A new Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) regional hub opened in Dhaka on Sunday will support the bank’s expanding range of projects in Bangladesh.
The regional office will also oversee IsDB’s operations in 19 countries, including India, Singapore, Thailand and Australia.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the office alongside Dr. Bandar M.H. Hajjar, president of the IsDB Group.
The hub will support projects in Bangladesh in agriculture, education, energy, industry and mining, transport, water, sanitation and urban services.
The IsDB operates in 57 countries, with Bangladesh the largest beneficiary — the group’s financing to the country has totaled more than $21.7 billion.
Speaking at the opening, Al-Hajjar said: “The IsDB has long had a close relationship with Bangladesh. Our Dhaka regional office will focus on partnering with local stakeholders to drive socioeconomic development in the country and provide a platform for Bangladeshi people to build a prosperous future.”
Describing Bangladesh as a “shining beacon” among member states, Al-Hajjar said that “women have played a vital role in the country’s socioeconomic development.
“Bangladesh ranked first among South Asian countries in the gender gap index in 2017 and has consistently done well over the years in this metric,” he said.
To implement the “President Five-Year Program” (P5P), IsDB has adopted new initiatives focusing on “delivery and adoption of a more dynamic, proactive and result-oriented approach.”
Al-Hajjar said: “Decentralization is one if the key elements of P5P with the aim of increasing bank’s footprints across member countries. These decentralized offices will work together with the host governments to develop and implement important and high impact projects that have the highest socioeconomic impact in the country.”
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Prime Minister Hasina urged the international community to put pressure on Myanmar to repatriate more than 1 million Rohingya refugees who fled the persecution in Rakhine state.
“Bangladesh and Myanmar have signed agreements for the safe and permanent repatriation of the displaced Myanmar nationals. I urge the international community to continue to pressure Myanmar to implement the agreements,” she said.
“We’re giving shelter and food to the Rohingyas on humanitarian ground. Now we want them to go back to their own land.”
Praising IsDB’s role as a development partner, Hasina said: “The establishment of the new office in Dhaka is a joint step forward in strengthening the partnership between Bangladesh and IsDB.”
Bangladesh’s Finance Minister, A.M.A Muhith, and Economic Relations Division Secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam also spoke at the ceremony.