Saturday, April 7, 2012
Padma Bridge: Govt to go for KL fund, says PM
Hasan Jahid Tusher
The Padma bridge would be constructed with Malaysian funds but Bangladesh's relation with the World Bank would not be harmed, said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday.
Hasina said this at a meeting of her party's highest decision making body, Awami League Central Working Committee, at Gono Bhaban last night.
Chairing the meeting, the prime minister said a Memorandum of Understanding would be signed with the Malaysian government regarding the bridge project, meeting sources told The Daily Star. Communications Minister Obaidul Quader would go to Kuala Lumpur today or tomorrow to sign the MoU. A special envoy of the Malaysian prime minister would be his counterpart.
The premier said she would be present during the MoU signing ceremony via teleconference with Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Hasina said Bangladesh and Malaysia would benefit with the construction of the bridge. She also hinted that had the bridge been built with the World Bank funding, people would have had to pay excess toll.
It would be better if the bridge is constructed with Malaysian funds rather than the World Bank's, she said, assuring her party lawmaker Abdur Rahman that a second Padma bridge at Paturia would also be built.
The Malaysian cabinet recently approved the Padma bridge investment proposal. According to the proposal, a Malaysian consortium would be set up to undertake the $2.19 billion project.
In October last year, the World Bank suspended its funding for the mega construction project in connection with foul play in the bidding process. The other financiers of the project--Asian Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency and Islamic Development Bank--also suspended release of their promised funds.
The government had signed loan agreements with World Bank for $1.2 billion, Asian Development Bank for $615 million, Japan International Cooperation Agency for $400 million and Islamic Development Bank for $140 million to construct the 6.15-kilometre bridge.
The World Bank last week temporarily banned a unit of the Canadian company SNC-Lavalin from taking part in any World Bank-funded project for its alleged involvement in corruption in the Padma bridge project.
Kuala Lumpur had proposed Dhaka about its wish to fund the project and a MoU was supposed to be signed in this regard.
Meanwhile, at the meeting last night, a few party leaders urged the prime minister to take immediate measurers to resolve water crisis in metropolitan cities.
Hasina directed party leaders to immediately complete holding councils of the party grassroots. If any designated leader failed to hold the councils, the party would form the committee from Dhaka, she said.
She also expressed dissatisfactions over comments made by Jubo League leaders against Awami League leaders and lawmaker on Thursday.