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A bridge over troubling matters

  • Published at 07:06 pm February 12th, 2017
  • Last updated at 08:06 pm February 12th, 2017
A bridge over troubling matters
It was regretful that the World Bank pulled their funding for the construction of the Padma Bridge, but that decision is harder to accept now that it is clear that the allegations of corruption they had cited were not based on credible evidence. A Toronto court recently threw out a case lodged by the WB against SNC-Lavalin -- the firm contracted to oversee construction of the bridge -- dismissing the case because of the flimsy evidence put forth to substantiate allegations of corruption and wrongdoing by officials connected to the flagship development project.  Moreover, the “credible evidence corroborated by a variety of sources” that the WB cited to justify its decision to discontinue funding was based on unverified, unreliable tipsters, one of whom was determined by the court to be a disgruntled competing bidder. This is truly a disappointing state of affairs. The Padma Bride stands to contribute significantly towards furthering the social, economic, and industrial development of our nation. A challenging project in terms of construction, logistics and financing, the WB's seemingly arbitrary decision to withhold its sizeable financing contribution is a major blow to Bangladesh’s continued development. Having said that, more questions need to be asked. Exactly why did WB feel the need to shutter its funding so promptly? If they do, in fact, refer to the findings of every national authority involved, what does that make of the Anti-Corruption Commission’s own findings of the suspected Bangladeshi officials and politicians being innocent? Providing answers to these questions is essential to restoring mutual understanding and confidence between Bangladesh and its development partners.  Bangladesh has come a long way, and a lot of the credit goes to the sitting government’s vision to make ours a middle-income country in the next few years.  To that end, the prompt construction of the Padma Bridge would go a long way in securing that vision. The court's ruling vindicates the government's long-standing claim that wrongdoing did not take place. It is hoped that Bangladesh's development partners now accept this and return to the important work of poverty-alleviation and opportunity-creation that lies ahead.