Bangladesh seeks $500m from WB for COVID-19 vaccines


Dhaka, Oct 24: Bangladesh has sought $500 million as support from the World Bank for procurement, preservation, transportation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for the people of the country.

This amount was sought as an additional allocation under the IDA-19 of the World Bank for the current fiscal year (FY21) for ensuing COVID-19 vaccines when invented for all the countrymen as per the desire of the Prime Minister.

This was discussed at a meeting between Bangladesh and the World Bank held virtually on October 22 evening as part of the Annual Meetings 2020 of the World Bank and the IMF.

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal led the Bangladesh delegation while World Bank Vice President for the South Asia region Hartwig Schafer led the World Bank delegation. Finance Division Senior Secretary Abdur Rouf Talukder and Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary Fatima Yasmin and World Bank Country Director Mercy Tembon also remained connected in the meeting, said a Finance Ministry press release today.

It said that the Bangladesh side requested the World Bank to release $250 million on urgent basis out of the $500 million under the COVID-19 Recovery and Response Project to overcome the various COVID-19 related shocks in the country.

Besides, the release said, the Bangladesh side also requested the lending agency for taking necessary steps for speedily disbursing the 3rd installment of $250 million budget support in the current fiscal year under the World Bank supported Programmatic Jobs Development Policy Credit (DPC) in order to maintain the country’s affected labour market, financial and social sectors owning to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Finance Division Senior Secretary Abdur Rouf Talukder informed that the government has fulfilled most of the conditions of the Jobs DPC project while the rest of the conditions will be fulfilled shortly.

At the very outset of the meeting, the finance minister expressed his gratitude to the World Bank for their continued support to the overall development of Bangladesh.

In order to procure COVID-19 vaccines, Kamal sought support of the World Bank Vice President Hartwig Schafer for allocating loan assistance for Bangladesh speedily considering the number of population as Bangladesh is the 3rd largest IDA receiving country considering the proportion of population.

Lauding various speedy and time befitting efforts from the World Bank to face the COVID-19 pandemic, the finance minister mentioned that the World Bank has provided $100 million assistance to Bangladesh.

ERD Secretary Fatima Yasmin said Bangladesh has showed success in formulating and implementing projects worth $5 billion from IDA and $2 billion from SUF under the IDA-18 which is the highest among the IDA countries.

She urged the World Bank to come up with more allocations under the IDA-19.