Decision on Padma probe today

The government will decide Sunday whether a committee to investigate into alleged corruption in Padma bridge project will be formed, the finance minister says.

“A decision in this regard will be taken at a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office today (Sunday),” A M A Muhith told reporters after a meeting of the cabinet committee relating to purchases on Sunday.

The finance minister termed newspaper reports that quoted him speaking on alleged corruption in Padma bridge project and World Bank’s financing the project as ‘partly true, partly over coloured’.

“Two of the charges the World Bank levelled over the Padma bridge project have already been proved wrong,” he said.

Earlier in the day, he told, “No newspaper reported the matter properly. Prothom Alo, Jugantor, Samakal… it was not properly reported anywhere.”

Several national dailies published reports on his comments made at a press briefing in New York referring to the World Bank that it would not finance the project before the allegations against the communications ministry are fixed.

He returned to Dhaka on Saturday after attending World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s annual meetings in New York.

He said the allegations were discussed at the WB meeting.

Asked about the ‘proper information’, the minister said, “I can’t say it now. I’ll brief the press formally tomorrow (Monday).”

Canadian police in September launched an investigation into a likely instance of corruption involving the project following allegations of the World Bank against employees of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc, which had been short listed for the project.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina also ordered probe into the matter.

The World Bank has pledged $1.2 billion, Asian Development Bank $610 million, Japan International Cooperation Association $400 million and Islamic Development Bank $140 million as loan for the $2.9 billion-project to build the 6.15-km Padma bridge, the longest in the country.

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