Remove last hurdle to Padma Bridge financing

No time to act self-righteous
The issue of World Bank (WB) getting back on the financing of Padma Bridge has once again hit a snag where the issue of removal of yet another individual is threatening to derail the project. The interests of the nation are at stake here and we find ourselves back to square one. In the case of former Communication Minister Syed Abul Hossain, it was the refusal of the Prime Minister (PM) to remove him that led to the cancellation of the WB funding in the first place. The government failed to take constructive steps on WB’s confidential memo and dilly dallied with anti-corruption investigation terming the evidence as lacking in credibility. It is ironic that Canadian authorities found the evidence credible enough to launch investigation against two former executives of a Canadian engineering firm and we didn’t. The government made a farce of not accepting Abul Hossain’s resignation by delaying its official acceptance. The whole matter turned the nation into a laughing stock on the international stage. All this is water under the bridge and we find ourselves in another situation.

We should be immensely grateful to the co-financiers of the project, i.e. Asian Development Bank JICA who have lobbied hard with the WB to get the project back on track. Both agencies have extended the contract deadline several times. Given that there is now a real possibility of WB resuscitating its loan package, the PM is reportedly not willing to ask her advisor to go and wants the WB to drop its insistence on removal of Economic Affairs Adviser Mashiur Rahman. Mr. Rahman has stated that he will step down only if the PM asks for his resignation. The PM for her part has left it to him to act. We are again facing the absurd drama of personal ego and sense of honour taking a superior place to national interest. Given Mashiur Rahman’s long experience in bureaucracy especially as ERD Secretary, we expect that he will take it upon himself to resign and clear the grounds for the government to move ahead with this vital infrastructure project. The fact that finger of suspicion has been pointed against him should be grounds enough for a man of Mashiur Rahman’s stature to resign voluntarily in the greater interest of the nation. If there is no valid ground for him to be under clouds of suspicion, the truth will be revealed in due course and he will be vindicated.


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