MIR MOSTAFIZUR RAHAMAN |South Korea has decided to extend US$700 million in concessional loans to Bangladesh under the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF).
In this connection, the Korean Exim Bank has sent a letter to the Finance Ministry of Bangladesh, saying that the decision has been made through “careful consideration of the government’s development needs, its significance in economic relations with Korea as well as the current EDCF portfolio extended to Bangladesh.”
The Korean government proposed that the money will be provided for 2021-25 period. Both the government can have the scope for signing fresh contracts for using the loan.
The decision was taken after a meeting between the officials of the Ministry of Economy of Finance of Korea and the Finance Ministry of Bangladesh.
According to the previous Framework Arrangement, signed in 2018, Korea committed to provide $500 million in concessional loans to Bangladesh from 2017 to 2020 to help implement a number of infrastructure projects in Bangladesh.
Before that, it committed $350 million between 2015 and 2017 under a similar arrangement.
Another meeting dubbed the EDCF Policy dialogue is scheduled to be held soon where both sides will take stock the current state of the bilateral cooperation and the scope for bankrolling funding future projects in Bangladesh.
The K-Exim Bank also expressed its desire to fund the proposed rail-cum-road bridge over the river Karnafuli.
It wants to know the equity structure of the project and what could be the contribution of the government of Bangladesh apart from foreign assistance.
The Bangladesh government has decided to construct a rail-cum-road bridge over the river Karnafuli.
The railway minister has recently said the government intends to start the construction of the bridge this year and they have started negotiations with the Korea government for funding.
The proposed bridge will replace the rundown, old bridge at the Kalurghat area.
The existing Kalurghat bridge, used by thousands of people every day, was constructed in 1932 between Boalkhali and Janali Hat.
The proposed bridge consisting of a two-lane road and dual-gauge rail track will be crucial not only to the people of Chattogram, but also for establishing direct rail communications with Cox’s Bazar.
With a plan to unveil the rail track connecting Cox’s Bazar by 2022, the authorities were expecting to complete the proposed bridge by the same period.
The railways minister said the design and the construction site for the bridge have already been finalised.
The present bridge had only meter-gauge rail track until it was refurbished with a connecting road in 1962.
The Kalurghat Railway Bridge was constructed in 1931 and later on the steel turf plates were laid in the form of decking on the girder of the bridge to allow road vehicles to ply the narrow bridge on a temporary basis.
But frequent disruptions to traffic have become a common phenomenon at the bridge point mainly due to two reasons.
One is that the vehicles can move only in one direction at a time and the other is the recent growth of traffic in the districts of Cox’s Bazar and Bandarbans and the southern part of Chittagong.