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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

BDF likely to be held in mid-Nov : Multibillion-dollar dev recipe to be placed before donors

FHM Humayan Kabir

The long-deferred Bangladesh Development Forum (BDF) is likely to be held in mid-November in Dhaka. The government is set to place a multibillion-dollar development blueprint before the foreign financiers to help Bangladesh graduate to the next higher status.                 

Competent official sources informed the FE Saturday about the tentative time of the government-donor meet and the development-financing plans, which are laid down in the country's new five-year plan.      

The last BDF was held in Dhaka on February 15-16, 2010. And since then, different hassles have held back the development forum-formerly known as Paris Consortium.

The BDF has been held up for such long years due to lukewarm relations of the government with some donors, especially with the World Bank over the alleged Padma

Bridge scam, as well as the political turmoil on the issue of the national elections in January 2014.

"The donor-government gathering is expected to be held in November this year. The development partners have agreed to participate in the proposed meeting," said a senior Economic Relations Division (ERD) official.

He said the government would apprise the donors of Bangladesh's seventh five-year development plan which would require billions of dollars for supporting Bangladesh in graduating into a middle-income country.  

"Since there has been a big gap from the last BDF, we are trying to organise it as a biggest donor-government assembly to seek support of the bilateral and multilateral development partners working in Bangladesh for facilitating the country's infrastructure development and poverty alleviation," the ERD official added.

The government has already taken consent of the Local Consultative Group (LCG), a forum of the ERD and the donors working in Bangladesh, on the arrangement of the event in November.

ERD secretary Mohammad Mejbahuddin and USAID Mission Director in Bangladesh Ms Janina Jaruzelski are the co-chairs of the LCG.

The ERD official said: "Since the General Economics Division (GED) has drafted the seventh five-year plan, they will be able to share the document with the development partners in the next BDF meeting. The five-year plan is the key document wherein development plans and required investment are elaborated."

The GED early last year started to frame the country's five-year development-policy document which would guide Bangladesh in rising to the status of middle-income country by 2021.

"We are trying to ensure participation of some senior ministers from some donor countries. Besides, senior executives of the headquarters from some bilateral and multilateral development partners will take part in the Dhaka BDF meeting," another ERD official told the FE.

Earlier, the high-profile meeting on development funding was scheduled to be held in Dhaka on November 2-3 in 2011 but it was deferred following a request by the World Bank (WB) Country Director and then co-chair of the LCG Ms. Ellen Goldstein.

The ERD later decided to hold the pending BDF in the first quarter of 2012. This meeting was also not held due to the Padma Bridge standoff with the World Bank, officials said.

Usually, the Bangladesh government seeks necessary support and cooperation from the donors at the BDF meet.

Bangladesh needs financial support from the donors to achieve double-digit growth and cut the poverty rate to 10 per cent by 2021.

The ERD official said as BDF is a very important meeting for attracting donors' support for Bangladesh's development plan, the government wanted to ensure participation of the top executives from the headquarters of the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and other major donors.

"We need more assistance from the donors for developing the country's ailing infrastructures. BDF is the best platform to apprise the donors about the need of the country," the official said.

Source:  The Financial Express, 30 August 2015

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