DHAKA, March 28, 2012 —The Government of Bangladesh and its Development Partners today jointly examined trends in implementation of the Annual Development Program at a Local Consultative Group Plenary Meeting. They concluded that disbursement of project aid is running at roughly the same pace as last year and identified ways to accelerate implementation beyond historic levels.
Bangladesh’s strong track record of growth in the past two decades has succeeded in cutting the poverty rate in half, and the country is also on track to achieve many of the Millennium Development Goals. Development partners recognize these achievements and have supported the country’s priorities with an unprecedented volume of financial and technical support.
Outstanding commitments of external aid now top US$ 13 billion, and aid continues to fund 35-40 percent of the country’s Annual Development Program (ADP). Bangladesh’s ability to absorb aid flows effectively - and to demonstrate the results achieved - is of particular importance as aid commitments rise.
"Development Partners are supporting us with record financial commitments. The increased external aid commitment must be matched by scaled up disbursement by way of enhanced implementation of the Annual Development Program to get better results,” said Iqbal Mahmood, Senior Secretary of the Economic Relations Division and co-Chair of the Local Consultative Group. “Today we agreed with partners to work together to conduct regular tripartite portfolio reviews, strengthen monitoring of lagging projects and develop an electronic aid management platform.”
At the meeting, government and development partners discussed an array of possible solutions to accelerate project disbursements above trend. While budget support has decreased since FY 09/10, project aid has increased.
“The good news is that aid disbursements for projects are running at the same level as last year. Nonetheless, a quantum improvement in implementation is possible if structural obstacles are alleviated,” said Ellen Goldstein, co-Chair of the Local Consultative Group and World Bank Country Director. “Going forward, development partners hope to see concrete measures to streamline project approval and revisions, increase transparency and efficiency of public procurement, enhance continuity in project staffing and deepen public financial management reforms to encourage greater use of country systems.”
Participants agreed to hold quarterly meetings to closely monitor the implementation of the agreed measures. Although adequate absorption has been a source of concern for Government and its partners, achieving development results is the ultimate goal. Development partners lauded the incorporation of concrete goals and targets in the Sixth Five Year Plan, and offered support to Government to ensure effective tracking of progress.
The Plenary Meeting of the Local Consultative Group was attended by Secretaries from relevant development ministries, Ambassadors and heads of development agencies working in Bangladesh. The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. Iqbal Mahmood, Senior Secretary, Economic Relations Division on behalf of Government and Ms. Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Country Director, on behalf of development partners.