World Bank back in on Padma bridge project?

2 October 2012

In late September, the World Bank has offerred to re-engage with Bangladesh’s Padma bridge project after it suspended its promised $1.2 billion loan last year over allegations of corruption in the consultant selection process. However, despite the mid-September Bank announcement that it would consider funding the project if certain conditions were met, tensions between the Bank and the government continue with prime minister Sheikh Hasina subsequently insisting that she is “adamant to know the real story behind the cancellation of the fund”.

Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir, of Bangladeshi NGO Unnayan, argued that “the Bank’s job – if it is true to its mission – is to provide [International Development Assistance] credits where it is needed. The bridge is required, so the Bank should fund it, provided that it is open and transparent in everything”. Bangladesh country director of the International Growth Centre Dr Wahid-uddin Mahmud challenged the Bank not to disengage from Bangladesh but to “[find] aid modalities that can enable the country to fully utilise the allocations”. However, Bangladeshi NGO Equity BD launched a statement against new IMF loans in October that argued “the Bangladeshi people have suffered from paying a high foreign debt for over thirty years. This will be increased if the government takes out new loans for mega-projects like Padma Bridge.”