ADB lending to cross $2b this year

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - Asian Development Bank's lending to Bangladesh is likely to exceed $2 billion this year, said a top official yesterday.

The ADB has already approved over $1.6 billion, of which $1,535 million is sovereign, $60 million non-sovereign and $8.7 million technical assistance.

“More projects worth over $600 million are likely to be approved by year-end,” said Manmohan Parkash, country director of the ADB.

He said $988 million was approved for different projects since January, of which $586 million has been disbursed as of yesterday -- the amount being 46 percent higher compared to that in the same period in 2017.

Parkash was addressing a ceremony at Economic Relations Division (ERD) in the capital's Sher-e-Bangla Nagar on the ADB and the ERD signing loan agreements.

The deals comprised $350 million in loan and $7.5 million in grant for a project to develop two power lines.

Kazi Shofiqul Azam, secretary of the ERD, and Parkash signed the agreements representing their respective sides.

According to the ADB, the project will get another $7 million as grant from the Japan Fund for the Joint Crediting Mechanism to finance new high-technology energy efficient conductors.

Another $0.5 million grant from South Korea's e-Asia and Knowledge Partnership Fund will promote socially inclusive growth with gender equality.

“Bangladesh's power sector has rapidly grown in recent years, but more investments are needed to meet the rising electricity demand in a fast-growing economy,” said Parkash.

The ADB assistance aims to underpin the current impressive pace of growth and development by making power generation, transmission and distribution systems more efficient, reliable, and environmentally friendly.

“The project will promote business expansion, and create employment opportunities for local communities, including poor and socially disadvantaged people in southern and western zones of Bangladesh,” he added.

Azam said there was no crisis of foreign funds for development work in Bangladesh.

He, however, emphasised expediting project implementation to reduce cost overruns due to implementation delays. The Southwest Transmission Grid Expansion Project builds on the ADB's previous work in Bangladesh's power sector to address transmission system deficiencies leading to southern and western load centres.

This includes the recently approved Rupsha 800 megawatt combined-cycle power plant in Khulna.

The project will develop a 126 kilometre-long 230 kilovolt (kV) transmission line from Barisal to Faridpur and a 104km 400 kV transmission line from Bogra to Rohanpur, along with substations, transformers and associated extensions and connections.

The transmission lines will have a new type of high temperature conductor to allow more power transfer at lower energy losses. The project is also contributing to climate change mitigation, since the new conductors reduce carbon dioxide emissions compared to conventional ones.


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