Published:  12:18 AM, 16 April 2019

Speed up credit utilization

We, through this column, have time and again expressed our gratification over the fact that Bangladesh's biggest neighbor, over the years, has emerged as a big development partner of our country.

Apart from the fact that both the nations  have been able to resolve a lot of long-pending issues of the past in recent years, the two neighbors' mutual co-operation on economic front has also marked an epoch-making era when both countries deeply appreciate each other's progress and want to be a part of each other's advancement. In line with this ever expanding mutual co-operation, India approved three Lines of Credit with a cumulative total of US$7.5 billion in last eight years.

However, we cannot but become shocked when we see that the progress of implementing various projects under the Indian credit has been nothing more than a sorry state of affairs for the last eight years. It is really disturbing to note that Bangladesh could use a little over half of the $862 million of the first LoC has been used despite various steps to expedite the utilisation of the funds.

It is learnt that India has so far disbursed $1.2 million of the $2 billion of the second LoC while not a single penny has been used from the $4.5 billion third line of credit far. This sluggishness in implementing projects that are intended for major infrastructural development and economic growth under the first two LoCs with India very naturally make people doubtful about the commitment of the authorities concerned to ensure proper utilization of the LoCs.

Concerned people hold both sides responsible for the delay. We have come to learn from media reports that the Bangladesh side is responsible for selecting projects and consultants, preparing the project designs, acquiring land and skilled manpower -- all of which is taking longer than it was expected. On the other hand, it is reported, every step of every project must be approved by the Indian authority, which is a lengthy bureaucratic process.

Since we anticipate reaching the next level of development very soon and that the Indian LoCs promise huge benefits in terms of infrastructural development and economic activity, we feel there is little time we can afford to lose. Therefore, we urge the government to address each and every bottleneck for the sake of attaining the optimum benefits from the credits we are taking from India or any other of our development partners.

We are happy to learn lately that both India and Bangladesh have taken the issue of slow implementation of projects into account and have agreed to take some fresh measures, including formation of a joint monitoring committee, to ensure quick implementation of the projects under India's LoC.

It is encouraging that officials of both countries have taken cognizance of the issues and taken a move to resolve these. To this end, a joint monitoring team comprising officials from both sides will sit on February 25, which will be the second such meeting in three months.Let us hope that joint efforts made by both sides will prove adequate in speeding up the utilization of Indian credit use in Bangladeshi development projects.

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