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Bangladesh withdraws World Bank loan request

Global lending agency suspends credit deal over graft controversy

Gulf News

Dhaka: Bangladesh on Friday said it withdrew requests for a World Bank loan of $1.2 billion for a mega bridge project months after the global lending agency suspended the credit deal over a graft controversy.

“We have withdrawn the request as the government did not get any positive response from the World Bank by January,” the state-run BSS news agency quoted finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith as saying.

He added that the government would now seek alternative financing arrangement for starting construction of the Bridge within its current tenure set to be expired by January 2014.

A World Bank statement issued this morning confirmed the development saying “the government of Bangladesh yesterday informed the World Bank that it is withdrawing its request of World Bank financing for the Padma Bridge”.

It said the government letter to the WB, however, confirmed “the [Bangladesh] authorities’ intent to continue the investigation of alleged corruption related to the project”.

“The World Bank has taken note of the Government’s decision of not seeking renewed World Bank financing for the Padma Bridge, and it encourages the Anti-Corruption Commission to complete a full and fair investigation of the corruption allegations,” the WB statement said.

The development came two days after the WB insisted fulfilment of conditions it laid out earlier to resume a suspended deal with Bangladesh for financing the Padma Bridge project to link the riverine Bangladesh’s comparatively isolated southwestern region with rest of the country.

“Until certain conditions are met to heighten oversight in the project and [Bangladesh] give assurance that a complete and fair criminal investigation is underway, we cannot consider financing the bridge,” World Bank President Jim Young Kim told an anti-graft discourse in Washington on Tuesday.

Earlier on January 15, the WB sought further clarification from Bangladesh’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on some more issues involving the Padma Bridge Project for its own assessment about the fairness of statutory graft body’s ongoing investigations into the corruption allegations.