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Padma bridge setback may swing ‘vote bank’
Padma bridge model - File photo

Padma bridge setback may swing ‘vote bank’

Members of several parliamentary standing committees on Sunday observed that the vote bank of the ruling Awami League can swing if the Padma Bridge construction is not made visible to people before the national election.At a pre-budget discussion held at the National Economic Council, the standing committee members brought to the notice of Finance Minister AMA Muhith that people have already lost their trust in the Padma Bridge project as they have not seen anything tangible so far.
“People right now don’t care to know what progress has been made concerning the Padma Bridge implementation, they want to see something concrete,” said Bazlul Haque Harun, member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
“People won’t vote for us if the pillars of the Padma Bridge are not installed,” he added.
Harun also pointed out that the AL candidates will be in no position to seek votes from people without any visible implementation of the Padma Bridge project. “The government must remember that it was an AL’s election pledge.”
Abdul Mannan, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts and ABM Golam Mostafa, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Undertakings also observed that it has not been much convenient for the AL parliamentarians when they face questions about the Padma Bridge from the people of their respective areas.
Mannan also asked whether the international construction firms will be interested to pursue the tenders of the Padma Bridge if the government decides to build it with its own fund. “They (companies) will be doubtful about the funding in that case.”
In response, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said: “A separate account will be created to convince the contractors.”
Replying to a query about the possible impact on the economy in case of the internal sourcing of the fund for the bridge, Muhith said the process will not lead to any depreciation to the level that has already been reached. “The escalation of various activities made over the last four years won’t continue,” he added.
Earlier, the minister said the government is going to float the sovereign bond by June this year for various purposes, including the construction of the Padma Bridge with internal resources.
“It (sovereign bond) can raise one billion dollars in two years that must be used properly…Padma Bridge must be best project for this,” said the minister.
As the interest rate of the sovereign bonds will be as high as 5.5 percent, the government needs to spend it on quick projects, rather than to meet up the budget deficit, he added.
About the remaining possibility of foreign investment, Muhith said, “India has already given a grant of $200 million. There’s a possibility to get another $140 million from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) that can be known for sure in the next 3-4 days.” UNB


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