Padma Multipurpose Bridge
Golam Mostafa Jibon: The inauguration of Padma Multipurpose Bridge has not only opened the door of vehicular movement, it has also opened the door of country’s economic development along with recoup the construction cost.
Concerned people are expecting that Tk 90,000 crore will be earned by next 35 years from its toll collection, which will reclaim the construction costs.
According to the forecast of the consulting firm, the first year revenue from the Padma Bridge will be Tk 1,430 crore. The revenue from this bridge will be more than Tk 90,000 crore by 35 years. However, not all of this money will go to the Bangladesh Bridge Authority, an organization of constructing and operating the bridge. First of all, the government has to pay VAT from the income. There is a cost behind the toll collector. From then on, the finance ministry will have to repay the loan installments. If there is money after these expenses, it will be considered as the profit of the bridge authority. This is a summary of the income and expenditure plan of the Padma Bridge.
During the feasibility study of the Padma Bridge project, the consulting firm prepared the traffic forecast for the bridge. Later in 2010, the consulting firm responsible for designing the organizationprepared a 35-year-old vehicle number and revenue chart. Based on this, the bridge authority signed a loan agreement with the Ministry of Finance in August 2019. It mentioned the details of income, expenditure and profit.
The Padma Bridge has been built with its own funds. However, the Ministry of Finance has given this money as a loan to the Bangladesh Bridge Authority, an autonomous organization.
In 35 years, the loan will be repaid along with 1 percent interest. For this,the authorities have to pay installments for three consecutive months. In all, the loan amount (interest and principal) will be repaid in 140 installments. The next few years after the launch of the bridge will not be profitable. After paying the installment in 2029, the bridge department will continue to make profit. By 2050, the profit from the Padma Bridge will be around Tk 900 crore.
Forecast of vehicular movement:
From July 2018 to June 2019, the bridge department has prepared a statistic of the movement of vehicles through the ferry ghat on the Shimulia-Kanthalbari route in one year. From this figure, a preliminary idea of income from the Padma Bridge has found.
According to the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC), in the financial year 2018-19, 8.5 lakh vehicles crossed the ferry. As per this, an average of 2,330 vehicles has crossed every day. Bridges department officials said, many transport companies declined to cross their buses to the ferry in fear of getting stuck up in traffic at the wharf, which can take up to two hours. They left the bus on both banks and let the passengers cross the launch. If the bridge is opened, the traffic will increase. New bus routes will be launched. The number of private cars will also increase. Freight vehicles will use the Padma Bridge to avoid suffering on the Paturia-Daulatdia ferry route. All in all, it has been predicted that 23,954 vehicles will pass through the Padma Bridge every day this year. In 2029, it will be 34,725. In 2050, 66,829 vehicles will pass through this bridge.
The way how the toll money will be spent:
So far, the cost of the Padma Bridge project has been estimated at Tk 30,193 crore. Of this, the Japanese government’s debt waiver fund amounts to Tk 300 crore. This does not have to be paid.
Consequently, the bridge department will have to return Tk 29,900 crore as original. With this, interest will have to be calculated at an additional rate of 1 percent. In other words, the interest has to be paid Tk 36,403 crore.
The agreement signed with the Ministry of Finance has mentioned details the expenditure of toll money. It has been said that, 7.5 percent of the toll revenue will be spent on the general maintenance of the bridge. This includes the cost of the toll collection organization. Major repairs may be required every 10 years.
In this case, Tk 500 crore will have to be spent in the tenth year of launch or opening. Tk 1000 crore will have to be spent in the 20th year. In the 30th and 40th year, the expenditure will be Tk 15,000 and Tk 20,000 crore. VAT will be deducted at the rate of 15 percent of the toll collected. Depreciation will be at the rate of 2 percent of the total construction cost. The money that will be at the end of all the expenses will have to be paid in installments by the Ministry of Finance. The bridge department will pay income tax at the rate of 25 percent on the money (profit) that will remain after paying the installment.
It has been said that, the toll rate will increase at the rate of 10 percent every 15 years. As such, by 2053, the toll of a private car will be more than Tk 2,000.
According to the agreement, the bridge department will repay the loan in 140 installments for three consecutive months. In the first year after the launch, the installment came to Tk 596 crore. In the tenth year, it will have to pay Tk 800 crore. In the 16th year, the amount of installments will exceed Tk 1,000 crore. In the 35th year, the loan installment will have to be repaid in the amount of Tk 1,300 crore.
According to the bridge department, the government will have to pay an installment of Tk 600 crore in the first year itself. The revenue target from the toll has been set at Tk 468 crore. VAT has to be paid at the rate of 15 percent from the income. The contractors who will be hired to collect the toll will have to spend behind them. As a result, the amount of expenditure will be more than the income at the beginning. After 15 years, if the traffic is increased and the toll rate is increased, the bridge department will start earning.
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