DHAKA, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Monday it is set to approve a 4.5-billion-U.S. dollar loan later this month to support Bangladesh's reform agenda.
"The IMF executive board is expected to consider approving the program with Bangladesh on Jan. 30," said IMF Deputy Managing Director Antoinette Monsio Sayeh, who is on a five-day visit to the South Asian country.
Bangladesh and the IMF recently reached a staff-level agreement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF), Extended Fund Facility (EFF) and the IMF's new Resilience and Sustainability Facility (RSF) to support the authorities' home-grown reform agenda.
"In our discussion, we focused on the key elements of this program, including the long-standing challenges of raising tax revenues and building a more efficient financial sector," Sayeh said.
She said reforms in these areas, combined with measures to facilitate private investments and export diversification, will help create conditions to make Bangladesh's economy more resilient and support long-term, inclusive and sustainable growth.
"We also discussed Bangladesh's plans to address the longer-term challenges related to climate change that could threaten macroeconomic stability," said the IMF official.
According to the official, the IMF's RSF aims to provide affordable, long-term financing to support Bangladesh's climate investment needs, catalyze climate financing and reduce balance of payment pressures from import-intensive climate investment.
Just like countries around the world, Bangladesh is dealing with the impact of global shocks, first from the COVID-19 pandemic and then from the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, said the IMF deputy director.
"We discussed the impact of these shocks on Bangladesh's economy and I welcomed Bangladesh's comprehensive set of measures to deal with them, including their focus on ensuring protection for the vulnerable during these difficult times," she said. "I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today, and Finance Minister Mustafa Kamal and Bangladesh Bank Governor Abdur Rouf Talukder."
She said she congratulated them on Bangladesh's impressive economic growth and social development in last decades, which have allowed steady progress in poverty reduction and significant improvements in living standards.
The IMF official said macroeconomic policies in recent years have helped Bangladesh keep inflation stable, debt-to-GDP ratio low and external buffers adequate.
While meeting Prime Minister Hasina on Monday, she assured her of continued IMF support to Bangladesh's aspirations to become a developed and higher-income country by 2041.
Hasina told the IMF official that her government has undertaken development programs targeting poverty alleviation and food security.
Meanwhile, Hasina said Bangladesh have sought assistance from the IMF not as a bailout, but as a pre-emptive measure.
The IMF deputy director praised the socio-economic transformation under the leadership of Prime Minister Hasina, saying Bangladesh has been maintaining some 6-percent GDP growth over the last decade. ■