KL, Doha pledge $12b investment for Bangladesh
Bangladesh, desperately seeking overseas funds for building its major infrastructures, has so far been assured of assistance and investment worth $12 billion from two friendly countries in Asia, officials said on Sunday.
The $12 billion investment pledges came almost simultaneously when two official teams from Malaysia and Qatar visited Bangladesh last month, officials at the ministry of foreign affairs (MoFA) said.
Malaysia has so far pledged some $9.0 billion including $6.0 billion for a new international airport and rest for the proposed 6.15-kilometre multi-purpose bridge across the river Padma.
Qatar so far offered to invest some $3.0 billion for building infrastructure in Bangladesh. The Gulf state is also likely to pledge another $2.5 billion investment in different sectors including energy, officials said.
“All these investment proposals are likely to be registered after the relevant authorities and concerned parties sign required deals,” a senior official of the Board of Investment told the FE.
Bangladesh launched the hectic drive for foreign funds after the World Bank refrained from giving its pledged portion of $1.2 billion for building a $3.0 billion Padma bridge alleging corruption in a bidding process last year.
The construction of the Padma Bridge was an election pledge of the government which won a landslide victory in the last general election in late 2008, officials at the ministry of communications said.
“It is our prime project and we want to start its construction before conclusion of our present term in January 2014,” communications minister Obaidul Quader told the FE.
Following the World Bank’s action other financers, including Japan International Cooperation Agency ($420 million), Asian Development Bank ($615 million) and Islamic Development Bank ($140 million) have also suspended their pledged funds.
Meanwhile, the authorities concerned are also expecting more foreign assistance in coming months as the oil-rich Qatar has shown great interest in investing in oil and gas exploration, power plants, expansion of airports, river dredging and manpower training institutes.
Bangladesh also hopes further pledges of another $2.5 billion investment from Qatar for setting up a proposed 1,000 mega watt liquefied natural gas-fired power plant at Moheskhali off-shore island, expansion of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, expansion of highways, procurement of five river dredgers and for setting up a technical training centre, MoFA officials said.
The far eastern Malaysia has offered a total of $9.0 billion investment in the bridge and the international airport projects while Qatar pledged for constructing the bridge across the Padma river.
Meanwhile, Qatar is also looking for other fields including energy, infrastructure including river dredging and human resources sectors.
Malaysian Prime Minister’s special envoy for South Asia Dato S Samy Vellu offered the new and the latest investment proposal worth some $6.0 billion for construction of the proposed Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib International Airport near Dhaka, to Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Col (retd) Faruk Khan on May 30.
The new offer was made when Mr. Samy Vellu visited Dhaka for submitting a formal preliminary proposal for construction of $3.0 billion Padma Bridge, which Malaysia had agreed earlier and a memorandum of understanding was signed in Kuala Lumpur on April 10.
Earlier in the last week, a Qatari official team led by Assistant Minister for International Cooperation Affairs of Qatar Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Jabr Al Thani, offered some $3.0 billion assistance for building the Padma Bridge.
As Bangladesh and Malaysia have already signed a MoU for building the Padma Bridge, Qatar is likely to join the venture as a third party in the project, MoFA officials said.
“We have already signed a memorandum of understanding with Malaysia. If it is feasible, acceptable and agreed upon by all the parties, we can have a tripartite agreement,” Foreign Minister Dipu Moni told reporters after meeting with the Qatari delegation on May 28.
“If Malaysia and Qatar really can upkeep their pledges and come forward in investing, then the world scenario of financing will really change,” an official of the ministry of finance said without giving details.