Dhaka (The Daily Star/ANN) - We are not quite certain what the Ministry of Finance would have us believe about the World Bank (WB) report on the Padma Bridge project, which has brought allegations of corruption against the communications ministry in the selection of consulting firm.
Reportedly, the WB is all but ready to cancel its funding of the Project as no palpable action has been initiated by the government as yet on its reports, the second of which has been handed over to the government in April. And it is only recently that we have come to know about the second report but wonder why the substance has been kept out of public knowledge so far. And yet the government continues to stick to its guns.
It was astonishing to see the finance and communication ministries come up with rather untenable arguments after the first report on the alleged corruption was delivered to the government, trying to dismiss it out of hand on the grounds that when the work had not even started there could hardly be any scope to indulge in corruption. That has not helped to clarify the matter to the public but has only reinforced the perception of opacity on the part of the relevant ministries.
Regrettably, the more the government drags its foot on the matter the more it risks losing credibility with other international financing organisations who have already indicated that they would only come on board after the government has sorted the matter out with the WB first. And that includes Japan too.
We do not think the position of the government in this regard is justifiable. The answer to the allegation of corruption, the specifics of which have been provided in the second report, is not to go only for alternative source of funding, which the government can very well do and, if it so wishes, keep the WB out of it. But the fundamental question, that of corruption, will not be answered if the government does not go to bottom of the matter and address all the points raised by the Bank through an impartial enquiry.