Participants in a consultative workshop Monday sought increased support and cooperation from the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in areas of infrastructure, agriculture and rural uplift, human resource development and also in having access to various modes of Islamic financial products and services for boosting private sector investment in Bangladesh.
They made strong pleas for extension of IDB's support for reclamation of coastal land, rehabilitation of age-old power generation units, expansion of new capacity in power sector, upgradation of the transportation facilities, urban low-cost housing, raising the quality of human resources, facilitation of access to renewable energy, availability of Islamic micro-finance funds and also for areas where other major donors do not have much involvement now in the country.
The IDB organised the workshop, in collaboration with Economic Relations Division (ERD) of the government of Bangladesh, on the "IDB Member Country Partnership Strategy 2013-16" at a hotel in Dhaka, focusing on a structured development partnership with Bangladesh under a multi-year revolving programme.
Senior Secretary of ERD Mr Iqbal Mahmood inaugurated the workshop.
Finance Minister Mr A M A Muhith who was expected to attend the function as the chief guest could not make it for rescheduling of the weekly meeting of the cabinet.
The inaugural session of the workshop was followed by separate group meetings.
In his inaugural address, the Senior Secretary of ERD highlighted the importance of a MCPS for better coordination of IDB's development-supportive activities in Bangladesh, in line with the latter's national priorities.
Additional Secretary of ERD Quazi Shafiqul Azam outlined the goals and objectives of the Sixth Five Year Development Plan of Bangladesh, while giving a narrative of the commitments and disbursements of external development partners, including those of IDB, to Bangladesh over the years.
Regional Manager, Country Programs Department of the IDB Ahmed Salleh Hariri explained the purposes of drawing up a MCPS with a bottom-up approach to forging effective development partnership.
Senior IDB officials also made deliberations at the workshop.
Issues relating to business climate, infrastructural facilities, competitiveness and human development index were highlighted by them in their presentation. They noted that the key challenges to Bangladesh's achieving its growth target under sixth five year development plan should be addressed, along with policy measures taken to ensure inclusive growth.
Achieving of the country's economic growth, which has been estimated to be at 8.0 per cent by 2015 and 10 per cent by 2020, will call for coordinated efforts to upgrade the existing infrastructural facilities and improving the business climate, the senior IDB officials observed at the workshop.
Earlier, ERD Senior Secretary Mr Iqbal Mahmood welcomed the IDB's approach to shifting its development focus from project-based support to programme-based operation.
He also praised the IDB's bottom-up approach to set the development strategy.
According to the IDB Member Country Partnership Strategy (MCPS) for Bangladesh, 2013-16, IDB would like to align its cooperation and support arrangements with Bangladesh Vision 2021 and 6th Five Year Development Plan (2011-2015), in the light of the Bank's vision 1440 hizri (2020).
The IDB also wants to focus on programme-based supportive actions that will have the highest development impact and encounter less implementation problems and delays, the workshop was told.
The IDB in its future support programmes would like to focus on meaningful collaborative partnership, capacity building, technical assistance, Islamic finance advisory services and reverse linkages. It would also like to offer support and assistance for energy sector, public private partnership projects, urban development and inclusive rural growth.
IDB's project loan portfolio so far consisted of 18 projects (including one for technical assistance or TA) for a total amount of about $805 million in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh joined IDB in August, 1974 as one of its founding members.
Bank has successfully completed 58 projects including 10 TA grants with an aggregate amount of $384 million in Bangladesh.
The proposed MCPS for Bangladesh will be implemented in the next four years to facilitate the country's infrastructure development and cut poverty to meet its broad development needs.
IDB is one major multilateral donor for Bangladesh. It has so far provided about US$11 billion, most of which under trade financing operation for import of oil.
In the consultation workshop, the reports of four different groups for priority sectors were presented.
Editor of the Financial Express Mr Moazzem Hossain moderated the session.
The FE Editor called for finalizing an Islamic financing regulatory framework so that some priority sectors could get more investment under the IDB's various modes and modalities of financing.
Programme-based development partnership can itself prove to be useful, if there is a synergy of actions to achieve its goals and objective, he said.
The FE Editor said good governance is imperative to attract to improve business climate and to attract investment both from within and outside.
The IDB will consult with other professionals and government officials across the country before finalising its Member Country Partnership Strategy 2013-16 for Bangladesh.
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