The World Bank President has said they can work with Bangladesh for a faster poverty cut with ‘governance and anti-corruption measures in place’ amid the saga of a fracas between the two over Padma bridge funding.
Jim Yong Kim ‘commended’ Bangladesh on Wednesday for its ‘significant progress’ in overcoming poverty at a meeting in Washington with Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith.
Kim Yong said Bangladesh had the potential for ‘faster’ economic growth and poverty reduction.
It was the first meeting between Muhith and him after the latter took office in July last year and Bangladesh officially withdrew the request of the bankrolling the bridge.
“The World Bank Group can work together with the Government of Bangladesh to reduce the number of poor more rapidly, while having governance and anti-corruption measures in place to ensure that every dollar is used for the intended purpose of benefitting the poor,” Kim was quoted as saying in a Bank’s media release.
Muhith in January wrote to Kim seeking an audience amid the row over the financing of $1.2 billion in the Bangladesh’s biggest-ever project over suspected corruption.
But on Jan 31, the government told the bank it is formally withdrawing its request for co-financing the $2.9 billion project, triggering speculations that the minister might not meet with the bank’s President.
Muhith, however, on Feb 10 told journalists that the letter was ‘still valid’, and that he would meet the President ‘once I get appointment.’ He left on Feb 24 for the meeting.
Before leaving Dhaka, he had said that the whole range of relationships with the global lender would be discussed.
He also said Bangladesh would get the $1.2 billion for other projects as it had been promised in line with the bank’s country cooperation strategy.
“We will decide how we can use it. We have many projects where we can use this money,” he, earlier, said.
The media release, however, did not mention anything regarding the $1.2 billion funds promise.
It said the meeting discussed ways to make economic development ‘reach more of the Bangladeshi people through ensuring good governance and strengthening the country’s own institutions and processes’.
It extolled Bangladesh’s progress towards achieving the poverty reduction targets set by the Millennium Development Goals for 2015.
“Sustaining annual growth rates of around 6 percent in the past decade, the country has witnessed a profound social transformation with an influx of girls into the education system and women into the labor force.”
It said economic growth has pulled 16 million people out of poverty in the last 10 years. “Development needs, however, remain large and pressing with around 47 million people still living in poverty.”
The World Bank is still the largest development partner of Bangladesh with projects worth $4 billion are currently being implemented.