Padma probe, bridge together

Padma probe, bridge together

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Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Sunday said the World Bank agreed to implement the Padma bridge project amid ongoing probe into the allegations of corruption in it.
He made the comment after meeting the World Bank external panel led by Marino Ocampo at his office.
The announcement came after the global lender’s Country Director for Bangladesh said they would not release money unless Anti Corruption Commission took action against those involved in corruption in the ambitious infrastructure project.
“The Anti-Corruption Commission is currently running an inquiry into the corruption allegation. (More) Investigation will follow if enquiry substantiates the allegation. Then the probe and implementation will go together,” said Muhith.
Both sides agreed to run the investigation and the implementation of the project at the same time, he added.
The ACC said they were likely to finalise the enquiry report in a couple of days, and measures would be taken as per law on the findings.
“When we reengaged there was an understanding that we would bolster the investigation process and they would provide us information and we would proceed on the basis of the information.
“Also a World Bank panel would scrutinise our investigation process. When the panel would say the investigation process is proper, then the reenagment process would complete,” he said.
“This is my first encounter with the panel and they told me that now they were seeing light at the end of tunnel as the Commission has accepted the recommendations they put forward,” Muhith said.
“They told me that after this visit they can say that Bangladesh investigation is credible and when they say that our reengagement would complete.”
The World Bank panel came to Dhaka Saturday and this is its second visit.
Inquiry and Investigation
The minister said according to the procedure, when the Commission receives an allegation, it starts inquiry.
“Through inquiry they try to find out if there is any credible evidence or not. If there is any credible evidence, the ACC starts investigation and that is action,” he said.
“Investigation means first information report, other steps like chargesheet according to the process of ACC,” Muhith said adding “Investigation takes long time.”
“My only interest is to start the investigation since if it starts, my project will start,” said the smiling minister.
“We will begin the work of Padma bridge well before the end of the tenure of the government ”
About filing of the case, he said “It is the job of the commission.”
“So far I know World Bank handed over evidence to ACC and it is the job of the ACC to file case,” he said.
Economic Relations Division Secretary Iqbal Mahmood said the panel would oversee whether the ACC investigation process is effective, efficient and at par with international standards.
“The panel wants to know if our investigation process is proper or not and if it meets international standards,” he said.
International Affairs Advisor to the Prime Minister Gowher Rizvi urged journalists not to speculate.
“We are on the right track. The work will continue more rapidly if you don’t speculate,” he said.

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