World Bank halts USD 1.2 billion Bangladesh loan

Last Updated: Monday, October 10, 2011 - 21:36

Dhaka: The World Bank said on Monday that it had
put on hold a USD 1.2 billion loan for a huge bridge in
Bangladesh amid allegations of corruption in the bidding
process.

The development lender committed the loan -- its biggest
one-off credit line to any country -- in February to build the
bridge over the Padma River, the local name for the Ganges.

The 6.15-kilometre (3.8-mile) bridge, designed to carry a
highway and rail line, is expected to transform the country`s
isolated south.

The bank said it had suspended the loan following
allegations of graft over the project, which is set to cost
USD 2.9 billion in total.

"We will not proceed until we are fully satisfied on the
fraud and corruption front," World Bank Bangladesh country
director chief Ellen Goldstein said via email.

Bangladesh Finance Minister AMA Muhith said the
government had ordered investigation in the graft charges.

He said the bank had "temporarily halted" funding after
making "allegations that there could be corruption in the
tender process".

The bridge, scheduled to go into service in 2014, would
be the longest in the country. It was a key election promise
of the Awami League government, led by Prime Minister Sheikh
Hasina.

A study has found that the bridge could cut poverty
significantly and boost GDP growth in the country`s poor
coastal region.

PTI



First Published: Monday, October 10, 2011 - 21:36

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