Finance Minister seeks WB support for quick Rohingya repatriation

Staff Correspondent

21 October, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has sought World Bank backing for quick repatriation of Rohingyas, saying that the influx of Myanmar nationals is destroying social stability in Bangladesh. He said there is no alternative to quick return of the forcibly displaced Rohingyas to their homeland.

The minister made the call at a roundtable on displaced Rohingya people at World Bank headquarters in Washington on Saturday, said a finance ministry release on Sunday.  “Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated country in the world. It is also a country of social bonding and solidarity, which helps in its forward march. But the social bonding is now at stake due to the Rohingya problem,” commented Kamal.

“Even though Bangladesh offered shelter to Rohingyas fleeing violence in Myanmar on humanitarian ground, it is now paying a high price for it,” he observed.

The entire environment of Cox’s Bazar and its adjacent areas is now in danger, which has posed increased social and climate challenge for Bangladesh.

“The losses, social and others, we’re incurring can’t be measured with money. So, Rohingyas have to be returned to their homeland, it is our main demand,” he maintained. 

“Their return is very urgent and there is no scope for alternative measures. We hope that World Bank will take a positive decision in this regard after discussions with other countries,” he stressed.

The finance minister sought a specific timeline for the return, expressing frustration that although Bangladesh signed a Rohingya repatriation deal with Myanmar, it lacked any specific timeline. 

He said Bangladesh is not thinking of financial assistance for Rohingyas from the WB or other agencies; but it seeks their help for Rohingya repatriation.

“We hope that World Bank will show us a better solution after discussions with other stakeholders. All the countries have expressed solidarity with us,” he remarked. 

Engaging China, India and Japan in Rohingya repatriation negotiation is very important as they are a ‘big factor’ in this regard.

The minister also held meetings with Citi Bank International and HSBC Bank in Washington on Saturday.

The banks expressed their interests in enhancing their investment in the capital and bond markets in Bangladesh and placed two separate proposals regarding this, the finance ministry release said.

HSBC bank has come up with a proposal for introducing Sukuk Islamic bond in Bangladesh.

Kamal said a decision in this regard will be taken after necessary scrutiny as public banks don’t have Islamic banking system in Bangladesh while private banks have it.

A proposal also came for repaying foreign loans by local currency taka through these two banks.

The government is yet to take any final decision in this regard, because the exchange rate between US dollar and taka fluctuates all the time.

The country will benefit from repaying foreign loans by taka if a fixed exchange rate is taken into account, Kamal observed.

Finance secretary Abdur Rouf Talukder and Economic Relations Division (ERD) secretary Monowar Ahmed were present at the meetings.