Muhith doubtful about issuing Padma order before Dec

Voicing his high hope that the bidders will respond to the international tender for Padma Bridge Project floated on Wednesday, Finance Minister AMA Muhith expressed his doubt about issuing the order by December next due to the ‘tight schedule’.“I hope the bidders will respond, but the tight schedule that we’re following, I’m not sure whether we’ll be able to give the order by this December,” he told reporters answering to their queries at his secretariat office while inaugurating  Jalalabad 14-km electricity line through mobile phone.
The Finance Minister said the process for constructing the bridge would continue as government is a continuous matter, no matter who assumes office the next government will take the decision.
“We’re not worried about this as because this is a transparent process as we’re inviting those international consultants who had been selected earlier. No one in the world expects them to have the experiences for constructing such mega project. So, no matter who will form the next government would have to accept this tender,” he added.
Muhith said he would make a statement on the Padma Bridge in his concluding speech in the budget session.
He said the government would form a separate foreign currency account of US$ 1.2-1.4 billion at the Bangladesh Bank for bearing the foreign exchange liability of the project so that every contractor is assured that there is enough foreign currency to meet the costs.
The Finance Minister told another questioner that the amount would be taken from the central bank’s foreign currency reserve as it is now in a satisfactory position hovering around US$ 15 billion.
Referring to the allegation of corruption by the government in the project raised by the opposition party leaders, Muhith said, “It’s very interesting when our opposition leaders said corruption had taken place…they committed corruption during their tenure, earned bad name, and looting was their religion.”
He went: “Now (Opposition) they could think nothing other than corruption and looting………due to their corruption, GE withdrew from Bangladesh and they came back only after they had left the government.”
Replying to another question, Muhith said he would make public his response that he had sent replying to the letter of the World Bank’s external panel on the Padma Bridge project.
Terming again the cancellation of the World Bank fund for the Padma Bridge project was unrespectable for the government, he said such cancellation was unjustified and unreasonable. “I think some officials of the World Bank might have committed such thing to show something to the world……to earn reputation or bad name….”
The Finance Minister also said had the lending agencies joined the project the burden on the government could have been much less.
He said it was unfortunate to see conspiracy for corruption in the Padma Bridge project although there was no corruption as there was no expense except in land acquisition where the government spent Tk 1,500 crore of its own.
Meanwhile, the government on Wednesday floated an international tender involving Tk 10,000 crore for the main work of the much-hyped Padma Bridge project.
The construction process of the 6.15- km long Padma Bridge, the country’s largest-ever infrastructure project, got stalled as its development partners — the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) — cancelled their proposed funding bringing graft allegations.
Later, the government allocated Tk 6,852 crore in the proposed budget for fiscal 2013-2014 to implement the mega project with its own fund. (Source: UNB)

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