- 1. Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC; Governor: Hiroshi Yasuda) signed today ODA loan agreements amounting to 13,815 million yen to finance the Greater Faridpur Rural Infrastructure Development Project, Rural Electrification Project (Phase V-B) and Rupsa Construction Project in Bangladesh. This brings JBIC's cumulative ODA loan commitments to the country to 68, totaling 547 billion yen.(*)
- 2. Of the three projects, the loan for the Greater Faridpur Rural Infrastructure Development Project will provide funds for civil works, procurement of equipment and the NGO activities for the training of local officials to develop rural infrastructure, including main rural roads, village markets and rural administrative facilities. In Bangladesh, lagging development in rural infrastructure is posing an obstacle to efficient distribution and sale of agricultural products, procurement of fertilizer, seeds and agricultural machinery and provision of social services ranging from health care to education. As a result, it is estimated that half of the rural population, which account for 80 percent of the total population, is still living in poverty which is defined as nutritional intake per person of less than 2,122 calories per day. This project aims to develop rural infrastructure to reduce poverty, in partnership with NGOs, thus invigorating the rural economy, creating employment and increasing access to local administrative services.
- 3. The loan for the Rural Electrification Project (Phase V-B) will finance civil works and procurement of materials, equipment and services to establish power distribution networks, bringing electrification to 57,000 households. In Bangladesh, the Rural Electrification Board (REB) was founded in 1977 to push forward rural electrification. With a mandate to deliver and distribute electric power in rural areas, REB adopted a plan under which power distribution was relegated to locally set-up rural electrification cooperatives. In this way, REB brought about efficient and effective electrification. Nonetheless, households with electricity still account for as low as 15% of the country's total households Therefore, further electrification of rural areas where 80% of the population resides is an important task for bolstering the nation's economy and reducing poverty. This project aims to increase the number of households with electricity and improve the efficiency of power distribution. It is therefore expected to increase productivity in agriculture and other industries.
- 4. The loan for the Rupsa Bridge Construction Project will finance civil works and procurement of materials, equipment and services for constructing a bridge over the Rupsa River flowing through Khulna City; This will create an efficient and safe road transport network in the city and its surrounding areas. Khulna City, the political and economic center of southwestern Bangladesh, is separated from Mongla Port, the country's second international port, located 40 kilometers to the south, by the Rupsa River. The river poses a significant obstacle to passenger and cargo traffic, creating a bottleneck for the region's economic development. This project aims to put in place an efficient and safe road transport network by building a bridge over the Rupsa River to promote the region's development and a more vigorous economy. More smooth passenger and freight traffic is expected to stimulate regional economic activity.
(*)Excluding ODA loan commitments made by the former Export-Import Bank of Japan.(back)
(See Appendix for details.)