Muhith sees early end to Padma row

The complications arising over Padma bridge project ‘will soon be resolved’, finance minister says.

The World Bank, one of the main lenders of the $3 billion project, has suspended funding on allegations of irregularities in the tender process of the mega project.

Abul Maal Abdul Muhith had an hour-long meeting with the lender’s country head in this regard on Wednesday.

He told after his meeting with Ellen Goldstein, “We are taking a number of steps in this regard, and I hope that problems will soon be resolved.”

When asked about the kind of steps, he said, “I can’t say anything more about this now.”

He also refused to reveal the meeting’s details.

Allegations of corruption on the project came to light after the World Bank asked Canadian police to investigate into the corruption charges against the engineering giant SNC-Lavalin Group Inc, one of the five companies short-listed to act as construction supervision consultant for the project.

However, the government has been denying the allegations.

Communications minister Syed Abul Hossain on Wednesday termed those allegations ‘baseless’, being were raised by those who did not want to see the project implemented.

Following the debate over the issue, the national corruption watchdog Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on Wednesday announced that they would start their probe into the alleged irregularities of the communications ministry.

ACC director general Farrukh Ahmed told a press briefing that the commission had already requested the World Bank for details of the allegations. “The probe will begin as soon as we get the information.”

The finance minister had on Monday said, “The bank has levelled allegations of corruption during river dredging, appointment of consultants and preliminary selections.”

The World Bank has promised $1.2 billion financing for the country’s longest bridge over the Padma River, which they have temporarily suspended.

The 6.15km bridge at Mawa-Jajira is the biggest-ever infrastructure project of the country, costing an estimated $2.9 billion.

Apart from the WB, the government also signed agreements with ADB for $615 million, Japan for $400 million and Islamic Development Bank for $140 million to meet the cost.


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