Govt mum on 2nd WB report

The World Bank has asked the government to thoroughly probe the allegation of corruption in Padma Bridge project, and take action against those involved.

The WB made the call in a report to the government last month.

“When the World Bank finds serious and credible evidence of fraud and corruption in its projects, we refer our findings to the concerned national authorities in our member countries," WB Country Director Ellen Goldstein told yesterday.

“This is the course we pursued in Bangladesh related to the Padma Bridge project, first in September 2011 and again in April 2012. We expect the authorities to take action, conduct a thorough investigation, and hold wrongdoers accountable,” she said in response to an email query over the project.

But she would not elaborate on the allegations made in WB's latest report, the second of its kind over the alleged graft.

The query was made prior to The Daily Star report headlined "Padma Bridge project: WB may cancel funding soon" published yesterday.

In the second week of April, Goldstein and another official of the bank's Integrity Vice-presidency from Washington met Finance Minister AMA Muhith and gave him the report.

Sources said the report contained findings of the Canadian government's probe into the corruption allegations over selection of Canadian company SNC-Lavalin as the consulting firm to supervise the main bridge's work.

But when asked, Muhith on Monday declined to make any comment on it.

On the same day, Goldstein also did not make any comment when this paper wanted to learn the contents of the report.

The WB temporarily suspended its part of $1.2 billion of the total $2.9 billion funding for the Padma Bridge project in September last year.

Last month, the WB temporarily suspended the Bangladesh unit of SNC-Lavalin from participating in tenders of WB-funded projects over graft allegations in the project.

The suspension came as a fresh blow to the Canadian company whose chief executive quit in March after an internal probe found that he had authorised $56 million in payments for projects that did not exist.

Officials in Bangladesh said the Canadian police were investigating the payments.

News Source: 
The Daily Star