The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today approved $250 million loan to support Bangladesh's economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ADP is providing the loan as a part of the $500 million Sustainable Economic Recovery Programme, said a press release.
The objective of the Sustainable Economic Recovery Programme is to facilitate a rapid and sustainable recovery from the pandemic, generate employment, and expand economic activities for micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses, it reads.
According to the press release, this will be pursued through policy reforms that will create fiscal space to enhance public expenditure and support the recovery and growth of cottage, micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (CMSMEs).
The loan will support the government's planned public investment in education, health, social protection, and infrastructure and help to stimulate economic activities and economic recovery. It is also aligned with the core objectives of the country's Eighth Five-Year Plan and supports the aspiration of Bangladesh to become an upper middle-income country by 2031.
"The fiscal space created under the programme will allow the government to prioritise expenditures and upscale investment in social and economic infrastructure," said ADB Principal Financial Management Specialist Srinivasan Janardanam.
"The programme is expected to increase the efficiency in public investment management and create a favourable environment for access to credit, particularly for the poor and vulnerable," he added.
According to ADB, to promote fiscal sustainability, the programme will help the government address two key constraints to public investments in critically needed physical and social infrastructure. These are low domestic resource mobilisation and inefficient use of public resources. The programme aims to expand the tax base, improve compliance and strengthen enforcement, rationalise tax exemptions, and modernise tax administration.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also severely impacted micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses in the country. Limited access to affordable finance is one of the most critical constraints faced by CMSMEs. Only 28% of the larger CMSMEs, or small and medium-sized enterprises, have access to formal bank credit, it said in the press release.
The programme will widen access to finance for women entrepreneurs, particularly those running CMSMEs, by introducing or modifying refinancing programs and credit guarantee schemes with an earmarked portion for women entrepreneurs. The program will also encourage more women-led start-ups by earmarking 10% of new start-up financing for them.
ADB's support coincides with the finalisation of Bangladesh's Eighth Five-Year Plan and the launch of the new ADB Country partnership strategy for Bangladesh, 2021-2025. The policy-based loan programme reaffirms ADB's commitment to the Bangladesh economy.