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Wednesday, December 19, 2012
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Future funding to depend on panel's report

Says WB on Padma bridge project

The World Bank will decide on financing the Padma bridge project after getting an assessment from its external panel about the Anti-Corruption Commission's investigation into the graft case.

“Decisions by the World Bank regarding future project financing and implementation would depend on the outcome of the External Panel's assessment,” WB's Country Director Ellen Goldstein told The Daily Star yesterday.

Her comment came a day after the anti-graft body sued seven people for conspiring to commit bribery. Four top government officials and three SNC Lavalin officials were made accused in the case but former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain was not included in it. Allegation against him would be examined further during the investigation of the case.

Goldstein in an email said, “The External Panel of internationally-recognised anti-corruption experts will issue a report assessing the adequacy of the Anti-Corruption Commission's investigation once they have had an opportunity to fully review and discuss the First Information Report (FIR)”.

The external panel would give its assessment after it goes through the FIR. How long it would take would depend on when the ACC sends a copy of the case document, said a WB official, requesting anonymity.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday said the government was expecting a response from the WB about its next step on the funding following the filing of the case, news agency UNB reports.

“We hope to get a reaction from them [WB] clarifying their position on the matter,” he told reporters at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital.

Replying to a query, he said he was still hopeful about getting a "positive response" from the Washington-based global lender.

Asked about the discussion between the ACC and the WB panel, Muhith said the panel gave some suggestions to the ACC, including about possible action. "Action has already been taken by the Anti-Corruption Commission.”

ACC CHIEF BACKS FIR
Also yesterday, ACC Chairman Ghulam Rahman backed the Monday's FIR, saying the commission had done the inquiry in a transparent, appropriate and fair manner, UNB adds.

"…There is no question of any confusion or political pressure. We completed the inquiry proceedings considering the greater interest of the country's people and the requirements of the World Bank," he told reporters at his office in the capital.

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