Govt urges China to fast-track loan deals | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 08, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, April 08, 2019

Govt urges China to fast-track loan deals

Dhaka has called upon Beijing to speed up the process to sign loan agreements of China-funded projects undertaken following the signing of a memorandum of understanding in October 2016.

Deals involving only five out of 27 projects have been inked since the two countries signed the framework agreement during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Dhaka.

The five projects involved financing of $4.5 billion against a total of $22.5 billion for the 27 projects.

The slow pace in the signing of loan agreements has led Dhaka to remind Beijing about the conditions of the framework.

“These projects need to be considered by your side by 2020,” said Economic Relations Division (ERD) in a letter to the Chinese embassy in Dhaka on February 26 this year.

According to the letter, the remaining 22 projects have been in different stages of planning, preparation, negotiation and approval.

The letter called for expediting the processing of loan agreements for eight projects involving $5.2 billion, including converting the Akhaura-Sylhet rail track from metre to dual gauge ($1,272.93m) and construction of a Joydevpur-Ishwardi double-line rail track ($1,045.59m).

Four involve construction of a Dhaka-Ashulia elevated expressway ($1,155.18 million), a Chinese economic and industrial zone ($221.18m), six full-fledged Bangladesh Television stations ($125.12m)  and a Rajshahi Wasa surface water treatment plant ($350m).

The remaining two are on balancing modernisation, rehabilitation and expansion of public sector jute mills of Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation ($238m) and establishing digital connectivity ($837m).

The government sent to the embassy the loan application for the Dhaka-Ashulia elevated expressway project in October last year. Preliminary loan applications for the remaining seven projects were sent between October and December.

China-funded projects are slow-moving. It takes a lot of time for evaluation and approval, said an official of the ERD earlier.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council has approved seven out of the eight projects.

So, the government of Bangladesh has completed all official formalities for signing the loan agreements, said a senior official of the ERD.

In January, the Chinese embassy asked the government to update the feasibility study on the projects of the Rajshahi plant and the Joydevpur-Ishwardi track.   

A high-level talk between Bangladesh and China is scheduled to take place this month to address the issue, the official said, adding that deals on two large power projects involving $2.9 billion may be struck by June this year.

In November, Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority signed an agreement with China Harbour Engineering Company to set up the Chinese economic and industrial zone in Anwara of Chattogram. China has not promised any funds for the zone yet.

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