Muhith: Padma Bridge deadlock will be over soon

Reassuring that the ongoing stalemate over the World Bank funding for the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project will be over soon, Finance Minister AMA Muhith has said the government is close to a decision in this regard.

“I think it’ll be resolved ….I always said this is temporary, nothing else,” Muhith told reporters at his secretariat office.

Earlier, Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain met the Finance Minister at his office.

Muhith said the government would issue a statement on the Padma Bridge project. “The statement will be issued within this week.” He said he would write to the World Bank based on the letter from the PM’s Economic Affairs Adviser Dr Mashiur Rahman comprising recommendations.

He said Dr Mashiur would put forward his letter to the Prime Minister and that would be later to be forwarded to the integrity vice presidency of the World Bank. After the issuance of the letter, Muhith said, he would write to the World Bank on the whole matter.

The fate of the country’s 6.15 km long Padma Bridge hangs in the balance after the World Bank has temporarily halted its promised funding of $ 1.2 billion following allegations of corruption in the tender process for the project.

World Bank country director Ellen Goldstein on Saturday said the lending agency’s independent integrity vice presidency has shared information on the Padma Bridge project with the government as part of its due diligence.

“The World Bank Group works in challenging governance environments, while maintaining standards of integrity that allow most effective use of our resources,” she told reporters after the launching of the World Development Report 2012 at a city hotel.

In Bangladesh, Ellen said, the World Bank is firmly committed to transparency in everything it does to ensure that Bangladeshis get the full development benefits of its support.

The World Bank earlier had promised to provide $ 1.2 billion to Bangladesh for constructing the Padma Bridge. The Asian Development Bank is also committed to providing $ 615 million, while Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) $ 400 million and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) $ 140 million for the Padma Bridge.

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