Dhaka October 19 2023: An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission team led by Mr. Rahul Anand visited Dhaka during October 4–19, 2023 to discuss economic and financial policies in the context of the first review of the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility (ECF), Extended Fund Facility (EFF), Resilience and Sustainability Facility (RSF) and the 2023 Article IV consultation.
At the end of the mission, Mr. Anand issued the following statement:
“The Bangladesh authorities and IMF staff conducted discussions for the 2023 Article IV consultation and reached staff-level agreement on the policies needed to complete the first review under the ECF/EFF/RSF arrangements. The staff-level agreement is subject to IMF Management approval and Executive Board endorsement, which is expected in the coming weeks. Completion of the first review will make available about US$ 462 million (SDR352.35 million equivalent of 33 percent of quota) under the ECF/EFF and about US$ 219 million (SDR166.67 million equivalent of 15.8 percent of quota) under the RSF.
“The authorities have made substantial progress on structural reforms under the IMF-supported program, but challenges remain. Continued global financial tightening, coupled with existing vulnerabilities, is making macroeconomic management challenging, putting pressures on the Taka and FX reserves.
“Near-term policy priorities should focus on containing inflation, softening the impact of these economic disruptions on the vulnerable, and building external resilience. We welcome Bangladesh Bank’s decision to raise the policy rate by 75 basis points (bps) on October 4, 2023. Further calibrated monetary policy tightening, greater exchange rate flexibility, and tight fiscal policy will help restore macroeconomic stability.
“Growth is projected to stay at 6 percent in FY24, while inflation is projected to moderate to 7¼ percent by end-FY24. FX reserves are expected to increase gradually in the near term and are projected to reach about four months of prospective imports in the medium term. However, uncertainties around the outlook remain high and risks are tilted to the downside.
“Raising revenue is critical to create additional space for social spending and investment. Concerted tax policy and administration measures are needed to raise Bangladesh’s low tax-to-GDP ratio in a sustainable manner. Rationalizing subsidies, improving expenditure efficiency, and managing fiscal risks will allow for additional spending on social safety nets and growth-enhancing investment.
“Modernizing monetary and exchange rate policy frameworks and improving FX management remain important to bolster external resilience. The introduction of the interest rate corridor system and the adoption of a unified single exchange rate are welcome steps. Building on these, Bangladesh Bank should continue to fully operationalize the interest rate targeting framework and gradually move to a flexible exchange rate regime.
“Addressing banking sector vulnerabilities remains important to meet Bangladesh’s growing financing needs. Reducing non-performing loans of state-owned commercial banks, enhancing supervision, strengthening governance, and improving regulatory frameworks would increase financial sector efficiency. Developing domestic capital markets will help mobilize financing to support growth objectives.
“Discussions also focused on the structural reform agenda to support the authorities’ ambition to reach an upper middle-income status by 2031. Expanding trade, attracting more FDI, enhancing the investment climate, and raising women’s economic participation are crucial to boost growth potential.
“Given Bangladesh’s high vulnerability to climate change, it is important to scale up resilient infrastructure investment, through climate-responsive public investment management and green public financial management reforms. Better management of climate-related risks will help enhance financial sector resilience and mobilize private climate finance.
“The IMF team is grateful to the Bangladesh authorities and other stakeholders for their hospitality and candid discussions. The team held meetings with Finance Minister A H M Mustafa Kamal, Bangladesh Bank Governor Abdur Rouf Talukder, and other senior government and Bangladesh Bank officials. The team also met with representatives from the private sector, think tanks, bilateral donors, and development partners.”