The IMF team held meetings with various government agencies during the Dhaka trip and advised them on various issues, but it sought advice instead from the three research firms.
The IMF team, according to sources, has adopted a positive stance on providing loans to Bangladesh. They are also reluctant to compare Bangladesh with Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Rather, they are happy that they are going to finish the loan programme successfully with Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, the Finance Division and the Bangladesh Bank (BB) sources said the IMF team will present their findings of the Dhaka trip before the IMF board of governors in the form of a report. Later, the lender will officially disclose the loan terms to the media.
Salehuddin Ahmed, former governor of the central bank, said the government has paid no heed though the people here have long been speaking of the reforms. It will now pay attention to reforms after hearing from the IMF.
“It is good that other development aid agencies will not have to carry out much research to approve loans for Bangladesh as the IMF is finishing the key tasks,” he said.
However, the seasoned economist advised precautions about proper management of the loan. He said the IMF is providing money to deal with the damage in macroeconomic stability caused by climate change. It should not be wasted. Otherwise, the loan will turn into a burden
In terms of economic reforms, he noted not only the Bangladesh Bank, but also other organisations have to play a role in financial reforms. These are quite impossible without concerted efforts.
It was learnt that an IMF mission, as per its rule, will visit Dhaka before clearing each of the loan installments and assess whether the terms and conditions are being maintained properly. They will report back to the IMF board of governors and a decision will be made accordingly. They even may withhold the installments in case of non-compliance of the terms and conditions here.
However, the finance division sources said the conditions will not be tough for the government to meet as some initiatives have already been taken to legislate new laws and reform the existing ones in the banking and financial sector.
There is nothing to deny that the rate of revenue collection is low compared to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The IMF asked to increase the revenue-GDP ratio and the government itself wants it.
Finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal told the media on Wednesday that the government has already taken some initiatives to boost the revenue collection. He said some 6732 electronic fiscal devices (EFD) have been installed to gear up the vat collection while another 60000 devices will be set up next year. In total, some 200,000 devices will be set up in the next four years.
Bangladesh Bank governor Abdur Rauf Talukdar said the reforms proposed by the finance minister in the budget for the current fiscal will be presented to the IMF in the form of a package. He expressed optimism that the lending agency will also come up with cooperation in this regard.
In the banking sector, the government agreed to keep non-performing loans within 10 per cent, rectify the reserve calculation method, and announce monetary policy four times a year.
Experts said the USD 4.5 billion loan will be cleared in the next four years. The reserve will squeeze by double of the amount that the country is expected to receive in February as the first installment of the loan.
The reserve is going down by USD 1 billion every month. Therefore, the government should step back from some unnecessary projects without relying entirely on loans or being relieved that plenty of loans are available.