World Bank vice-president Junaid Kamal Ahmed has called construction of the Padma Bridge with domestic financing a “matter of glory” for Bangladesh, over a decade after the lending agency cancelled its promised funding for the project, smelling corruption, which eventually appeared unfounded.
“The construction of Padma Bridge is a matter of glory for the country (Bangladesh),” Bangladesh embassy in Washington DC quoted him as he joined a discussion at the chancery at the US capital coinciding with the grand opening of the structure.
He said Bangladesh’s connectivity witnessed a huge progress in the past few years and “the Padma Bridge has further improved the sector”.
Ahmed said the Bridge would make significant contribution to Bangladesh’s attainment of a middle income country status as well as graduation to a higher income county soon.
The World Bank was supposed to extend an amount of loan worth US$1.2 billion under a deal with Bangladesh government. But the lending agency abruptly declined to go ahead with the promised support saying the World Bank had found what it called at that time “credible evidence” of planned corruption involving its construction works.
A Canadian federal court and Bangladesh’s Anti-Corruption Commission in separate investigations subsequently found no basis of the allegation while Bangladesh preferred to go ahead with the project discarding any overseas financial assistance of any type.
The senior World Bank official, however, said relationship between the global lending agency and Dhaka was deep and the bank continued to support Bangladesh’s different sectors including local government and energy.
Ahmed is the Vice President for Operations of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), one of the five organizations under the World Bank group.
World Bank’s country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan Mercy Miyang Tembon today said the global lending agency was happy with the opening of the Padma Bridge.
“We are happy that the bridge is completed. We are happy that Bangladesh is going to be benefited from this bridge,” she said while talking to reporters on the sidelines of the Padma Bridge opening ceremony at Mawa end.
Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen earlier said the World Bank must be "apologetic" and feel "sorry" considering that they did Bangladesh a "big injustice" by cancelling the funding for the Padma Bridge.
In 2013, the Awami League government officially withdrew its loan request to World Bank and declared that it would construct the bridge with own finances.
Taking part in the discussion in Washington Bangladesh Ambassador to the USA M Shahidul Islam said construction of the Padma Bridge became possible as a result of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s rock-solid determination and morale, countering all the conspiracies at home and abroad.
“By building the bridge, she has shown the whole world that Bangabandhu's Bangladesh has the capacity and capability to implement such a mega project,” he said.
Deputy Chief of the Mission Ferdousi Shahriar delivered the welcome remarks while North Carolina Central University Professor Dr ABM Nasir also took part in the discussion, preceded by the screening of a documentary on the Padma Bridge.