DHAKA: The government is doing a cost-benefit analysis of giving transit and transhipment facilities to India, Nepal and Bhutan under regional cooperation, and will take a decision in this regard in two months.
And the experience of other countries in allowing similar facilities is being taken into consideration in carrying out the analysis.
This was stated by Finance Minister AMA Muhith and prime minister’s economic affairs adviser Mashiur Rahman at a press conference following a review meeting on the Agreed Action Plan of Bangladesh Development Forum (BDF) yesterday.
They said China and Myanmar will also be included in the regional cooperation. The donors have committed to provide additional assistance for such cooperation apart from their normal assistance.
In February, the 25-point action plan was agreed upon at the BDF meeting. An interim review of progress of the action plans was made at yesterday’s meeting held at the NEC auditorium in the capital.
Government officials, representatives of the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UK’s Department For International Development and representatives of other multilateral and bilateral development partners were present at the meeting.
BDF is a forum of Bangladesh government and its development partners, which discusses effective use of foreign assistance.
At the press conference, Muhith and Mashiur dwelt on the government plan on regional cooperation and donors’ interest in it.
In reply to a question, the finance minister said many studies have been carried out on the cost-benefit of giving transit and transhipment. The government has been working on it since February.
“ We will take a decision in this regard after analysing it (cost-benefit) in the next two months,” he said.
Mashiur said Bangladesh will get fees for use of its services by different countries under regional cooperation, and it will be benefited. Different countries have allowed transit facilities to others, and the government is collecting information regarding this.
After analysing how much investment will come to the country and the amount of revenue it will generate, the government will take a decision about the fees to be charged for transit and transhipment, said the PM’s adviser.
The government will take the decision only if a win-win situation is created for all, he added.
The WB and ADB are already providing assistance for different projects for regional cooperation. Other development partners have also assured assistance in this regard, Mashiur said.
The development partners have a separate fund for regional cooperation.
Muhith said that at the review meeting , the development partners emphasised civil service reforms, speedy implementation of annual development programme, result-based framework, strengthening the Anti-Corruption Commission and increasing investment in energy and transport sectors.
And they told the donors that the government will try to establish result-based framework in at least 10-15 sectors. Besides, a road map for civil service reforms will be prepared, he said.
DFID Country Representative and the local consultative group co-chair Chris Austin said they have focused on the Agreed Action points including civil service reforms, completion of the financial management and implementation of the climate change resilience fund and country investment plan on food security.
Planning Minister AK Khandker also spoke at the press conference.
BD doubles credit for small enterprises
DHAKA: Bangladesh’s central bank will double its credit for small and medium enterprises (SME) to $570 million for 2010, the bank’s governor Atiur Rahman said.
“At the beginning our target was about $290 million for the whole year, but within six months at the end of June the fund was exhausted,” Atiur said in a launching ceremony for SME fund created by International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group.
The fund, known as small enterprise assistance funds (SEAF), will invest in 300 small and medium enterprises in Bangladesh over a period of 10 years.
IFC invested $12 million in initial capital and targets raising an additional $10 million to $15 million over a one-year period.
“SMEs are very important for us as they provide huge employment in our densely populated country,” Atiur said.
“We have asked commercial banks to lower interest on loans to SMEs,” he said. Currently, the banks charge SMEs interest of between 11 percent and 22.5 percent. The central bank wants the rates reduced to single digits.