Mashiur must go

August 30, 2012

Padma Bridge Loan Revival
Mashiur must go
WB may tell govt today if it can give time until primary probe into graft allegation completes; US envoy upbeat; Muhith tight-lipped
Mashiur Rahman, adviser to the prime minister, has to resign to meet the conditions the World Bank has laid down to revive its credit for Padma bridge, a highly placed government source said yesterday.
Today, the bank may convey to the government its decision on whether he can stay in office until the preliminary investigation into a graft allegation is complete, the source added.
The WB cancelled its credit for the Padma bridge project on June 29 for what it had said was a corruption conspiracy involving Bangladeshi officials, executives of a Canadian firm and individuals.
It held a management-level meeting at the Washington headquarters Tuesday night on the Padma bridge issue but is yet to declare any decision officially.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith declined to say anything about the possibility of Mashiur’s resignation.
Bangladesh has been trying to convince the WB to agree to the proposal that Mashiur will resign if his name comes up in the preliminary investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission.
US Ambassador Dan W Mozena yesterday expressed the hope that talks between Bangladesh and the World Bank on its funding for Padma bridge would be successful.
The USA, India and Japan made efforts to persuade the WB to review the scrapping of the loan for the project, he told journalists after emerging from a meeting with the finance minister.
“I am very happy that the WB reconsidered and made the loan possibility available again,” the US envoy said, adding the WB was actively engaged in the ongoing discussion on this issue.
The finance minister, meanwhile, told journalists at his secretariat office that the talks between Bangladesh and the WB were at a crucial stage now and that no statement should be made at this time.
Two days were left and he was hopeful of regaining the WB loan for the bridge, Muhith added.
The deadline for loan effectuation by co-financiers Asian Development Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) will expire on August 31.
Asked whether they (ADB and Jica) would be requested to extend the time, Muhith said, “We may request them to extend the deadline. But I am not sure if it is necessary.”
Earlier, seeing off Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Dhaka Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Muhith said Hasina, before leaving, had empowered him to take any decision on Padma bridge issue.
The PM’s absence for three days from yesterday due to NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) conference in Iran would not be a problem in taking a decision in this regard, he added.
Asked whether the PM had given him the authority to take any decision regarding her adviser Mashiur Rahman, the finance minister said, “No comment”.
The US ambassador said he had conveyed to the finance minister that America had been very much supporting the Padma bridge project. This bridge would do so much for Bangladesh that it would increase the annual GDP (gross domestic product) by 1 to 1.5 percent, helping many people out of poverty.
The bridge is very important for the economic integration of the South Asia, central Asia and South East Asia, Mozena added.

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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