Muhith expects positive response from WB

Finance Minister AMA Muhith

Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Tuesday said the government is expecting a response from the World Bank about its next step on the Padma bridge project funding following the recent action taken by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

“We hope to get a reaction from them (WB) clearing their position on the matter (Padma bridge). If they do so, then there could be something from me to say,” he said.

The finance minister was talking to reporters after a function on the World Migrants Day 2012 held at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center in the capital.

Muhith told a questioner that he was still hopeful of getting a positive response about having fund from the Washington-based lending agency for the much-hyped mega infrastructure project.

Earlier on Monday, the ACC after a year-long inquiry into the allegation over Padma bridge project sued seven people for allegedly conspiring to indulge in bribery.

The accused include former secretary of the Bridges Division Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, but the anti-graft body did not include in the case former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain and former state minister for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury.

The six other accused in the case filed with Banani Police Station are Superintending Engineer of Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) Kazi Mohammad Ferdous, Executive Engineer of Roads and Highways Department Reaz Ahmed Zaber, Deputy Managing Director of Engineering and Planning Consultant, a local agent Canadian firm SNC Lavalin, Mohammad Mostofa and SNC Lavalin officials Mohammad Ismail, Ramesh Shah and Kevin Wales.

Before taking their action, the finance minister said, the anti-graft watchdog had discussed it with the World Bank, and the Bank and its panel of international experts have been informed about the action taken by the ACC.

Replying to another query, Muhith said he did not know the details of discussions that took place between the ACC and WB’s panel of international experts. “I broadly know that the panel put forward some suggestions to the ACC, including about action. Action has already been taken by the ACC.”

Muhith, however, refused to elaborate further about the Padma Bridge project saying he would say more on the issue at the right time.

Taking a swipe on the experts, he said they (experts) think there has been no development in the country.

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

The global lender on September 21 decided to revive the loan after the Bangladesh government agreed to the WB’s terms and conditions.

Source:The Daily Star

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