Muhith requests JICA to talk with World Bank over Padma bridge funding

Dhaka, Jul 19 (bdnews24.com)

Finance Minister A M A Muhith has urged the President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to initiate talks with the World Bank to resolve stalemate over funding for the proposed Padma multipurpose bridge project.

Muhith made the request on Thursday, only weeks after the government said it would not urge the Washington-based global lender to review the decision to withdraw from the project.

JICA is one of the co-financiers of the Padma project with its commitment of US$400 million.

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“I talked to JICA President Akihiko Tanaka over telephone in the morning. He’s going to Washington today. I’ve asked him to try to settle the issue in an amicable manner,” the Finance Minister told reporters at his Secretariat office.

The JICA chief also expressed his keen interest in initiating talks in this regard, he said.

Tanaka is scheduled to hold talks with the top officials of the World Bank at its US-based headquarters.

The World Bank on June 29 cancelled the $1.2-billion loan deal for the country’s largest-ever infrastructure project alleging graft in its execution.

But JICA is yet to take any final decision on its financing for the project.

Following the World Bank’s fund cancellation, the government announced to construct the bridge with its own funds if donors do not come up with offers to finance the project.

The cabinet on July 9 decided that the government would not request the global lender at the moment to review its decision. But the Finance Minister has repeatedly been expressing his hope that it would review its decision to pull out from the Padma bridge project.

Muhith said on July 11 that the government would not send any letter requesting the World Bank to reconsider the decision, but its Alternate Executive Director (Qazi Aminul Islam) in Washington was holding talks with top WB officials including its newly-appointed President.

He also said that the government would communicate with the Washington-based bank only if there was a positive response from the lender.

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