Skip to main content


Volume 181: debated on Tuesday 20 November 1990

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has on the impact of the Gulf crisis upon Bangladesh's economy and development plans; and what assistance, in addition to existing overseas aid programmes, he proposes.

Iraq's invasion of Kuwait has affected the economies of many countries. The adverse balance of payments impact on the Bangladesh economy has been estimated at nearly $500 million in 1990–91 by the International Monetary Fund. This includes the loss of workers' remittances, a higher oil import bill and weaker export demand. Prompt domestic action by the Bangladesh Government has reduced to an estimated $260 million the additional external finance needed to maintain imports and real growth at their originally planned levels.In addition to a substantial bilateral aid programme of over £50 million a year to Bangladesh, Her Majesty's Government have responded quickly with a contribution to the costs of repatriating refugees from the Gulf of whom many are from Bangladesh. This contribution, including Britain's share of European Community assistance, now amounts to £11 million.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has of the number of Bangladeshis still stranded as a consequence of the Gulf crisis, the cost of it in total to the Bangladesh Government; and whether he will now take further steps, including allocating Hercules aircraft and directly chartering United Kingdom civil aircraft, to help the stranded Bangladeshis return.

I understand that about 6,000 Bangladeshis remain in Kuwait and Iraq. These either cannot or do not wish to leave. The United Nations reports that by the end of September some 50,300 Bangladeshis had left; more than 14,000 were repatriated by the Government of Bangladesh itself, and the remainder by the international operation to which Britain contributed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations Her Majesty's Government will be making to the World bank meeting this month reviewing, mid-term, aid to Bangladesh.

The World bank meeting in Dhaka on 6 and 7 November examined the progress made by the Government of Bangladesh on the economic management action plan agreed at the annual aid group meeting last April.

The British delegation joined other donors and the World bank in commending the Government of Bangladesh on their firm short-term macro-economic efforts and their response to the problems caused by the Gulf crisis, but urging further action on several long-term structural issues. As well as general economic management the United Kingdom referred to the importance of good government, including responsiveness to the aspirations of the population, and accountability.

A further review of progress on these issues will take place at the next aid group meeting in April 1991.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals Her Majesty's Government will present to the Bangladesh-United Kingdom bilateral meeting scheduled for December.

The next meeting in our annual sequence of bilateral aid talks is now scheduled to be held in Dhaka in January 1991. These talks enable both sides to review economic and aid management in the previous and current year; and to consider the likely shape and direction of future British assistance, taking due account of the Bangladesh Government's own priorities as well as the resources available to Her Majesty's Government for development activities in Bangladesh.