Dhaka, Feb 10, 2009 — Well targeted and smart safety nets which reach poor people will be critical to helping the poorest citizens of as the global financial crisis takes effect in the months ahead. This was a key message from Ms. Isabel Guerrero, World Bank Vice President for South Asia, as she concluded a three day visit today and discussions on policy measures to help soften the potential impact of the financial crisis on .
She confirmed the World Bank's continued strong support to and praised the new government for its emphasis on development and for having a clear vision of their priorities and areas where they want World Bank to support. She also urged to keep up the reform momentum and to accelerate its infrastructure program.
“The economy has so far done remarkably well in the context of the global financial crisis,” said Guerrero. “But with the crisis still unfolding, it is crucially important for the Government to be prepared with the right set of policy tools to ensure that the gains in poverty reduction are not lost. Strengthening social protection programs is critical to face fallout from the global recession, particularly ensuring that leakages are corrected so the benefits get to the poor. The World Bank is monitoring the situation closely and will remain a committed development partner for .”
Guerrero reiterated that the World Bank will continue supporting ’s effort to overcome its infrastructure deficits, especially in the power sector. The World Bank will provide support to the power sector through both public and private sector financing. She also discussed overall power sector development, including energy conservation and renewable energy. Guerrero reconfirmed the World Bank’s commitment to provide financing for .
During her visit, Guerrero met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Finance Minister A. M. A. Muhit, other Cabinet Ministers and Advisors to discuss the government priorities, including power, infrastructure development, social protection, climate change, regional cooperation, education, health and rural development. Guerrero responded positively to the Prime Minister’s request for further support to improve quality of education and reduce drop out rates, and to improve health outcomes and reduce maternal and infant mortality rates. She agreed to provide further assistance to government for rural community development programs.
The private sector, civil society, and development partners met with Guerrero to discuss good governance and the importance of regional cooperation in areas like food, energy, and water.
“We have scaled up our assistance to , and for the first time, our support will exceed $1 billion this fiscal year,” said Xian Zhu, Country Director, World Bank, . “In the next year, we will support new projects for community driven development, power, urban water, environment, social protection, and education. At the same time, we will work with government to step up efforts on better and faster implementation of development projects.”
Guerrero stressed the importance of improving the implementation of World Bank funded programs, given the undisbursed balances that the new government can tap for immediate development impact. She commended the government for maintaining macroeconomic stability and hoped that will achieve the middle income country status by 2020.