Bangladesh will get $1 billion loan assistance from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for various development projects.
Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam disclosed this information during briefing journalists at the Secretariat yesterday.
He said AIIB President Jin Liqun told Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal about providing the fund at a meeting on the side-lines at the fourth annual meeting of the board of governors of the AIIB in Luxembourg this year.
The meeting, held from July 12 to July 13, also approved $100 million loan to Bangladesh to ensure improved water supply and sanitation services for the country's underserved communities.
The Beijing-based lending firm is providing credit assistance for several other Bangladeshi projects too.
Draft SME Policy – 2019 passed
Meanwhile, the government approved the draft Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Policy - 2019, offering various supports for new entrepreneurs.
The policy has also incorporated several offers to encourage women to come to businesses and become entrepreneurs.
The approval came from the cabinet meeting held at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
At present in the country, there are 78 lakh SMEs contributing 25 percent to the Gross Domestic Production (GDP).
But the sector has been facing challenges like fund crunch, inadequate scope for marketing of products, little training and institutional incapacity.
"The new policy will encourage all, including women, to come forward with entrepreneurship plans," said Cabinet Secretary M Shafiul Alam at the Secretariat.
He said entrepreneurs, under this policy, will get financial support and access to markets, technology, innovation, education and training.
"It will widen scope for getting fund and increase credit flow for the SME sector. Micro and cottage industries will also be included as SMEs," said the cabinet secretary.
He added that a credit guarantee fund will be operated to help entrepreneurs get fund easily.
To encourage women, he said, steps will be taken to give them training and increase their institutional capacity and skills.
"There will be a fund from where women can get easy loans," he added.
An information hub will also be set up to disseminate information about SMEs. The policy will encourage setting up of environment-friendly, green industries.
To execute the policy, two committees will be formed – one led by the industries minister and the other by the industries secretary. It will be effective till 2024.
An official from the industries ministry told journalists that, currently, an SME entrepreneur gets single-digit loans ranging from Tk50,000 to Tk1 lakh from the SME Foundation and banks.
He said contribution of the SME sector to the GDP will increase to 32 percent in 2025.