Two dozen China-funded projects: Progress belies expectations

Mir Mostafizur Rahaman | Published: May 31, 2018 10:03:02 | Updated: May 31, 2018 19:24:42

The projects include the construction of a tunnel under the Karanafuli River worth US$705.80 million. Internet photo used for representation

Due to the bureaucratic tangles, more than two dozen China-funded projects are not progressing at a satisfactory pace.

So far, the disbursement has been made against only two projects.

The projects include the construction of a tunnel under the Karanafuli River worth US$705.80 million and the development of ICT network (Phase -2) worth $156.56 million.

Officials blamed the procedural complications and the long process of negotiations for the delay in loan disbursement.

"We are trying our best to expedite the China-funded projects. These were signed during the visit of President Xi Jinping to Bangladesh," Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh Zhang Zuo told the FE recently.

"My main priority is to speed up the entire exercise for implementation of these projects," he said.

A senior official at the Economic Relations Division told the FE on Wednesday that both sides were sincere about implementing these projects quickly. But there were some procedural complexities.

For example, for loan approval, the division needs the greenlight from both the Chinese Commerce Ministry and the EXIM Bank.

Previously, the approval from only EXIM Bank was required.

The loan disbursement process takes additional two or three months due to the new system.

Recently, a loan agreement was signed for the $3.1 billion Padma Bridge rail link project.

Out of the remaining 24 projects, necessary preparations for signing loan agreements have been completed for six.

These include $ 1.6 billion power system network strengthening project, $1.3 billion power grid strengthening project, $1.9 billion Dhaka-Ashulia elevated expressway project, $ 231 million modernisation of telecom network project, $280 million China Economic Zone project and the $125 million project for establishing six TV stations.

The progress of 10 other projects is slow and many of them are at the negotiation stage.

Among them are $500 million single point mooring project, $467 million replacement of five million electro meter project, $ 256.41 million extension of underground mining project, $521 million pre-payment metering project, $200 million project for setting up inland container terminal at Dhirasram.

The other projects include $230 million for the replacement of overloaded transformer, $150 million water supply and solid waste management, and $ 500 million project for modernisation of rural and urban lives through ICT.

The remaining eight projects are at an advanced stage and the loan agreements for those will be signed soon, ERD officials said.

Talking about the situation, an official of the economic wing of the Chinese embassy said that they were taking all-out efforts to ensure the projects would be implemented as soon as possible.

"Yes, there are procedural complexities on both sides but we are working to resolve this," Li Gunagjun, the economic and commercial counsellor of the embassy, said.


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