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Thursday, January 24, 2013
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PM spurs WB on Padma

Says govt to go ahead with alternative funding if decision not by this month

The government will construct the Padma bridge with funds from alternative sources if the World Bank does not give any decision on its financing of the project by this month, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said yesterday.

“Alternative arrangements are in place…if the World Bank does not finance the project, we will start the construction. Inshallah, the bridge will be built,” Hasina said at a press conference with editors and senior journalists at the Prime Minister's Office.

She said the project's work such as construction of approach roads and land acquisition is still going on.

Hasina said a year has already been lost to the enquiry into the corruption allegations in the project. “But since we have started the work, we must complete it. We will also be able to make up for the lost time.”

The prime minister also spoke on other issues, including war crimes trial, deals with Russia on defence purchase and nuclear power plant, foreign policy, maritime boundary, the next general election, BCL activities and international conspiracy.

Hasina's remark on the bridge project came after the chief of a private TV channel asked if she had any discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin during her recent Moscow visit about Padma bridge funding and whether she senses any conspiracy involving the $2.9 billion project.

The WB cancelled its $1.2 billion funding in the project on June 29 last year, saying it had proof of a "corruption conspiracy" involving Bangladeshi officials, executives of a Canadian firm and some individuals.

The global lender on September 21 decided to revive the loan after Bangladesh agreed to the bank's terms and conditions.

Hasina said, “It is not acceptable to stop the work on the excuse that a corruption conspiracy, not any graft, took place. We have done nothing wrong.”

“Analyse the corruption conspiracy formula, and you will find if things work that way, no investment could be made in Bangladesh, no work done.”

Criticising the WB, Hasina said, “The lender not only suspended its funds but also asked Jica, ADB and other co-financiers to follow suit as they are members of the consortium for financing the project.”

She said the global lender was allowed to investigate the allegations whatever way they wanted.

In an oblique reference to a meeting between ex-communications minister Syed Abul Hossain and SNC Lavalin officials, Hasina questioned the logic behind the WB's allegations, and said it is illogical that the person who arranged the meeting is innocent but the one who held the meeting is guilty.

The prime minister said there was an understanding between the WB and the Anti-Corruption Commission that nothing related to the investigation would be disclosed.

She wondered how a particular daily newspaper published the questions the WB panel asked in a letter to the ACC even before the commission or the finance ministry or she got it.

“This was published in a particular process… please you make an inquiry to see if there is any ill motive or purpose behind it,” Hasina told the journalists.

Luis Moreno Ocampo, the chairman of the WB external panel, wrote a letter to the ACC chairman on January 9. ACC Commissioner Mohammad Shahabuddin on January 14 told reporters that the commission received the letter three days back and the panel was happy with the ACC probe.

The Daily Star published the WB panel's letter on January 15, and the ACC commissioner's statement clarifies that the ACC got it much before the letter was published in the newspaper.

The prime minister said the project's cost went up because her government wanted to build it with both roadway and railway tracks, and also due to its technical complexity.

The bridge could be constructed at a lesser cost if built with only roadways for vehicular movement.

She indicated that if the WB does not finance the project, the bridge would be built on a revised design with the provision of a rail link up to the Mongla port.

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Wow! What a principled voice -- if the WB doesn’t make its position clear within this month, “we will start the construction work in the following month”! I salute the PM for her audacious stance, and her concern of the uncertain future of the important development project, namely the much-discussed Padam Multipurpose Bridge. I wish her all the best for endeavoring to build that bridge for a better Bangladesh.

: Asad Zaman

Enough is enough! WB went too far more than its own mandate. It shouldn't forget that Bangladesh is no more a bottomless basket. We've our own to go slowly and steadily to build such project by own funding. That day is not far away that the world will look at Bangladesh as an emerging tiger.

: Sengupta, Canada

Comments

  • Iftikhar-ul-Awwal
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:22 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    Ellen Goldstein, the outgoing country director of WB made the position clear that Bangladesh would get the much required funds only after fulfilling the conditions of the lender. The ball as such is in Bangladesh's quarter. If GOB does not play the game honestly and transparently, it is entirely free to look for alternative sources of finance, she added. So there is no point asking for funds again and again from the WB without doing our home work.

  • Saleh Tanveer
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:26 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    It is clear that the prime minister wants to protect Abul Hossain more than she wants a bridge to be built for Bangladesh people. All this talk of alternate funding will go nowhere unless she is prepared to mortgage our generations by agreeing to a high interest loan. The natural question for host Bangladeshis--why is she being backwards to protect one individual and not allow the ACC to investigate him--is it that the fear that he will spill the beans and cause embarrassment ?

  • FIROZ
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:32 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    Whenever your peoples are involved in corruptions and killings you term it as conspiracy. The way you did for siphoning off TK. 89,000 out of country from share market scam and later, quick rental scam (TK.22, 000cr/yr), Hall-Mark scam (TK.4, 000cr), Destiny, and Unipay-2 etc all the killings of BCL. Would you please clarify the countrymen whose black hands are behind it? But it is crystal clear due to our smart Medias that the high ups of your govt, AL, BCL and Jubo League cadres are involved indissolubly with most of the misdeeds. WB stopped financing the Padma Bridge construction due to credible evidences of corruptions. You got there conspiracy and raising questions that before reimbursing the money for loan how can be there corruptions. If it is conspiracy only then how US dollar $ 40 million have been deposited to some one’s account in Canada in this respect (ref the daily Holiday)?? So please don’t try to fool the whole nation, it won’t work and better remember Abraham Lincoln’s that famous precaution ‘you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.’

  • Jumana Sarwar
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:39 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    Continuous denial of corruptions, alignment with the corrupt and issuing patriotic certificates for protecting the looters are becoming the norm of her administration. Only God knows what is coming in the next few months when the stake becomes even larger.

  • Labu Khan
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:40 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    What a joke this Padma Bridge has turned into? The idea of alternative funding is also going on for some time. My request to the prime minister: Please do not delay, punish Abul and get the funds from WB before the next general elections or else face a humiliating defeat.

  • Truth Teller
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:41 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    The World Bank will say, “Be my guest!”

  • Ronny
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:48 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    Stop saying there was no corruption - Not accepting the truth and repeatedly lying about it won't make a better case. Put your patriotic minster in jail and you'll have the loan.

  • Roni Rahman
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 01:03 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    Why should people of Bangladesh pay the price for the corruption of Minister Abul? It is PM's job to protect the interest of people who had elected her. It is not her job to protect corrupt officials, especially at the expense of burdening the people with higher cost. The PM needs to answer why Abul is bigger than the interest of the country to her?

  • Soda Pop
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 01:05 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    Go for it PM. We are with you.

  • FIROZ
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 01:38 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    Whenever your peoples are involved in corruptions and killings you term it as conspiracy. The way you did for siphoning off TK. 89,000 cr out of country from share market scam and later, quick rental scam (TK.22, 000cr/yr), Hall-Mark scam (TK.4, 000cr), Destiny, and Unipay-2 etc and all the killings of BCL. Would you please clarify the countrymen whose black hands are behind it? But it is crystal clear due to our smart Medias that the high ups of your govt, AL, BCL and Jubo League cadres are involved indissolubly with most of the misdeeds. WB stopped financing the Padma Bridge construction due to credible evidences of corruptions. You got there conspiracy and raising questions that before reimbursing the money for loan how can be there corruptions. If it is conspiracy only then how US dollar $ 40 million have been deposited to some one’s account in Canada in this respect (ref the daily Holiday)?? So please don’t try to fool the whole nation, it won’t work and better remember Abraham Lincoln’s that famous precaution ‘you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.’

  • Siddique
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 01:50 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    The honorable Prime Minister insists that there was no corruption. Insulting our intelligence is not the way to gather support. Neither JICA nor ADB will provide funding without clearance from the World Bank. Any alternative sources of credit will demand a high interest rate for loans backed by sovereign bonds or guarantees. The results will be extremely high interest payments. Not to worry. I am sure someone will profit from this situation.

  • fedup
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 01:50 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    It is good start that the prime minister has opened up a positive chapter of communication with the senior journalists of the country on all national issues which remain unclear and unanswered because of chaotic, controversial political messages from the top political leaders every day. The prime minister is expected to hold regular press briefing on 3 month basis and if needed to respond to urgent call on issue of national election and good governance including the dysfunctional parliament. One can expect that a full text of the press conference covering the entire agenda covered be published to down size the Padma bride, a trap for talking and doing nothing and only helping cost escalation drama to continue indefinitely.

  • Mostafa Ahmed
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 02:05 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    An idiot is what an idiot does. We are a nation of idiots and we deserve the leaders we elect. Hasina is the prime example.

  • Abul Alam
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 02:45 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    Nothing new in this declaration! We have heard these kinds of declarations in the past too. Well, let's watch what's coming up. What does ACC say?

  • Barkat
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 03:23 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    Just to protect the corrupt minister entire nation had to face disgrace and delay and also the rising construction cost. Bridge may be built but with finance from other source at high interest which will be very costly to repay for the people of Bangladesh. After all, it is the people of Bangladesh who had suffered and who will suffer for the fault of corrupt government.

  • Selma
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 03:57 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    SK Hasina the thief of thieves will never be able to realize this bridge project as she will not surrender her Abul who will spill the beans if he was to be arrested but I am sure slowly the truth will come out and we shall bin these filthy people that has been sucking the life out of our poor nation.

  • waheed uzzaman
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 05:03 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    Now you are sound like a Commander in chief. Please take tough and rough decision like this. So our nation will take less time and all work will be done in a proper fashion way.

  • Robin
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 06:38 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    Bangladeshi PM said the same thing before. How can anybody trust her?

  • Misbah Uddin Sumon
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 07:18 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    In Bangladesh corruption and development are twine process. Where there is a development there is a corruption. WB has to understand that corruption is not isolated from any kind of development in Bangladesh. We became champion in corruption for many times. But now we are conscious enough and coming back from the bad practice of corruption. Above all we have to establish this gigantic project of Padma Bridge by convincing WB or alternative sources to create job opportunities for 7, 43,000 people what impact on GDP growth will be 1.2 percentage and South-western region of Bangladesh will be well connected with Dhaka through this Bridge.

  • Sajjad
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 09:17 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    Would you kindly reveal the configuration of the bridge under each alternative and the associated estimated cost? A bridge without a rail link is likely to reduce the internal rate of return on investment immensely! Can you kindly follow up?

  • Nasirullah Mridha,USA
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 09:27 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    I don't think WB will be budge from their proviso despite Our PM's ultimatum unless ACC implicate Abul on graft cases. PM's cold shoulder to WB and angling for an alternate funding for Padma Bridge is half-cocked idea. PM could rustle-up the fund against high interest rates not the petite one which was WB offered us. Now the moot point is does our PM leave an albatross on our neck for protect one person or concede the WB's proposals and expediting the WB fund?

  • Mohammad
    Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:04 AM GMT+06:00 (117 weeks ago)

    The recent arms purchase from Russia. The hurry and scurry in constructing the Padma Bridge shows desperation on the part of the Government. Real sufferers will be Bangladesh, its economy and the poor people. Sane advice: Keep cool PM and proceed with caution.


 

 


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