Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– New Delhi has decided to convert US$200 million out of its $1billion soft loan to Bangladesh as grant while the recipient could use it for any project it considered suitable, Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said.
“Out of the $1billion line of credit, $200 million will be grant . . .Bangladesh may utilize the amount (grant) for any project it thinks suitable,” Mr. Mukherjee said in a discussion with selected editors of mainstream print and electronic media at Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka on Sunday.
The Indian finance minister, who arrived here on Saturday night, also said contacts on five of the approved projects have already signed that yielded the launch of a process for infrastructure.
The rest $800 million will bear a one percent interest, instead of previously announced 2.75 percent. 
Replying to a query from The Financial Express Editor Moazzem Hossain, Mr. Mukherjee said New Delhi had already relaxed the rules of origin criteria for various projects and would consider terms that are more flexible.
Asked if the relations between the two countries improve when Awami League is in power and they deteriorate with BNP in power, the senior Congress leader said India’s relationship with Bangladesh is people to people.
“We will have equal relations whoever is voted to power in Bangladesh,” Mr. Mukherjee was quoted as saying by an editor, who was present at the meeting.
During his brief stay, the Indian minister attended the joint celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.
He met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and the editors before leaving for New Delhi Sunday afternoon.
BBN/SSR/AD-07May12-9:30 am (BST)