TIB asks WB to review decision
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has termed the World Bank's cancellation of $1.2 billion credit for Padma bridge deeply regrettable, embarrassing and disappointing and urged the global lender to review its decision. It called upon the government to set up a special judicial committee with full powers, independence and technical support to investigate the allegations of corruption and ensure exemplary punishment to those found guilty, said a TIB press statement. The anti-graft watchdog also called upon the WB to continue its engagement with the government to assist the investigation process and keep the credit open parallel with the investigation process. “The decision is not the end of the story of the government's relationship with the Bank in connection with the Padma bridge, but the beginning of a new phase. It comes as an acid-test for the government, which must demonstrate to the nation that it has the courage and capacity to bring to justice those against whom allegation of corruption has been raised and provide exemplary punishment, if found guilty,” said the press statement. In his reaction to the credit cancellation, TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said neither the World Bank nor the government could punish the people of the country for an alleged crime of a handful of people. According to him, the WB decision was in some ways expected. He said as a newcomer to the world of openness and accountability, which according to independent reviews conducted by the bank itself, WB had been found partially responsible for misuse of funds disbursed by it over the years. It seemed to have recently adopted a policy of chopping off the head because of a perceived headache. The TIB executive director suggested that the bank be more strategic and continue to engage with the government instead of depriving the people of the benefits of funds that the WB draws from global public sources. While investigations into alleged corruption continue, the World Bank should find ways to provide the credit by sharing the responsibility as a key fiduciary agent of the project to ensure integrity, transparency and accountability in the implementation process, added Iftekharuzzaman. “The government's initiative to secure funds for the Padma bridge from alternative sources may be perceived as a way to divert the attention from the allegation of corruption, but even if it succeeds, it would not help the credibility crisis that the government faces”, the statement said.