WB’s Growing Engagement in Bangladesh

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In accordance with the resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly in November of 2021, Bangladesh is scheduled to transition out of the category of least developed countries (LDCs) on November 24th, 2026. This development comes approximately five decades after Bangladesh initially joined this group of developing nations in December of 1975. The World Trade Organization’s Twelfth Ministerial Conference (WTO-MC12), which took place from June 12-17, 2022 in Geneva, served as a crucial indicator of the international community’s willingness to provide assistance to the graduating Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in their pursuit of sustainable graduation. The outcome of the MC12 emphasizes that Bangladesh, as a graduating LDC, must prioritize its own tasks to ensure sustainable graduation with momentum. Undoubtedly, Bangladesh’s successful attainment of all three graduation criteria, namely GNI Per Capita, Human Asset Index, and Economic Vulnerability Index, is indicative of the country’s noteworthy performance in relation to several crucial socio-economic development indicators. The achievement of sustainable graduation from the category of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) will depend on Bangladesh’s aptitude to capitalize on the emerging global prospects amidst the rapidly shifting and developing geo-economics landscape, as well as its competence to tackle the predicaments arising from the graduation.

Therefore, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, has requested increased collaboration with the World Bank to facilitate the country’s seamless progression towards becoming a developing nation, its subsequent graduation to an upper-middle income country, and the successful execution of its Delta Plan-2100. She urged to the World Bank to provide assistance for our initiatives aimed at enhancing human capital and institutional capacity development, with the objective of facilitating a seamless transition. According to her statement, it is imperative to maintain and sustain the crucial International Development Association (IDA) window. Markedly, on April 28, the prime minister travelled to Washington, DC, to attend a World Bank event commemorating Bangladesh’s 50-year collaboration with the organization. And according to the previous statements, this visit will facilitate the graduation of Bangladesh for her robust presence in the events.

This time, the Prime Minister delivered a speech during the plenary session of an event entitled “Reflection on 50 years of World Bank-Bangladesh Partnership” held at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington DC on May 1, 2023.The individual’s attendance at the World Bank headquarters signifies their continued reliance on the institution. According to the PM, our ability to overcome emerging challenges in a just and sustainable manner will be crucial for our success in the upcoming two decades. David Malpass, the President of the World Bank Group, has expressed the organization’s commitment to providing assistance to Bangladesh as it confronts a difficult global climate in its pursuit of achieving upper-middle-income status by the year 2031.

David Malpass expressed on Twitter that Bangladesh’s innovative strategies for poverty reduction, women’s empowerment, and climate change adaptation could serve as a valuable model for numerous countries. Additionally, she convened with the executive board of the World Bank and presented an opening address which showed the development trajectory of Bangladesh. Subsequent to her discourse, several members of the WB board inquired about various matters pertaining to the developmental trajectory of Bangladesh, as reported by a World Bank representative who was in attendance at the gathering.

A financial agreement worth $2.25 billion was executed between Bangladesh and the World Bank for the execution of five projects. Besides, during the plenary session, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh presented five distinct recommendations to the World Bank for their contemplation. She said Bangladesh will continue to invest in infrastructure and logistics for realising its vision to become a high-income economy by 2041 and added that she expected the World Bank support. Moreover, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh has stated that the country has harmonized its national objective of attaining upper middle-income status by 2031 with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. She also expressed prevailing anticipation for augmented, concessional, and inventive funding from the World Bank and other development collaborators to facilitate the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Regarding the Rohingya crisis, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh has stated that the country has collaborated with the United Nations and other global organizations to facilitate the safe, dignified, and voluntary repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar. However, it is noteworthy that as of the present, no individuals have returned to Myanmar. Hence, the current scenario is becoming progressively challenging for Bangladesh as the PM urged, with escalating security ramifications for the surrounding area. The PM showed gratitude to the World Bank for their participation in the humanitarian initiative and the provision of a grant of $590 million for the Rohingya and affected communities. As per the PM Bangladesh has provided refuge to the Rohingya population who have been displaced from Myanmar due to forceful circumstances for a duration of four decades, resulting in a total of 1.2 million individuals seeking asylum.

In a nutshell, Bangladesh’s impending departure from the group of least developed countries (LDCs) represents a critical turning point in the nation’s socioeconomic progress. The World Bank’s assertive engagement and Bangladesh’s successful completion of the graduation requirements show Bangladesh’s outstanding development and commitment to promoting sustainable growth. During her visit to the World Bank’s headquarters, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presented financial agreements and recommendations for consideration, further strengthening the relationship between Bangladesh and the organization. Bangladesh’s leadership and vision in addressing global concerns while encouraging growth are demonstrated by the Prime Minister’s calls for equitable funding distribution, a focus on combating climate change, and a commitment to dealing with the Rohingya situation. Hence, the upcoming graduation process will be facilitated by the PM’s visit to the World Bank.

– Syed Raiyan Amir is a Research Associate at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA).

Published in The Daily Observer [Link]