Qatar keen to fund Padma bridge

Qatar is keen to invest in Bangladesh’s major projects, including Padma bridge construction, a power project, airport upgrade, river dredging and a manpower training institute.

A 10-member delegation led by Assistant Minister for International Cooperation Affairs of Qatar Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Jabr Al Thani opened talks with Bangladesh yesterday.

Bangladesh is negotiating with Qatar for funds for the construction of Padma bridge, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, who led Bangladesh at the meeting, told reporters after the three-hour meeting at Sonargaon Hotel.

“We have already signed a memorandum of understanding with Malaysia. If it is feasible, acceptable and agreed by all the parties, we can have a tripartite agreement,” she said.

The Qatari minister said the Padma bridge is a key project his country is pursuing.

The $2.9 billion Padma bridge project has stalled, as the World Bank, the lead co-financier, raised allegations of corruption in it. Other financers, including JICA, ADB and IDB have also suspended funds.

With Qatar, Bangladesh placed a number of projects — a 1,000 megawatt LNG-based power plant to be built at the cost of $1.3 billion at Moheshkhali, procurement of five dredgers and ancillary equipment for the revival of the river systems at $55.26 million and a technical training centre that may cost $11 million.

The construction of the third terminal at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and construction of a cargo village at $405 million, upgrading the Kadda-Joydevpur-Debogram-Bhulta-Madanpur road (Dhaka bypass) into four lanes at $140 million were also on the list.

Jabr Al Thani said they are very much interested to conclude the agreements with Bangladesh as soon as possible.

He said his country has been experiencing an influx of workers as it is building infrastructure for the World Cup 2022, which is going to be held in the Middle Eastern country.

Dipu Moni said the government of Qatar will assist Bangladesh in establishing a manpower training centre.

After the meeting, Air Vice Marshal Mahmud Hussain, chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh, said the investors have showed interest to fund the construction of a new airport in Bangladesh.

“We have delineated the rules of investment in Bangladesh while we discussed business with the investors,” said Saidur Rahman, general manager of Bangladesh Bank’s forex reserve and treasury management.

“They are interested to invest in Bangladesh in different sectors as they have no liquidity problem,” he said.

Officials of different ministries and departments made separate presentations to brief the Qatari side of the project proposals.

The two ministers signed the agreed minutes of the meeting to form a joint working committee to follow up on the investment plans.

Later, the Qatari delegation met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Gono Bhaban in the capital yesterday.

Hasina appreciated Qatar for showing interest to explore the possibilities of investment in Bangladesh, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Terming the bilateral relations with Qatar warm, Hasina recalled her recent meetings with the Emir of Qatar on the sidelines of the 13th UNCTAD in Doha in April and at the 66th UNGA in New York in 2011.

She also requested Qatar to recruit more from Bangladesh.

The Qatar minister said his country would encourage recruitment of professionals such as doctors, engineers, nurses, IT experts and bankers

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