Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked the authorities concerned to emphasize more on availing funding from the foreign sources alongside the local funding to ensure project financing. She also noted that if the trend on timely implementation of foreign-aided projects increases, then disbursement of foreign loans would increase which would also put an impact on the foreign currency reserves. The PM gave the directive while chairing a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) held on Tuesday (Jun 20) at the NEC Conference Room in the city's Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister MA Mannan said that the premier asked the concerned authorities, including the Economic Relations Division, National Board of Revenue (NBR) and the Finance Division to ensure that the government uses more foreign funding and foreign loans to finance development projects which will also enhance the foreign currency reserve. He also said that development partners like the World Bank, ADB and JICA are ready to extend more supports, including budget support to Bangladesh, but the government would take those as per its necessity and capacity.
State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam said that more than $50 billion of foreign assistance is in the pipeline.
The planning minister said that a total of 16 projects were approved in the ECNEC meeting involving an overall estimated cost of Tk 24,362.14 crore. "Of the total project cost, Tk 12,873.11 crore will come from the government of Bangladesh exchequer, Tk 16.15 crore from the organization's own fund and the rest Tk 11,472.88 crore from project assistance.
Of the approved 16 projects, eight are new while eight are revised projects.
Revealing some other directives given by the PM in the meeting, the planning minister said that the premier asked all concerned to pay attention to the ways to contain inflation as the common people are suffering from it.
Stressing more on conducting irrigation through solar-powered pumps, the PM asked the authorities concerned to ensure cent percent agriculture irrigation through solar-powered pumps gradually.
She also directed the Ministry of Agriculture to increase the height of the solar panels, during their installation, so that cultivation of vegetables including onion, ginger, turmeric and fish farming could take place on the land beneath the solar panels.
Mannan said that the government would give necessary supports, including tax related facilities, if the private sector comes forward to set up solar panels.
Mentioning that people often die from lightning strikes in the Haor region during the rainy season, Mannan said the chairperson of the ECNEC also directed the Ministries of Agriculture and the Disaster Management and Relief to build some sheds in the Haor areas.
Referring to the project on infrastructural development of BCS Tax Academy, he said that the PM directed the executing agency to use less land during the implementation of the project.
Answering to a question, Mannan said that the PM is well-aware of the current inflationary situation. "An integrated effort should be in the market. The government in its highest level is very much aware of it," said Mannan.
State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam said that the government could use foreign funding at its best capacity as the interest rate of it is less than the borrowings from the local market.
He noted that the foreign debt to GDP ratio of Bangladesh is still less than other countries of the world for which the country could take more foreign loans.
At the very outset of the meeting, the ECNEC congratulated the PM for her recent successful tour of Switzerland.
The ECNEC apprised the PM about the findings of the latest Sample Vital Statistics which had showed that the life expectancy at birth, literacy rate, access to safe water and sanitation has increased.
The planning minister said that the Ashrayan Project has helped the homeless people of the country a lot for which the poverty rate has been coming down in the country.
He asserted that the Planning Commission would continue to give priority to those projects which would be beneficial for the poor section of people.
Touching upon the country's macroeconomic issues, Mannan said that the inward remittance has increased along with the imports and exports while the foreign currency reserve is in a stable state.
With the stable price trend of staple food rice, he hoped that the general point to point inflation would come down in the coming days.
Replying to another question, Planning Division Secretary Satyajit Karmakar said that Bangladesh has never become a defaulter in repayment of principal amount and interest of foreign loans.
The day's ECNEC meeting approved Tk 6,345.08-crore Improving Urban Governance and Infrastructure (IUGIP) project which would be implemented by the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) by June 2028.
The project will be implemented at some 88 municipalities under some 87 upazilas in 48 districts of eight divisions.
The main project operations include ensuring some 59 poura facilities, constructing 437.08 kilometer drainage system, 1,037.81 kilometer road rehabilitation, development of some 73 disadvantageous areas, land acquisition and financial charge.
The other projects approved in the meeting are: Agriculture irrigation through solar-powered pumps, 2nd revised with an additional cost of Tk 200.77 crore, Physical infrastructures development of BCS Tax Academy, 1st phase with Tk 116.32 crore, Construction of Bangladesh Chancery Complex at Berlin in Germany, 1st revised with an additional cost of Tk 60.25 crore, Construction of Sunamganj-Madanpur-Dirai-Shalla-Jolshukha-Ajmiriganj-Habiganj highway's Shalla-Jolshukha road portion, 1st revised with an additional cost of Tk 229.23 crore, Pedestrian underpass project at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport with Tk 1,183.83 crore, Third City Operations and infrastructural development, sector, 3rd revised project with an additional cost of Tk 84.52 crore, Replacement and modernization of signaling and interlocking system at Ishwardi-Parbatipur section stations of western region of Bangladesh Railway with Tk 648.08 crore.
The other projects approved in the meeting are: Economic Acceleration and Resilience for NEET (EARN) project with Tk 3,348 crore, Khurushkul Special Ashrayan Project, 1st revised with an additional cost of Tk 133.42 crore, Rural connectivity improvement project, RCIP, 1st revised with an additional cost of Tk 2,825.65 crore, Important upazila and Union roads widening and strengthening at Chattogram upazila with Tk 3,110 crore, Constructing 1,490 meter long PC girder bridge over River Teesta on the connecting road between Panchpir Bazar-Chilmari upazila Sadar at Sundarganj upazila under Gaibandha district, 3rd revised with an additional cost of Tk 39.30 crore, Important upazila and Union roads widening and strengthening at Rajshahi upazila with Tk 2,400 crore, Important rural infrastructures development at Noakhali, Feni and Laxmipur districts with Tk 2,650 crore and Herringbone bond for making rural earth roads sustainable, 2nd phase, 1st revised with an additional cost of Tk 987.69 crore.