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10/02/2014: Govt signs $535m deal with WB for improving urban services, education

Govt signs $535m deal with WB for improving urban services, education

DHAKA, February 10, 2014 (BSS)- The government has signed two financing agreements totaling US$ 535 million with the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank's concessional arm.

WB country director Johannes Zutt and Economic Relations
Division Secretary Mohammad Mejbahuddin signed the agreements at
the Economic Relations Division (ERD) at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in
the city on Monday.

Under the agreements, the WB will support two projects titled
"Municipal Governance and Services Project (MGSP)" and "Higher
Education Quality Enhancement Project (HEQEP)".

The MGSP project involving US$ 410 million would help improve
municipal governance and basic urban services in district towns
and municipalities.

The HEQEP would support the government's initiatives to
improve quality of tertiary education. The WB would provide $125
million soft loan for this project.

The MGSP aims to improve the municipal governance and basic
urban services in the urban local bodies located along growth
corridors from Dhaka towards Chittagong, Rangpur, Sylhet, and
Mymensingh.

The project aims to benefit some 3.4 million people in
municipalities across the country, of whom 45 percent will be
women.

The HEQEP project that started in 2009 would continue to
support enhancement of quality and relevance of higher education.
The project aims at introducing innovation, accountability and
better research facilities in public and private universities.

The additional financing will continue to promote academic
innovation through a competitive funding mechanism, known as the
Academic Innovation Fund. The project has already awarded 194
academic innovation funds to 27 public and two private
universities.

"Bangladesh's vision for becoming a middle income country is
ambitious, but not impossible. To achieve this goal, it will need
to boost its competitiveness and grow at an even faster pace than
the last decade", said Johanness Zutt, World Bank Country
Director after singing of the agreement.

Mohammad Mejbahuddin said both the projects would ultimately
boost economic growth of the country.

The credit from the International Development Association
(IDA), the World Bank's concessional lending arm, has 40 years to
maturity, including a 10-year grace period; and carries a service
charge of 0.75 percent