Kamal seeks WB support to procure Covid-19 vaccine

Staff Correspondent

25 October, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Kamal seeks WB support to procure Covid-19 vaccine

Bangladesh has sought $500 million loan from the World Bank for procurement, preservation, transportation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines once that hit the market.

This amount was sought as an additional allocation under the IDA-19 of the World Bank for the current fiscal year (FY21) for ensuing COVID-19 vaccines when invented for all the countrymen as per the desire of the Prime Minister.

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal made the call to WB’s South Asia region’s Vice President Hartwig Schafer at a virtual meeting between a Bangladesh delegation and the global lender held on Thursday as part of the World Bank-IMF Annual meeting 2020, says a finance ministry release.

“In terms of its population size, third largest among International Development Association (IDA) member countries, Bangladesh should get loans on equity basis to purchase Covid-19 vaccines,” Kamal requested Schafer, also seeking his support to this end.

In reply, the Washington-based lender also assured the Bangladesh finance minister of considering the issue positively, the finance ministry said. 

Finance Secretary Abdur Rouf Talukder, Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary Fatima Yasmin and World Bank Country Director Mercy Miyang Tembon also joined the virtual meeting for both the sides.

In the meeting, Bangladesh requested for a total of $500 million support from the lender in FY21 in addition to its IDA-19 support package to procure, preserve and distribute Covid-19 vaccine immediately after it hit the market in line with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s intention.

Besides, Bangladesh also strongly requested the WB for releasing at least $250 million in FY21 out of its $500 million funds committed for Covid-19 Recovery and Response project on emergency basis. 

The country also requested the lender to release third installment of $250 million budget support under ‘Programmatic Jobs Development Policy Credit (DPC)’ project in FY21 to keep afloat the affected labour market, financial and social sectors.

The finance secretary informed WB at the meeting that Bangladesh has already fulfilled most of conditions tagged with DPC and the rest will be implemented soon.

Citing Bangladesh’s success in utilizing $5 billion IDA-18 money and $2 billion more from Scale-Up Facility (SUF), the highest among IDA members, ERD Secretary Fatima Yasmin requested the World Bank to provide more funds to Bangladesh under IDA-19.