Published:  01:05 AM, 09 January 2019

Deal for $250m World Bank assistance today

The World Bank (WB) will provide $250 million for development policy operation to help the government of Bangladesh strengthen its capacity to create more, better-paid and quality jobs in a rapidly changing environment. "The financing agreement in this regard will be signed today (Wednesday) between the government and the World Bank at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel at 7:30 pm," said an official at the Economic Relations Division (ERD).

The official told BSS that ERD Secretary Monowar Ahmed and World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal Qimiao Fan will sign the agreement on behalf of their respective sides. Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal will be present on the occasion as the chief guest.

According to the ERD and the World Bank, the Programmatic Jobs Development Policy Credit aims at supporting Bangladesh develop a stronger policy and institutional framework to address barriers to creating more and better jobs for citizens, including women, youth and the vulnerable population.

Despite Bangladesh's robust economic growth, the pace of job creation has slowed a bit in recent years. The growth rate for jobs slowed down to 1.8 percent in 2010-16 from 2.7 percent in 2003-10. Women workers in lagging regions, and youth in particular face challenges in accessing quality jobs.

Climate change has exacerbated this job challenges, underscoring the need to significantly increase employment in the non-agriculture sector. To promote large-scale employment in diverse manufacturing sectors, the reform program will help improve the investment environment, lift barriers to doing business, and modernize customs and trade facilitation. The program will also help implement amendments to the labor law and reform the pensions program to ensure that works are protected.

"This program seeks to increase investments in labor-intensive activities, improve the quality of jobs, strengthen resilience to shocks, and ensure that women, youths, and migrants can get access to job opportunities," said Thomas Farole, World Bank Lead Economist and Task Team Leader. "In addition, it will help develop market-oriented skills for women, youth, and overseas migrants, preparing them for better employment opportunities," added the World Bank official.

The program also aims to increase female labor force participation by increasing availability of childcare for working mothers and targeting women and youth with training and employment services. The Jobs Development Policy Credit is the first in a series of three operations that complements the World Bank portfolio in the country.

The credit from the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) has a 30-year term, including a five-year grace period. The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. The World Bank has since committed more than $30 billion in grants and interest-free credits to the country. Bangladesh currently has the largest IDA program totaling $12.2 billion.

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