Dhaka, August 7, 2009 — Following up the progress of World Bank activities in Bangladesh since her last visit in March this year, Ms. Isabel Guerrero, World Bank’s Vice President for South Asia, concluded a four day visit to Bangladesh today.
During her visit, Ms. Guerrero met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Finance Minister A. M. A. Muhit, other cabinet ministers and advisors to discuss the Government’s priorities, including infrastructure development and regional cooperation for economic development and poverty reduction.
At the meeting with the Prime Minister, in addition to support to the macroeconomic management and governance agendas, Ms. Guerrero reiterated that the World Bank is expanding its current program in the country. During the last fiscal year the World Bank committed a record $1 billion to Bangladesh. The World Bank is preparing its Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) through a consultative process and in alignment with Government’s priorities. The CAS will outline the World Bank's lending program for the next few years.
“The Prime Minister had a very clear vision of the country’s priorities. And it’s a vision that we can contribute to in terms of supporting its implementation,” said Guerrero. “The World Bank will support the priority sectors of power and infrastructure, human development, social safety nets, and water resources management including the Padma Bridge.”
On the infrastructure agenda, Ms. Guerrero stated that the World Bank remains engaged in the sector providing support to transport, power and energy. The World Bank will also be working with the government for the development of the Padma Bridge, an important project for connecting one third of the country’s population in the southwestern region. In addition to the previously committed $300 million, Ms. Guerrero announced that the World Bank will be providing an additional $160 million for the project.
Ms. Guerrero and Government explored a range of regional cooperation opportunities in water, trade, power. This was Ms. Guerrero’s third official visit to the country since assuming the Vice Presidency of the World Bank’s South Asia Region a little over one year ago. She also hosted the South Asia Regional Development Marketplace entitled “Family and Community Approaches to Improve Infant and Young Child Nutrition.” The competition was designed to identify the most innovative ideas to improve nutrition, focusing especially on children under two years of age and pregnant women.
Ms. Guerrero also stressed the importance of improving the implementation of World Bank funded programs. She commended the government for maintaining macroeconomic stability through the financial crisis while also focusing on the poor and most vulnerable.