Govt urges WB to decide on Padma funding by Jan

Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Thursday said the government has urged the World Bank to inform it by this month about the global lender’s decision on financing the Padma bridge project.

“We will not sit idle. We told the WB that we want a decision by this month. If not, we will have to look for other options,” the minister said.

He was talking to reporters at Secretariat in the morning.

Earlier two to three days ago, the Bangladesh’s alternate executive director of the World Bank had a meeting with the WB president at the global lender’s Washington office and requested him to take final decision on financing the project by this month, Muhith said.

“The WB president gave a good reaction,” he claimed.

About the Anti-Corruption Commission, the finance minister said the government has asked the ACC to settle the issue centering the exclusion of former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain from the list of accused.

The ACC on December 17 last year filed a case against seven people excluding the names of Abul for their alleged roles in graft conspiracy in Padma bridge project.

About GDP (gross domestic product) growth, the minister said the WB and International Monetary Fund always project GDP growth rate lower than the government. “But ultimately, it always happens what we say,” he said.

The WB earlier has revised down its GDP growth forecast for Bangladesh to 5.8 percent due to slow exports and low investment.

Earlier on January 8, WB Country Director Ellen Goldstein said she expected to get the report this month (January) from the three-member WB external panel, who visited Bangladesh twice late last year.

The project’s co-financiers — Asian Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency and Islamic Development Bank — will also have to make a decision after submission of the report, the WB country director said on the same day.

The WB cancelled its $1.2 billion funding for the project on June 29 this year, saying it had proof of a “corruption conspiracy” involving Bangladeshi officials, executives of the Canadian firm and some individuals.

On September 21 last year, the global lender decided to revive the loan after the government agreed to its terms and conditions, including conducting a proper probe into the corruption allegations in the $2.9 billion project.

During their visit, the three-member panel headed by Luis Moreno Ocampo, a former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, held talks with the Anti-Corruption Commission’s officials and made some recommendations.

Source: The Daily Star

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