FHM Humayan Kabir
The government has appointed Dr. Mashiur Rahman, adviser to the Prime Minister, ‘Integrity Adviser’ for overseeing the multi-billion-dollar Padma bridge project as the lead financier, the World Bank (WB), tagged it as a condition for making available its $1.20 billion loan, officials have said.
Finance ministry officials Wednesday said Mr. Rahman would oversee the construction of the country’s largest bridge across the Padma to check on possible graft and shoddy works and report to the Prime Minister directly on the works’ implementation status.
During negotiations with the government in January this year, the Washington-based lender asked the government to appoint an independent person as the ‘Integrity Adviser’ to ensure transparency and accountability of the multi-billion-dollar scheme.
The WB is the largest financier for the Bangladesh’s proposed 6.15- kilometre bridge, for which some $2.9 billion in funds will be required to construct the east-southwest connecting bridge.
Following the appointment, World Bank’s Bangladesh Country Director Ms. Ellen Goldstein Wednesday said, “We are pleased with the government’s selection of the Project Integrity Adviser.”
“Having the Project Integrity Adviser on board along with the presence of two-tier grievance redress mechanism will help in maintaining good governance and meeting high standard of integrity,” she told the FE.
“Since we have agreed with the World Bank in appointing an Integrity Adviser to oversee the overall project work, the Prime Minister’s Economic Adviser Dr. Mashiur Rahman has been assigned to the job,” a senior Economic Relations Division (ERD) official said.
He said, “We have welcomed the proposal of the World Bank during the negotiations as the contractors and implementing agencies for the Padma bridge work will now be accountable and transparent to the people.
After the negotiations for the $1.2 billion aid, WB chief in Dhaka Ms. Goldstein said: “I believe the people of Bangladesh have the right to know about the big project.”
She said the Bank has trust in the government. “Given the importance and scope of this operation for Bangladesh, the World Bank wants to ensure the highest quality standards from start to finish of the bridge,” she said.
The Washington-based lender will sign $1.20 billion loan deal for the road-cum-railway bridge over the river Padma.
The Asian Development Bank will also provide $615 million, the Japanese government $400 million and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) $140 million to build the 6.15km bridge.
The World Bank in an assessment report said the proposed Padma bridge is expected to boost Bangladesh’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth by 1.2 per cent and of the southwestern region by 2.3 per cent.
Besides, the bridge would link the countries in this region through the connectivity offered by the Asian Highway that would expedite the international trade and business, the assessment of the World Bank said.