Bangladesh is hopeful of quick implementation of the India-assisted developmental projects in the country after New Delhi announced a fresh USD 4.5 billion aid package, Finance Minister Abul Maal A Muhith has said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a line of concessional credit of USD 4.5 billion for implementation of projects in Bangladesh during premier Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India this month. “This in addition to the previously announced assistance of USD 1.5 billion takes to total of USD 6 billion,” said Muhith. The implementation of projects under the previous assistance package, he said took a longer time.
“This time it may be less because we provided the list of projects before Sheikh Hasina went there (to India). I am hoping that there should be quick implementation of these projects,” Muhith told PTI last week on the sidelines of the annual Spring Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank here. Muhith also led a bilateral meeting with visiting Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during which they discussed bilateral aid package and projects associated with it.
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Bangladesh, he said, now has USD 6 billion line of credit from India. “It is quite something,” he said, but quickly noted that this is far less than that of India. “It is (Indian aid) not anything like China. (When) the (Chinese) President came (to Bangladesh), we had great difficulty in calculating in monetary terms how much it can be. Then it has turned out to be USD 22 billion,” the Bangladeshi Finance Minister said.
However, unlike the time-oriented Indian projects, which is being implemented at a fast pace, there is no such timeline for financial aid from China, he said. “Some of them could not be there for two, three years, because they are not even in the egg laying stage. Not to speak of hatching the… and getting the chick, you see,” he said.
Noting that Indian private sector investment is now flowing into Bangladesh, Muhith said his government has been asking for foreign investment. “The country’s growth rate is very comfortable for… if you take almost 20 years, it has been more than 6 per cent. Now it has crossed 7 per cent. There is a great demand for investment,” he said.
Bangladesh, he asserted, is now a fertile ground for investment.
“Our assessment of our economy is that it is very, very fertile ground for investment because the domestic demand is continuously growing. That is growing mainly because we are successful in reduction of poverty. I expect that domestic demand, which is roughly it covers at the moment almost 60 per cent of the population, this will go up. Very soon, we shall have a much larger market in Bangladesh,” he said.
Admitting that domestic investment has been “shy”, he said foreign investment has grown in the last two-three years. “It is still small. It is USD 2 billion now,” he said. Muhith said the many foreign investors have been shy in investing in Bangladesh because of the riots or internal problems and divisive politics.
“That is now not a problem because parties may have remained divisive, but to upset the economic life, the opposition has no capacity to do it. No opposition in Bangladesh can upset internal situation in the future,” he asserted. “That is because of growth of employment and large number of people have moved into the territory of having effective demand. No more. There is not going to be anymore disturbance. That is very ripe for foreign investment,” Muhith said.