Bangladesh needs post-cyclone international aid : World Bank

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Dhaka, Dec 15 (UNI) World Bank has appealed to international donors to extend more support to Cyclone-struck Bangladesh as a top official of the Bank pledged an additional 25 million dollars to previous commitment of 250 million dollars to cover immediate, mid and long-term needs.

''More is needed, more is deserved by Bangladesh in the way of international community support as the magnitude of the devastation is huge and the challenge of rebuilding the lives of the victims is formidable,'' World Bank vice-president for South Asia Praful C Patel told a press conference.

Mr Patel who visited some of the SIDR-hit areas said ''seeing the firsthand devastation caused by the cyclone was shocking.'' He said the bank offered up to 250 million dollars assistance to cover immediate, medium-term and long-term needs.

He said fast-moving budget support of 75 million dollars was to have been available after the Board approved it by January.

However, Mr Patel said after his visit to the cyclone affected areas, he is convinced that the Bank needs to do a bit more to help the government's FY08 budget.

He would now recommend a quick-disbursement amount to 100 million dollars which will be available by January. Fifty million dollar will be provided as grant from Global Disaster Reduction Fund.

Of the total amount, 50 million dollars would be available by April next year to help people to rebuild their livelihoods and remaining 125 million dollars for supporting the long-term vision of disaster prevention and management as articulated by the Chief Advisor.

The World Bank official said Bangladesh economy has been burdened by three adverse shocks of increase in international prices of oil, food and other commodities, twice floods in July-September and the destruction of Cyclone SIDR.

He said international price shocks alone are likely to inflict the loss to the economy this year to the tune of 1.6 billion dollars which is equal to 2.3 per cent of the GDP.

''Moreover, in the absence of any domestic price adjustments, rising oil and fertilizer prices are putting an inordinate fiscal burden on the FY08 budget," Mr Patel noted.

He said the preliminary numbers on damages suggest that the magnitude of loss suffered by the economy due to two natural disasters is very large, floods causing over 1 billion dollars and cyclone probably over 2 billion dollars.

''The government alone cannot deal with a problem of such enormous magnitude. Both Bangladeshi citizens and the international community must work together to help the country get out of these economic difficulties,'' he added.

Mr Patel appealed to Bangladesh's development partners to come forward and help the country in this hour of need.

He said the Bank recently provided 75 million dollars in budget support following the devastating floods and is preparing support of 122 million dollars by reallocating funds from the current International Development Association commitment to Bangladesh.

Mr Patel said the World Bank may further increase its assistance once the needs assessment mission submits its report by January next year.

UNI

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