Bridge Div seeks Tk 5b ‘retroactive fund’ for Padma Bridge project

Finance Division meets Sunday to talk the appeal
FHM Humayan Kabir
The Bridge Division has sought Tk 5.0 billion in additional funds from the Finance Division as ‘retroactive financing’ for the Padma Bridge project as it is yet to receive the committed assistance from the donors, officials said Thursday.

Finance Division officials said they have called an inter-ministerial meeting Sunday for discussing the urgency of the fund, as sought by the Bridge Division, for the US$ 2.9 billion Padma Bridge construction work.

“We have sought additional Tk 5.0 billion in funds from the Finance Division as retroactive financing for the current year. We need the money to continue the development work of the project,” said Bridge Division Secretary Mohammad Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan.

“As we are yet to receive any fund from the lenders for the multi-billion-dollar Padma Bridge project, we need the additional money to continue our project work”, he told the FE.

Mr. Bhuiyan said since the World Bank (WB) has made commitment to provide $60 million-equivalent funds, out of its $1.2 billion loan, as ‘retroactive financing’, the Finance Division “can give it to us in advance which will be adjusted after disbursement of the credit”.

For the Padma Bridge project, the government in the current fiscal year (FY), 2011-12, allocated Tk 4.79 billion from its own resources under the development budget, besides earmarking an amount of Tk 17.07 billion as foreign loan receipts, the release of which is still uncertain.

Advancement of fund release by government against the World Bank (WB) committed loan is needed for the Padma Bridge project due to inadequate funds for continuing its work, a senior Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) official said.

The Washington-based lender in its loan deal said that it would allow $60 million’s fund from its committed $1.2 billion loan as ‘retroactive financing’ for continuing the project work.

But as the loan is not still effective, the BBA can not receive the $60 million loan from the WB. Against this backdrop, it sought Tk 5.0 billion from the Finance Division which could be adjusted after disbursement of the WB assistance, BBA officials said.

The WB has confirmed $1.2 billion credit, Asian Development Bank (ADB), $615 million, Japan International Cooperation Agency, $420 million and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) $140 million, for the construction of the Padma Bridge project.

The IDB has recently made effective its loan, but three other donors are yet to make the amount of their respective loans available due to some procedural complexities between the government and the donors.

“We hope we will be able to receive the disbursement of the foreign loans by December this year. In the meantime, we need funds for some on-going works of the Padma Bridge project,” Mr. Bhuiyan said.

“We are hopeful of making the loans by three donors effective within this year. After the availability of the amount of loans, we will not require additional funds from the government,” the Bridge Division Secretary said.

The BBA has started to acquire lands and conduct resettlement works at the project site in Mawa and Janjira points to build the country’s largest 6.15- kilometre bridge on the river Padma.

In accordance with the project proposal, land acquisition and resettlement works for the project will require Tk 23.68 billion funds.

The BBA is working to appoint contractors for the main bridge construction, approach road, river training, and construction supervision consultants for the bridge as it is hopeful of starting its construction job from early next year.


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