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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dhaka likely to seek $10.79b from China


Dhaka is likely to seek USD 10.79 billion in concessional or soft loans from China to modernise the country’s rail communications by implementing eight projects. 
This was decided at an inter-ministerial meeting, chaired by the additional secretary of the railway ministry, and head of the committee on Chinese proposals for investment in railways, Shashi Kumar Singha, on February 10. Meanwhile, China assured Bangladesh of assistance in constructing the Dhaka-Cox’s Bazar broad gauge rail track and setting up coal-based power plants and a rice research centre, and in exploring oil and natural gas, among others.   
The assurances came during the three-day visit of Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi last December.
Wang Yi observed that China and Bangladesh, without any dispute in history and conflict in the present, can only enjoy friendship and cooperation. “China highly appreciates the firm and consistent support of Bangladesh to issues concerning China's core interests,” he said.
Under the Chinese investment proposal, Bangladesh wants to implement the following railway projects: Padma rail link project phase 1 for Dhaka-Maowa-Bhanga part (USD 2,184 million); Padma rail link project phase 2 for Bhanga-Jessore part (USD 1,143 million); construction of a single line dual gauge railway track from Dohazari to Cox’s Bazar via Ramu and Ramu to Guhdum near Myanmar (USD 1,808 million); construction of a double track standard gauge railway line from Dhaka to Chittagong via Comilla (USD 3,968 million); construction of a double line (dual gauge) between Joydebpur and Ishurdi sections (USD 897 million); construction of a double gauge track parallel to the existing medium gauge line in Joydebpur-Mymensingh section (USD 331 million); construction of a modern railway workshop at Rajbari project (USD 200 million); and procurement of 30-set broad gauge DEMU and 200 broad gauge coaches (USD 265 million).
According to the working paper of the meeting, the Planning Commission has already approved the pre-detailed project plans (PDPP) of the Padma rail link project phases 1 and 2 in principle. PDPPs have been sent to the Economic Relations Division (ERD) to start negotiations for the loan. Besides, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between Bangladesh Railway and China Railway Group Ltd regarding implementation of the project on January 28.
The committee also proposed to receive even commercial loans and bidder financing, if concessional loans are not available.

The Daily Star, 24 February 2015