Malaysia lays out US$3b proposal for Bangladesh bridge

Dhaka (The Daily Star/ANN) - Malaysia yesterday gave a draft proposal to the Bangladesh government for signing a final deal on its financing the Padma bridge project.

According to the proposal, the Malaysian government will invest around US$3 billion and complete the construction in three years.

It will operate the bridge for 37 years and then hand it over to the Bangladesh government, official sources in Dhaka said.

S. Samy Vellu, Malaysian prime minister's special envoy for infrastructure affairs for South Asia, submitted the proposal to Bangladesh Communications Minister Obaidul Quader at the latter's office in Dhaka.

The proposal comes at a time when the government has "rejected" World Bank's conditions that Dhaka should remove from office all persons whose names came in the alleged graft in the Padma bridge project and appoint an independent supervisor to monitor the Anti-Corruption Commission's probe into the allegation.

The World Bank had pledged $1.2 billion for the $2.9 billion project but it held back its fund, raising allegation of corruption in the project in September last year.

Talking to reporters yesterday, the communications minister said the Malaysian proposal would be reviewed thoroughly before talking about it with the Malaysian government.

He said the national, economic and public interest would be given priority while reviewing the proposal.

On World Bank's financing the project, he said the finance ministry had been trying to reach an "honourable" solution to the issue.

The door to negotiations with the World Bank would remain open till signing of the final deal with Malaysia, he added.

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