WB still silent

August 31, 2012

Padma Bridge Project
WB still silent
Co-financier ADB extends time for loan, Jica not yet
Since hope is still there regarding the World Bank’s taking the lead in the financing of the Padma bridge project, the Asian Development Bank has extended its loan effectuation deadline by another month.
Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), another partner of the project’s finance, is expected to extend its loan effectuation deadline as well.
The loan effectuation date of the ADB and Jica was expected to expire today. Earlier they were extended, for the fourth time, on July 31.
A high official of the Economic Relations Division (ERD) said the department had written to the ADB and Jica requesting an extension of the deadline.
The ADB last night in a letter told the ERD that it had extended the deadline by a month. Jica is yet to respond. It may respond positively today, ERD officials have claimed.
An official of the finance ministry said if the World Bank pulled out of the co-financing arrangement for the bridge project, there would be no scope for the ADB and Jica to stay on the project.
The official said since discussions were going on with the World Bank, the government had asked the ADB and Jica to extend the deadline in the hope that the dispute would be resolved.
The official said the World Bank did not entertain the government’s request to allow the Prime Minister’s Adviser Mashiur Rahman to stay in office until the primary investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) into the graft allegations against him was complete.
The World Bank integrity vice presidency maintains that those who have been accused of corruption must go on leave during investigation.
Official sources said taking into account the opinion of the integrity vice presidency of the World Bank was important for the revival of the Padma bridge financing after its cancellation on June 29 on corruption allegations.
Without Mashiur Rahman’s resignation or going on leave, the World Bank financing of the Padma bridge project was not possible, said a high official of the finance ministry, requesting anonymity.
There was no development regarding Mashiur’s resignation or going on leave until yesterday, said an official at the Prime Minister’s Office.
However, Juan Miranda, ADB Director General for South Asia, responded very positively about the financing of the project.
Before extending the deadline last night, he said, “The ADB is as of today [Thursday] and as of tomorrow co-financier of this project.”
He was speaking to journalists after a meeting with Finance Minister AMA Muhith at the latter’s secretariat office yesterday.
Miranda said, “This bridge will be built…that’s what I have to tell you…I am confident that this bridge will be built.”
The ADB official also said, “The words I want in your headlines is ‘This bridge will be built’.”
When The Daily Star asked Finance Minister AMA Muhith whether he had received any final message from the World Bank, he said, “I will not comment on this now.”
Emerging from the purchase committee meeting, Muhith said the discussion on the Padma bridge was at a delicate stage.
Muhith said he would talk when the time was right.
On the statement made by the ADB director general for South Asia, the finance minister said he was very happy over the second part of his statement (that the bridge would be built).
He said the World Bank, the ADB and Jica were together regarding the financing of the Padma bridge project. The complexity has to be resolved now. Negotiations were going on.
Another source said the World Bank, the ADB and Jica held a meeting at a Gulshan hotel yesterday on the Padma bridge issue. The ADB director general, who is visiting Dhaka, was present at the meeting.

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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