Finance Minister AMA Muhith says the World Bank has renewed its pledge to provide the financial support necessary for the needs of Rohingyas. The finance minister had closed-door talks with World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim on Saturday, the fourth day of the World Bank-IMF meetings on the Indonesian island of Bali. “The World Bank president discussed the Rohingyas with us,” said Muhith. “The World Bank president said that the World Bank will make arrangements to cover the cost to support this powerless group.” The World Bank is speaking to Sweden, Germany, Kuwait and the UAE for funds, said Muhith. Canada has provided some support, he said.
Nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar are currently living in Bangladesh. Though the two countries have signed an agreement for the return of the minority group to Myanmar, the process has yet to begin. The Bangladesh government has repeatedly stated that hosting the refugees is putting great strain on Bangladeshs finances.
“We estimate that we will need $2 billion to host the Rohingyas for the next two years,” said Muhith. “The World Bank will organise grants, not loans. The World Bank will provide the majority of the $2 billion in support, with $1 billion each year. Other donors and organisations must be found to provide the rest.
A $500 million agreement has been signed with the World Bank for the Rohingyas, the finance minister added. Another $200 million will be agreed to within the next few days.
A preliminary agreement has also been made to receive $100 million from the Asian Development Bank, with another $100 million agreement coming soon, he said.
More agreements will soon be signed with other donors and organisations on the matter, he said.
Asked whether Bangladeshs economic situation or efforts to eradicate poverty had been discussed, Muhith told bdnews24.com: “Yes, the World Bank president has said that our economic situation is good. That we are doing good work on poverty alleviation, something he saw with his own eyes during his visit.”
“Our governments relationship with the government is very good. Both sides have put the matter of the Padma Bridge funds behind us. Now the World Bank will give us more money than it had before.”
Muhith said he had thanked Kim for the World Banks contribution to the development of Bangladesh through loans over the years.
The World Bank had pledged to provide Bangladesh with loans amounting to $4.5 billion in three fiscal years, from 2017-18 to 2019-20, said Muhith.
“We have already spent that fund within two years and have requested the World Bank to provide an additional $4.5 billion for the remaining year. They have agreed to provide additional support,” said Muhith.
The World Bank may provide an additional $2 billion in loans for Bangladesh, Muhith had said following a meeting with Hartwig Schafer, the World Bank vice president for the South Asia region on Thursday.
Some of the funds may be diverted from unused funds for African countries, Muhith said.
Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir, Alternate Executive Director of the World Bank in Washington Muhammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, Finance Secretary Abdur Rouf Talukder and Economic Relations Division Secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam were also present at the meeting with the World Bank president.
Nearly 150,000 delegates from the World Bank and IMFs 189 member countries are attending the World Bank-IMF meeting in Indonesias Bali. The conference is scheduled to end on Oct 15.