The government is expecting $1 billion in loans, as emergency budget support, from Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) to tackle the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
An official at the Economic Relation Division (ERD) said, "Besides Jica,we have sought assistance from all development partners and developed countries to manage the coronavirus crisis and safeguard the country's economy from its impact."
"Recently, we have written a letter to the Jicapresident, and the agency has assured that it will provide loan in phases over some fiscal years."
On condition of anonymity, the ERD official further said, "Whatever fund we seek from Jica, it will be available in time. The development agency has assured us and it has already started the process. The government is very active in collecting thefund to fight Covid-19."
"Our economic progress will not stop because of the coronavirus. In a year or two, our economy will turn around,'' he said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already unveiled a set of financial support packages of Tk95,619 crore to shield the economy from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Poor people —includingfarmers, healthcare workers, and day-labourers, who have already lost their income — willget a good percentage of the incentives.
The government is primarily focusing on saving lives. As a result, it needs fund assistance from both domestic and foreign sources to save the poor.
The ERD official said that last month, through ERD,the government sought five polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines to ramp up testing facilities regarding Covid-19 and other equipment from Japan. The development partner has already said about providing the equipment one by one through the World Health Organization and other UN agencies.
That time the government sought 5 lakh personal protection equipment (PPE) suits, 5,000 hand-held thermometers, 10 lakh sterile examination gloves, and 3 lakh units of safety goggles and other equipment to fight the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the government and Jica are ready to sign the 41st official development assistance loan package worth $2.18 billion and the signing is scheduled for June.
Jica will fund some important infrastructure projects, including the 41st official development assistance loan package.
ERD's Additional Secretary Shahidul Islamtold The Business Standard, "The process of the 41st official development assistance loan package is almost finished amid the Covid-19. If the loan of the Jica package will be used, the economic situation will change drastically."
The two-lane Chattogram-Cox's Bazar highway will be upgraded to a four-lane one under public-private partnership (PPP). Jica will fund flyovers and bypasses at the busiest points of the highway at Patia, Dohazari, Keranirhat, Lohagora, and Chakaria.
The projects earmarked for Jica'sfunding in the next fiscal year are the Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development (MRT-6), Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development Line-5, Food Value Chain Financing, Urban Development, and City Governance, Economic and Social Development and the Fourth Primary Education Development Programme.
The interest rate of Jica'sloan is 0.94 percent. There are also a 0.01 percent consultation service fee and a 0.02 percent front end fee. The loan must be repaid in 30 years with a 10-year rebate.