$415mn Japan credit secured

After signing a loan deal with the World Bank, the government has inked another agreement with Japan to get $415 million for the construction of the country’s longest Padma bridge.

Economic Relations Division (ERD) secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan and JICA chief representative Takao Toda put pen to paper at the NEC Bhaban on Wednesday.

Japan also signed another agreement with the government under which it will give Bangladesh $215 million in two more projects — one worth $55 million on SMEs development and another worth $160 million on water treatment plant in Khulna.

On Apr 28, the World Bank (WB) confirmed funding of $1.2 billion for building Padma bridge under a loan agreement with the government. The loan is 41.38 percent of the total estimated cost of $2.9 billion for the bridge project.

The proposal for $415 million aid to Bangladesh for the bridge construction was approved by Japanese cabinet on Tuesday.

The Japanese government committed $400 million worth of yen for Padma bridge but it went up by $15 million due to appreciation of the Japanese currency, said Bhuiyan after signing the deal.

The credit bears interest of 0.01 per cent with 10 years grace period and 40 years’ repayment period.

Apart from the WB and JICA, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) will fund $750 million for the bridge project. The government will spend the rest of the money from its coffers.

Communications minister Syed Abul Hossain, who was present at the signing ceremony, said tenders for Padma bridge and river management would be floated after getting the concurrence from the World Bank.

“If we get the concurrence tomorrow, we will float the tenders that day,” he said.

The government will invite the Japanese prime minister and heads of the WB, ADB and IDB for the foundation laying ceremony of Padma Bridge, the minister added.

The ERD secretary said the government was scheduled to sign agreement with the IDB on May 24 and with the ADB in June.

“The date of ADB loan agreement signing ceremony is yet to be fixed,” he said.

Japanese ambassador Tamotsu Shinotsuka hoped the credit money would be implemented effectively and efficiently for the betterment of the people of Bangladesh.

“Japan has donated over $10 billion since independence of Bangladesh,” he said.

The 10-kilometre bridge will be the longest in Asia, project director of the bridge Rafiqul Islam earlier said.

Six kilometres of the bridge will be built over the river while four kilometres on the land to link the country’s central part with the South.

The government hopes to complete the construction of the bridge by Jan 2014, before the end of its tenure.


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