Japan team, govt to sign deal on Padma bridge loan by Feb

Accord on inking $300m credit reached
Munima Sultana
The government and the visiting Japanese delegation have come to an agreement on signing a US$ 300 million deal by February for the construction of the massive Padma multipurpose bridge.

The agreement was reached during a wrap-up meeting held at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) conference room Monday.

ERD secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan chaired the meeting, in which members of other financiers of the multi-donor project were present.

Officials of the communications ministry, the Bangladesh Bridge Authority, finance ministry and other related government agencies were also there.

The appraisal mission of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) arrived in Bangladesh on October 14 to set the modalities of its government’s loan offer for the construction of the $2.9 billion Padma bridge.

Officials said the visiting team held threadbare discussions with the government including BBA, the executing agency, during the last four days and agreed to sign the final deal along with completion of the negotiation by November.

They said both the parties have agreed to complete terms and conditions of the loan arrangement and approval of the detailed project plan by November.

An official said they also agreed to revise the toll rate of Jamuna multipurpose bridge so that it can be fixed for the Padma bridge by 2013.

The Japanese lending agency has initiated the Padma bridge project by funding for its feasibility study in 2005.

Although the JICA took time to extend its cooperation further for the country’s costly project afterwards, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank have already pledged to bankroll over $2.0 billion in loans.

The Japanese loan of $300 million would have to be repaid at 0.01 per cent interest in 40 years with 10 years’ grace period, officials said.

The government has undertaken the road-cum-railway bridge scheme across the river Padma at Mawa-Janjira point at a cost of US$ 1.80 billion soon after coming to power. But the donors have assessed the bridge’s cost at $2.9 billion, whereas the government still maintains its cost at $2.4 billion.

thefinancialexpress