World Bank cancels Bangladesh bridge loan

2 07 2012

Bangladesh on Saturday called a World Bank decision to cancel a $1.2 billion loan to build the nation’s biggest bridge — aimed at transforming the poverty-hit south — “a bolt from the blue”.

The development lender on Friday cancelled the loan for the country’s Padma bridge project, saying the government had not cooperated in investigating “high-level” corruption in the project.

“The World Bank cannot, should not, and will not turn a blind eye to evidence of corruption,” the World Bank said.

Bangladesh Communications Minister Obaidul Quader told reporters the Washington-based bank had scrapped the credit deal based on allegations “which do not necessarily mean that corruption charges have been confirmed”.

“It is unfortunate, regrettable — and mysterious,” the minister said, adding that the lender’s decision came at a time when the country’s anti-graft agency was investigating the allegations.

“It’s like a bolt from the blue,” he said.

The proposed 6.2-kilometer (3.8-mile) bridge over the Padma river — the local name for the Ganges — would connect the capital Dhaka to coastal districts.

The $3-billion bridge is planned to go into service in 2014.

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