• Monday, Dec 09, 2019
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ADB: Bangladesh needs to increase investment to close infrastructure gaps

  • Published at 10:27 pm February 14th, 2019
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ADB's current Country Partnership Strategy for 2016–2020 aims at a program of more than $8 billion

Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice-President Shixin Chen has said the main challenges ahead for Bangladesh are to increase investments—both public and private—to close infrastructure gaps and to invest in human capital to boost skills of the labour force.

"Bangladesh has made huge strides in reducing poverty and sustained an average growth of more than 6.5% over the last decade, achieving a record 7.9% last year," Chen said.

He assured officials of ADB's commitment to remain a dependable partner of Bangladesh, responding flexibly to the country's evolving needs, according to a press release.

During the three-day visit to Bangladesh, Chen met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and reaffirmed ADB's plans to strengthen its partnership and boost assistance to the country.

He congratulated the Prime Minister on her election victory and acknowledged the country's economic and social progress in recent years.

He also held discussions with Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister Mashiur Rahman, and Secretary of the Economic Relations Division and ADB Alternate Governor Monowar Ahmed.

ADB's current Country Partnership Strategy for 2016–2020 aims at a program of more than $8 billion, compared with $5 billion during 2011–2015.

ADB said its operations will address infrastructure development in transport, energy, and urban services sectors, rural infrastructure, skills development, and climate and disaster resilience.

It will also continue to support Bangladesh's regional cooperation and integration efforts, particularly in sharing electricity with neighbors, and developing regional transport corridors.

In its 45-year-long partnership, ADB has mobilized more than $25.2 billion in loans and grants to help bring better infrastructure, public services, and social development outcomes to the people of Bangladesh.

In 2018 alone, ADB contributed a record $2.15 billion assistance to the country.

This included a grant of $100 million as the first phase of a projected $200 million support for the immediate needs of people sheltered in the camps in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar region.

The project is supporting the improvement of water supply and sanitation, disaster risk management, sustainable energy supply, and access roads.

It is being implemented in coordination with United Nations agencies, the World Bank, and other humanitarian donors.

Chen interacted with the people sheltered in the camps, visited the project sites and the site office under the ADB Emergency Assistance Project at Cox's Bazar.

Chen also visited the National Load Dispatch Center under Southwest Transmission Expansion Project (STEP) and the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services under the Skills for Employment Investment Program (SEIP).

Both projects are funded by ADB loans. STEP, backed by a $350 million loan approved in September 2018, is building electricity transmission infrastructure to improve the operational performance of the power sector and contribute to the Government of Bangladesh's target to achieve electricity for all by 2021.

The project introduces to Bangladesh a new type of high temperature conductor to allow more power transfer at lower energy losses.

Backed by ADB assistance totaling $200 million approved since May 2014, SEIP is expanding skills training in nine priority sectors-garments and textiles, leather and footwear, construction, light engineering, information technology, shipbuilding, agro-processing, motor driving, and hospitality and tourism.