Malaysia offers $2.3bn fund to bridge Padma

Malaysia offers $2.3bn fund to bridge Padma

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Malaysia on Friday formally offered to invest $2.3 billion to build the $2.9 billion Padma bridge
embroiled in controversy.Malaysian Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to India and South Asia S Samy Vellu disclosed the offer at a
press conference in Dhaka.
He said they had submitted the proposal to the Prime Minister earlier this year and were awaiting her
green light.
Samy Vellu said his country would complete the mega-project in four years if the Bangladesh
government agreed to the proposal.
The investment offer for the 6.15-kilometre multipurpose road-rail bridge, the largest ever
infrastructure in Bangladesh, came at a time when the government is poised to build it on its own.
The envoy said they would take back the total return in 26 years on the toll collected from the bridge
that would connect 19 south and southern districts with Dhaka and the eastern region and is expected
to increase the GDP by 1.2 percent.
The toll charge will be fixed by the Bangladesh government, he said, according to the jointly signed
minutes of the terms that were agreed upon during a discussion in February in Dhaka.
He said in the first five years they would not share the revenue and would take 70 percent of the net
revenue in the next 21 years.
The Malaysian envoy said his country agreed to pay tax to Bangladesh on the net profit as per the local
rules.
Based on their estimation he said, the net revenue collected would be $7.4 billion, of which they would
get an estimated $5.2 billion.
The envoy said they entered into the project to assist Bangladesh government to complete the bridge.
“It is to help Bangladesh progress,” he said and added that it will ensure better housing for people of
Bangladesh, apart from establishing shipping connection and new township.
The special envoy said the initiative will help strengthen cooperation between the two Muslims
countries.
The Malaysian government, he said, was now hoping for the Bangladesh government to make its
decision shortly to enable both countries to execute a government-to-government memorandum of
agreement.
Early this year, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had also expressed Malaysia’s desire and
commitment to implement the project in an official letter to Sheikh Hasina.
Both Malaysia and Bangladesh signed a government-to-government Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) on April 10 last year for Malaysia to form a consortium to implement the project.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith announced that they would build the bridge on
their own after it withdrew the request for the World Bank’s pledged $1.2 billion credit following more
than a year of impasse over suspected corruption charges.
The minister said in Parliament on March 5 that the government would soon make public the schedule
and yearly estimation for implementation of the project.
He also announced that the India’s $200 million grants under the $1billion line of credit would be
injected to their ‘self-funded’ project.
“Such financing could also come from Malaysia in future,” he had told Parliament apparently to keep the
doors open for foreign support.
Replying to a question, the Malaysian envoy on Friday said they have no problem if the government
went ahead on its own.
“It (the project progress) will be finished here then,” he said.
In the latest plan, the government estimated the overall cost of the mega project at over Tk 220 billion.
Though the government is seriously thinking of alternatives to the World Bank funding to build the
dream bridge, it is yet to make public its funding plans. bdnews24.com

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