UK pledges $250 million for 2008-09
Thursday, 19 June 2008


The UK has pledged $250 million (Tk 1,700 crore) in development assistance for the 2008-09 fiscal year, saying the amount would reach $300 million (Tk 2,000 crore) the following year, the UK's visiting junior minister for international development Shahid Malik announced Wednesday.

Assistance from the UK will increase day by day, Malik told reporters after a meeting with finance and planning adviser AB Mirza Azizul Islam, at his planning commission office.

The funds from UK's Department for International Development (DfID) are aimed primarily at Bangladesh's development sectors including poverty alleviation, health and education.

The minister said that the UK firmly believed in the potentials of the Bangladeshi people; that was why his country had continued its development assistance, which would increase in future.

Asked to comment on Bangladesh's current political situation he declined, saying that he only discussed economic issues with the adviser, no political discussion took place in the meeting.

Mentioning the serious destruction wrought by cyclone-Sidr last year, the junior minister said not only Bangladesh, but most countries of the world faced the destruction of climate change.

The UK had formed a climate-change fund of $100 million for developing countries. Bangladesh would be given priority in this regard, he said.

The money would be spent in building shelter centres and boosting food security for the poor, Malik added.

The finance adviser told reporters: "The UK minister has lauded the new budget. He spoke well of the attempt to promote GDP growth, and widening of the social safety net."

The adviser said the UK had pledged to increase its development assistance by $50 million a year in the future.

It would also help Bangladesh in achieving food security and making up losses wrought by climate change, Mirza Aziz said.

Malik arrived in Dhaka Wednesday on a two-day visit, and will discuss the political situation and development projects in Bangladesh during his visit, DFID said.

Malik is the parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for International Development and responsible for his government's development work in South Asia.

The junior minister went straight to the meeting with the finance and planning adviser, which also discussed details of a UK-Bangladesh climate change summit, set to take place later this year in London.

The UK government will host the high-level meeting in September 2008, on behalf of the Bangladesh government to address the impact of climate change in Bangladesh and help lay the foundations for an ambitious climate pact at Copenhagen in 2009.

Malik is the fourth UK minister to visit Bangladesh within the last six months.

UK home minister Jacqui Smith, foreign affairs minister David Miliband and minister for international development Douglas Alexander had earlier visited Bangladesh.

During his visit, Malik will also discuss progress towards elections due to be held in December, said DfID.

The UK is the largest bilateral grant donor to Bangladesh. Total development spending has totalled £480 million or $820 million (Tk 6,400 crore) over the last 4 years.

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