Govt wants WB decision on Padma Bridge this monthStaff Correspondent
The government has asked the World Bank to let it know by this month its decision on funding the Padma Multipurpose Bridge project, said finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith on Thursday.
He told reporters at his secretariat office that the government would look for other options for the bridge project if the WB failed to clear its position by January on funding the construction of the 6.1km rail-cum-road bridge.
‘We will not sit idle,’ said Muhith a couple of days after WB’s external penal reviewing Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigation expressed concern about scope for a fair investigation after prime suspect former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain had been excluded from the first information report.
‘We want to start construction of the bridge in the current dry season,’ he said, adding that beginning of the construction work under the present government was a major election pledge.
An official of WB Dhaka office said they were reviewing finance minister’s statement to reporters.
The official said the WB Dhaka office was busy with a programme to be held on Saturday and the farewell ceremony to the country director Ellen Goldstein whose tenure would end shortly.
Muhith said the government instructed the ACC to settle the dispute on exclusion of Syed Abul Hossain from its FIR in connection with the graft.
The WB has kept its $1.2 billion credit to the project suspended for the past one and a half years because of the ‘conspiracy of corruption’. It, however, said in last September that it would revive the loan after a credible investigation by the ACC was carried out into the matter.
Muhith said the country’s alternative executive director to the WB had a meeting with the WB president recently with the request of taking decision on the suspended credit this month.
He also claimed that the reaction given by the WB was positive.
Muhith said, apart from own investment, they had other financiers for funding the bridge, the estimated cost of which already stands at $2.9 billion.
Earlier, the government talked with Malaysia for financial assistance and also signed a memorandum of understanding. It also sought voluntary funds from people.
Muhith criticised the WB and the international monetary fund for projecting gross domestic product growth rates at lower than that made by the government. But, ultimately the government projections were proven accurate, he said.
The WB in a recent statement lowered the country’s GDP growth in the current fiscal year from its previous assessment of 6 per cent to 5.8 per cent.
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