Bangladesh’s cabinet Monday decided to open bank accounts to collect donations from home and abroad to construct the country’s much-awaited Padma bridge in government’s own financing after the World Bank had canceled funding for the mega project, citing corruption concerns.
The cabinet meeting with Prime Minister (PM) Sheikh Hasina in the chair made the decision. After the meeting, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told reporters, “the cabinet meeting decided to open two bank accounts for donations for Padma bridge project.”
“One account will be opened for local currency while another for foreign currency.” Bhuyian said that the cabinet decided to open the bank accounts as many Bangladeshis at home and abroad have already shown their keen interest to donate money for the bridge project after PM’s recent calls.
Hasina said that her government would construct the bridge with its own financing and assured the countrymen of launching the construction of the bridge this year and sought support of the countrymen and expatriate nationals in this regard.
During the meeting, Bhuiyan said, ministers voluntarily decided to donate an amount equivalent to their one day salary to PM’s fund in an effort to construct the bridge without the financial support from the World Bank.
The Bangladeshi cabinet announced last Monday it will start construction work of the country’s much-talked-about Padma Multipurpose Bridge, a project expected to cost 3 billion U.S. dollars, without the Washington-based lender’s financing.
The cabinet’s decision came more than a week after the World Bank canceled its 1.2 billion U. dollars credit for the project with immediate effect, citing a corruption conspiracy among Bangladeshi government officials.
The World Bank last month canceled its funding for the project, saying it had “credible evidence corroborated by a variety of sources which points to a high-level corruption conspiracy among Bangladeshi government officials, (Canadian engineering firm) SNC- Lavalin executives and private individuals in connection with the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project.”
“In light of the inadequate response by the Bangladeshi government, the World Bank has decided to cancel its 1.2 billion U. S. dollars IDA credit in support of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge project, effective immediately.”
Bangladeshi Finance Minister AMA Muhith, who called upon the bank to reconsider its decision, said in a statement later that ” it is not correct when they (the World Bank) say they have presented credible evidence about corruption in the Padma Bridge project and we did not take any step in this regard.”
Bangladeshi PM in her parliament speech in a live broadcast on July 8 said that she had received a huge response from people at home and abroad while most of the callers extended their supports for her stance on the World Bank issue.
The 10 km-long bridge will be built over Padma River, one of the three biggest rivers in Bangladesh. About 6.15 km of the bridge will be built over the river while the remaining part on both banks.
Apart from connecting nearly 30 million people in Bangladesh’s southwest region to the rest of the country, the bridge will enhance regional trade and collaboration along the Asian highway No.1 and the Trans-Asian railway network systems.