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PM seeks WB help for infrastructure development
Political wrangling shouldn't hinder progress: Dhanendray

          Prime Minister Khaleda Zia sought Monday cooperation from the multilateral funding agency -- the World Bank (WB) -- for development of power, water and gas sectors, construction of roads and highways and introduction of underground subway train in the capital city, report agencies.
The country, she said, needs rapid expansion of these services to meet a burgeoning demand. Huge amounts of investments will be needed to meet this demand, she added.
She expressed the hope that the WB would come forward with assistance for the proposed areas.
Prime Minister Khaleda made the request for the WB funding support when its visiting Executive Director Dhanendray Kumar called on her at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
During the meeting, Prime Minister Khaleda Zia also urged the World Bank to initiate a key role for construction of the Padma Bridge.
"We have also talked with Japan on this issue," she told the visiting World Bank Executive Director Dhanendra Kumar and sought the bank's financial assistance for construction of the bridge over the Padma river.
The issue of the Gange's Barrage was also discussed during the meeting to increase the flow of water into Bangladesh.
The WB executive director appreciated Bangladesh's progress in socio-economic fields, resulting in a sound macro-economy, reduction of maternal and child mortality rates, women empowerment, female education and government-non-governmental organisation (NGO) cooperation.
"Bangladesh is closer to the take-off stage on the economic front," Dhanendray observed.
Terming Bangladesh a singularly fortunate country with its micro-credit operations, the WB executive director remarked that socio-economic condition of 95 per cent of its rural women improved through the micro-finance lending programmes.
He appreciated the key initiatives of the Prime Minister behind those successes.
Appreciating the WB's continuous support to Bangladesh's development projects, Prime Minister Khaleda sought cooperation of the bank in implementation of the schemes incorporated in the poverty reduction strategy (PRS). The WB executive director lauded the PRS of Bangladesh.
Foreign direct investment (FDI), expansion of infrastructure to attract FDI and the Gange's barrage were also discussed in the meeting.
World Bank Country Director Christine Wallich and Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Dr Kamal Siddiqui were present on the occasion.
Meanwhile, visiting World Bank (WB) executive director Dhanendra Kumar said Monday peace, stability, anti-corruption initiatives and better governance are required for smooth development of a country.
He lauded Bangladesh for achieving successes in social and economic sectors, despite its facing poverty and infrastructural bottlenecks.
Dhanendra was talking to reporters after a meeting with Finance and Planning Minister M Saifur Rahman at the Planning Ministry.
The WB executive director also commended the performance of Bangladesh in maintaining macro-economic stability and achieving improvements in many human development indicators such as longevity of life, maternal and child mortality rate, girls' education, primary school enrolment and access to drinking water.
Dharmendra Kumar termed the developments that had taken place in various sectors of Bangladesh in recent years as a success story.
"I am extremely impressed by the country's achievements in different sectors, particularly in human resources development, ensuring social security and maintaining macro-economic stability," he told journalists after the meeting with Finance and Planning Minister M Saifur Rahman.
World Bank Country Director to Bangladesh Christine I Wallich was also present.
During the meeting, they discussed the implementation of Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) and the country's overall economic situation. The WB's support to Bangladesh in various development projects also came up for discussion.
Responding to a question, he said the WB is not concerned with the politics. "We are working for economic development. This is my first visit to Bangladesh and I am quite impressed with the economic development of the country," he added.
He said Bangladesh, however, could do far well than what it is doing now.
"Bangladesh is a success story despite poverty and various problems that it faces," Dhanendra, who represents Bangladesh in the WB Board, told the reporters.
"I am extremely delighted to see the development activities in the country," he added.
Dhanendra said Bangladesh has formulated a well-targeted PRS. This has been appreciated by all quarters, including the WB, he added.
"Efforts should continue to implement the PRS, irrespective of who are in power," he replied to a query.
Dhanendra Kumar noted that possible political wrangling before the next general election would not affect the on-going economic activities and development process of Bangladesh.
"These efforts should be continued, irrespective of political problems," he told reporters in reply to a question after his meeting with the finance and planning minister.
Replying to another question, Dhanendra, who was making his first visit to Bangladesh being the country's representative to the World Bank Board of Directors, assured his fullest support for protecting interests of the country as long as he would be on the WB Board.
Asked about the election-reform issue, the WB official said he discussed only economic issues with the minister and was going back with confidence that Bangladesh would continue with its development efforts.


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