Another $1.25b from ADB will be of great help

Another $1.25b from ADB will be of great help
Bangladesh has sought an additional $1.25 billion from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to ballast the country's purses in its fight against coronavirus and beyond. 

The Manila-based development lender has already focused on providing $602.39 million as budget support aswell as to meet up with the emergency expenditure in the health sector.  

"The immediate assistance from the ADB has been of great help for Bangladesh. But our needs are much higher under the current circumstances," Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said in a news release yesterday.

The news release was distributed after his mobile call with ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa.

Through the discussion, Kamal requested Asakawa to take into account the scale of Bangladesh's coronavirus-induced wreckage.

Kamal sought $1 billion in budget support for fiscal 2020-21 in addition to the $500 million to counter the fallout of coronavirus on Bangladesh's economy.

He also sought $100 million to supply incentives to up to the two 2.5 lakh frontline staff such as medical researchers, civil administration, law-enforcement agencies and emergency providers.

The finance minister urged the ADB to supply another $150 million, which would be used to create jobs for the migrant employees and locals who've lost jobs because for the pandemic aswell as to rehabilitate the micro, cottage, small and medium entrepreneurs. 

Kamal requested for waiver of commitment charges on the loans provided from the ADB's Ordinary Capital Resources (OCR) fund.

Regular market-based OCR loans are usually designed to developing countries that have attained a higher level of monetary development while concessional OCR loans are created to lower-income developing countries.

"We have requested the ADB to keep its continuous support and assist with help us ride out the crisis," Kamal said.

Both also discussed ADB-financed ongoing projects and the projects in the offing and Asakawa asked for measures for faster implementation of the projects.

At the moment, there are 63 ongoing projects with ADB financing around $8.7 billion. The lending company has committed another $9.94 billion for 81 projects that are in pipeline.

The ADB chief has taken into cognisance the help Bangladesh needs and would inform the country on time after assessing the proposals, the news release said. 

A development partner of Bangladesh since 1973, the ADB has extended financial assistance amounting to $25.14 billion up to now to the country.

The ADB was among the first multilateral organisations that categorically said just how much Bangladesh's economy would bear the brunt of the pandemic.

Bangladesh's gross domestic product may contract by as much as 1.1 % in the hypothetical worst-case scenario of a substantial outbreak of the coronavirus in the country, it said in an analysis in early March.

Which means the deadly pathogen could wipe $3.02 billion off the $300 billion-plus economy.  In that scenario, 894,930 jobs will be lost, according to the ADB.

The forecast came before Bangladesh reported the maiden cases of coronavirus infections on March 8. Since that time, the novel virus has infected 2,948 people and killed 101 in Bangladesh and brought the economy to its knees.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has announced several stimulus packages totalling Tk 95,619 crore, which is approximately 3.3 per cent of the GDP, to push away the fallout from the lethal pathogen which has compelled the federal government to press pause of all financial activities since March 26.

The countrywide shutdown is scheduled to be lifted on April 25, but given the exponential rise in confirmed cases of COVID-19, it really is expected to be extended further.
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