Padma bridge possible with domestic funds : BEA seminarStaff Correspondent
A number of economists and expatriate Bangladeshis on Thursday said that construction of the proposed Padma Bridge was possible through self-financing and with a reduced cost.
Speaking at a seminar on Padma bridge through self-financing, they urged the government to take appropriate measures immediately for construction of the bridge to materialise people’s demand.
Bangladesh Economic Association organised the seminar at its conference room with former Bangladesh Bank governor Mohammed Farashuddin in the chair.
BEA president Abul Barkat and former deputy governor of BB Khondker Ibrahim Khaled, among others, addressed the seminar.
Speakers said that there would be no problems in collecting local currencies needed for constructing the bridge, while collecting foreign currency would be a little difficult but possible.
They alleged that the World Bank itself was a ‘corrupt institution’ and the lender should apologise for ‘deceiving’ Bangladesh in providing loans on the ‘false allegation of corruption’.
Farashuddin said that the construction cost of Padma bridge would be reduced if the government builds it with local funds as usually the costs of any projects go up by 25 per cent if those were built through foreign loans.
He said that the government should mobilise foreign currency portion of construction costs from non-resident Bangladeshis. ‘If needed, the bridge could be named Padma Prabashi Bridge,’ he added.
The government could immediately start construction of the bridge by taking $500 million from the reserve of Bangladesh Bank. ‘It is an old concept that the central bank has to have reserve for meeting import bills of three months,’ he said.
‘The government will need Tk 24,000 crore to build the bridge in four years while it is possible to collect Tk 98,825 crore from internal sources for this purpose and four bridges like Padma can be built with this money,’ BEA president Abul Barkat in his keynote paper said.
Of the amount, Tk 49,150 crore can be collected from interest free sources, he said.
He said that out of total cost, 40 per cent would be needed in local currency and the remaining 60 per cent in foreign currency.
He said that fund can be collected from 14 sources such as foreign reserve, remittance, pension fund, banking sector, insurance sector, undisclosed money, non-utilised money of annual development programme, additional taxes on tobacco, savings of Bangladeshis abroad and donations.
Ibrashim Khaled said that foreign currency reserve may face pressure if the bridge is built with local funds, but the amount could be raised from NRBs.
‘There are 1 crore Bangladeshis in foreign countries and if the government takes $10-$20 in donation from each of them, this will help,’ he said, adding that it was possible to spend $1 billion from the central bank’s reserve.
Rezaul Karim, an NRB living in New York, said that the expatriates could contribute in building the bridge, but the government should ensure proper utilisation of their donations.
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