WB turns back on funding Siddhirganj power projectAdvises govt to arrange $194m from alternative sources





Shamim Jahangir

The World Bank has backtracked from its commitment of 100 percent financial support for implementing the 335MW Siddhirganj combined cycle power project proposed to be commissioned within 30 months of signing of the deal.

“In a letter on 12 January, the World Bank advised the Electricity Generation Company of Bangladesh [EGCB] to seek alternative sources or government’s own funding to ensure rest of the cost,” company’s Secretary Kazi Nazrul Islam informed the Power Division on 15 January.

But the WB has approved the draft contract agreement to sign with a Spanish company, the official said in his letter.

The funding will rise to $415.1 million from $221.1 million after revision of the project, the official added.

“So, it requires mobilisation of $194 million from the government or alternative sources for implementing the project,” the letter said.

Talking with Power Division Secretary Md Abul Kalam Azad, he said the government is hopeful about getting rest of the fund.

The WB has already approved tender documents for the project, he said. “The World Bank Board of Directors will approve rest of the funding immediately,” Azad said.

But, another EGCB official said the WB left commencement of the project without its approval to Bangladesh’s own risk.

EGCB Managing Director Mostafa Kamal said the company has already invited qualified bidder Isolux Ingenieria to sign the deal immediately.

“We could have completed the project within 30 months after signing of the deal,” he said.

The WB had proposed providing $221.10 million to implement the two units of peaking power plant at Siddhirganj, each capable of generating 150MW of electricity. But then it expressed its unwillingness to procure equipment from German firm Siemens over graft allegations. The WB then proposed turning the project into a 335-450MW combined cycle power plant and assured Bangladesh of providing full financing.

The recent WB move has naturally frustrated the Power Division.

According to officials, state-owned EGCB invited a tender in October 2010 for the 300-450MW Siddhirganj power plant.

The project has been in the tendering and re-tendering process for a long time since move for its implementation was first taken in 2004.

The first tender was invited in 2009 when it was a 300MW capacity peaking plant project. But the EGCB had to cancel the tender in response to the World Bank suggestion.

Later, as per Power Division’s instructions and World Bank’s suggestions, the EGCB upgraded the project to a 335-450MW combined cycle power plant and quickly invited a tender in November 2010.

Source: The Daily Sun

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