The World Bank (WB) will provide Bangladesh with US$ 74 million in assistance to help improve the country's e-government services across its agencies and improve air quality of Dhaka city.
To this effect, the government signed two additional financing agreements with the global lender, said a WB press release.
Additional Secretary of Economic Relations Division (ERD) Mahmuda Begum and Acting World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh Rajashree Paralkar signed the agreements on behalf of their respective sides.
The $ 39 million additional financing to Leveraging ICT for Growth, Employment and Governance (LICTGEG) Project will scale up e-government infrastructure and services, through which all government ministries and agencies will be able to avail shared technology infrastructure for their systems and services, the release said.
This will allow the public sector to benefit from higher efficiency, reduce risks in the use of IT and promote the e-governance efforts in the years ahead, it added.
Bangladeshi citizens and businesses will benefit from improved reliability of public services.
"These two financings will help Bangladesh improve lives and living standards of its population. The additional financing to LICTGEG project will help improve public sector administration and public services through the use of e-government technologies and innovations," the press release quoted Rajashree Paralkar as saying.
"The additional financing to Clean Air and Sustainable Project will help address Dhaka's environmental, transport and traffic challenges, and help improve the city's air quality," she said.
Poor air quality in urban area creates serious health hazards, adversely affects the environment and the quality of life, the release said.
By reducing exposure to urban air pollution by 20 per cent, Bangladesh could save 1,200 lives annually and avoid 80 million cases of diseases, it said, adding that the $ 35 million additional financing to Clean Air and Sustainable Environment (CASE) Project will help augment and sustain air quality management initiatives, and testing models for improving traffic management system in Dhaka.
The additional financing will help also establish five additional air quality monitoring stations, in addition to the 11 monitoring stations supported by the project and a central air quality laboratory.
Besides, the financing will help establish mobile air quality labs at all divisional offices for better monitoring and enforcement of air emissions from industrial sectors. Further, the project will continue support to operationalise the traffic signals and address mobility needs of people with disabilities.
"Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty and accelerating economic growth in the last decade. These financings will contribute to government's vision of a 'Digital Bangladesh' as well as improve liveability of its cities by reducing air pollution, and ensuring safe mobility for its citizens," Ms Mahmuda Begum was quoted as saying.
The credits from the World Bank's International Development Association, its grant to low-interest loan arm, have a 38-year term, including a six-year grace period, and a service charge of 0.75 per cent.
The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. Since then, the World Bank has committed nearly $ 25 billion grants and interest-free credits to Bangladesh. In recent years, Bangladesh has been the largest recipient of the World Bank's interest-free credits.