Govt wants WB removed as Padma project coordinator: Muhith
UNBconnect... - Govt wants WB removed as Padma project coordinator: Muhith
Reported by: UNBConnect
Reported on: April 23, 2012 16:25 PM
Reported in: National
Dhaka, Apr 23 (UNB) – Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Monday said the government wants to take over the charge of coordinator of the Padma Bridge project from the World Bank in a bid to remove the existing barriers to the construction of the country’s largest bridge.
“We would like to make a new design for the Padma Bridge coordinator where we’ll coordinate the whole matter and we want to take the decision by June,” he said after a meeting with visiting Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice President Xiaoyu Zhao at his ministry.
He also said the change could be made under the existing framework of the agreement signed with the World Bank and other donor agencies.
Muhith said Bangladesh wants to do so as the World Bank, now the coordinator of the donor agencies, has temporarily halted the release of its promised fund blocking other agencies to disburse their respective funds for the project.
Muhith said the government is expecting a proposal under public private partnership (PPP) from Malaysia and the government will take the concrete the decision once it receives that proposal.
Bangladesh signed a MoU with the Malaysian government recently for cooperation in constructing the Padma Bridge as the World Bank has suspended its fund release raising the allegation of irregularities in the bidding process.
“Then we’ll decide whether we’ll scrap the whole agreement with the World Bank or we’ll drop some organisations from the agreement. We’ll have to sit again,” he said adding that the government will take the decision soon after having the official proposal from the Malaysian side.
The minister said the government wants to give some work orders for the Padma Bridge project by October and start the construction works by November next.
He mentioned that the Malaysian side knocked the ADB for funding them to construct the Padma Bridge. “But they (ADB) said it’s not possible for them to provide money where there is an agreement on the same purpose,” Muhith said.
The government signed loan agreements with the WB for $1.2 billion, ADB for $615 million, JICA involving $400 million and IDB for $140 million to construct the 6.15 kilometre bridge.
But the project got stalled in October last year when the World Bank suspended its fund for the $2.9 billion project over the allegation of corruption in the bidding process. The other donors of the project -- ADB, JICA and IDB -- also suspended the release of their promised funds.
The Finance Minister said ADB Vice President Xiaoyu Zhao asked the minister to find out a way to manage money after the fallout with the World Bank. “He’s told me to look for a way to have money for the project without financial support from the World Bank,” he added.
Responding to a query, Muhith promptly rejected the allegation and said how it is possible to commit corruption without starting the construction work on the bridge project.
Muhith said they also discussed the budgetary support from the ADB.
In this connection, he said the minister asked them to provide US$ 300 million as the budgetary support.
“We’ve already spent Tk 1500 crore on the Padma Bridge (project), the budget will be under tremendous pressure. That’s why we need some budgetary support from the ADB,” he said.
He said the support will be free for expenses to achieve any particular target.