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World Bank Launches $6.1 billion Strategy to Support Bangladesh's Priorities

September 15, 2010

Dhaka, September 15, 2010 – The World Bank today launched its Country Assistance Strategy for Bangladesh for the FY2011-14 period.  The new strategy--which proposes a record level of financial support at $ 6.1 billion--will contribute to Bangladesh’s objectives of rapid poverty reduction and middle income country status by 2021 through support for accelerated, sustainable and inclusive growth, underpinned by stronger governance.

The World Bank strategy will focus on development results in four priority areas: increasing transformative investments to accelerate growth; reducing vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters; improving social services delivery; and strengthening accountability and inclusion. The World Bank Board of Directors endorsed the new Country Assistance Strategy for Bangladesh in July of this year.

Today, delegates from Government, the business community, civil society, media and development partners participated and discussed how to ensure optimal implementation of the strategy.  The launch was a continuation of a broad consultation process aimed at ensuring that the new strategy remains aligned to the country’s top priorities throughout its implementation.  This follows on a series of consultations with stakeholders held in Dhaka, Chittagong, Jessore and Rangpur during preparation of the strategy earlier this year.

In his remarks as Chief Guest, the Honorable Minister of Finance, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith noted: “The World Bank has supported Bangladesh since 1972, and has made a valuable contribution to our country’s infrastructure and human development.  I am pleased that the Bank team traveled around Bangladesh and listened to the needs of our communities.  The new strategy reflects this, and is well-aligned to Government’s priorities and programs.   We are particularly pleased to see the Bank supporting high-priority projects like Padma Bridge and power generation”

With continued strong country performance, Bangladesh can expect a doubling of financial support relative to the last strategy (FY06-09).  With greater resources to deliver, the World Bank will need to change its way of programming, moving to larger, more strategic interventions to support Government’s priority investments and reform programs.  Special attention will be given to scaling up interventions with strong country ownership and proven results.

Proposed interventions in the critical energy sector demonstrate this changed approach.  The World Bank proposes up to $1.0 billion in new lending in addition to the on-going $800 million program to help Bangladesh overcome the current energy crisis. Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Country Director in Bangladesh highlighted that the Bank will first scale up existing programs with positive results, including investments to promote independent and private-owned power plants, extend the rural electrification grid and expand successful solar energy systems.

“At the same time, we will work with Government on large, programmatic approaches in the power and gas sectors” said Goldstein, “We will work together on programmatic approaches that encourage longer term planning, increase the efficiency of existing facilities, link new investments for electricity generation and gas to capacity building and reforms. Our goal is to use our resources to leverage additional financing for energy investments from public and private sources.”

The World Bank will also strengthen monitoring of progress towards results during implementation of the new Country Assistance Strategy.   Within the World Bank group, teams will be mobilized for monitoring and evaluation of results. The World Bank and Government will monitor progress jointly, and will promote third-party monitoring to strengthen accountability at the community level.

In partnership with other development agencies, the World Bank will work to strengthen the country’s capacity to manage for result.  As part of a broader agenda on aid effectiveness, the World Bank will work with Government and other stakeholders to define a national development results framework linked to the forthcoming Five Year Plan.  This framework would serve as a tool to increase external resource mobilization in support of Bangladesh’s development priorities.

The proposed $ 6.1 billion in financial support will be in the form of International Development Association credits. The World Bank’s soft loan window, the International Development Association, provides interest free credit, carries a service charge of 0.75 percent and offers 10 years of grace and 40 years of maturity period. During the next four years, these new commitments will build on the World Bank’s current portfolio of 28 active projects in Bangladesh, with a net commitment of USD 3.6 billion.

Media Contacts
In Dhaka
Mehrin A. Mahbub
Tel : (880-2) 8159001 Ext. 4251
In Washington
Mohamad Al-Arief
Tel : (202) 458 4735