WB gives $250m for faster recovery from pandemic
The World Bank approved $250 million on March 26 to help Bangladesh effectively respond to the Covid-19 pandemic for a faster recovery and stronger resilience to future crises.The Third Programmatic Jobs Development Policy Credit — the last in a series of three credits — is supporting the Bangladesh government to develop stronger policies and institutional framework to modernise the trade and investment regime; improve social protection for workers; and help youth, women and vulnerable population access quality jobs.This financing will support the government in its efforts to protect the earnings of workers affected by the Covid-19 crisis and enable firms to continue paying their workers’ wages.Overall, it will support government programmes to protect over 5 million jobs as part of the government’s near-term response to the crisis, while laying the groundwork to accelerate recovery and build resilience.With this programme, the total World Bank’s financing to the Programmatic Jobs Development Policy Credit series stands at $750 million.Bangladesh currently has the largest ongoing IDA programme totaling over $14 billion. The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh and has committed more than $35 billion in grants, interest-free and concessional credits to the country since its independence.
SME Foundation to hand Tk 100cr to small businesses
The SME Foundation will disburse Tk 100 crore as a government incentive to small and medium entrepreneurs in the current fiscal year to help them recover from the damages caused by the pandemic. It will also hand over Tk 200 crore more in the next financial year, said Masudur Rahman, chairperson of the foundation.Some 10,199 entrepreneurs have benefited from SME Foundation’s multifaceted activities related to product marketing, skills development and market expansion of products produced at home and abroad in 2019-20 financial year. The participating SME entrepreneurs of the eighth National SME Products Fair held in 2020 sold products worth Tk 4.95 crore and received orders for Tk 6.38 crore, said Sattar. The audited financial statement of the foundation, auditor’s report and its budget for 2021-22 financial year were approved at the meeting.
1,320MW Payra plant awaits inauguration
A coal-fired Payra power plant of 1,320 megawatts (MW) in Dhankhali area under Kalaparaupazila of Patuakhali district is awaiting inauguration.Some 163 kilometres (km) of transmission lines connect the plant to a Gopalganj grid. Another 85km of lines are being set up to take it up to Amin Bazar in Dhaka. The power plant’s first unit has been supplying 660MW of electricity to the national grid since May 15 last year after being constructed in four years. The second unit started production on December 8, 2020.The plant is currently generating 1,000MW on an experimental basis, burning through some 13,000 tonnes of coal a day, generating 180 tonnes of fly and bottom ash as byproducts.The plant has a 76.30 acre dumping zone where 25 years’ byproduct can be kept. This company built the plant on 982.77 acres of land at a cost of around Tk 20,000 crore or $2.46 billion. Of the amount, $1.96 billion has been loaned by The Export-Import Bank of China.
Export dev fund being raised to $5.5b
Bangladesh Bank has decided to increase the size of its export development fund (EDF) as it reaches out to businesses tackling slowdowns from a recent resurgence in daily Covid-19 cases, the highest since last July. The fund will come to stand at $5.5 billion upon the addition of $500 million. The fund last saw a raise in April 2020 from $3.50 billion soon after the coronavirus was first detected in the country.In addition, the central bank is allowing “Type-B” companies of export processing zones (EPZs) to avail foreign currency loans from the fund since last week. Firms with 100 per cent foreign ownership are considered “Type-A”. Joint venture companies with foreign and Bangladeshi ownerships are treated “Type-B” and those with 100 per cent Bangladeshi ownerships “Type-C”.Banks now receive the fund from the central bank at 0.75 per cent interest rate and will be allowed to charge borrowers a maximum 1.75 per cent. The previous rate was 2 per cent. The revolving fund was introduced in 1989 by way of taking support from World Bank. The central bank, however, injected money 2-3 years later. The whole fund now comes from the central bank’s foreign exchange reserves. The swelling of foreign exchange reserves to more than $43 billion at present also influenced the central bank’s recent decisions.