WB sits to fix Padma fate

Mashiur Stays Put
A meeting on the issue of revival of the World Bank loan for Padma bridge project was scheduled to be held at the bank’s Washington headquarters last night, according to finance ministry sources.

The management-level meeting was to review the steps in this regard so far taken by Dhaka, and related developments.

The meeting was also to discuss reviving the loan even if the WB condition of resignation of the prime minister’s economic affairs adviser Mashiur Rahman was not met, a finance ministry official said, seeking anonymity.

If Dhaka gets a positive signal from the meeting, the government will write a letter to the WB by August 31, he added.

On Monday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked Finance Minister AMA Muhith to discuss with the WB whether it will revive the loan without Mashiur resigning. She gave the instruction following a cabinet meeting.

A finance ministry source said the minister has already conveyed this to the WB headquarters.

On the Padma bridge loan, Muhith told journalists yesterday at his secretariat office, “Don’t be frustrated. We have time till August 31.”

The loan effectuation date given by the project’s co-financiers — the ADB and Jica — expires on August 31. The two donors extended the deadline four times.

The government is going to apply for further extension of the deadline, an official said yesterday.

And Director General of South Asia Department of the ADB Juan Miranda arrives in Dhaka today on a two-day visit. He will meet the finance minister tomorrow. They will discuss the Padma bridge issue, he added.

Rejaul Karim Byron

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