Bangladesh joined ADB in 1973 and was the first member to host an ADB field office in 1982. A program commemorating the golden jubilee of the partnership between Bangladesh and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) was held on Tuesday at the Hotel Intercontinental in Dhaka led by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa. Prime minister Sheikh Hasina addressed the program as the chief guest.
During the discussion, Sheikh Hasina stated that Bangladesh places a strong emphasis on education, skill development, and infrastructure, and is seeking more cooperation for various projects. “I consider ADB as one of the most trusted development partners of Bangladesh, and request strategic focus on skills development, health, ICT-based entrepreneurship, quality infrastructure, and climate change, while helping unleash the potentials of the private sector,” she remarked.
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Regarding stipends and midday food programs for schoolchildren, she encouraged the ADB to cooperate in this regard. She thanked ADB for supporting Bangladesh’s economic development and sticking with the country even when circumstances were challenging.
PM appreciates ADB and urges for soft loans
“On 50 years of partnership, the Government of Bangladesh conveys its deep gratitude to ADB for the invaluable and generous support and contribution to our development journey,” said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. She said that the ADB’s cooperation has grown three times in the last 15 years, since the Awami League took power in 2009. She added, “We are seeing with pleasure that the ADB always stands beside Bangladesh in our bad times with innovative financing and technological support.”
The ADB has mobilized over $50 billion in loans, grants, and technical support, including co-financing, for the country till now. The prime minister expressed appreciation to the ADB for its assistance in the form of $2.29 billion during the Covid-19 outbreak to deal with health crises and $230 million to recover from the effects of the flood in Bangladesh’s northwestern region. She continued, “The relations between Bangladesh and the IMF will be more strengthened in the days to come.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has also asked development partners to focus on providing soft loans till the global economy recovers from the Russia-Ukraine war-induced economic crisis.
“It is necessary to continue giving soft loans till the global economy goes back to normalcy. The organizations and the developed countries would have to give special focus on it,” she stated.
“We want our due rights from the global partners”
Sheikh Hasina highlighted her deep concern over the tendency of development partners increasing interest rates on loans even in the global crisis for Russia-Ukraine war, economic sanctions, and counter sanctions, which usually makes the financing in development projects ineffective. She stated, “We do not want kindness from anyone, rather we want our due rights from global partners.” The prime minister also addressed her concern over the imposition of many unneeded limitations by business partners, stating, “It (restrictions) sends our economies in danger”.
In the current global situation, she urged the IMF to provide flexible and innovative funding for speeding the development of skills, health, ICT, infrastructure, climate change, and human resources.
ADB chief applauds Bangladesh’s macroeconomic management
“ADB will continue to work more closely with Bangladesh. This partnership will be strengthened further in the days to come,” said Masatsugu Asakawa, the ADB chief. He stated that ADB would accompany Bangladesh on its road towards becoming an upper middle-income nation by 2031 and a developed, rich and intelligent nation by 2041.
The ADB chief praised Bangladesh’s macroeconomic management in the backdrop of the Covid-19 outbreak and Russia-Ukraine war, as well as the country’s strong socioeconomic development under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. He lauded Bangladesh for successfully balancing lives and livelihoods while combating the Covid-19 outbreak.
“I have witnessed the many ways Bangladesh has been transformed through steady and inclusive economic growth with vibrant private sector engagement over the past decade and a half,” said Mr. Asakawa. “ADB stands ready to support Bangladesh in a bigger way on this path to a more prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable future, enhancing our assistance in climate change adaptation and mitigation, and critical economic reforms to diversify the economy and mobilizing more domestic resources,” he added.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, PM’s Principal Secretary M. Tofazzel Hossain Miah, Senior Secretary of Finance Division Fatima Yasmin, ERD Secretary Sharifa Khan and Country Director of Asian Development Bank to Bangladesh Edimon Ginting were present. A video documentary detailing the history of relations between Bangladesh and the ADB and the country’s development over the past half century and more recently was also shown.