of these sectors in Bangladesh although it withdrew from the Padma Bridge financing project.”
“But I am still hopeful that the bank will come back to the project in some time in the future, as this is a transformational project,” the minister said.
Bruce Davis, ADB vice president for administration and corporate management, said: “It is a moment of great pride and satisfaction for the ADB to have been a partner in Bangladesh’s development endeavour. Despite numerous challenges, including natural disasters, Bangladesh has made impressive economic and social gains, which is drawing attention globally.”
He said Bangladesh needs to consolidate its economic and social development and raise per capita incomes. Infrastructure development needs a big push, and the human resources potential needs to be harnessed through further improvements in the quality of education and skills development.
Davis called for a stronger enabling environment, particularly in the areas of economic policy and infrastructure investment, to realise the country’s unmet agenda for development.
“The country’s ports need to operate more efficiently, the key strategic highway corridors need to be improved, additional power generation is urgently needed, and a modern railway system needs to be put in place.”
In addition, governance, rule of law and the performance of the civil society must improve, he said.
He also said the bank would continue supporting Bangladesh in strengthening regional cooperation and integration, as it would create a lot of opportunities for the people of South Asia.
He said graduating to the next trajectory of development would by no means be easy. “But with the quality, depth and experience of the partnership that we have developed with Bangladesh over four long decades, I am confident we are in a position to take on the challenges in the years ahead.”
“The ADB stands ready to work with other development partners to help Bangladesh deliver on its strategic priorities.”
Teresa Kho said the gains made by Bangladesh are phenomenal with a steady rise in its gross domestic product, a decrease in overall rates of poverty, boost in social development, and steady movement towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
“As an institution that is focused on eradicating poverty and enhancing shared prosperity, we are delighted that through our support, we have been able to contribute to improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people at different levels.”
She said the bank looks forward to working with Bangladesh to improve infrastructure, skills, water management and flood controls, private sector development and financing.
“Climate change, urban water supply and sanitation, and regional cooperation will also be prioritised. Focus on innovations and knowledge solutions will be strengthened for better development results,” she said.
AK Azad, secretary to Economic Relations Division, said: “Forty years forms a strong bond. The bank showed its presence in almost all development sectors and it was not a mere presence.”
Azad and Teresa Kho also signed a memorandum of understanding on advisory services.
Bangladesh is one of the largest recipients of conce-ssional resources from the Manila-based lender.
ADB has been the second-largest source of financing and a lead financier in energy, transport, education, water supply and sanitation, agriculture and natural resources, and finance sectors of Bangladesh.
As of 2012, ADB’s cumulative lending amounted $14.1 billion for 234 loans and its technical assistance grants amounted to $221.7 million for 389 projects.
Under the country partnership strategy for 2011-15, the bank is providing more than $900 million in average annual assistance to Bangladesh.
Leading industrialists, busi-nesspeople, diplomats and civil society members were present at the programme.

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