After the World Bank did it last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today (October 11, 2023) revised downward its growth forecast for the Bangladesh economy in the 2023-24 fiscal. The IMF lowered its projection to 6.0 percent from 6.5 percent. The World Bank last week projected its new growth figure for the Bangladesh economy in 2023-24 as 5.6 percent, down from its previous projection of 6.2 percent. IMF outlook worsens for a 'limping' world economy. Mideast war poses new uncertainty The IMF also said Bangladesh's economy grew 6 percent in the 2022-23 fiscal, in its flagship World Economic Outlook publication, released globally on Tuesday. The global lender revised upward its projections for Bangladesh's growth to 6 percent for the fiscal year 2022-23 from its previous forecast of 5.5 percent. IMF satisfied with BBS for efforts to meet conditions: Official
Former Chief Economist of the World Bank's Dhaka office Zahid Hussain said on Wednesday (October 04, 2023) that the actual calculation of foreign exchange entering into the country and leaving does not match.He said that the reserves are decreasing due to a deficit in the balance of payments or transaction balance. The net reserves of foreign exchange as per BPM-6 is below $18 billion.Zahid gave this information while speaking at the annual conference of the International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB) held in a city hotel on Wednesday. Indian High Commissioner to Dhaka, Pranay K. Verma, was the chief guest at the event. Read: IMF reviewing reserves, macroeconomic condition ahead of next fund releaseHe pointed out that one of the reasons for the overall macroeconomic instability of the country is external. The major aspect of this external factor is the price of the dollar.The exchange rate of the US dollar was remained below Tk100 in 2021. But in September 2022 it went above Tk100. It is still above Tk110 even though it has decreased a bit now.Zahid complained that the account of how much foreign currency is entering the country and how much currency is going outside does not match with the reserve. Read: Why Bangladesh’s forex reserves dipped to $21.15 billion? Economists cite reasonsHe said that usually this calculation is sometimes positive and sometimes negative. But recently it is seen in case of Bangladesh, this account has been negative for quite some time."This means that something is happening beyond our knowledge,” he said.
Digital Quality of Life Index 2023: Bangladesh ranks 82nd, internet quality 5% lower than global average
Bangladesh has dropped six places on Surfshark’s annual Digital Quality of Life (DQL) Index since last year. The country ranked 82nd among 121 countries, according to Surfshark’s 5th annual DQL index. The Digital Quality of Life Index is an annual study that ranks 121 countries by their digital wellbeing based on 5 core pillars. Also read: Bangladesh climbs 5 spots in latest passport ranking, still behind Sri Lanka and Libya The study is based on the United Nations’ open-source information, the World Bank, and other sources. Out of the index’s 5 pillars, Bangladesh performed best in internet quality, claiming 65th place.
World Bank approves $200 million to help Bangladesh improve primary healthcare for common illnesses including dengue
The World Bank on Wednesday (August 30, 2023) approved $200 million to help Bangladesh improve primary healthcare services for treatment, prevention and referral for common illnesses including mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, and medical waste management in Dhaka North and South City Corporations, Chattogram City Corporation, and Savar and Tarabo municipalities. The Urban Health, Nutrition and Population Project will establish a network of primary health centers offering a broad range of health, nutrition, and population services along with a direct referral system with secondary and tertiary-level facilities. About 2.5 million children under five in these urban areas will receive services, according to a release from the WB. Read : World Bank’s cooperation sought to build power transmission lines from Nepal to Bangladesh The credit is from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), which provides concessional financing, and has a 30-year term with a five-year grace period. The project will improve antenatal services for women, with a target of over 250,000 women receiving at least four checkups during pregnancy. It will also support hypertension screening and follow-up of about 1.3 million adults. To reduce out-of-pocket expenditure on medical care for the poor people, the project will renovate selected existing public health facilities, including government outdoor dispensaries, and family planning clinics. The project will also focus on environmental health and preventive services like mosquito control, medical waste management, and behavior change communication to promote healthy lifestyles to prevent illnesses and mitigate the effects of climate change and air pollution on human health. Read : Govt, World Bank ink $300 million financing deal for skill development, employment of rural youths It will support the development and implementation of a multi-sectoral strategy to manage infectious disease outbreaks in cities and municipalities. To prevent dengue, the project will introduce a climate-based dengue early warning system and outbreak response capacities as well as take measures to clear breeding sites. Abdoulaye Seck, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan, said that Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in improving healthcare, particularly in rural areas. “But urban areas have limited public healthcare facilities. Hence, poor people and slum dwellers are often forced to turn to more expensive private healthcare. Further, with high population density, climate change, and rapid urbanization, new health challenges are emerging, including an increase of dengue cases, infectious and non-communicable diseases," he said. Read : Dengue: 7 more die, 2367 hospitalised in 24hrs Iffat Mahmud, Senior Operations Officer at the World Bank and Task Team Leader for the Project, said that the impact of climate change on mosquito-borne and infectious diseases is often overlooked. An overreliance on fogging or spraying targeting adult mosquitoes and untargeted larval control is not an efficient use of resources. “As mosquito lifecycle is influenced by climatic conditions, the project will strengthen the mosquito control laboratory and build capacities to implement innovative mosquito control measures and other community-based interventions,” the World Bank official said.
UN steps up criticism of IMF and World Bank, the other pillars of the post-World War II global order
From the ashes of World War II, three institutions were created as linchpins of a new global order. Now, in an unusual move, the top official in one — the secretary-general of the United Nations — is pressing for major changes in the other two. Antonio Guterres says the International Monetary Fund has benefited rich countries instead of poor ones. And he describes the IMF and World Bank 's response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a "glaring failure" that left dozens of countries deeply indebted. Also Read: Budget not based on IMF conditions: Finance Minister Guterres' criticism, in a recent paper, isn't the first time he's called for overhauling global financial institutions. But it is his most in-depth analysis of their problems, cast in light of their response to the pandemic, which he called a "stress test" for the organizations. His comments were issued ahead of meetings called by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday and Friday to address reforms of the multilateral development banks and other issues. Neither the IMF nor the World Bank would comment directly on the secretary-general's criticisms and proposals. But Guterres' comments echo those of outside critics, who see the IMF and World Bank's leadership limited by the powerful nations that control them — a situation similar to that of the United Nations, which has faced its own calls for reform. Also Read: Bangladesh faces external pressures, requires careful macroeconomic management: World Bank Maurice Kugler, a professor of public policy at George Mason University, told The Associated Press that the institutions' failure to help the neediest countries "reflects the persistence of a top-down approach in which the World Bank president is a U.S. national appointed by the U.S. president and the IMF managing director is a European Union national appointed by the European Commission." Richard Gowan, the International Crisis Group's U.N. director, said there is a lot of frustration with the U.S. and its European allies dominating decision-making, leaving African countries with only "a sliver of voting rights." Developing countries also complain that the bank's lending rules are weighted against them, he said. "In fairness, the bank has been trying to update its funding procedures to address these concerns, but it has not gone far enough to satisfy countries in the Global South," Gowan said. Guterres said it's time for the boards of the IMF and the World Bank to right what he called the historic wrongs and "bias and injustice built into the current international financial architecture." Also Read: Bangladesh receives $858 mln World Bank fund for agriculture growth, road safety That "architecture" was established when many developing countries were still under colonial rule. The IMF and what is now known as the World Bank Group were created at a conference in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in July 1944 to be key institutions of a postwar international monetary system. The IMF was to monitor exchange rates and lend reserve currencies to countries with balance of payment deficits. The World Bank would provide financial assistance for postwar reconstruction and for building the economies of less developed countries. Guterres said the institutions haven't kept pace with global growth. He said the World Bank has $22 billion in paid capital, the money used for low-interest loans and grants for government development programs. As a percentage of global GDP, that's less than one-fifth of the 1960 funding level. At the same time, many developing countries are in a deep financial crisis, exacerbated by inflation, rising interest rates and a standstill in debt relief. "Some governments are being forced to choose between making debt repayments or defaulting in order to pay public sector workers — possibly ruining their credit rating for years to come," Guterres said, adding that "Africa now spends more on debt service costs than on health care." The IMF's rules unfairly favor wealthy nations, he said. During the pandemic, the wealthy Group of Seven nations, with a population of 772 million, received the equivalent of $280 billion from the IMF while the least developed countries, with a population of 1.1 billion, were allocated just over $8 billion. "This was done according to the rules," Guterres said. This is "morally wrong." He called for major reforms that would strengthen the representation of developing countries on the boards of the IMF and World Bank, help countries restructure debts, change IMF quotas, and revamp the use of IMF funds. He also called for scaling up financing for economic development and tackling the impact of climate change. IMF spokesperson Julie Kozack, asked about Guterres' proposals at a June 8 news conference, said "I'm not in a position to comment on any of the specifics." She added that a review of IMF quotas is a priority and is expected to be completed by Dec. 15. In a written response to a query from the AP, the IMF said it has mounted "an unprecedented" response to the largest-ever request from countries for help dealing with recent shocks. After the pandemic hit, the IMF approved $306 billion in financing for 96 countries, including below-market rate loans to 57 low-income countries. It also increased interest-free lending fourfold to $24 billion and provided around $964 million in grants to 31 of its most vulnerable nations between April 2020 and 2022 so they could service their debts. The World Bank Group said in January that its shareholders have initiated a process "to better address the scale of development." The bank's development committee said in a March report that the bank "must evolve in response to the unprecedented confluence of global crises that has upended development progress and threatens people and the planet." Guterres' push for reforming the IMF and World Bank comes as the United Nations also faces demands for an overhaul of its structure, which still reflects the post-World War II global order. Gowan said many U.N. ambassadors think it might be "marginally easier" and more helpful to developing countries to overhaul the IMF and World Bank than to reform the U.N. Security Council, which has been debated for more than 40 years. While Guterres and U.N. ambassadors talk about reforming the financial institutions, any changes are up to their boards. Gowan noted that when the Obama administration engineered a reform of IMF voting rights in 2010, "Congress took five years to ratify the deal — and Congress is even more divided and dysfunctional now." "But Western governments are aware that China is an increasingly dominant lender in many developing countries," Gowan said, "so they have an interest in reforming the IMF and World Bank in ways that keep poorer states from relying on Beijing for loans." Beyond the Paris meeting, the debate over IMF and World Bank reforms will continue in September at a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 in New Delhi, and at the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations. U.S. climate chief John Kerry said in an Associated Press interview Wednesday that he will be attending the Paris summit along with IMF and World Bank officials. "Hopefully, new avenues of finance will be more defined than they have been," he said. "I think it's really important."
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday (June 7, 2023) said that the World Bank has realised that they had brought false allegations against the government of Bangladesh regarding corruption in the Padma Bridge project. “The World Bank has realised that they brought false allegations against us,” she said while responding to a tabled question from Jatiya Party MP elected from Dhaka Syed Abu Hossain. With reference to her recent visit in the World Bank’s headquarters in Washington DC, Hasina said that during a discussion there, she once again expressed her resentment regarding the World Bank’s purposely bringing false allegations of corruption in the Padma Bridge construction project. “ (In my speech) I firmly mentioned that I will never patronise any evil purpose, which will diminish the dignity of the people of Bangladesh,” she said. Read more: External forces won’t put BNP in power, they would rather use it against govt: PM Hasina In reply to a query of Awami League MP Kazim Uddin, the Prime Minister informed the House that the amount of foodgrains stocked in the country at present (as of May) in the country is 16.27 lakh tonnes. “Of the total foodgrains, the amount of rice is 12.25 lakh tonnes, wheat is 3.96 lakh tonnes and paddy is 9,000 tonnes,” she said. Hasina, also the Leader of the House, said in the current boro season, a total of 15.10 lakh tonnes of foodgrains including 4 lakh tonnes of rice and 12.50 lakh tonnes of rice have been set as a target to increase the food stock. The domestic wheat procurement target has been set at 1 lakh tonnes for the financial year 2022-23. Read more: PM Hasina remembers Bangabandhu on historic six-point day The Prime Minister said that 6.34 lakh tonnes of rice and 6.80 lakh tonnes of wheat have been imported in the current financial year so far (as of 23 May, 2023) to ensure maximum food security in the country. In response to a query from Awami League MP Ali Azam, Hasina said that ‘Geological Survey and Seismic Survey’ activities have been strengthened in new areas of the country. While replying to a query of JP MP Mashiur Rahman Ranga, the Prime Minister said that Bangladesh will not get duty-free and quota-free benefits for exporting goods to India after 2026 as a result of its removal from the list of least developed countries. “This may have a negative impact on the export of goods to India,” she added. Read more: Electricity problem to end in 10-15 days: PM Hasina Taking this into consideration, initiatives have been taken to execute the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India, the premier said. “It is still in the negotiation stage. If CEPA is signed, Bangladesh's exports to India are likely to increase by 190 percent. It is expected to increase the GDP by 1.72 percent,” she hoped. In response to a query of AL MP Momtaz Begum, the premier said that currently there are 1.20 crore expatriates working in 174 countries of the world. Read more: PM mourns death of valiant freedom fighter Nurul Islam Khan
Many countries can learn from Bangladesh’s approaches to reducing poverty, empowering women, adapting to climate change: WB President
As a long-standing partner, World Bank Group President David Malpass has said that they will support Bangladesh as it navigates a challenging global environment on its way to reaching upper-middle-income status by 2031. “I am confident that with the right set of policies and timely action, Bangladesh can achieve its growth aspirations,” he said while speaking at the celebration of 50 years of partnership with Bangladesh on May 1. The World Bank president said Bangladesh’s remarkable journey was made possible by the indomitable energy and resilience of its people and a national will to build a prosperous nation. Following the celebration, Malpass also tweeted: “Many countries can learn from Bangladesh’s innovative approaches to reducing poverty, empowering women, and adapting to climate change.” Read: Stay with us in implementing future physical & social mega projects: PM Hasina to WB “We are proud of our partnership and look forward to opening the next chapter together with you,” he said at the celebration, addressing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Three lessons stand out from Bangladesh’s development experience and can inspire other countries: empowering women and girls, investing in people and connectivity, and moving decisively on climate adaptation and resilience, said the World Bank President. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and World Bank Group President David Malpass celebrated 50 years of partnership between Bangladesh and the World Bank at the institution’s headquarters in Washington DC. The partnership has helped lift millions of Bangladeshis out of poverty and supported the country’s economic growth and development. Read: Bangladesh, World Bank sign US$ 2.25 billion loan agreement comprising 5 projects The World Bank is providing Bangladesh with $2.25 billion of financing to improve regional connectivity, boost disaster preparedness to address inland flooding, transition to green and climate-resilient development, strengthen environmental management and green investment, and help the micro-enterprise sector become less polluting and more climate-resilient. Since its independence in 1971, Bangladesh has transformed from one of the poorest countries to achieving lower-middle income status in 2015. The country is now among the world’s fastest-growing economies. “In 1971, when Bangladesh was born, many development experts were sceptical about the country’s future. The aspirations germinated by our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and, our people have shown the world that with determination, it is possible to overcome even the hardest challenges. Bangladesh has transformed its economy and made it more resilient as demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. “The journey was not always easy, but we have never lost courage. In the past 50 years, the World Bank remained a steadfast development partner and supported our aspirations. We hope to work together with the World Bank as Bangladesh progresses to achieve higher-income country status by 2041,” she said. Read More: External pressure behind World Bank's withdrawal from Padma Bridge, says PM Hasina urging it to look into future Malpass reaffirmed the World Bank’s strong support for Bangladesh and its people as the country navigates unprecedented global challenges. “As Bangladesh’s largest development partner, we welcome its progress in income growth and poverty reduction. We are committed to continuing our support to enable the private sector, create new job opportunities, broaden the tax base, strengthen the financial sector, and build the country’s resilience to economic and climate shocks,” said Malpass. “Many countries can learn from Bangladesh’s development successes. The country stands out for its innovative approaches to reducing poverty in record time, empowering women, achieving wide-spread electricity access, and adapting to climate change,” he added. The Prime Minister and the World Bank President inaugurated a multimedia photo exhibition depicting Bangladesh’s development story over the past five decades and joined a seminar to reflect on 50 years of partnership. Read More: World Bank approves $1.25bn financing in 3 projects for Bangladesh The World bank President also thanked the Prime Minister and the Bangladeshi people for hosting the displaced Rohingya people. Bangladesh’s provision of shelter to more than 1.1 million Rohingya who fled from violence in Myanmar since 2017 saved thousands of lives. “We will continue to work with you in providing support to the Rohingya,” he said, adding that the World Bank has mobilized US$590 million in grant financing, with support from Canada and in close collaboration with the UN family and others, to help provide local communities in Cox’s Bazar, and the displaced Rohingya population, with healthcare, education, basic services, and infrastructure. “Several steps can improve the sustainability and impact of the programs: enhanced livelihood and education opportunities, resilient shelters, stronger inclusion of the Rohingyas into the national systems for service delivery, and leveraging government investments on the island of Bhasan Char,” the World bank President said. Read More: Bangladesh a model country for World Bank: Momen briefs media on PM’s US visit.
World Bank will provide USD 2.25 billion as loan to Bangladesh to develop various sectors, including regional trade and connectivity, disaster preparedness and environmental management. A loan agreement was signed on Monday (May 01, 2023) between Bangladesh and the World Bank for implementing five projects. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and World Bank President David Malpass witnessed the exchanges of the financing agreement. Read: Stay with us in implementing future physical & social mega projects: PM Hasina to WB This loan agreement comprises five projects: · Accelerating transport and trade connectivity in Eastern South Asia (ACCESS) – Bangladesh Phase-1 Project worth USD 753.45 million. · USD 500 million Resilient Infrastructure Building Project (RIVER) for resilience, adaptation and vulnerability reduction that will be the first major investment to support Bangladesh’s Delta Plan 2100. It will help improve disaster preparedness against inland flooding. · USD 500 million First Bangladesh Green and Climate Resilient Development (GCRD) project is the first such credit that will help the country’s transition to resilient development. · USD 250 million Sustainable Microenterprise and Resilient Transformation (SMART) project aims to help transform the microenterprise sector into a more dynamic, less polluting, resource efficient and climate resilient growth sector. · USD 250 million Bangladesh Environmental Sustainability and Transformation (BEST) project to help strengthen environmental management and promote private sector participation in green investment. Read More: External pressure behind World Bank's withdrawal from Padma Bridge, says PM Hasina urging it to look into future
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday urged the World Bank and other development partners to find out viable alternatives to help economies like Bangladesh cope better with the stress, caused by the pandemic, armed conflicts and climate emergency. “The ongoing global multiple crises, caused by the pandemic, armed conflicts and climate emergency, have put most developing economies under serious stress. Some of our development partners have chosen to increase their lending costs and interest rates, which detract from their core mandate,” she said She made the suggestion with other fours while addressing the Plenary Session of the 50 Years Partnership between Bangladesh and the World Bank at the Preston Auditorium of World Bank Headquarters with its president David R. Malpass in the chair. In the second suggestion, Hasina said that Bangladesh is preparing for smooth and sustainable graduation from the UN LDC status in 2026. In this regard, she requested the World Bank to support Bangladesh’s human capital and institutional capacity development programmes for a smooth transition. “The critical IDA window needs to be preserved and continued,” she said. In the rhird suggestion, she mentioned that Bangladesh has aligned UN SDGs with its national aspiration to become an upper middle-income country by 2031. “There is an urgent expectation that the World Bank and other development partners deliver increased, concessional and innovative financing for SDG implementation,” she said. The prime minister in her fourth suggestion said Bangladesh hopes that the World Bank’s enhanced engagement in climate action would help address the wide gaps in financing under the Paris Agreement. “We would stress the importance of equal distribution of financing between climate mitigation and adaptation,” she added. In her final point, she said Bangladesh will continue to invest in infrastructure and logistics for realising its vision to become a high-income economy by 2041. “I would expect the World Bank to engage in both our physical and social mega-projects in the coming years,” she said. Hasina said that Bangladesh will continue to move forward undeterred. “My presence here signals that we maintain our trust in the World Bank. Our success in the next two decades would depend on our collective ability and efforts to overcome the emerging challenges in a just and sustainable manner,” she said. She also put emphasis on remaining united towards making millions of people still lagging behind live a happy life in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib’s ‘Sonar Bangla’. In 2009, she said that after assuming the office her government pledged to build a ‘Digital Bangladesh’ by 2021. “In the last one and a half decade, Bangladesh has gone through significant change, thanks to political stability and sound macro-economic fundamentals.” She mentioned that In 2015, the World Bank classified Bangladesh as a lower-middle income country. In 2021, the UN declared it eligible for graduation from the LDC status for the second time. “We successfully managed the COVID-19 pandemic through an economic stimulus package worth USD 26.9 billion, and free-of-cost mass vaccination.” The PM said that the completion of the Padma Multi-Purpose Bridge with country’s own resources and its inauguration last year is perhaps the best example of Bangladesh’s resilience and achievement. She said that Bangladesh has today emerged as the world’s 35th largest economy, with a nominal GDP of USD 460 billion while its economy has been growing at an average rate of 6 percent in the last one decade. It reached up to 8.15 percent just before the pandemic. This has led to notable increase in per capita income to the tune of USD 2,824 in 2022. She also mentioned that the overall poverty rate has reduced to 18.7 percent in 2022 from 41.5 percent in 2006. Read more: World Bank approves $1.25bn financing in 3 projects for Bangladesh “During this time, we have increased our budget allocation for social protection by 40 times, constituting 2.5 percent of our GDP.” Just last year, she said, our government announced the decision to launch a Universal Pension Scheme. She mentioned that under her flagship Ashrayan project, the government has provided free-of-cost homes to nearly five million people along with income-generating skills and support. She said, 99.7 percent of households have come under electricity coverage, while the power generation capacity has increased eight-times to over 25,000 MW between 2006 and 2022.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and World Bank president David Malpass on Monday jointly inaugurated a photo exhibition marking the 50-year partnership between Bangladesh and the WB. The exhibition at the Atrium of the World Bank headquarters kicked off the dayling celebration of the 50 years of relation between Bangladesh and the WB The PM went around the show and also witnessed a dance performance. A video presentation on "Bangladesh-World Bank 50 Years of Partnership" was screened at the function. Earlier, On her arrival in the WB headquarters in Washington DC, Sheikh Hasina was welcomed by WB Country Director for Bangladesh Abdoulaye Seck and its SAR VP Martin Raiser with a flower bouquet. Read more: World Bank approves $1.25bn financing in 3 projects for Bangladesh Later in the day she is due to attend an informal interaction with the Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank, address the plenary session on "Reflection on 50 years of World Bank-Bangladesh Partnership" and attend a high-level business luncheon with WB president, MDs and VPs. Talking at the programme after inaugurating it, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that the Photo Exhibition at the World Bank premises is a reflection of value-driven partnership with the World Bank over the last five decades. “It is a representation of a transformed and vibrant Bangladesh. It is a tribute to our hard working people who have made it possible for our nation to live up to its dreams,” she said. She also extended her greetings to working people in Bangladesh and around the world on the occasion of Labour Day (May Day). Sheikh Hasina mentioned that the photo exhibition shows that the development story in Bangladesh is about those lagging behind. “I thank the World Bank and other development partners for sharing our vision of an inclusive growth. Our common enemies are poverty and hunger, and we must not rest our case till we have won over them,” she said. She said that the exhibition is also about the importance of making the right political choices. “It shows the kind of smile that our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wished to see among our distressed people. It speaks of our government’s determination to turn Bangladesh into a resilient and prosperous land.” She hoped the World Bank will continue to remain with Bangladesh on its exciting journey ahead to build a ‘Smart Bangladesh’. “Let us work together in a spirit of shared trust for a brighter future!”