WB reply not for or against govt: Muhith

The World Bank’s response to the government letter on the Padma bridge project is neither in its favour nor against it, the finance minister has said.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, A M A Muhith declined to divulge anything more about the global lender’s response.

The project to build Bangladesh’s longest bridge ran into troubled waters after the World Bank suspended fund for the project since allegations of corruption surfaced. The global lender is supposed to give $1.2 billion for the $2.9 billion project.

As the uncertainty looms, World Bank’s resident representative Allen Goldstein met finance secretary Mohammad Tarique on Wednesday. After the meeting, he said the World Bank sent the reply to the finance ministry on Nov 4.

Asked whether the complication over the funding will be removed soon, the WB official had said the problem cannot be solved ‘overnight’. “It’s a big project, big deal, big money.”

A finance ministry official, seeking anonymity, said the finance minister has received the WB reply and added there is nothing to be hopeful about.

Muhith has been repeatedly saying that the complexities over the project will be removed soon.

Muhith had said even late last month that the funding row will be settled by January.

The World Bank, the coordinator of four lending agencies, on Oct 10 suspended funding the scheme following allegations of corruption in river dredging, appointment of consultants and selections of pre-qualified contractors in the project.

It wanted further investigation into the allegations and the Anti-Corruption Commission has started a probe into the matter.


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