The development partners are ready to extend support for improving infrastructure, human resources and capacity to fight climate change impacts to help implement the government’s mid and long-term development agenda, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said on Monday.
“Even after making some cautious note about the 7th five-year plan, development partners have finally endorsed it and responded positively to extend support to implement it,” the finance minister while wrapping up the two-day Bangladesh Development Forum (BDF) meeting.
He was talking to journalists at a post-BDF meeting news briefing at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC), presenting the highlights of the meeting that kicked off in the capital on Sunday.
Muhith said they jointly identified that Bangladesh will face three major challenges towards becoming a mid-income nation, which are power, energy and transport infrastructures, ensuring quality education and improving the skill set of the country’s workforce.
“If these challenges are properly faced, it won’t be an uphill task for the country to post an 8 percent GDP growth by 2020. It won’t be a very big target for us,” he added.
“Multilateral banks, including the newly formed AIIB, the World Bank and ADB have already taken up the responsibility to develop our infrastructures,” he said, pointing to the fact that infrastructure development is the key to luring investments now shifting to Asia.
Development partners also stressed on more engagement of the private sector for national development, public-private partnership initiatives and south-south cooperation in the two-day meeting, Muhith informed.
He said more budgetary allocations will be made for PPP initiatives from the next budget in line with the forum discussions.
Economic Relations Division (ERD) Senior Secretary Mohammad Mejbahuddin added that development partners suggested lowering dependence on external assistance, and put special emphasis on accelerating internal resources mobilisation and expansion of tax base to implement the 7th plan, apart from pledging for more funds.
Positive funding response from donors also came for adaptation to climate change impacts, more agricultural development, widening of social security umbrella, and for schemes to involve more women in the mainstream economic activities, he informed.
“It’s a passion for us and you to advance the government’s development agenda. We stand ready to support those efforts of Vision 2021,” commented head of mission of USAID Bangladesh and Co-chair of the Local Consultative Group Janina Jaruzelski.
She said it is an “ambitious agenda,” but it is achievable, if the development requirements are fulfilled.
Replying to a question about ADB’s intention to finance for developing economic corridors, the ERD Secretary said ADB is keen on financing regional connectivity projects involving Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan; not for those confined to India-Bangladesh corridor only.
“Donors have expressed satisfaction over the initiatives taken or being taken to improve the current status of governance and rule of law,” Mejbahuddin told reporters, while replying to another question.
The forum has come up with specific recommendations for a number of priority areas for the country including agriculture, food Security, climate change, energy, Infrastructure, governance, health, quality Education, Social Protection and gender mainstreaming.
The two-day forum gathered ministers, top government officials, representatives of development partners and civil society for finding the areas of strengthening partnership for the country’s development.
The forum featured one keynote session and six working sessions centering on the 7th Five Year Plan and SDG implementation.
Speakers at the keynote session identified equitable distribution of wealth as a major perquisite for high and inclusive economic growth. “Inclusive and sustainable economic growth may be ensured through land ownership reforms, tax reforms, public service management reforms, quality education and expansion of Social Safety Net,” they observed.