DHAKA, February 15, 2010 — Ms. Isabel M. Guerrero, World Bank Vice President for the South Asia Region, concluded her visit to Dhaka in which she participated in the Bangladesh Development Forum. During her visit, Ms. Guerrero met with the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and addressed the inaugural session of the Forum.
In her discussions with the Prime Minister, Ms. Guerrero confirmed the World Bank’s intention to provide exceptional support of US$ 1.2 billion or more to close the financing gap for the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project. “We have seen from our earlier support for Jamuna Bridge that this kind of transformative infrastructure leads to greater and faster poverty reduction in surrounding communities” said Guerrero. “Our expectation is that Padma Bridge will do the same, unlocking the potential of the Southwest Region.”
She thanked the Prime Minister for the trust placed in the World Bank as coordinating donor for the mega-project, and noted the success of the recent joint mission in agreeing on basic design, procurement packaging and harmonized procurement methods.
Vice President Guerrero also took the opportunity to congratulate the Prime Minister on recent accords to improve relations with India. “South Asia is one of the least integrated regions in the world, yet the potential gains from greater cooperation are substantial. Cooperation in areas such as trade facilitation and power pooling would help boost Bangladesh’s annual growth rate from 6 percent in recent years to the 8 percent needed to achieve your poverty reduction goal and to reach middle-income status by 2021.”
Ms. Guerrero indicated that the World Bank - with global knowledge and regional presence - could support Government in implementing recent accords, through analysis and investment in regional operations, like the proposed electricity interconnection between the two countries.
In her opening statement to the Bangladesh Development Forum, the Vice President pointed to progress since the last forum in 2005, which included maintaining macro-stability and economic growth, improving human development, restoring peace and democratic government and navigating global food, fuel and financial crisis.
To make greater progress going forward, Bangladesh will need faster growth, strong governance, better infrastructure, improved urban planning and a skilled labor force for the knowledge economy. Effectively addressing these challenges will require improvements in public service delivery and an environment conducive to the greater private investment.
“Examples of successful results are already here for us to see” stated Guerrero. “We have seen measurable improvements in the investment climate, another million rural inhabitants connected to reliable energy, and gender parity achieved in primary and secondary school. This shows that greater results are within our grasp if we work together.”