Vol. 5 Num 571 Tue. January 03, 2006  
Front Page

WB tags condition with $2.89b loan
Asks govt to reduce graft, improve public procurement

The World Bank will provide $2.89 billion to Bangladesh in four years from the current fiscal under a new Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) on condition of 'reducing level of corruption' and improvement of the procurement process.

"We, the donors are very concerned about the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in Bangladesh which is yet to operate and tackle corruption problem with specific cases," visiting World Bank Vice President Praful Patel told newsmen after a meeting with Finance Minister M Saifur Rahman.

"We all want the ACC to be a functioning body that takes up cases of corruption and publicise them to set example of reducing level of corruption," he said.

Patel was also critical about the existing procurement system in Bangladesh, saying, "Procurement is a big problem in Bangladesh that needs reforms. It (Bangladesh) does not find fair procurement process like open and fair bidding as in other countries."

During the over two-hour long meeting at the Secretariat, Saifur and Patel discussed the WB's assistance to Bangladesh under the new CAS over the next three years.

Saifur said the WB Board will take the final decision about assistance to Bangladesh.

"But, the World Bank has indicated at providing $500 million in the current fiscal, $660 million in FY 07, $830 million in FY 08 and $900 million in FY 09," the minister said.

Asked about possible assistance to Bangladesh, Patel said, "It will be similar to last three years. Our desire is to increase the support as much as we can towards the growth and poverty reduction in the country."

He went on, "In the Country Assistance Strategy for next three years, we will be including reforms for strengthening institutions like the ACC and auditing," he said.

"We will have to focus on making these bodies work, and during the meeting the minister also agreed with us," he added replying to a query about functioning of the ACC.

The WB vice president praised Bangladesh's performances in the macro economic sector. "In the last few months, Bangladesh has gone through a very difficult period because of oil price hike, and despite many other factors Bangladesh is doing very well to face the challenges."

He pointed out, "The growth rate here is very impressive when the current fiscal is projecting growth rate between 6 and 6.5 percent." There are also progress in the social sector and infrastructure development.

But Patel cautioned about maintaining a stable macro economy in Bangladesh, saying, "When you have election year, problems in politics, law and order and security."

Saifur said, "We are projecting a growth rate of about 7 percent despite having some obstacles ... Macroeconomy here is very stable and we are continuing the reform programmes."

On the rise of militants, the minister said militancy has been contained after stern action by the government, and people are now feeling relieved.