No solution to Padma Bridge issue soon | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 17, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 17, 2011

No solution to Padma Bridge issue soon

WB official for more dialogues

The impasse over the funding of the crucial Padma Bridge will not end anytime soon. That much is evident from what the World Bank had to say yesterday. In its view, the issue warrants more dialogue with the government.
"The managing director of the World Bank has written back to the finance minister and said that this is part of an ongoing dialogue and will not be solved overnight," said Ellen Goldstein, World Bank country director for Bangladesh.
Goldstein, who made the comments after her meeting with Finance Secretary Mohammad Tarique at his office in the city, was referring to the World Bank's November 4 letter that came in response to the one the finance minister had sent last month.
"This will take some more discussions for us to see how we can move forward," she said, according to Channel i television.
Bangladesh signed agreements to borrow US$1.2 billion from the World Bank, $0.615 billion from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), $0.4 billion from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and $0.13 billion from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to construct the 6.15-kilometre bridge.
Early in October, the World Bank suspended its funding for the project following allegations of corruption in river dredging, appointment of consultants and selection of pre-qualified contractors on the project. Jica and ADB have also extended their loan activation dates.
"We are very pleased that we have solidarity with all the co-financiers," said Goldstein.
She said the World Bank was serious about a proper use of the fund. "Any bit of money that comes into the country really needs to be spent in the right way to help the people of Bangladesh achieve their own aspirations.
“What is important is the transparency and accountability in the use of the fund," she said.
A finance ministry official told The Daily Star that the World Bank letter was a mere response to that of the finance minister, as the government's letter did not cite concrete steps to address the corruption charges in the nearly $2.9 billion project.
The World Bank letter did not say how the suspension would go. It only said it was ready to cooperate, said the official, seeking anonymity.
The bridge, expected to be completed by 2014, will connect 19 southwestern districts of the country with the capital city.

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