Tuesday, 28 March, 2023

IMF approves $4.7bn loan for Bangladesh

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 1 February, 2023 12:00 AM
  • Print news
IMF approves $4.7bn loan for Bangladesh

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a $4.7 billion loan for Bangladesh to help the country stabilise its economic uncertainties created by the current global realities.

The lender okayed a loan proposal during a board meeting on Monday, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal confirmed in a statement on Tuesday.

The loan amount is higher than what Bangladesh sought in July last year from the multilateral lender. At that time, the country requested a loan of $4.5 billion through a letter.

Bangladesh will get about $3.3 billion under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) and about $1.4 billion under the Resilience and Sustainability Facility (RSF), said a press release.

The country will immediately get $476 million disbursed as the first of the seven installments slated over 42 months.

The remaining amount will be in six equal installments of $704 million each till 2026.

In an immediate reaction, the finance minister said: “We’re definitely grateful to the IMF for this loan, especially to Deputy Managing Director Antoinette Monceau Sayeh, the delegation that visited Bangladesh including mission chief Rahul Anand.”

“Many had expressed doubt that the IMF won’t give us the loan. They had thought that our basic macroeconomic areas are weak and so the IMF will refrain from providing the loan,” he remarked.

“With this loan approval, it has been proved that our basic macroeconomic areas are on a strong footing and they are even in a better position than those of many countries,” Kamal said.

The 42-month programme will help preserve macroeconomic stability, protect the vulnerable, and foster inclusive and green growth, said the IMF.

Reforms will focus on creating fiscal space to enable greater social and developmental spending; strengthening the financial sector; modernising policy frameworks; and building climate resilience, it said.

The IMF said that Bangladesh’s robust economic recovery from the pandemic has been interrupted by Russia’s war in Ukraine, leading to a sharp widening of Bangladesh’s current account deficit, depreciation of the Taka and a decline in foreign exchange reserves.

“The authorities have taken on a comprehensive set of measures to deal with these latest economic disruptions. The authorities recognise that in addition to tackling these immediate challenges, long-standing structural issues and vulnerabilities related to climate change will also need to be addressed to accelerate growth, attract private investment, enhance productivity, and build climate resilience,” it added.

The IMF-supported programme under the ECF or EFF arrangements will help preserve macroeconomic stability and prevent disruptive adjustments to protect the vulnerable, while laying the foundations for strong, inclusive, and environmentally sustainable growth.

The concurrent RSF arrangement will supplement the resources made available under the ECF or EFF to expand the fiscal space to finance climate investment priorities identified in the authorities’ plans, help catalyse additional financing, and build resilience against long-term climate risks.

IMF Deputy Managing Director (DMD) Antoinette Monceau Sayeh said, “Since independence, Bangladesh has made steady progress in reducing poverty and significant improvements in living standards.

“However, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent Russia’s war in Ukraine interrupted this long period of robust economic performance. Multiple shocks have made macroeconomic management challenging in Bangladesh.”

While confronting challenges resulting from the global headwinds, the authorities need to accelerate their ambitious reform agenda to achieve a more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable growth, she added.

In this regard, she said, substantial investment in human capital and infrastructure will be needed to achieve Bangladesh’s aspiration to reach upper-middle   income status by 2031 and meet the Sustainable and Development Goals (SDGs).

She said that the authorities recognise these challenges and also the need to tackle climate change issues, which expose the economy to large risks that could threaten macroeconomic stability.

According to her, the ECF or EFF arrangement will protect macroeconomic stability and rebuild buffers, while helping to advance the authorities’ reform agenda.

IMF DMD said, “The implementation of the domestic revenue mobilisation strategy that relies on both tax policy and revenue administration reforms will allow increasing social, development and climate spending sustainably.”

“Fiscal reforms to strengthen the management of public finance, investment, and debt will improve spending efficiency, governance, and transparency.”

“Reducing financial sector vulnerabilities, strengthening oversight, enhancing governance and the regulatory framework, and developing capital markets will help mobilise financing to support growth objectives,” she added.

 Sayeh mentioned that structural reforms to create a conducive environment to expand trade and foreign direct investment, deepening the financial sector, developing human capital, and improving governance to enhance the business climate are needed to lift growth potential.

“Access to RSF will provide financing to support Bangladesh’s climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. The RSF reforms will complement reforms under the ECF or EFF by improving climate investment potential, strengthening institutions and enhancing climate-spending efficiency to build resilience and catalyse additional official and private finance,” she added.