Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith on Wednesday said no corruption will take place in the Padma bridge project as he again hoped the World Bank will make the promised funds available.
The minister issued an official statement on Bangladesh’s biggest infrastructure project to date.
“Bangladesh has said earlier… first, we will start the construction of the bridge this year and second, we want to ensure that there will be no corruption in the Padma bridge project,” the minister said in the statement.
He said the Anti-Corruption Commission has been tasked to probe the allegation of corruption raised by the World Bank.
“ACC started the investigation in August 2011. They are yet to find any form of corruption. But the probe is continuing and has also been strengthened,” Muhith added.
The global lending agency had claimed the Bangladesh government did not follow its four conditions, one of which suggests sending the officials linked to the alleged corruption and holding powerful position on leave pending the investigation.
The government refuted the Washington-based lender’s allegations all through and the World Bank on Jun 29 cancelled its pledged $ 1.2 billion credit, saying it had ‘credible evidence’ of a high-level corruption involving Bangladeshi government officials.
Muhith had said on Sunday, “We had difficulties in accepting the fourth point made by the World Bank’s Residential Representative (Ellen) Goldstein. We are trying to resolve the problem.”
The fourth condition was to send bureaucrats and politically appointed people on leave.
On Monday, however, Syed Abul Hossain, who was the Communications Minister at the heart of the graft charges, resigned as Minister of Information and Communications Technology, clearing way for possible negotiations with the World Bank again. Former Bridges Division Secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan was also sent on leave.
Muhith in his statement on Wednesday said, “Though no evidence has been found yet, one honourable top government official went on leave. Former honourable Communications Minister has resigned to help the probe, though he claimed his innocence.”
The Finance Minister also mentioned that they were continuing dialogue with other lenders of the project.
“Islamic Development Bank has already informed us that they are very much interested to implement this project. They wished our success to clear the obstructions created so far. JICA is also continuing discussing with us on this and its President is now discussing the issue with the World Bank. Asian Development Bank is also engaged in dialogue with us.”
“Our first statement was that the World Bank’s decision needs review. We still hope that it would be reviewed and we would be able to rid ourselves of the blame,” Muhith said.