ADB lauds Sheikh Hasina’s leadership in Covid battle


UNB, Dhaka

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday highly praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's dynamic and successful leadership in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and rolling out a nationwide vaccination programme.

ADB Country Director in Bangladesh Manmohan Parkash came up with the appreciation when he met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence Ganobhaban.

The ADB will provide US$ 940 million as assistance to Bangladesh to procure the Covid-19 vaccines, said Parkash.

PM's Assistant Press Secretary MM Emrul Kayas told UNB after the meeting.

"To help expedite the economic recovery from the pandemic, ADB is discussing with the government about a proposal for US$ 940 million in assistance from ADB's APVAX Facility for Bangladesh's vaccine programme," the ADB country director was quoted as saying.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister said her government has been attaching priority in constructing Dhaka-Barishal-Patuakhali-Payra rail line.

Prakash appreciated Sheikh Hasina’s timely decision to relax Covid-driven shutdown in all the sectors of the economy in phases saying that the normalcy in Bangladesh's economy, its GDP growth and remittance has been restored due to the timely decision.

He lauded the government’s Covid-19 vaccination measures saying that Bangladesh is one of the three Asian countries who are successfully conducting the Covid-19 vaccination campaign.

Parkash handed over an ADB book titled “Asia's Journey to Prosperity: Policy, Market, and Technology Over 50 Years” and three volumes of “Southwest Bangladesh Economic Corridor Comprehensive Development Plan” to the Prime Minister.

PMO Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah was present at the meeting.

According to an ADB media release, Manmohan Parkash at the meeting appreciated the implementation of pragmatic policy actions, maintaining practical balance between lives and livelihoods; timely decisions for lockdowns and its relaxation; and adopting humane, pro-poor, gender, and socially inclusive policies.

It said the $14.5 billion stimulus packages, 4.5% of the GDP, contributed effectively towards managing the pandemic.

He appraised the Prime Minister about ADB’s enhanced development programs for Bangladesh.

To help manage the pandemic, ADB in 2020 quickly provided over $607 million in loans and grants for expanding the social safety net and managing the immediate impacts of the pandemic.

 Over $560 million of other assistance are helping to create jobs and boosting the rural economy. To help expedite the economic recovery from the pandemic, ADB is discussing with the government a proposal for $940 million in assistance from ADB’s APVAX Facility for Bangladesh’s vaccine programme.

Two $500 million (total $ 1 billion) policy-based loans are also being processed in 2021 to support health and finance sector recovery.

Considering the Covid-19 pandemic, ADB has adjusted its overall programme priorities in Bangladesh emphasising health and social protection, food security, skills development, rural development, water and sanitation, and finance sector.

Parkash handed over to PM Hasina a study on the coordinated and holistic development of the southwestern region development.

The report indicates the southwest region of Bangladesh can greatly contribute to the economic growth of the country, with industrial output of about $150 billion by the target industries, and 35 million of corridor induced employment by 2050, benefiting over 40 million people.

With smart investments in industry, infrastructure and human capital, the region can attract investment, create employment, and bring prosperity. Completion of the Padma Bridge will unleash the further potential of Bangladesh and it can become the perfect example for promoting holistic and inclusive development.

The ADB book “Asia’s Journey to Prosperity: Policy, Market, and Technology Over 50 Years,” which was handed over to the Prime Minister, highlights Bangladesh’s phenomenal development and its progressive policies for future growth and development.

The book says Bangladesh has emerged as one of the fastest-growing countries in Asia (and globally) in recent years, driven by strong domestic demand, robust RMG exports, improving infrastructure, higher agricultural growth, and surging remittance inflows.

ADB has initiated the preparation of a new Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for 2021-2025. It is fully aligned with the priorities of the Eighth Five-year Plan, Perspective Plan 2041, and Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 of the Government, as well as Strategy 2030 of ADB.

The new CPS will focus on addressing infrastructure deficit, skills development, making cities and urban centers more livable, agriculture and rural development, climate change and disaster resilience, strengthening health sector and social protection, gender equity, unleashing technology for a better tomorrow, and attracting private investment and improving business climate.

ADB’s new Country Operations Business Plan (COBP) for 2021-2023 has programmed around $5.9 billion in firm projects and $5.2 billion standby projects. The projects will be taken up for ADB financing based on their readiness.

Since Bangladesh joined ADB in 1973, ADB has mobilized $39.7 billion in assistance including $26 billion of ADB financing, around $200 million in technical assistance, and around $14 billion in cofinancing. ADB’s Bangladesh portfolio has grown from around $4.5 billion in 2009 to around $11 billion in 2021.

In 2020, ADB committed over $2.5 billion and disbursed $1.67 billion.