Dhaka, Bangladesh
Dev partners term 7th Five Year Plan ambitious: Muhith

Dev partners term 7th Five Year Plan ambitious: Muhith

Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Monday revealed the country's development partners had termed the government's 7th Five Year Plan (2016-20) ambitious, at the same time they had endorsed the vision put forward in it during the two-day Bangladesh Development Forum, 2015, reports UNB. "They have issued caution on some issues, but finally the development partners have endorsed our visions in the Plan (7th FYP)," Muhith said at a post BDF 2015 press conference held at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC). The finance minister also told reporters the development partners suggested greater investment in the energy sector and not relying so much on external assistance. The two-day BDF ended on Monday with the government and the development partners pledging to build greater partnership in achieving the goals of 7th FYP and the UN's newly declared Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. ERD Senior Secretary Mohammad Mejbahuddin and Local Consultative Group co-chair and Head of Mission of USAID Janina Jaruzelski were present at the briefing. The Finance Minister said that during the two-day meet, the development partners pointed out some challenges lying before the government like huge investment deficit in infrastructure, and the need to increase allocations in human resource development and skills development. "If we could overcome such challenges, then we would be able to achieve 8 percent growth by FY20 and it's not an ambitious target. We shall be close to 7 percent growth this year and achieving 8 percent growth by FY20 would not be a big challenge," he added. In order to lock in such a growth trajectory, Muhith said that there is a need for big strides towards devolution of power to local governments in the divisions and districts, as it is not possible for Dhaka to ensure overall development for the country's 16 crore people. "There is no other way except devolution of power, and there is a need for mentally preparing for it. Physical preparation is not a big problem," he added. The veteran Minister said that the government is yet to decide on how to deal with some mega projects as there is a need for extra budgetary resources for those. "We'll get fund for those from ADB and partners like AIIB, but there is a need for separate items like capital investment in the next year's budget," he said. Asked whether the government is expecting funds from the China-led AIIB soon, Muhith said that the AIIB would open for business in the next month while their first board meeting would be held in January. "After that they would be ready to accept projects." Muhith said that there was no specific discussion on the political stability of the country during the BDF, 2015. "What has been appreciated at the moment is the political climate of cooperation," he said. He told another questioner that the development partners have made various commitments of providing Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), but it was not discussed how much of the commitments would be matched with money.

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