WB reluctant to fund road sector for graft | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, August 04, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, August 04, 2009

WB reluctant to fund road sector for graft

Muhith weighs in with counter argument

The World Bank (WB) is unwilling to provide funds for road sector due to corruption in the sector although it is among the priority areas, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said yesterday.
"I have told the WB that it is linked to corruption in the road sector. That does not mean the WB has stolen (funds) but it gave approval to projects in the sector," Muhith told journalists following a meeting with WB Vice President Isabel Guerrero at his office.
The finance minister also said despite approving different road sector projects, they (WB) later diverted the funds elsewhere. "We have told them that we are trying to curb corruption. We requested them to review the issue of financing road sector projects."
Replying to a question Muhith said, "If we go for clearing this kind of infestation (corruption) now, we cannot do other work. Our first task is delivering service to people".
The minister mentioned that the WB is going to increase its assistance to Bangladesh, and is likely to provide around three billion dollars in the next three years -- one billion dollars a year. The country now gets $ 600-700 million a year on an average.
The WB wants to provide assistance for power, water resources, education and health sectors and safety net programmes, Muhith said. "I have requested them (WB) to increase budget support."
Asked about funds for the proposed Padma Bridge, the minister said the WB emphasises development of the southern region.
On the government's changed position on procurement regulation, and on banking and SOE (state-owned enterprises) sectors, he said, "They (WB) have supported the changes."
Muhith went on, "Our policy is to give scope to fresh hands. But we will not allow new entrepreneurs for jobs requiring Tk 100 crore. They can be awarded deals involving Tk 10 lakh to Tk 2 crore."
Earlier, the WB had an impression that provisions have been made to award deals to ruling party loyals, but in reality that is not the case, he said.

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