IMF to discuss $4.5bn loan in Dhaka next week
In the backdrop of higher inflation, dropping export receipts and consistent import bills, Bangladesh is set to resume an official dialog with the International Monetary Fund in late October for a budget-supporting loan worth $4.5 billion.
To attend the crucial meeting, a much-needed event for the government, a team from the IMF coming to Dhaka next week, an official said.
They will discuss the conditionality of credit entitlement at different levels of the government. The prime discussion will be with the Ministry of Finance, Bangladesh Bank and National Board of Revenue, official sources said.
The information over the IMF delegation’s visit surfaced amid the ongoing annual meetings of the World Bank and the IMF in Washington.
Bangladesh’s foreign exchange reserves stood at $38.94 billion at the end of August 2022, down nearly 19pc year-on-year, Bangladesh Bank reports showed.
At the end of August 2021, the country’s foreign exchange reserves reached their peak at over $48 billion due to fewer imports by businesses amid the pandemic coronavirus lockdown.
Sources in the finance division said the IMF will assess the risks and problems of the entire economy of the country before approving the loan. It will also take stock of the stings put forward by it to the government of Bangladesh for execution.
So far, the government has implemented four prime conditions for qualifying for credit. It has cut subsidies in various sectors, increased the prices of fertilizers and ballooned fuel prices to record levels.
The exchange rate of the local currency Taka against the US dollar is increasing as a result of the crisis of the US dollar in the local market.
The government is also keeping a foreign exchange gross account as well as a net account and reporting it regularly to the IMF. By implementing these four key conditions, the government has gone a long way in obtaining the IMF loan. If both sides reach an agreement in the ensuing talk, it may take until December for the first tranche of the loan to enter into the exchequer.
According to finance division sources, the annual general meeting of the World Bank (WB) and the IMF started in the US on October 10. It continued until October 16. A delegation led by the Governor of the Central Bank of Bangladesh, along with the Finance Secretary, is attending the meeting. Furthermore, the delegation is meeting with various organizations from across the countries, on the sidelines.
Sri Lanka’s central bank governor held a meeting with Standard Chartered Bank’s Asia Pacific head and JP Morgan on Thursday. Meanwhile, an informal meeting between the Bangladesh delegation with the IMF has also been held in Washington.
Since Bangladesh has asked for the loan on an urgent basis and some conditions of the loan have already been implemented, a decision to grant the loan may be made soon, according to a source.
Bangladesh’s dollar crisis has become evident due to the increase in import expenditure at an excessive greenback purchasing rate and fall in export receipts and incoming remittances.
The IMF loan was formally requested by the government in a letter to the IMF in July. On July 14, an IMF mission came to Bangladesh and held meetings at various levels of the government. The team left Dhaka on 22nd July.
UN says: Extraordinary economic dev among BD’s many achievements
Greeting Bangladesh, the United Nations on Sunday (26th March) said Bangladesh has many accomplishments — extraordinary economic development, a significant cultural legacy, leadership on a global stage for climate-vulnerable countries, and immense generosity in welcoming and hosting nearly a million Rohingya refugees.
“The hospitality of Bangladesh’s diverse people is just one of the many facets of a country that my colleagues and I have been fortunate to experience every day,” UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Gwyn Lewis said in a press statement on the occasion of the country’s Independence Day.
“On behalf of the United Nations, I warmly congratulate the people of Bangladesh on the 52nd anniversary of independence,” she said.
Over the last 52 years, Bangladesh has made impressive and remarkable achievements: evolving from a war-torn country to one of the leading economic powers in South Asia, standing at the threshold of upcoming graduation from least developed countries (LDCs) in 2026, and planned achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDG) by 2030, she said.
The UN fully supports Bangladesh’s commitments to economic and sustainable development and appreciates the strong and long-lasting relationship with Bangladesh and our shared values.
The constitution of the country, which was adopted even before Bangladesh had formally become a member of the United Nations in 1974, guarantees fundamental human rights. The right to freedom of speech, religion, movement and assembly, the right to speak one’s own language and other rights that are in line with the UN charter, said the UNRC.
“Wishing you all a Happy Independence Day!” — she concluded.
PM Sheikh Hasina, President pays homage to Liberation War Martyrs
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina & President M Abdul Hamid paid rich tributes to the Liberation War martyrs by placing wreaths at the National Memorial at Savar on the outskirts of Dhaka early on Sunday (26th March), marking the 53rd Independence and National Day.
The president first placed the wreath at the altar of the memorial followed by the prime minister.
After laying the wreaths, the president and the premier stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect for the memories of the martyrs of the Great War of Liberation in 1971.
A smartly turned-out contingent drawn from Bangladesh Army, Navy and Air Force presented a state salute at that time while the bugles played the last post.
The head of the state and the head of the government also signed the visitors’ book kept on the memorial premises.
Flanked by her party leaders, Sheikh Hasina, also the president of the Awami League, paid glowing tributes to the Liberation War martyrs by placing another wreath at the National Memorial on behalf of her party.
Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique, senior AL leaders, leaders of AL-led 14-party alliance and high civil and military officials, among others, were present there.
Later, the Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) speaker and the chief justice also paid homage to the martyrs by placing wreaths at the National Mausoleum.
Every year, March 26 brings the most tragic reminiscence of history’s blackest episode that heralded a nine-month bloody ordeal from the night of March 25, 1971, achieving the long-cherished independence on December 16 the same year at the cost of a sea of blood.
In the wake of the military crackdown by the then Pakistan occupation force, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman proclaimed the independence of Bangladesh through the then EPR (East Pakistan Rifles) wireless at 00-30 hours on March 26 (the night following March 25) in 1971 at his historic Road-32 residence at Dhanmondi in Dhaka.
The day is very auspicious and precious to the Bengali nation.
Bangladesh Observed Independence Day Today
The Independence Day of Bangladesh is celebrated on 26 March as a national holiday in Bangladesh. It commemorates the country’s declaration of independence from Pakistan in the early hours of 25 March 1971.
In the 1970 Pakistani general election, under the military government of President Yahya Khan, the largest political party Awami League, led by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, won a clear majority in East Pakistan national seats as well as provincial assembly. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto conspired with Yahya Khan and changed their position, refusing to hand over power to Sheikh Mujib.
Negotiations began between the two sides, however, the ruling West Pakistani leadership did not trust Sheikh Mujib, due to instances such as the Agartala conspiracy case. When it became evident that the promises made by the West Pakistan government were not going to be kept, many East Pakistani Bangla-speaking Muslims and Hindus began a spirited struggle for independence.
On 7 March 1971, Sheikh Mujib gave his famous speech at the Ramna Racecourse, in which he called for a non-cooperation movement.
Authorities, mostly West Pakistani personnel, rounded up Bengali armed forces officers, NCOs, and enlisted personnel. Forced disappearances went rampant. On the evening of 25 March, in an interview with David Frost, Sheikh Mujib still called out openly for negotiation and a united Pakistan. That night the Pakistan Army began Operation Searchlight, conclusively signalling West Pakistan was not ready for a transfer of political power to the Awami League led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The Independence of Bangladesh was declared on 26 March 1971 at the first watch by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman . Another declaration was read out on 27 March 1971, by Major Ziaur Rahman, on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Major Zia (who was also a BDF Sector Commander of Sector 1 and later of Sector 11) raised an independent Z Force brigade, Chittagong and the guerilla struggle officially began.
The people of Bangladesh then took part in a nine-month guerilla war against the Pakistan Army and their collaborators, including paramilitary Razakars. This resulted in the death of about 3 million Bangladeshi, as per Awami league and Indian sources, in the Bangladesh War of Independence and Bangladesh Genocide. The BDF, later with military support from India, defeated the Pakistan Army on 16 December 1971, leading to the end of the war and the Surrender of Pakistan.
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