Shady two rally for deal with KL | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 27, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 27, 2012

Padma Bridge Project

Shady two rally for deal with KL

Malaysia places 5th 'final' proposal today

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A business magnate and a state minister are lobbying hard for a deal with Malaysia on the Padma bridge project despite the country's failure to submit a complete proposal even in eight months, communications ministry sources say.
The businessman, known as a loan defaulter, and the junior minister, who is a powerful leader of ruling Awami League, are misguiding Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina about Malaysia's capacity to handle the bridge construction.
The duo has met Hasina and Communications Minister Obaidul Quader on several occasions to persuade them into accepting the Malaysian proposal.
They know well that Malaysia lacks both financial and technical abilities to construct the 6.15km bridge and has no experience of implementing such a giant project.
However, Malaysia today will submit its fifth proposal on financing the Padma bridge construction. The last four were incomplete and full of inconsistencies.
The World Bank in September last year suspended its promised $1.2 billion loan for the country's biggest infrastructure scheme, bringing graft allegations centring on the project.
The construction of the 6.15km bridge became uncertain after the global lender in June this year cancelled its loan agreement on the ground that not all its conditions had been met.
But as government efforts still continue to have the WB loan cancellation reviewed, officials of the communications ministry and Bridges Division find it confusing why Kuala Lumpur is coming up with the offer at this time.
Many local experts say it is time the government took the final decision about the project. They also say the Malaysian offer will prove very costly.
In January, Malaysia formally proposed financing the $2.97 billion project. It was supposed to place full details of financial and construction issues within a couple of months.
Government sources said the offer was then supported by many and Hasina herself supported it as she was not happy with the World Bank over the loan suspension.
On August 5, a delegation led by Dato Seri S Samy Velu, the Malaysian prime minister's special envoy to India and South Asia, handed over the fourth proposal to Obaidul Quader.
It had many shortcomings and the delegation was asked to submit a complete proposal in three weeks.
“Malaysia does not even know how to submit a proposal. The country does not also have any previous experience in constructing such a bridge,” said a senior communications ministry official. “The government high-ups should consider this.”
Its last proposal spoke of appointing the Malaysian group Axisjaya as the project concessionaire to build the bridge in a joint venture with the Korean company Samsung.
Axisjaya has built military camps and houses, according to its website that has no mention of bridge construction on the list of its project gallery.
Some ministers and many government officials, including secretaries, are already convinced that a deal with Malaysia will not yield any positive outcome.
They would rather prefer China in case the government fails to get the WB loan. As they would have it, China has the capacity and experience to construct huge infrastructures like the Padma bridge.

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