World Bank’s ‘Yes’ to Padma Bridge funding

The Daily Star September 22, 2012

The World Bank has decided to revive its $1.2b loan deal for the Padma bridge project as the government has removed the hurdles to end an impasse over the scheme.

“The bank has agreed that, upon satisfactory implementation of the agreed measures by the government, and with the support of the bank’s governing bodies, it will engage anew in the Padma bridge project,” the global lender said in a release on Thursday.

পদ্মা সেতুতে অর্থায়নে রাজি বিশ্বব্যাংক

Cost to go up by $145m

Better late than never

AL thanks WB

Bangladesh loses some points, react leading economists 

Govt wasted 10 months, says BNP

পদ্মা সেতুর অভিজ্ঞতা থেকে সরকারকে শিক্ষা নিতে হবে

পদ্মা সেতু নিয়ে বিশ্বব্যাংকের বিবৃতি

The bank also clearly hinted that it would not tolerate any corrupt practices in the nearly $3 billion project. “The World Bank remains vigilant to any signs of corruption in the Padma bridge project, and our determination to take a strong line against wrongdoing will never waver.”

For the first time in its 65-year history, the WB has completely withdrawn its cancellation of a loan deal.

A WB official said there are instances that the bank has withdrawn its loan cancellation order partially in some projects, but the total revival of the Padma bridge loan deal is unprecedented.

Reinstatement of the deal will not require any approval from the WB board as the loan was cancelled before its activation. The bank’s president and managing director have decided to revive the agreement, he added.

Special moves by some high-ranking government officials and a host of countries have contributed to the revival of the deal, said a finance ministry official.

The government in April last year had entered the loan deal with the WB for implementing the country’s largest ever infrastructure project.

But the Washington-based bank in September the same year postponed its funding for the project citing it had proof of a corruption conspiracy involving Bangladeshi officials, executives of a Canadian consultancy firm and some private individuals.

Since then the government and the WB engaged in a series of discussions, but the differences between the two sides were not resolved.

On June 29, the WB cancelled the loan deal after the government failed to meet two of the four conditions set by the bank to release the fund.

The conditions are: (i) placing all public officials suspected of involvement in the corruption scheme on leave from government employment until the investigation is completed; (ii) appointing a special inquiry and prosecution team within the Bangladeshi Anti-Corruption Commission to handle the investigation; (iii) agreeing to provide full access to all investigative information to an external panel of internationally recognised experts so that they can give guidance to the WB and co-financiers on the progress, adequacy, and fairness of the investigation, and; iv) agreeing on new implementation arrangements that gives the bank and co-financiers greater oversight of project procurement processes.

Even after meeting three conditions, revival of the deal became uncertain due to the government’s indecision over sending the prime minister’s Economic Affairs Adviser Mashiur Rahman on leave.

A negotiations team led by prime minister’s International Affairs Adviser Gowher Rizvi went to Washington on Sunday.

Eventually, the government on Wednesday sent a letter to the WB headquarters confirming that it has fulfilled all the conditions.

“The WB understands that all the government employees and officials alleged to have been involved in corrupt acts in connection with the project have been put on leave from government service until an investigation is completed, and that a full and fair investigation is now underway,” said the WB statement.

“Following our cancellation of the credit, the government of Bangladesh took actions necessary to fulfil the above measures. The government of Bangladesh has now begun to address the evidence of corruption the bank identified.”

In its communication with the WB, mentioned the release, the government requested the bank to consider again the financing of the bridge.

Contacted for Finance Minister AMA Muhith’s reaction, the minister’s public relations officer Shahedur Rahman said Muhith will brief the media after PM’s Adviser Gowher Rizvi is back home from Washington.

The World Bank has decided to revive its $1.2b loan deal for the Padma bridge project as the government has removed the hurdles to end an impasse over the scheme.

“The bank has agreed that, upon satisfactory implementation of the agreed measures by the government, and with the support of the bank’s governing bodies, it will engage anew in the Padma bridge project,” the global lender said in a release on Thursday.

The bank also clearly hinted that it would not tolerate any corrupt practices in the nearly $3 billion project. “The World Bank remains vigilant to any signs of corruption in the Padma bridge project, and our determination to take a strong line against wrongdoing will never waver.”

For the first time in its 65-year history, the WB has completely withdrawn its cancellation of a loan deal.

A WB official said there are instances that the bank has withdrawn its loan cancellation order partially in some projects, but the total revival of the Padma bridge loan deal is unprecedented.

Reinstatement of the deal will not require any approval from the WB board as the loan was cancelled before its activation. The bank’s president and managing director have decided to revive the agreement, he added.

Special moves by some high-ranking government officials and a host of countries have contributed to the revival of the deal, said a finance ministry official.

The government in April last year had entered the loan deal with the WB for implementing the country’s largest ever infrastructure project.

But the Washington-based bank in September the same year postponed its funding for the project citing it had proof of a corruption conspiracy involving Bangladeshi officials, executives of a Canadian consultancy firm and some private individuals.

Since then the government and the WB engaged in a series of discussions, but the differences between the two sides were not resolved.

On June 29, the WB cancelled the loan deal after the government failed to meet two of the four conditions set by the bank to release the fund.

The conditions are: (i) placing all public officials suspected of involvement in the corruption scheme on leave from government employment until the investigation is completed; (ii) appointing a special inquiry and prosecution team within the Bangladeshi Anti-Corruption Commission to handle the investigation; (iii) agreeing to provide full access to all investigative information to an external panel of internationally recognised experts so that they can give guidance to the WB and co-financiers on the progress, adequacy, and fairness of the investigation, and; iv) agreeing on new implementation arrangements that gives the bank and co-financiers greater oversight of project procurement processes.

Even after meeting three conditions, revival of the deal became uncertain due to the government’s indecision over sending the prime minister’s Economic Affairs Adviser Mashiur Rahman on leave.

A negotiations team led by prime minister’s International Affairs Adviser Gowher Rizvi went to Washington on Sunday.

Eventually, the government on Wednesday sent a letter to the WB headquarters confirming that it has fulfilled all the conditions.

“The WB understands that all the government employees and officials alleged to have been involved in corrupt acts in connection with the project have been put on leave from government service until an investigation is completed, and that a full and fair investigation is now underway,” said the WB statement.

“Following our cancellation of the credit, the government of Bangladesh took actions necessary to fulfil the above measures. The government of Bangladesh has now begun to address the evidence of corruption the bank identified.”

In its communication with the WB, mentioned the release, the government requested the bank to consider again the financing of the bridge.

Contacted for Finance Minister AMA Muhith’s reaction, the minister’s public relations officer Shahedur Rahman said Muhith will brief the media after PM’s Adviser Gowher Rizvi is back home from Washington.

PM’s UK interview triumphs, failures

আবুলকে সাময়িবিদায় দিল আওয়াম লী

SMS to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Corruption cripples development

Govt wasted 10 months

Says BNP

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