DHAKA, BANGLADESH -- Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao had meetings with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Finance Minister Abul Maal A. Muhith, and discussed the continuation of the four-decade partnership between Bangladesh and ADB.
President Nakao praised Bangladesh for its strong economic growth in recent years, and achievements in poverty reduction and other areas of social development. He urged more efforts to boost infrastructure, skills, and the business climate as it targets middle-income status .
The Bangladesh economy grew by 6.0% in fiscal year 2012-2013 (July to June). According to preliminary official estimates, GDP grew by 6.1% in fiscal year 2013-2014. The country has also experienced a steep fall in poverty levels from 56.7% in 1991 to 31.5% in 2010 -- a drop of more than 25 percentage points in two decades.
President Nakao told officials ADB will continue to assist Bangladesh's efforts to address infrastructure needs, including power, gas, roads, railways and urban services; and secondary education and vocational training. ADB will also strengthen support to regional connectivity and energy trade, while continuing to support investments to enhance agriculture and rural productivity for higher income and more jobs.
President Nakao stressed the importance of strengthened investment in infrastructure. To do that, the government must increase tax revenues as a ratio to GDP, expand the use of public-private partnerships, and improve procedures of project approvals and their implementation. He mentioned, "ADB is also trying to improve its own internal process to accelerate procurement and project management, as well as delegating more authority to resident missions including the one in Dhaka."
Tomorrow the ADB President will visit the 150-megawatt Sirajganj Power Plant, the Bangabandhu (Jamuna) Bridge, and an Islamic based school,Alukdia Islamia Senior Madrasah, all projects supported by ADB.
The Sirajganj Power Plant in northern Bangladesh is part of a $405 million project to generate and distribute reliable electricity to Dhaka and the surrounding areas and supports the government's power sector reforms. The 4.8-kilometer-long Bangabandhu (Jamuna) Bridge connects eastern and western parts of Bangladesh and was built with the help of a $200 millionADB cofinancing loan.
The Alukdia Islamia Senior Madrasah, also in Sirajganj, benefitted from ADB support under an $85 million project to help improve the quality of teachers in Bangladesh. While traveling by train to the project sites, President Nakao witnessed ongoing work of the Tongi-Bhairab Bazar Double Line Project under the ADB-assisted Railway Sector Investment Program.
Bangladesh joined ADB in 1973 and hosted the organization's first field office in 1982. As of the end of 2013, ADB had provided the country with $15.03 billion in 241 loans, and $236.19 million in 402 technical assistance loans.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members -- 48 from the region. In 2013, ADB assistance totaled $21.0 billion, including cofinancing of $6.6 billion.