Muhith urges WB to reconsider Padma project loan deal
Reported by: UNB Connect
Reported on: Jul 01, 2012 08:47 pm
Reported in: National
Dhaka, July 1 (UNB) – Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Sunday urged the World Bank to reconsider the loan agreement for the Padma Bridge project terming the Bank’s statement in this regard disrespectful, unexpected and mysterious.“Our executive director is in negotiations with the World Bank …we’ll be waiting for their (WB) reconsideration,” he told a crowded press conference at his ministry in the evening.The press conference was arranged in the wake of the cancellation of loan agreement by the World Bank citing “corruption concerns” in the country’s mega bridge project.Muhith said the claim in the World Bank ‘press note’ is neither fully acceptable nor fully true. “We’re still in negotiations with the World Bank and seek an amicable solution to the issue.”The Finance Minister said the credible evidence that the World Bank has cited is not acceptable to the government because they would not disclose the names of the persons they have talked to.He also termed the World Bank statement on loan cancellation for Padma bridge project as unexpected and mysterious, and said Bangladesh will wait for a review of the decision.The Finance Minister said the government kept informed about its different steps to the other co-financiers of the Padma Bridge project, and hoped that they would evaluate such steps of the lending agency.Muhith said the government accepted many demands of the World Bank in many aspects of the Padma Bridge project in a bid to keep the mega project corruption free as also for reaching an understanding with the Bank.Referring to his immediate statement in response to the World Bank ‘press note’, the Finance Minister said it was not correctly stated that the government had not taken any step following the submission of credible evidence of corruption by the World Bank.Muhith said discussions and correspondence have been going on with the World Bank for the last nine months regarding the Padma Bridge issue and the government has taken some wonderful steps to remove the ‘doubts’ of the World Bank.The Finance Minister said the allegation of the World Bank is not acceptable to the government. “The World Bank’s evidence of the alleged corruption will be credible to our laws only if they can provide witnesses,” he said.Asked whether WB’s withdrawal of fund for the Padma Bridge would affect foreign fund disbursement, the minister said he does not expect any change in the aid disbursement due to the withdrawal. “The WB statement is neither acceptable nor logical.”The minister also affirmed that the Padma Bridge construction will start in the 2012-13 fiscal year.Asked whether he suspected any influence of Yunus behind the World Bank decision, the minister said he does not know anything about it.The Finance Minister at the press conference also circulated some letters of the government written to the World Bank president and vice president on various occasions regarding the bridge project to avert any irrational comments.Muhith said he will make a more elaborate statement in parliament on the issue.At the press briefing, the minister gave an elaboration of the WB's loan support to different projects in Bangladesh. Terming the WB as Bangladesh's one of the most friendly organisations, he mentioned that the lending agency has financed $1680 crore against 251 projects since the country’s independence and of the amount $1450 has been repaid.At present, he said, 35 projects of $495 crore provided by the World Bank are under implementation in Bangladesh.PM’s adviser Gowher Rizvi and ERD secretary Iqbal Mahmud were also present at the press conference.The World Bank formally canalled the loan on Saturday saying it has the proof of ‘corruption conspiracy’ involving Bangladeshi officials, executives of a Canadian firm and individuals.
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