WB approves $300 million for development at grassroots level

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DHAKA : The World Bank (WB) has approved $300 million financing to empower the local governments at grassroots level with discretionary funds that would also enable communities decide and implement local development priorities.

Built on the success of two predecessor projects, the Local Governance Support Project-3 (LGSP-3) will cover all the 4550 Union Parishads, the lowest tier of the local government, and benefit around 1 crore 15 lakh residents. The project will establish national budget transfers as a norm to the Union Parishads, a WB press release said.

The project will also expand to the urban local government, and pilot a fiscal transfer system in 16 Pourashavas (municipalities) in all eight divisions of the country. For the first time, the eligible municipalities will receive block grants with discretionary power to select sub-projects aiming to improve service delivery.

“The World Bank has been a long-standing partner in supporting the
government’s vision of advancing decentralization and empowering the local governments,” said Rajashree Paralkar, World Bank Acting Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.

Shenhua Wang, World Bank Team Leader for this project said it would also place a strong emphasis on gender empowerment as 30.0 percent of the grant would be earmarked for the schemes prioritized for women.

The credit from the World Bank’s International Development Association, which provides grants or zero-interest loans, has a 38-year term, including a six-year grace period, and a service charge of 0.75 percent.

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