Future of BDF uncertain as govt-WB row festers

FHM Humayan Kabir
The future of Bangladesh Development Forum (BDF), an assembly of donors that was to be held to support the country’s development programmes, has now become uncertain due to the impasse over the Padma Bridge project graft allegation between the World Bank (WB) and the government, officials said Monday.

Finance Ministry officials said they could not arrange the gathering, once postponed in November last, due to the ongoing uncomfortable relations between the government and the bank.

The government suspended the BDF meet, scheduled to be held on November 2-3 last year, following a request by the World Bank (WB) Country Director and co-chair of the local consultative group (LCG) Ms. Ellen Goldstein.

The meeting had been deferred till February 2012, the Finance Ministry officials said.

“Actually we are waiting for the resolution of the Padma Bridge row. If the World Bank comes to a solution after completing its investigations into the alleged graft in the Padma Bridge project, we will organise the meeting,” a senior Economic Relations Division (ERD) official said.

He said, “We are ready to organise the meeting following the resolution of the row between the government and the WB.”

The ERD official said there was no possibility of holding the BDF in the current month (February) as both the government and the WB are silent on holding the meeting.

“The government is not feeling comfortable in sitting with the WB for such a major meeting like the BDF. Before the gathering, Bangladesh wants to know about the conclusion regarding the WB’s allegations on the Padma Bridge project,” a top Finance Ministry official told the FE requesting anonymity.

He said as BDF is a very important meeting for attracting donors’ support for Bangladesh’s development plan, the government wanted to ensure participation of the top executives from the headquarters of the WB, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other major donors.

“We need more aid from the donors for developing the country’s ailing infrastructure. The BDF is the best platform to apprise the donors about the need of the country,” the official said.

The last BDF meet was held in February 2010 in Dhaka.

In the last BDF gathering, the major agenda was Bangladesh’s sixth five-year development plan, public-private partnership, social safety programmes, power and energy, food security, employment and climate change.

To achieve double-digit growth and cut the poverty rate to 10 per cent by 2021, the government would seek necessary funds from the donors at the next BDF assembly, the Finance Ministry official said.


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