DHAKA Feb 1 Bangladesh has dropped plans to
seek renewed World Bank assistance for construction of the
country's longest river bridge while it investigated allegations
of corruption in the project, the bank said on Friday.
The bank last year cancelled a $1.2 billion credit for
construction of the 6.2-km (4-mile) bridge over the Padma river
after it found "credible evidence" of high-level corruption
among Bangladeshi officials.
On Friday, the bank said it had received a letter from the
government, indicating that it would not be asking the bank to
lift its suspension of funds for the long-running project.
"The (Bangladesh government's) letter to the World Bank
confirms the authorities' intent to continue the investigation
of alleged corruption related to the project," the bank said in
"The World Bank has taken note of the Government's decision
of not seeking renewed World Bank financing for the Padma
Bridge, and it encourages the Anti-Corruption Commission to
complete a full and fair investigation of the corruption
Dhaka's decision came after World Bank President Jim Yong
Kim said this week that while funding for the bridge would not
resume until the government addressed the problems, the Bank
remained engaged in the South Asia country with commitment of
about $4.3 billion in over 30 projects.
Last month, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said her government
would try to build the bridge with its own funds or arrange the
money from other sources if the World Bank failed to release the
Building the bridge was one of Hasina's top promises before
the 2008 election and remains critical to maintaining her
popularity in the next polls in a year's time, officials and
They say the government's standing suffered a dent after the
Padma scam came to light while the nation's image was also
Communications Minister Obaidul Quader told reporters the
issue of financing the bridge would be clear by this month and
construction would start while the current government was still
"Proposals of Malaysia, China and India on financing Padma
bridge are under consideration, while building the bridge with
our own funding is still not ruled out," he said.
In December, Bangladesh's Anti-Corruption Commission sued
several Bangladeshi officials and three executives of a Canadian
firm involved in the project, but excluded ex-communications
minister Syed Abul Hossain from the list of accused, which
displeased the World Bank.
Two former executives from Canadian engineering company
SNC-Lavalin Group Inc, which bid to supervise the
contractor on the bridge project, appeared in a Toronto court in
July accused of bribing officials in Bangladesh.
Canada launched an investigation in 2011 into allegations of
corruption in the bridge bidding process after the World Bank
brought the issue to their attention.