The government yesterday unveiled before the development partners its plan for preventing corruption and improving governance against the backdrop of Padma bridge corruption allegations.
Cabinet Secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan presented the National Integrity Strategy (NIS) describing it as a concerted initiative for fighting corruption at a meeting of the Local Consultative Group (LCG).
The meeting was held at the National Economic Council auditorium two days after the government withdrew its request to the World Bank for financing the Padma bridge project.
A high official of the Economic Relations Division (ERD) told The Daily Star that there were “no direct links between the timing of the presentation and the complexities over the graft allegations in the bridge project”.
The official, however, said the government had an intention to remove any bad impression, if there is any, from the donors' mind over the Padma bridge corruption allegations.
The bridge project was not discussed at the meeting. The ERD secretary at the beginning told the representatives of the development partners that the finance minister will brief them on the bridge project later, said the ERD official.
The development partners urged the government to implement the NIS properly, and said they were ready to provide the government any assistance for implementing it.
Musharraf told The Daily Star that the schedule of presentation had been fixed earlier and it had nothing to do with the government's withdrawal of request for WB funds.
He said the presentation was not aimed at giving the donors any positive impression following the graft allegations in the bridge project.
The cabinet secretary said the development partners have highly praised the NIS paper and showed their interest in lending technical support for its implementation.
In October last year, the cabinet approved the NIS under which steps will be taken to stop corruption in public administration, judiciary, parliament, the Anti-Corruption Commission with the appointment of an ombudsman.
ERD Secretary Abul Kalam Azad, and UN Resident Coordinator and Local Consultative Group Co-chair Neal Walker jointly presided over the LCG meeting.
Azad later told reporters that no discussion on the Padma bridge project was held in the meeting.
The presentation on the NIS was followed by a LCG plenary meeting, the first of the four meetings to be held this year, where discussions were held on how to expedite the development projects.
Since ADP and Jica already pulled out of the Padma bridge project, Islamic Development Bank (IDB) will also discontinue its commitment in line with the co-financing agreement, said Azad.
IDB committed to fund $140 million in the bridge project.