The World Bank yesterday (19 June 2020) approved US$ 1.05 billion for three projects to help Bangladesh create quality jobs and accelerate economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as build resilience to future crises.
“This is an extraordinary response to an unprecedented crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply jeopardized many of Bangladesh’s remarkable achievements in poverty reduction and shared prosperity, including livelihoods of its population,” said Mercy Tembon, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan.
“These projects will help the people and the economy bounce back by creating more and better jobs and promoting direct private investment in specialized economic zones while enhancing the foundations for a digital economy.”
The US$ 500 million Private Investment and Digital Entrepreneurship (PRIDE) Project will promote and attract about US$2 billion direct private investments and strengthen social and environmental standards in selected public and private economic zones and software technology parks. It will also create 150,000 jobs, of which a percentage will be dedicated to women – about 40 percent in software parks and 20 percent in economic zones.
It will also develop the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar II in Mirsarai-Feni, including road networks with stormwater drainage, solar-powered streetlights, climate-resilient water, sanitation, and power network. The project will also establish Dhaka’s first digital entrepreneurship hub in the Janata Software Technology Park and turn it into a green building. By attracting domestic and foreign private investment, including in the IT and ITES sectors, the project will help the economy to rebound from the impacts of COVID-19.
The US$ 295 million Enhancing Digital Government and Economy (EDGE) Project will establish an integrated, cloud-computing digital platform for all government agencies and improve cyber-security, which will result in savings of US$200 million in the public sector’s IT investments. Further, it will build resiliency during future crises, whereby the platform will enable the government to operate virtually and deliver critical public services to citizens and businesses.
The project will create 100,000 jobs, with a special focus on women, train 100,000 youth in digital and disruptive technologies, and establish a digital leadership academy and centres of excellence. It will also help raise the revenues of IT firms by US$ 300 million and promote local IT firms in international markets.
To reduce vulnerabilities from the pandemic and prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the project will help digitalize small and medium enterprises and strategic industries.
The US$ 250 million Second Programmatic Jobs Development Policy Credit will create fiscal space to support the government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, while helping recovery and building resiliency of the economy, of workers and of vulnerable populations to future shocks.
The financing will help Bangladesh to create large-scale jobs for citizens, including women, youth, and migrant workers. The project — second in a programmatic series of three — supports reforms to modernize the trade and investment regime, build a stronger system of expanded safety nets and labor protections, and help vulnerable population access better jobs, especially during crises.
The World Bank is among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence.
Bangladesh currently has one of the largest IDA programmes totaling over US$ 13 billion. Since independence, the World Bank has committed more than US$ 31 billion in grants, interest-free, and concessional credits to the country.