Take action against culprits to settle fund issue with WB: BNP
The main opposition BNP on Monday suggested that the government take action against those charged with corruption by the World Bank, paving the way for reviving the scrapped Padma Bridge loan agreement with the global lender.
“We think, there’s still a chance for building the Padma Bridge with the World Bank funding after settling the issue through tough action against the corrupt individuals as per the evidence provided by the lending agency,” BNP leader MK Anwar told reporters at a crowded press conference.
BNP organised the press conference at the chairperson’s Gulshan office to give its formal reaction to the World Bank decision cancelling a 1.2 billion loan for the mega project.
BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, standing committee member Abdul Moyeen Khan, chairperson’s advisers Dr Osman Farruk, and Mushfiqur Rahman and the party joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi were, among others, present at the press conference.
Addressing the press conference, MK Anwar, a member of the party’s standing committee, said the government is now internationally recognised as corrupt following the corruption ‘certificate’ given by the World Bank.
He also urged the government to step down immediately taking the full responsibility for corruption in the Padma Bridge project.
Anwar also critricised the government as it has started looking for alternative sources of funding for the construction of the bridge. “The government is looking alternative sources to save the corrupt minister and officials and create another scope for the ruling party men to indulge in corruption.”
If the government manages funds from alternative sources with the same terms and conditions of the WB for the mega bridge project they will not oppose it, he said in his written statement.
But, he warned, if the government takes loan with tough conditions from any other source leaving out the World Bank, they will cancel it if BNP comes to power.
He said construction costs of the bridge would go up by several times if the government goes for commercial loan instead of loan from any lending agency like the WB ADB and Jica.
He said the WB put the Bangladesh formally in the dock for corruption charges through cancelling the Padma Bridge deal as the government has taken a position in favour of corrupt ministers and bureaucrats.
Asked whether any political player or Prof Muhammad Yunus influenced the World Bank to scrap the deal, the former BNP minister said he does not think so as the global lending agency provided specific graft allegations to the prime minister and the high government officials.
He said the government itself pushed the dream Padma Bridge project into uncertainty by not taking action against the corrupt although the World Bank repeatedly reminded it.
Claiming that BNP had initiated the plan for building the Padma Bridge, the BNP leader said had the BNP been in power the construction work on the bridge would have completed by the time.
Echoing party chairperson Khaleda Zia, Anwar said they will construct two bridges over the mighty Padma River if the BNP is voted to power.
While distributing relief materials among the disaster-hit people at Zia Memorial Complex at Bahaddarhat in Chittagong on Saturday, Khaleda said they would construct two bridges on the river — one at Mawa and another at Paturia-Doulatdia — if BNP gets back to power.
The BNP Chairperson also alleged that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her family members were involved in corruption of the much-talked-about Padma Bridge project.
The World Bank annulled a $1.2 billion credit for Padma Bridge project on Saturday, saying it has “credible evidence” of a high-level corruption conspiracy among Bangladeshi government officials.
“In light of the inadequate response by the government of Bangladesh, the World Bank has decided to cancel its $1.2 billion … credit in support of the Padma multipurpose bridge project, effective immediately,” the World Bank said in a statement.
The global lender said it had provided evidence of corruption from two investigations into the Padma bridge project to Bangladesh’s prime minister and other senior government officials in an effort to press for action.
The 6.2-km bridge is meant for linking the country’s impoverished south with capital Dhaka and the main port city of Chittagong.