The government is targeting nearly $9 billion Chinese loans this year for eight of its priority projects, including Padma rail project, for which a MoU was signed during the Chinese president’s Dhaka visit.
The government is now making the best efforts to get loans amounting to $8,932.4 million approved from China Exim Bank in 2017, otherwise, the projects’ implementation will linger, Economic Relations Division (ERD) sources said.
During his visit to Dhaka in October last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $24 billion Chinese loans for 28 development projects.
ERD sources said the government has already prepared a list of the eight priority projects out of 28 and sent it to the Chinese authorities with a plea for getting China Exim Bank’s approval for the loans by this year.
A Bangladesh delegation led by an ERD additional secretary already visited China in mid-February and highlighted the importance of the projects to the Chinese authorities.
An ERD high-up said usually the process of getting Chinese loans is lengthy, but ERD has been maintaining regular contact with the Chinese authorities regarding the loans for the eight projects.
“ERD is leaving no stone unturned to get the loans approved and complete signing the loan deals with the Chinese government soon,” he added.
Out of the loans, nearly $3.14 billion has been estimated for Padma rail connectivity project, over $1.6 billion for Dhaka-Sylhet road four-lane project, $1.65 billion for strengthening and expansion of power system network in DPDC area, over $1.32 billion for PGCB’s power grid network strengthening, $550.4 million for setting up single point mooring, $156.5 million for info sarkar (third phase), $231 million for modernising national telecommunication network and $280 million for setting up Chinese economic zone in Chittagong.
The government has already launched the Tk 35,000 core Padma rail line project to ensure rail connectivity through the under-construction Padma Bridge by 2018 when the bridge’s work will end as well.
Nearly $3.14 billion or Tk 24,749 crore Chinese credit has been estimated for the proposed 169km rail line from Kamalapur, Dhaka to Jessore via Padma Bridge.
The government has taken the project’s financing very seriously as any delay in the financing will ultimately linger the project, which will shatter the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s dream of opening the rail line simultaneously with the Padma bridge, ERD sources said, adding that any delay might shoot up project cost as well.
A letter has recently been sent to Xi Jinping from Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) seeking his interference in getting the rail line’s loans approved soon, EDR sources confirmed.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith also sent a letter to the Chinese authorities with respect to the rail line’s financing issue, they added.
The government already gave nod to the two important power sector projects and the project for setting up a single point mooring terminal in Chittagong, while other projects are in the pipeline for getting the nod.
But any delay in arranging the funds for these important projects will cost national economy, officials feared.
Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB) will implement a project to strengthen its grid network to improve power transmission across the country under a Tk 13,707 crore project where China is expected to provide Tk 9,707 crore.
Dhaka Power Distribution Company Ltd (DPDC) will implement a Tk 20,000 crore project for automation of its substations and installing underground transmission lines in Dhaka and adjacent areas. Chinese assistance for the project has been estimated at Tk 13,844 crore..