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Govt inks $350.44m deals with ADB for 3 projects

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Business Desk :
The government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday signed three separate agreements in grants and loans worth $350.44 million, including a $ 100 million grant assistance agreement to support forcibly displaced Rohingya people in Cox's Bazar.
Out of $350.44 million assistance signed in a single event, two are grant projects with $ 125.44 million. A $ 100 million grant will support the displaced people in Cox's Bazar camps; $25.44 million grant will enhance use of solar-powered pumps in irrigation; and $225 million loan will enhance quality and relevance of secondary education.
Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam and ADB Country Director Manmohan Parkash signed the agreements on behalf of their respective sides at the ERD in the city's Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.
The US$ 100 million grant will help develop basic infrastructure and services for the forcibly displaced Rohingya people in Cox's Bazar camps. The grant assistance forms part of an envisaged package totaling $200 million.
"The grant assistance project has been prepared, processed and approved at an extraordinary speed in two months after ADB received a request for grant assistance from the government of Bangladesh in May 2018," said Country Director Manmohan Parkash.
He said they are looking forward to working closely with the government, development partners, and other stakeholders for the success of these projects.
"I am glad to share that ADB has already approved around US$ 1.5 billion (US$ 1,495 million) so far this year. More projects worth over US$ 600 million will be placed for approvals, which may push the total approvals to over US$ 2 billion in 2018," he added.
The ADB Country Director said since January 2018, contract awards are close to US$ 1 billion (US$ 937 million), while disbursements are US$ 531 million, as of on Thursday. "This means we have achieved 140 percent and 38 percent higher in contract awards and disbursements as of now in 2018 over 2017."
The ADB's US$ 100 million grant project will support the displaced people sheltered in camps of Ukhia and Teknaf in Cox's Bazar focusing on water supply and sanitation, disaster risk management, energy, and roads.
The project will rehabilitate roads within the camps to connect essential
food distribution and storage centres, and provide emergency access. It will also resurface the road from Cox's Bazar to Teknaf and other critical sections.
To address water needs, the project will provide mobile water carriers, community bathing facilities, and build small piped water supply systems and waste management facilities, together with small water treatment plants.
Solar powered and mini grid-connected street lighting will be provided.
Electricity substations, distribution lines, and transformers will be augmented to better serve the area.
The US$ 225 million loan support will be used for overhauling secondary education and boosting education quality, access, and relevance.
The assistance is the third and final tranche of the US$ 500 million Secondary Education Sector Investment Program (SESIP) approved by ADB in 2013.
The SESIP, scheduled to be completed in 2023, is supporting the government's comprehensive secondary education development programme, backed by development partners in a harmonised manner. The government envisages an increase of about 3.5 million secondary school students by 2023, requiring an additional 145,000 teachers and 10,000 more schools.
The US$ 225 million assistance will develop a competency-based curriculum; improve teaching, especially in science, math, English, and Bangla; promote the use of ICT in teaching; strengthen classroom assessment; reform national examination; and pilot pre-vocational and vocational subjects in secondary schools and madrasahs.
Apart from financing in these two projects, ADB will provide US$ 25.44 million grant to spur off-grid solar-driven irrigation pumping in Bangladesh.
The grant will further support activities for promoting SPV water pumping systems under the ADB-financed Power System Efficiency Improvement Project.
The funding will support installation of at least 2,000 SPV pumping systems in areas without electricity access with an estimated 19.3 megawatts-peak of solar capacity. The grant will be used to lower the high upfront cost
of using SPV pumping systems for agricultural irrigation, making them more
affordable to low-income farmers.

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