Padma bridge: WB official coming Thursday

Days after the World Bank suspended fund for the Padma bridge project, M N Prasad, executive director of the World Bank’s South Asia region, is coming to Dhaka on a sudden visit.

He is likely to arrive in the morning on Thursday, a World Bank official told on Wednesday, seeking anonymity.

The official said Prasad has not arrived in Dhaka until Wednesday evening. “He may arrive on Thursday morning.”

The finance ministry’s senior information officer Shahedur Rahman told on Wednesday that the World Bank executive director is scheduled to meet finance minister A M A Muhith at his Hare Road residence at 7pm on Thursday.

“They will possibly discuss the Padma bridge issue,” he said and added that Muhith will brief the media after the meeting.

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

It has promised $1.2-billion for the implantation of the $2.9-billion project to build the bridge which will connect the northwest of the country to the capital Dhaka and Chittagong port.

The finance minister has been repeatedly saying that the issue will be settled soon.

On Sunday, he had said Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) extended the time for a decision on clearing the funds they pledged for the project until January. “I hope that the World Bank funding issue will be settled by that time.”

He also said, “The World Bank is not raising objection over funding for the first time. They also objected to funding Siddhirganj Power Plant but agreed to fund the plant later.”

A special envoy of the Malaysian government told prime minister Sheikh Hasina last week that his country was willing to assist the government in the project.

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