Govt will look for ‘alternatives’

The government will explore ‘alternative way’ to implement the Padma bridge project if problems with the World Bank funding due to corruption allegations do not go, finance minister A M A Muhith says.

The finance minister, speaking to reporters at his office on Sunday, also said the Grameen Bank will get new managing director within three months.

In reply to a question over the Padma bridge project, he said, “I hope the issue will be resolved by January [next year]. If it will not, we’ll find alternatives for fund.”

Responding to queries about what the alternatives could be, he questioned, “Do I have to tell you everything? You’ll see it when it happens.”

Days after the World Bank suspended fund for the project, a special envoy of Malaysia government told prime minister Sheikh Hasina last week that his country was willing to assist in the project.

The global lender on Oct 10 suspended the funding following charges of corruption in river dredging, appointment of consultants and preliminary selections in the project.

It has promised $1.2-billion financing for the country’s longest bridge over the Padma river.

The $2.9-billion bridge will connect the northwest of the country to the capital Dhaka and Chittagong port.

Asked whether Nobel Peace laureate and former managing director of Grameen Bank Muhammad Yunus, who was ousted from the bank he co-founded following a dispute with the government, played a role in suspending the fund, the finance minister said, “I have no proof of this.”

He said the government will appoint a managing director to the bank within three months.

Md Shahjahan took over as the acting managing director of the micro-finance institution in August, nearly a month after he was made the deputy MD.

He led the defence of Yunus and appeared on TV defending the bank’s operations after a Norwegian TV documentary revealed that nearly US $100 million in aid funds were transferred out of Grameen Bank to a private entity, without the knowledge of the Norwegian donor NORAD.

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