FHM Humayan Kabir
The government has sought extension of deadline for effectiveness of the Padma Bridge loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), officials said Friday.
The Ministry of Finance (MoF) officials said the Economic Relations Division (ERD) wrote letters to the two donors last week for extension of the loan effectiveness deadline that will expire on July 31.
“We’ve requested the donors, as we need their loan for constructing the bridge,” a MoF official told the FE.
If the loan effectiveness deadline is not extended, the loan deals will stand automatically scrapped, he said.
The ADB and the JICA made commitment for providing credit worth US$615 million and $400 million respectively for building the $2.9 billion Padma Bridge project.
The ADB and the JICA said if the government takes necessary actions against the people allegedly involved in corruption in the Padma Bridge project and ensures good governance in its implementation, as suggested by the World Bank (WB), they will continue their funding.
If these two donors extend the timeframe for loan effectiveness, the government will get a room to resolve the funding stalemate with the WB, the official said.
The WB cancelled its commitment of $1.20 billion loan on June 29 due to ‘corruption’ in bidding process for selection of consultant for construction of the Padma Bridge project.
Finance Minister A M A Muhith last week said the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) is interested in disbursement of its committed $140 million fund for the Padma Bridge project.
He also said the government is discussing with the ADB and the JICA for getting disbursement of their committed loans to construct the bridge.
An ERD official said as the deadline of these two lenders’ loan effectiveness will expire on July 31, it is necessary to extend to ensure their funding.
The government is expecting that if the stalemate is not settled with the WB, it will take support of the ADB, the JICA and the IDB for building the Padma Bridge. The remaining fund will be provided from the country’s own resources.
Since the former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain has stepped down, former secretary of the Bridge Division Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan has gone on leave, and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has beefed up its investigation, the government is hopeful of getting loan from the ADB, the JICA and the IDB, he added.