Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Sunday again slammed the World Bank for its action regarding Padma Bridge project, saying “its integrity department must be punished. This is a highly inefficient body that should not exist.”
Defending the government’s stance on Padma Bridge project that there was no corruption in the project, he, however, admitted that initially there was an attempt to pursue corrupt practices in selecting contractors.
But this was checked when the World Bank brought the matter to the notice of the government, Muhith said while addressing a function at the Planning Commission marking a presentation on the ‘State of the Economy’.
Cruising the World Bank’s role about Padma Bridge project, he said the World Bank launched a ‘Jihad’ against corruption in the project, which was not a correct strategy as such strategy often provides scope to the corrupt people to be careful to escape the probe.
“The World Bank should have been more cautious in handling the corruption charge,” he added.
Interestingly, the General Economics Division of the Planning Commission organized the function with the help of the World Bank where the donor agency’s Bangladesh chief economist Zahid Hossain was present.
Prime Minister’s Economic Affairs Advisor Dr. Mashiur Rahman and Planning Minister AK Khondker also addressed the function, where Planning Commission Member Dr. Shamsul Alam presented the keynote paper.
The Finance Minister said that if the government would not have withdrawn itself from the World Bank process, it would have needed a long time to complete the whole thing. “Because, the World Bank’s process is a very lengthy one and slow.”
Referring to the present trial of the Padma Bridge project corruption case in a Canadian court, he said this process would take two years time to settle the case. But Bangladesh cannot wait such a long time.
Muhith noted that four international contractors submitted bids for the project in a recent tender process and the government would be able to complete the contract award process by December this year.
He also mentioned that some countries had expressed willingness to help the government to build the bridge, but their condition was to accept their own selected contractors who were of international standard, but not standard by competition. That’s why the government did not accept their help.
The Finance Minister also blamed the local media for “spreading stink of corruption” instead of helping the government.
Dr. Mashiur Rahman said: “Some political parties are opposing the Constitution through creating anarchy, which is deemed to be anti-state acts.”
In his presentation, Shamsul Alam compared the economic achievements of the last four years with the 2005-06 fiscal and claimed that the country’s economy is in a very prospective position achieving an average 4 percent growth in last 4 years because of the government’s “bold and pragmatic” economic policies.
He, however, said “this presentation is not from political motive, but a coincidence with the government’s bill-board campaign.”
The perceived political instability is the biggest challenge for the economy, he added.