World Bank pledges $ 745 million in regional connectivity loans


The World Bank (WB) has pledged a loan of 745 million

The commitment was officially announced through a letter from the WB to the Department of Economic Relations (ERD) of the Treasury Department, officials confirmed.

“The World Bank loan procedures will be completed within the current fiscal year,” said Abdul Baki, ERD’s additional secretary (wing chief).

“There is a chance the loan will be approved during the World Bank board meeting in May,” he added.

With a view to implementing the BBIN program, the Government of Bangladesh has already initiated the necessary political reforms and infrastructure modernization, including the development of regional roads, control stations, rural ports and naval ports.

At the beginning of last year (from November 14th to December 13th) a WB delegation visited Bangladesh and inspected various land ports and met with several agencies during the trip.

The BBIN agreement was signed on June 15, 2015 in Bhutan’s capital Thimphu to facilitate cross-border passenger and freight traffic. Later, on November 27, Bangladesh, India and Nepal ratified the pact during a tripartite meeting in Delhi while Bhutan backed down.

Four state authorities – Bangladesh Land Port Authority (BLPA), Roads and Highways Department, Ministry of Commerce and Bangladesh National Board of Revenue (NBR) will implement the program, which is divided into four components.

According to ERD sources, $ 250 million of the proposed loan amount will be given to BLPA to develop infrastructure and improve capacity in the country’s three largest land ports – Benapole, Bhomra and Burimari.

According to the project description, the infrastructure expansion of the ports will be based on digitization, which will be reinforced by more efficient and automated border processes and cargo handling.

An additional $ 170 million will be made available for the modernization of the Dhaka and Chattogram customs houses and the development of revenue stations, which will be spent through the NBR.

Chattogram’s customs office, which handles 90% of the country’s export-import declarations, is being upgraded in line with global standards and is being built to be environmentally and climate-friendly, officials said.

Of the remaining pledged amount, US $ 300 million will be used for policy development and technical support for the Sylhet-Charkhai-Sheola-Sutarkandi regional connectivity project under the supervision of the Highway Department.

The highway connects the Sheila land port in Sutrakandi with the Sylhet-Dhaka Highway, which is part of the Asian Highway. A section of this road is also part of another strategic corridor, the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Corridor, which extends from Calcutta.

Funding for this stretch of road would complement WB’s investments in the Benapole, Bhomra and Sheola land ports, the Asian Development Bank’s investments in the Dhaka-Sylhet Strait and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s investments in the Sylhet-Tamabil Strait.

The road infrastructure is supported by technical assistance for Bangladesh in the preparation and subsequent implementation of the BBIN-Kfz-Pact.

Another $ 16 million of the WB fund will be spent on implementing the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which will go through the Department of Commerce.

Implementation of the TFA in Bangladesh will be supported by strengthening the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC), developing a National Trade Facilitation Action Plan and developing a decision support system for policy analysis, trade statistics and trade negotiations.

It was also agreed that the project would expand the promotion of skills development for women traders.

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