PADMA BRIDGE: $400mn Japan credit deal Wednesday

The government is going to sign a $400 million credit agreement with Japan on Wednesday to finance Padma bridge construction, the finance minister has said.

Another $160 million loan deal will be signed for Khulna water treatment plant the same day, he said at a programme organised by Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday.

The chamber organised a discussion on the impact of the war and political tensions in the Middle East and North Africa and Japan crises on Bangladesh.

Japan will emerge from the crisis following the recent earthquakes and tsunami within nine months, Muhith said.

“Japan can withstand any storm,” he added.

Bangladesh’s export to Japan will not suffer due to the crisis but import may get costlier, he said.

About the crisis in the Arab world, he said it should be closely monitored as the region is the supplier of basic raw material – oil.

“Oil and staples are the two major commodities which can disrupt the whole world,” the minister observed.

“I attended a World Bank development meeting recently but food security was discussed there. No talks were held on oil,” he said adding, “It is wrong.”

About the allocation for the ministries, he said, “Allocation for the ministries was never high. They don’t get much money for their operation. Projects get higher allocation.”

Export fetches the highest foreign currency and yet the commerce ministry that oversees export operations gets little allocation, Muhith pointed out.

Expatriates welfare and overseas employment minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain said overpriced migration cost must be cut.

“We are reviewing the cost.”

The minister said Bangladesh and Malaysian governments agreed in principle the visa time limit for workers would be five years with an extension provision of another five years.

“At present the visa for workers is issued for two years.”

The government is going to set up 36 technical training centres by 2013 where 50,000 will be trained under 46 disciplines, he said.

The minister said the recent crisis in the Middle East and North Africa did not have much impact on the economy.

CPD executive director Mostafizur Rahman said a contingency plan should be in place to face any disaster in the overseas labour market.

“From safety and security of migrant workers to evacuation and their rehabilitation everything should be included in the plan,” he said.

Citing an incident, former ambassador to Malaysia Masud Aziz said rogue manpower agents had spun out a profit of Tk 0.2 million per person by sending people to Malaysia.

“The total costs should be Tk 60,000 to Tk 70,000 but they took Tk 0.25 million to Tk 0.3 million,” he said.

BRAC University’s director of Business School Prof Mamun Rashid made a presentation in the programme.


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