Bangladesh fired back at the World Bank with its own accusations after funding for the Padma Bridge project was cut due to alleged corruption and misuse of money by Bangladeshi officials.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina accused the World Bank of irregularities. She said her country was pressured into hiring a Chinese contractor previously disqualified by the World Bank for fraud.
She also accused the World Bank of employing ‘delaying tactics’ in the disbursal of funds.
The suspension of funds for the $2.9 billion bridge leaves Bangladesh in a difficult spot. It has already spent $180 million of its own money on the project, part of which was supposed to be refunded with donor money. Almost half of Bangladesh’s development spending is funded by foreign aid.
Canadians Ramesh Shah and and Mohammad Ismail were arrested during an investigation of bidding practices for the Padma Bridge project.
The World Bank, which alerted Canadian authorities, said it had ‘credible evidence’ of corruption involving Bangladeshi officials.
Melanie Lansakara is a researcher at ethiXbase.