The central bank will set up $500 million of funding for the country’s manufacturers, in an effort to stimulate economic growth, the head of the bank said on Thursday.
The money will be split between two funds, one aimed at manufacturing in general, the second at textiles, including export-oriented ready-made garment factories.
Garments are a key foreign-exchange earner for Bangladesh. The country’s low wages and duty-free access to Western markets have helped make it the world’s second-largest apparel exporter after China.
“The first is a $300 million World Bank-funded lending window in foreign exchange for manufacturing units and the second is a Bangladesh Bank funded $200 million window for refinancing in foreign exchange to export-oriented manufacturing units in the textiles, apparels and leather sectors,” he said.
Atiur said the funds were aimed at helping the Bangladesh economy grow seven per cent this fiscal year, which ends June 2016. The economy grew 6.5 per cent last fiscal year.
Credit from the domestic banking system for the current fiscal year grew only 10.4 per cent up to May 2015, Atiur said, compared with a projection of 17.4 per cent for the entire fiscal year. He blamed inadequate infrastructure, tepid global output growth and political turmoil.
“Growth performance would clearly have been better had the economy not faced the disruptions from political unrest,” Atiur said.
Political conflict early in 2015 left more than 120 people dead, mostly from petrol-bomb attacks on vehicles. The unrest eased in April.
Some analysts say setting high targets for credit expansion is needed to stimulate the economy. Others say pumping in liquidity without repairing infrastructure and addressing other impediments to investment would stoke inflation and encourage unproductive speculation.
“We have therefore been taking care in adopting a cautious, restrained monetary stance ensuring adequacy of credit growth but at the same time avoiding undue excessive expansion,” Atiur said. “This stance is serving our economy well in maintaining inflation moderation and stability on a sustained basis.”
Current monetary programs project 16.5 per cent domestic credit growth against last year’s 10.4 per cent, which the central bank says would accommodate 7.0 percent real economic growth with 6.2 per cent inflation.