The World Bank has agreed to revive a controversial $1.2-billion loan to Bangladesh for a major road and rail bridge on Padma river on condition that the Government implements anti-graft measures.

“The Bank has agreed that, upon satisfactory implementation of the agreed measures by the Government (against the corruption), and with the support of the Bank’s governing bodies, the Bank will engage anew in the Padma Multipurpose Bridge,” the World Bank said in statement today.

It, however, added the global lending agency “remains vigilant to any signs of corruption in the Padma Bridge project, and our determination to take a strong line against wrongdoing will never waver’’.

The World Bank in June withdrew a $1.2-billion line of credit for the 6.2-km bridge over the Padma River, saying it had “credible evidence” of high-level corruption among Bangladeshi government officials.

Since then Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Government pursued a campaign to revive the loan agreement. The Government removed a minister from the Cabinet and sent a senior adviser to Hasina on leave for their suspected involvement in the “corruption conspiracy’’.

The World Bank said “The Government of Bangladesh has now begun to address the evidence of corruption the Bank identified.

“The World Bank understands that all Government employees and officials alleged to have been involved in corrupt acts in connection with the project have been put on leave from Government service until an investigation is completed, and that a full and fair investigation is now underway.”

The World Bank had earlier promised to provide $1.2 billion of the $2.93-billion project but kept suspended the disbursement process raising the graft allegation.

(This article was published on September 21, 2012)
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