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OFID Director-General commits to Bangladesh, meets with Prime Minister
Vienna, Austria, January 19, 2018. The Director-General of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), Suleiman J Al-Herbish, has concluded a mission to Bangladesh. The mission was OFID’s first high-level visit to Bangladesh, and in addition to meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Al-Herbish signed two loan agreements to help bolster the country’s transportation sector. Al-Herbish also delivered an address to the Bangladesh Development Forum and met with government ministers and other high-level officials to discuss ongoing and future projects.
During the meeting with Prime Minister Hasina, Al-Herbish spoke of OFID’s longstanding support for Bangladesh’s socio-economic development; a commitment that spans more than four decades. The lion’s share of OFID’s public sector approvals to the country, he explained, totaled over US$600 million and supported priority projects in the transportation and energy sectors, as well as projects with a multi-sectoral focus. The approvals are in line with OFID’s energy-water-food nexus approach to development, which considers transportation as a vital enabling sector.
Al-Herbish outlined OFID’s pioneering Energy for the Poor initiative and the role the organization played in drawing attention to the importance of energy access, helping to secure a standalone Sustainable Development Goal relating to affordable and clean energy in the 2030 Global Development Agenda. He assured the Prime Minister of OFID’s ongoing commitment to Bangladesh and spoke of various pipeline projects.
Earlier, Al-Herbish, Bangladesh Finance Minister Abul Maal A Muhith and the Secretary of Economic Relations Division Shofiqul Azam signed two US$30 million loan agreements for the Paira Bridge and SASEC Road Connectivity Projects. The first loan will help build a 1.5km bridge over the Paira River to connect the districts of Barisal and Pataukhali in the south-central region, and construct access roads to the national highway to provide improved access to income-generating opportunities, marketplaces and social services.
The loan for the SASEC Road Connectivity road project – an earlier phase of which OFID also co-financed with US$30 million – will upgrade part of the Dhaka-Northwest Corridor (the Joydebpur-Chandra-Tangail-Elenga road) to a four-lane highway and facilitate improvements at two land ports, supporting domestic and regional trade.
“We are delighted to be working so closely with Bangladesh,” said Al-Herbish. “We remain committed to supporting the country’s development and the two new loans will help strengthen transportation – a sector that connects people and improves opportunities and ultimately living standards. Transportation plays a vital enabling role, supporting our energy-water-food nexus approach to development, which recognizes the complex interlinkages between these sectors.”
Finance Minister Muhith said: “We graduated from our status as a least developed country to a lower middle income country in 2015 as per the World Bank Atlas and we hope to become a middle income country by 2024, with the assistance of key donors such as OFID.”
OFID and Bangladesh have enjoyed a fruitful partnership dating back to the institution’s inception in 1976. In addition to the sectors outlined above, OFID’S public sector approvals also supported Bangladesh’s education, health, balance of payments, agriculture, industry and water supply and sanitation sectors. Under OFID’s private sector and trade finance facilities, more than US$390 million has been extended to support the Bangladesh’s energy, industry and telecommunications sectors. Funds also helped lending institutions to expand their services to small-and medium-sized enterprises.
Bangladesh has also benefitted from regional and national grants, the most recent of which was humanitarian aid to help address the Myanmar refugee crisis in Bangladesh. Other grants have helped finance agricultural research, HIV / AIDS and hepatitis prevention schemes, and food security initiatives, among others.