Malaysia and Bangladesh have reached a preliminary agreement on the final terms of the implementation of the US$2.3 billion Padma Multipurpose Bridge project in Bangladesh.
Special Envoy to India and South Asia Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said the Malaysian authorities reached the agreement after two days of intense negotiations with the Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA), the Bangladeshi government agency responsible for the project.
He said the Malaysian government is now hoping for the Bangladeshi government to make its decision soon to enable both countries to execute a government-to-government memorandum of agreement, followed by the signing of a concession agreement between the BBA and the proposed Malaysian consortium.
"The discussions were held on February 20-21, 2013 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and later both sides jointly signed the minutes of the terms that were agreed upon.
"Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has also expressed Malaysia's desire and total commitment to implement the project in an official letter to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, early this year," Samy Vellu said in a statement today.
While thanking the Bangladeshi government for a smooth and successful negotiation process, Samy Vellu said many of the terms proposed by the BBA are acceptable to the Malaysian parties.
"I want to assure the government of Bangladesh and the Bangladeshi Prime Minister that Malaysia is now ready to construct and finance the project via the Malaysian consortium," the former works minister added.
Both Malaysia and Bangladesh signed a government-to-government memorandum of understanding (MoU) on April 10, 2012 for Malaysia to form a Consortium to implement the project.
Meanwhile, it is understood that a Malaysian consortium led by Tan Sri Halim Saad of Markmore Group would be implementing the project.
Malaysia's Works Ministry has been directed by the Cabinet to evaluate the consortium which is also made up of an internationally renowned Chinese construction company based in Beijing to construct and finance the project, a source close to the deal told Bernama.
The government would follow its procurement rules in selecting the consortium which has been recommended by the Special Envoy's Office, the source said.
Halim, who was the brains behind the construction of the North-South Expressway, formerly was the chief of the Renong and UEM Groups then.
On another matter, the source said Bank Negara Malaysia is investigating a report in a Bangladesh newspaper which claimed that it (Bank Negara) had requested the Bangladesh government to be cautious about the Malaysian proposal.
The source said Bank Negara denied issuing such a statement and was contacting the Bangladesh Central Bank for clarification.
"The entire news report in the Bangladesh newspaper is a total fabrication and done with ulterior motives," the source added.
The Padma Bridge is a 6.15 kilometre multipurpose road-rail bridge across the Padma River, which after completion will be the largest bridge in Bangladesh and the first fixed river crossing for road traffic.
It will connect Louhajong, Munshiganj to Shariatpur and Madaripur, linking the south-west of the country to its northern and eastern regions.
The project is to be undertaken on a Build, Operate, Own, Transfer mode through a privatised concept.-- Bernama