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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs   9 April  2012

Malaysia may fund Bangladesh bridge

April 8, 2012 -- Bangladesh is expected to commence talks with Malaysia on funding the construction of a 6.15km Padma bridge.

Bangladesh Communications Minister Obaidul Quader was quoted by that the decision on striking a deal with the Malaysian government for financing the US$2.9 billion (RM8.86 billion) project would be taken only after the discussion.

A team would be leaving for Malaysia on Sunday as the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Malaysian government was expected to take place on Tuesday, the report said.

Economic Relations Division Secretary Iqbal Mahmud, Bridges Department Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam and Padma Bridge Project Director Shafiqul Islam were on the team, it said.

"It has not yet been decided how much money Malaysia will provide," the report quoted as Quader saying.

He said building the bridge was the government's priority and it would start in 10 months under a build-own-operate-and-transfer basis.

The US$2.9 billion project was supposed to receive US$1.2 billion (RM3.67 billion) from the World Bank.

Following corruption allegations, however, the World Bank has postponed disbursing the fund, forcing the Bangladeshi government to start looking for alternative sources of funding.

Quader was quoted as saying that he did not think the MoU with Malaysia would necessarily require the cancellation of deals already signed with other organisations including the World Bank.

"We don't have any allegation against the World Bank. We are thinking about alternative funding as we don't have much time," he said.

"However, I hope the World Bank will fund and that money will be spent on constructing the second Padma bridge," he added.

Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith had said on Saturday that the discussion would go ahead with Malaysia besides resolving the problem with the World Bank.

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