Malaysia deal on Padma bridge after talks

Communications minister Obaidul Quader has said the decision on striking a deal with Malaysian for financing the construction of Padma bridge will be taken only after discussion.

The minister said on Sunday the government was looking for alternative sources of money after the Wold Bank suspended the fund since construction of the bridge was the government’s priority and it will start in 10 months.

Quader said a government team will be leaving for Malaysia on Sunday night as signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Malaysian government is expected to take place on Tuesday after discussion.

Economic Relations Division secretary Iqbal Mahmud, Bridges Department secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam and Padma bridge project director Shafiqul Islam are on the tream.

“It has not yet been decided how much money Malaysia will provide,” said Quader as he briefed journalists at the roads and highways building.

He said the budget for construction of the bridge will be fixed in light of the reality and the construction will be done on a build-own-operate-and-transfer basis.

Construction of the bridge became uncertain after the WB postponed its fund bringing allegation of corruption in the Padma bridge project. Later, Malaysia expressed their willingness to fund the project as the government started looking for alternative source of money.

The minister does not think that signing of MoU with Malaysia will necessarily require cancellation of deal already signed with other organisations including WB.

“We don’t have any allegation against WB. We are thinking about alternative funding as we don’t have much time,” he added.

“However, I hope WB will fund and that money will be spent on constructing the second Padma bridge,” he added.

Finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith also said on Saturday that discussion will go ahead with Malaysia besides resolving the problem with WB.

The World Bank, meanwhile, imposed an embargo on Canadian company SNC-Lavalin in participating in any of its project as the institution is facing corruption allegation concerning the bridge construction.

The US $ 2.9 billion project of 6.15 km-long Padma bridge was supposed to receive US $1.2 billion from WB. Besides, Asian Development Bank, JAICA, and IDB was supposed to give US $.61 billion, US $.40billion and US $.14 billion in the project.

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