Padma Bridge project : Government against spending cut

The government is against reducing its planned annual spending for the Padma Bridge project in the current fiscal year, in order to make sure that foreign investors are not discouraged by any curtailed expenditure plans.

Sources told the Dhaka Tribune that the authorities concerned were alert not to create any negative image surrounding the project that might turn away investors.

“The prime minister is against curtailing spending for the fast-track Padma Bridge project and has expressed hopes that fund allocation for the project will not be slashed for the current fiscal year,” an official of the Finance Division said, on condition of anonymity.

Mohmmad Shafiqul Islam, project director for the Padma Bridge project, said they were also against cutting down the allocation for the project under the revised Annual Development Programme (RADP), adding that no such proposal has been made to the government.

However, Finance Ministry sources said the Bridges Division would not be able to spend Tk1,000 crore from the allocated Tk8,100 crore this fiscal year.

The Bridges Division, meanwhile, last week asked for details to be included on the RADP regarding the funding sources for the construction of the bridge. Zakir Hossain, deputy secretary of the Bridges Division, sent a letter to the Finance Division in this regard.

The letter reportedly claimed that the Finance Division had failed to disclose the funding sources in the RADP, creating difficulties for ensuring funds in the revised budget as well as the budget for the next fiscal year.

Commenting about funding sources, the Finance Division official who wanted to stay unnamed, told the Dhaka Tribune that, for the construction costs, the government had allocated $175m from the Indian line of credit provided as project assistance.

When a further $25m is received under India’s line of credit, it would also be allocated as project assistance for the Padma Bridge, the official added.

“We have no decision about collecting foreign assistance from development partners after the World Bank cancelled its funding for Padma bridge,” said the official.

According to the Bridges Division letter, the total cost for the Padma Bridge project is Tk20,507.20 crore, of which Tk4257.68 crore would come from the government exchequer.


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