Claiming that Bangladesh in its 51 years never failed to repay local and foreign loans, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Tuesday said he expects another $12-15 billion loan from the Asian Development Bank in the next five years.
He expected the loan under the Country Partnership Strategy 2021-25 with the ADB. Along with the budget assistance, Bangladesh also sought policy-based loans from the ADB.
Bangladesh is among the countries having the lowest debt-to-GDP ratios with only 34 per cent, the minister said during a bilateral meeting with ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the ADB at its headquarters in Manila.
Currently, ADB’s cumulative financing in Bangladesh stands at $27.6 billion and among them, the total outstanding amount is $11.69 billion which Bangladesh has been repaying in instalments successfully, the minister said.
“Since the country’s birth, Bangladesh has never been unable to repay the loans”, he added.
Bangladesh-ADB Country Partnership Strategy 2021-25 was formed to coordinate the country’s national development plan and targets, Kamal said, adding that the ADB’s continuous support is important to achieve the country’s development milestone.
“Bangladesh has achieved an average GDP growth of 6.6% over the last 13 years, but Covid-19 pandemic, geo-political crisis along with food, fuel, fertiliser and financial crisis had hindered the global supply chain which has triggered inflation across the world”, the minister said.
“To ensure social and economic resilience, policy-based lending is necessary in addition to budgetary supports from ADB,” he said and seeking special assistance from the ADB.
ADB would play a progressive role to reduce the risks of natural calamities in Bangladesh along with assisting the climate change adaptation and mitigation in Asia and Pacific sea regions, the minister hoped.
He believed that instead of mixed-finance, flexible loan assistance will be a practical solution for battling the adverse impacts of climate change. He also sought generous aid from ADB for promoting standard infrastructure in agriculture and ICT-based entrepreneur development, sustainable health, education and agricultural diversity, focusing on the fourth industrial revolution.
Celebrating the 50-year relationship between Bangladesh and ADB, Kamal said that next year is a historic milestone for Bangladesh and ADB. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on behalf of the 165 million people of Bangladesh has invited the ADB President to celebrate the 50th anniversary, the minister said.
He also urged ADB to appoint Bangladeshi people to top positions, particularly vice-president, in the ADB’s administration considering the strong bondage between Bangladesh and ADB.
ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa said that completing the Padma Bridge project with personal finance signifies Bangladesh’s competency. He also lauded Bangladesh’s steps taken for facing the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccination campaign.
“ADB has been providing special importance to Bangladesh since the beginning, will also consider issues that have been raised in this annual meeting.
ADB would continue its support to Bangladesh to gain its social and economic security and recover from damages caused by the pandemic,” he said.
Earlier, Mustafa Kamal also met the Philippines’ finance minister in a bilateral meeting in Manila while he sought significant expansion of commerce between the two countries.
Agricultural products, light engineering, jute-made products, disaster management, health service, nursing, and IT sectors can be possible sectors of commerce expansion between the two countries, Kamal suggested.