Govt press meet Thursday to clarify position on Padma Bridge scandal

Dhaka, Aug 1 (bdnews24.com)

Finance Minister AMA Muhith will officially reveal the latest status on the much-talked-about Padma bridge project at a news conference on Thursday.

The media meet is scheduled to take place around 2pm at the conference room of the Ministry of Finance, a statement issued on Wednesday said.

World Bank did not provide corruption evidence, Hasina claims
with BBC

The road to Padma Bridge Project: corruption, crisis

আবুলকে ‘সাময়িক’ বিদায় দিল আওয়ামী লীগ

পদ্মা নিয়ে মুহিতের অনেক চিন্তা, কিন্তু প্রধানমন্ত্রী কেন উতলা?

SMS to Sheikh Hasina to go tough against corruption

পদ্মা সেতুঃ ‘দুর্নীতি’র সংজ্ঞা পাল্টাতে হবে মনে হচ্ছে

Corruption in Bangladesh cripples development

The briefing will take place two days after Asian Development Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency extended by a month the deadline for disbursement of the loan they pledged to provide for the project.

Muhith had called a press conference on Jul 1 to refute the corruption charges the World Bank had levelled against the government in cancelling its pledged loan for $ 2.9 billion project on Jun 29.

He had also urged the global lender to review its decision to pull out of for Bangladesh’s largest infrastructure project.

Of the proposed $2.9 billion project, the World Bank had agreed to provide $ 1.2 billion while ADB pledged $ 610 million.

The Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank is to provide $140 million and JICA said it would contribute $ 400 million in the project.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, however, announced that the bridge will be constructed with own fund, if needed and during her recent UK tour, she urged Bangladeshi expatriates to remit more money to help government build it.

The Cabinet at a meeting on Jul 9 had decided to pull together internal resources to fund Padma bridge.

However, Muhith has been making efforts to convince the World Bank to review its decision. The government sent letters to the three other donors to continue with their funding

On the issue the Finance Minister told bdnews24.com the government had requested the others donors to convince the World Bank to withdraw its loan cancellation decision.

Muhith said the JICA President held talks with the World Bank President during his recent Washington tour to resolve deadlock over funding.

On July 9, he sat with representatives of different donor countries and agencies for discussing the loan-cancellation with them. None from World Bank attended the meeting.

As things took a turn for the worse, former Communications Minister Abul Hossain finally resigned from his office as Information and Communication technology this month.

Additionally, former Secretary to the Bridges Division Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan was sent on leave apparently following the Washington-based global lender’s recommendation over taking action against some government officials for their involvement in ‘corruption’ in the project.

After the World Bank suspended its promised funding for construction of the bridge, Malaysia expressed its interest to finance the project.

Later on, Communication Minister Obaidul Quader signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Malaysia on Apr 10 and later Malaysia submitted a preliminary proposal to the government on Jul 28.

Malaysian national news agency Bernama on Tuesday said Bangladesh and Malaysia would hold a meeting in next week to finalise matters related to the project.

According to Bernama, Malaysia’s Special Envoy to South Asia on Infrastructure S Samy Vellu will have talks with Quader from Aug 4-6.

Samy Vellu is also scheduled to visit the project site and Malaysia will send a final proposal to Bangladesh by mid-August, Bernama said.

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