The World Bank has agreed to provide $500 million to Bangladesh in additional financing to buy Covid-19 vaccines, but set some conditions regarding the procurement of the shots.
The main objective of the WB's additional financing for this project is -- vaccination of 31 percent of the total population of the country through direct purchase of Covid-19 vaccine recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) or three Stringent Regulatory Authorities or advance purchase from Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX).
A loan agreement was signed between the government and the Washington-based global lender yesterday in this regard.
With this deal, the government inked three loan agreements with the WB in the last two days through virtual programmes. The WB is providing the country with $1.04 billion to implement three projects, including purchase of vaccine.
Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary Fatima Yasmin and Mercy Miyang Tembon, country director of the World Bank, Dhaka office, signed the agreements on behalf of the respective organisations.
The WB is providing the $500 million loan for buying vaccine under the "Covid-19 Emergency Response and Pandemic Preparedness'' project being implemented by the Health Services Division.
An ERD official told The Daily Star that Bangladesh has sought financial support worth $2.4 billion from different international donors, including WB, Asian Development Bank and Japan, for purchasing the vaccine.
ADB has already agreed to provide $940 million, while its board of directors may approve the funding next month, he said, preferring not to be named.
All the donors may have the same condition for purchasing vaccine recognised by WHO or stringent regulatory authorities or COVAX, he added.
On March 18, WB's Board of Executive Directors approved $500 million in financing from the International Development Association (IDA) to help Bangladesh vaccinate 54 million people against Covid-19.
The additional financing will help the country procure safe and effective vaccines, expand vaccine storage facilities, and distribute vaccines to about 31 percent of its population, in support of the government's prioritised plan of covering 40 percent of the population in the first phase of vaccination, according to the World Bank.
The project duration is from April 2020 to December 2023.
The funding will help Bangladesh build capacity through establishment of Vaccine Testing Lab (WHO maturity level-3) in the Directorate General of Drug Administration, said an ERD press release yesterday.
It aims at ensuring quality of vaccines by keeping the Cold Chain System intact in vaccine storage and distribution, said the release.
The loan is repayable in 30 years with a grace period of five years and the interest rate is 1.25 percent, service charge 0.75 percent and commitment charge 0.50 percent on the disbursed amount, it added.
Meanwhile, another loan agreement of $500 million was signed yesterday between the government and the WB's International Development Association (IDA).
The project aims at promoting private investment, job creation, and environmental sustainability in participating economic zones and software technology parks in Bangladesh, said another ERD press release.
The project has been undertaken with the initiative of the finance ministry's Economic Relations Division. The implementing agencies are Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) and Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority.
A technical assistance project named Central Coordination Unit of the Private Investment and Digital Entrepreneurship Project under ERD will play the coordinating role between the implementing agencies and World Bank and oversee monitoring and evaluation, fund flows and utilization and thus will ensure smooth operation of the project, said the release.
The activities to be carried out by the project include creating an environment conducive to private investment and sustainable development, performing all activities through Public-Private Partnership by forming a special operation unit at BEZA and developing Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar as a green and environment friendly industrial city in phases.
On Monday, the government also inked a financing agreement with the WB's International Development Association for a credit amount of Tk 339 crore to implement "Additional Financing for Digitising Implementation Monitoring and Public Procurement Project''.
The project will be implemented by Central Procurement Technical Unit under Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division and the Ministry of Planning.
The loan is repayable in 30 years with a grace period of five years.
The closing date of this project is December 31, 2023, added the release.