Padma bridge financing
PM against any hostility with WBMustafizur Rahman
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday told a cabinet meeting that her government wanted to begin construction of the Padma bridge at any cost without creating any hostility with the World Bank or other development partners.
She underlined the need for settling the matter first with the World Bank, which had suspended funding for the $2.9 billion project, quickly so that the government could strike a final deal with Malaysia, which had recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Bangladesh for the same project, said ministers after the cabinet meeting.
Sheikh Hasina raised the Padma bridge issue while presiding over the weekly cabinet meeting at the secretariat after discussions on the regular agenda finished.
‘We don’t want to create any hitch with the World Bank or other development partners and at the same time we want to implement our priority project as it was an election pledge,’ a minister quoted the prime minister as having said.
Finance minister AMA Muhith informed the meeting that the government would know it within a month whether the World Bank would fund for the project, a minister told New Age.
The WB withheld disbursement of the credit 10 months back following allegations of corruption in the bidding process, halting construction of the 6.1 kilometre rail-cum-road bridge across the river Padma.
The prime minister said if the World Bank delays further in giving its decision, the Awami League-led government’s priority project would become uncertain and that was the reason behind their move for an alternative source of funding without waiting for the WB credit.
Sheikh Hasina asked for further negotiations with
other lending agencies—JAICA, ADB and IDB—to make it sure whether they were interested to go ahead with the Padma bridge project without WB—the leading agency here.
Communications minister Obaidul Quader on April 10 signed a memorandum of understanding with the Malaysian government in Kuala Lumpur for ‘co-operation on Padma multipurpose bridge and other infrastructure projects’.
The MoU, which would remain valid up to nine months, resulted from Bangladesh government’s efforts to find an alternative funding source for building the bridge across the river Padma after the World Bank had suspended its $1.2 billion credit for the project.
Obaidul Quader said on Thursday that the final agreement on the Padma bridge construction would depend on the proposal from the Malaysian government.
The minister said the Malaysian government had already formed a consortium with two Dubai-based financial companies and another from China for funding the mega project to be implemented on the Build-Own-Operate-Transfer basis.
In April 2011, the government signed an agreement with the WB for a $1.2 billion loan while Asian Development Bank was to provide $615 million, Japan International Cooperation Agency $400 million and the Islamic Development Bank $140 million to construct the country’s longest bridge.
Monday’s cabinet meeting, however, expressed satisfaction over 91 percent rate of implementation of its decisions taken in 39 months after the Awami League-led government took over in January 2009.
According to a report of the Cabinet Division, the last BNP-Jamaat alliance government implemented 65.5 percent of its decisions during the same period, cabinet secretary Mohammad Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told reporters after the meeting.
comments powered by Disqus