Govt set to sign financing deal with China for ‘Info Sarker’ project

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 15 Aug 2017, 21:40:32
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Govt set to sign financing deal with China for ‘Info Sarker’ project

The government is looking forward to a framework agreement signing with China as soon as possible over its $156.55 million funding for the Info Sarker Phase 3 project to ensure its completion within the stipulated timeframe.

According to a UNB report, the ICT division will implement the Tk 19.99 billion National ICT Intra-network for Bangladesh Government Phase-III, which is also known as Info Sarker-3 project, to connect 2,600 union parishads through fibre optic cables.

State Minister for ICT Junaid Ahmed Palak has sent a letter to the Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam early this month requesting him to hold the negotiation with the Chinese EXIM Bank without any delay to expedite the signing of the Chinese government's concessional loan agreement.

In the letter, he said since the Info Sarker Phase 3 project is a priority project of the government and it is scheduled to end by June 2018, it would be uncertain to complete the project work within the timeframe if the signing of the framework agreement is delayed further.

"Negotiation should have to be completed speedily to sign the framework agreement with financing organisation EXIM Bank of China," Palak said in the letter.

As per the state minister's instruction, ERD Deputy Secretary AKM Matiur Rahman sent a letter to Economic and Commercial Councillor of Chinese Embassy in Dhaka Li Guangjun on August 8 requesting him to communicate this to the authorities concerned of China for kind action on their part.

"Under the circumstances, ERD is inviting EXIM Bank of China to send a negotiation team to negotiate on the above loan agreement, which may be held in Dhaka in the 3rd week of August this year or any convenient date at your end," Matiur said in the letter.

Talking to the news agency, an ERD official said as per the draft agreement the terms of the loan shall not exceed 20 years including the period of utilisation, grace and repayment. The grace period should not exceed five years. The annual interest rate of the loan shall be two per cent.

Besides, the agreement shall come into force on the date of its signature while it will remain valid for three years. The agreement shall become invalid automatically if the creditor and the borrower could not reach the lending agreement of the loan within the above specified period.

State-owned China Railway International Group Company Limited would supply the equipment for the project through a direct purchase method.

The ERD official said the inking of the loan agreement would follow the Memorandums of Understanding inked between Dhaka and Beijing on ICT framework, maritime cooperation, capacity building, sharing of information and tackling climate change risks during the historic visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Bangladesh last year.

Beijing has offered loan worth over $20 billion with 40 agreements and MoUs during the visit, most of them are suppliers' credits in nature.

EXIM Bank of China will provide Tk 12.27 billion in the Info Sarker Phase-3 project, which also aims to provide internet and other connectivity to the local government offices.

The government under the project will also build some other digital infrastructure at the union level.

Countrywide fibre connectivity will be established by 2018 while this project is part of the government's efforts to build a Digital Bangladesh by 2021, said officials of the Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) which is the executing agency of the project.

Earlier, the ICT division also completed Info Sarker-2, a Tk 13.33 billion project, which connected 18,130 government offices through a nationwide network. The project ended in June this year.

Under the project, the ICT division distributed 2,500 tablets among the government officials.

The BCC also connected the Bangladesh Secretariat, seven divisional and all district and 485 upazila level government offices under this project, said officials of the ICT division.
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