Since December last year, the activities of development partner organisations have slowed down due to global outbreak of the Covid-19 virus. Most of the employees of the head offices and local offices of the organisations have been working from home. It has also slowed down the procedure for sanctioning foreign aids and implementing development projects.
From July to February of fiscal year 2019-20, the commitments of providing loans and grants have gone down by around 45.88 percent than that over the same period in the previous fiscal year. Besides, the disbursement of foreign funds has also gone down by 14.54 percent over the same period in the current fiscal year.
According to the latest report of the Economic Relation Department (ERD), the development partners made commitments of providing $3255.94 million from July to February of 2019-2020 fiscal year, whereas, it was $6017 million over the same period in the last fiscal year.
On the other hand, the partners disbursed $3486 million over the first eight months of the current fiscal year while the amount was $4079.63 million during the eight months of previous fiscal year.
Agreements for providing funds worth $135 million by the development partners have been reached from January to February. On the other hand, $777.41 million foreign aid has been disbursed over the period, according to the ERD report.
Meanwhile, the rate of paying foreign loans including interests has increased by 10 percent over the first eight months in the current fiscal year. The amount is $1100 million while it was $990 million over the same period in previous fiscal year.
Officials at the department said coronavirus crisis has had a negative impact on giving loans by foreign partners for the development projects. Work on projects have slowed down, especially the projects financed by China and where Chinese contractors were working.
In addition, necessary equipment and machineries for different projects could not be imported due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Now the government has declared a public holiday and when this situation will be normal is uncertain. It is apprehended that the ongoing situation will not only halt work at the development projects but also reduce the disbursement of foreign funds. However, the ERD officials think that towards the end of the current fiscal year commitment and disbursement will increase as the development partners have already assured of giving financial help to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Fatima Yasmin, secretary of the Economic Relation Department, told The Business Standard, "Already many of our development partners have assured us of providing financial help in fighting the coronavirus crisis. We have already started our work to complete all the procedure quickly so that the funds can be disbursed as soon as possible."
Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank may provide Bangladesh with $500 million to help improve its healthcare system and to fight the spread of coronavirus.
ERD officials said the government had asked the ADB for 10 lakh corona testing kits, 5,000 hand-held thermal scanners, 30 lakh masks, 10 lakh units of PPE and other equipment.
Apart from that, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) will give Bangladesh five Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines to ramp up testing facilities.
Besides, the agency will provide the country with safety equipment to help fight the spread of coronavirus.
However, the officials said Jica would not mobilise any funds for Bangladesh while supporting the country's fight against the virus.