Alternative funding if WB fails to decide in Jan: PMDiplomatic Correspondent
The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, on Wednesday cleared her government’s stance on the World Bank’s financing of the Padma Birdge project saying the bank would have to confirm this month whether or not it was going to fund, or else the government would choose an alternative way.
‘Alternative arrangements are in place… Insha’Allah, Padma Bridge will surely be built,’ she said at a briefing of media editors and senior journalists at the Prime Minister’s Office.
Hasina made the remarks when an editor of a television channel asked if she had any discussion with Russian president Vladimir Putin during her Moscow visit about funding the construction of Padma Bridge.
The WB stalled its $1.2 billion loan committed for financing the mega project on an allegation of ‘corruption conspiracy’ in appointing a consultative firm.
‘It’s not acceptable to stop work on the excuse that not corruption but conspiracy of corruption took place. We have not done any wrong,’ she said, adding that the bank was allowed to investigate in whatever way it wanted.
She said the formula and analysis that were being shown suggested that no work could be done in Bangladesh.
In an oblique reference to a meeting between former communication minister
Syed Abul Hossain and officials of SNC Lavalin, the prime minister questioned what termed the grotesque logic of asserting that the person who had arranged the meeting was innocent but the person who had taken part in it was guilty and should be dropped.
Sensing something fishy, Hasina alleged that there was a deal between the World Bank and the Anti-Corruption Commission of disclosing nothing about the investigation.
But, she wondered, how a particular daily could publish in advance the questions of the WB panel of experts addressed to the ACC before the commission or the finance ministry received them.
‘Those were published as a part of a certain process… Please, make an inquiry to see if there is any ill motive or purpose behind it,’ Hasina told the journalists.
She said the World Bank had not only suspended its own lending but also asked the JICA and the ADB to follow suit as members of the consortium to finance the project.
The prime minister said the WB would have to say within this month whether or not it would come up with the fund.
She said work on the planned bridge had not stopped. Work on acquisition of land and approach road are going on. If the WB does not finance, she indicated that the $2.9 billion multipurpose bridge would be built as per a revised design discarding the rail-link component aimed at connecting the capital with Mongla port.
‘One year has already elapsed. But, since we’ve started the work, we must complete it,’ she asserted.
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