Minister of Foreign Affairs Bangladesh AK Abdul Momen asked the panel at the 58th Munich Security Conference:
While India had offered Lines of Credit and Japan had also helped with infrastructure financing, incoming loans have been declining, and it is China that has come forward with a basket of money and aggressive, affordable proposals.
It was hard to decide what to do, given that with more development in Bangladesh, people are demanding more infrastructure.
We need more funding from our development partners, and that, unfortunately, comes with a lot of strings attached and that becomes very difficult. Today, our largest loans are from the World Bank and the IMF and the ADB, but also, we are trying to get some funding from others because the need for the development process is very high. Is there an easy way out?"
Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said in response:
We have now seen countries, including in our region, being saddled with large debts. We have seen projects which are commercially unsustainable: airports where an aircraft doesn't come, harbours where a ship doesn't come.
Countries seeking loans should worry about unsustainable infrastructure projects like airports and ports that are empty.
It's obviously in the interest of the consumer country concerned, but it's also in the interest of the international community because unsustainable projects don't end there. Often the next is, debt becomes equity, and that becomes something else.