Govt to clarify on Padma Bridge this week : Muhith

The finance minister has said the government will publicly explain its position on the Padma Bridge project this week.

The World Bank (WB) has suspended its lending worth $1.2 billion following allegations of corruption in the bidding process of the key infrastructure.

AMA Muhith said the clarification will come anytime this week, beginning Sunday, in the wake of reports in two local dailies that linked a firm owned by the communications minister for influencing the bidding process.

The minister gave the timeline in response to reporters’ query during the launching of the World Development Report 2012 in the city Saturday. World Bank country chief Ellen Goldstein also attended the ceremony.

However, communications minister Syed Abul Hossain has rubbished the allegations, while Muhith told newsmen on Thursday that the $3.0 billion Padma Bridge project had so far been free of corruption.

Meanwhile, the World Bank issued a statement Saturday, saying that the bank’s senior integrity official has visited the country recently and clarified about the nature of allegations linked to the nation’s costliest development project.

“The World Bank’s integrity Vice Presidency has shared information on the Padma Bridge project with the Government of Bangladesh as part of our due diligence,” the bank said.

When asked, Goldstein declined to comment on the remarks made by the finance minister last Thursday but she maintained that the issue was very “sensitive” as the development lender was still in “a dialogue with the government” over its funding.

In the latest statement, the World Bank reiterated that it was firmly committed to ensuring transparency in the project. The bank’s commitment of $1.2b loan is the largest ever one-off credit-line extended by the lender to any country.

“The world bank group works in challenging governance environments while maintaining standards of integrity that allow most effective use of its resources,” it added.

The Washington-based lender said last week that it has put on halt funding of the Padma Bridge in the wake of graft allegations. It said it would not proceed until the issue is resolved.


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