China agrees to invest in 10 large infrastructure projects

Nazmul Ahsan

The Chinese government has agreed to finance 10 large infrastructure projects in the country involving nearly $8.5 billion, suggesting Beijing’s deeper relation-building efforts with Bangladesh.
The important projects will be implemented by 2020 with low-cost Chinese aid, a senior official at the Prime Minister’s Office told New Age on Thursday.
The Chinese Embassy in Dhaka past week apprised the PMO of its decision through written communication. The communication, identifying the 10 projects, asked the government to form a high-level committee to help implement the infrastructure projects smoothly.
‘We have asked the finance ministry to go ahead with the Chinese lending proposals and finalise the terms of conditions and rates of interests before signing the formal loan agreements with the Chinese designated state-owned firms,’ a senior official at the PMO said.
China is expected to show further interest in some other large and megaprojects soon, against which Bangladesh earlier sought Chinese assistance, the official said.
‘China will remain a great source of resource for Bangladesh economy as their interest in is increasing given the geo-political dynamics of the South Asia region,’ the official added.
The projects to get Chinese assistance are — single line dual gauge railway track from Dohazari to Cox’s Bazar via Ramu and Ramu to Gundum near Myanmar border project, Dhaka-Chittagong railway chord line project, Padma rail link from Dhaka to Jessore project and multi-lane road tunnel under the river Karnaphuli.
Others are – Chinese economic and industrial zone in Chittagong area, digital connectivity for Digital Bangladesh, expansion and strengthening of power system network in DPDC area, Payra sea port project, Dhaka-Ashulia elevated expressway, Unit-2 of Eastern refinery and single point mooring project.
Officials at the economic relations division of finance ministry said the total cost for all 10 projects could be around $8.5 billion, with Payra sea port and Dhaka-Chittagong chord line requiring nearly $4 billion and installation of unit-2 of eastern refinery Ltd and single point mooring needing another about $ 1.5 billion.
Senior ERD officials said they would soon initiate the negotiation process on finalising lending modalities of the proposed loans.
‘We are yet to know whether the projects will be implemented through G to G (government to government) basis, or through supplier’s or buyer’s credit,’ a senior ERD official told New Age.
He, however, said China has been supportive to extend soft loan, meaning 1.5 per cent interest rate, as the world’s second largest economy has enough liquidity to invest outside their country.
The ERD officials said they would soon hold an inclusive meeting with officials at the PMO to know the exact directions from the government toward the Chinese loan.
‘We are progressing and negotiating with Chinese authorities to finalise deals and other aspects like survey and feasibility studies on projects to be implemented in Chinese loans,’ Asif-uz-Zaman, additional secretary, ERD, told New Age.

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