Climate change

Muhith criticizes WB for not funding

10 October 2016

Bangladesh finance minister AMA Muhith is unhappy with the World Bank (WB) for not delivering funds to combat climate change.

"We have agreed to allocate funds, but they have not been provided to us . This is disappointing," he told the WB-IMF annual meeting in Washington. Muhith said Bangladesh had spent $345 million in the past six years to fight climate change, but only $50 million of it had come from the World Bank.

"We have not come across proposals to increase the allocation by even $10 million," he told the Climate Ministerial Dialogue on Saturday. Speaking to the media later, Muhith said funds were urgently needed for countries like Bangladesh which are directly affected by climate change."I described our plight to those at the meeting. Making commitments and creating funds are not enough."

The minister said that representatives from other countries at risk due to climate change backed him.

"The carbon emissions of developed countries are damaging the environment of smaller economies. They must ensure we are provided enough funds to mitigate this damage," he said.

WB President Kim had also stressed the importance of this issue at the meeting, said Muhith.

The Green Climate Fund was formally announced at the 2010 United Nations Conference Climate Change Conference in Mexico. The fund pledged $100 billion a year to combat climate change in affected countries.

On Saturday, IMF chief Christine Lagarde met with the delegates at the IMF headquarters in Washington.

The finance minister raised the issue of the Green Climate Fund and said affected countries must have access to the funds at the meeting. Muhith also took time to meet a group of delegates led by US Treasury Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Kaplan. Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Haq was also present at the meeting.

"For a long time, we have asked for a GSP facility from the US. Though the US had reacted favourably, no agreement has ben signed so far and I raised that issue at the meeting," the minister said.

When asked how the US delegates responded, Muhith said: "They said they would discuss the issue with the relevant authorities." The minister told reporters that export earnings had increased 8 percent in the previous fiscal year. "The trend is continuing this fiscal year. Our export diversity is also increasing. New export opportunities have developed as Square, Beximco and other companies have begun exporting pharmaceutical products from Bangladesh," he said. If a GSP agreement could be arranged with the US, then export earnings were likely to increase even further, he said. Bangladesh's export earnings touched $34.5 billion during the 2015-16 fiscal year. The current projections for the 2016-17 fiscal year for export earnings stood at $37 billion. "We achieve the targets we set," Muhith said.

"In 2009, the prime minister said Bangladesh would become a middle income country by 2021. We reached that goal in 2015. I truly believe we will also become an advanced economy by 2041.."

The minister said that the Bangladesh economy "now stands on a firm foundation".

"For the past five years our GDP grew by 6.5 percent. Now we have reached 7 percent growth. In the future the rate will be even higher." The minister did, however, admit that private sector investment had not increased.

"Private sector investment is currently about 22-23 percent of the GDP. This must increase. It is now our primary focus." He believes private sector investment will increase in the current financial year.

The World Bank-IMF Annual Meeting ends on Sunday.

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