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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 May, 2003, 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK
Bangladesh seeks $2bn in aid
Woman brick worker in Bangladesh
Bangladesh's government will head for a meeting with its international donors on Saturday hoping to double the aid it receives to fight poverty.

In an interview with the Reuters news agency, Finance Minister Saifur Rahman said he was seeking an extra $2bn (1.2bn; 1.7bn euros) on top of the $1.5bn in aid and import subsidies Bangladesh currently receives every year.

To get the extra cash, the government is for the first time submitting to the World Bank-chaired meeting a Poverty Reduction Strategy Plan, aiming to halve the ranks of the poor by 2015.

But he warned that unless the government could tighten up Bangladesh's poor record on public safety and law and order, inward investment would continue to be tough to attract.

Spreading the load

The biggest single chunk of cash, officials told Reuters, would likely come from the International Monetary Fund, from which Bangladesh is hoping to raise $600m.

We expect a warm response from our development partners, because we made substantial progress in the economy
Saifur Rahman
Bangladesh Finance Minister
Another $300m is sought from the World Bank, with the rest coming from other donors, mostly individual countries.

Its most recent tranche of new money came in December, when the Asian Development Bank awarded almost $700m to help boost the country's rate of economic growth from its current average of 5% a year.

Growth of 7-8% was needed to achieve Bangladesh's poverty reduction targets, the ADB said in explanation of its decision to more than double its previous contribution.

But in general the ADB had said it was pleased with the pace of economic reform, particularly the low inflation and rising demand.

Mr Rahman stressed the point, telling Reuters: "We expect a warm response from our development partners, because we made substantial progress in the economy, granted more autonomy to the central bank and proceeded firmly with privatisation."

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