Japan for containing graftDiplomatic Correspondent
Japan stressed the need for taking ‘anti-corruption measures’ for ensuring proper utilisation of the Japanese tax payers’ money provided as development assistance to Bangladesh.
Japan believed that there ‘are human rights problems’ (in Bangladesh) that should be resolved ‘internally’.
‘We provide our tax payers’ money for development assistance and expect that ‘anti-corruption measures are taken’ while utilising the funds, Japan’s deputy prime minister Katsuya Okada said at a press briefing at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Friday morning while winding up his visit here.
Replying to a question on human rights situation in Bangladesh, he said, ‘there are problems of human rights and it should be resolved internally.’
Okada also stressed the need for overcoming impediments to Japanese investment, which include shortage of gas, electricity and the sloth administrative procedures.
About Japanese funding for construction of Padma Bridge, he reiterated Japanese commitment to provide fund for the project.
But he suggested that Bangladesh should negotiate with the World Bank, the coordinator of the project, to settle the impasse immediately.
Japan would also talk to the World Bank to resolve the stalemate on Padma Bridge funding, Okada said.
In the official talks held on Thursday, Japan once again ‘linked’ its financial support for construction of the Padma Bridge to settlement of the graft charges with the World Bank and completion of the bidding process for construction of the bridge.
On question about Japanese funding in the Metro Rail project, he said Japan ‘is examining and sorting out’ the project.
Okada, also an influential Japanese politician and secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan, assured that his country would continue its support to Bangladesh in its development efforts.
Earlier on Friday morning, he had a breakfast meeting with select members of the business community at Sonargaon Hotel.
He also visited a Japanese Matsuoka Apparel Factory at Ashulia.
‘Bangladesh is a raw diamond. If it is polished it will be a real diamond,’ Okada said, quoting the factory manager, a Japanese.
The food and disaster management minister, Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, briefly spoke at the press conference and saw off the Japanese leader.
Chief of Protocol Khondker M Talha and Japanese ambassador in Dhaka Shiro Sadoshima were present at the airport.
Okada had arrived in Dhaka on Thursday on a two-day official visit at the invitation of foreign minister Dipu Moni.
He held bilateral talks with foreign minister Dipu Moni. He also called on the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, and the leader of the opposition, Khaleda Zia, separately.
This was Okada’s first visit to Bangladesh. He visited Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases Research, Bangladesh.
The World Bank suspended funding of $1.2 billion for the Padma Bridge project in September last year bringing allegation of corruption against the then communication minister, Syed Abul Hossain.
Other co-financers of the project—Japan, Asian Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank—also followed the WB and held up release of their funds.
The ADB agreed to provide $615 million, while the IDB $140 million for the construction of the 6.15 kilometre-long bridge across the river Padma.
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