If the situation is urgent, taking too much time to come to a judicious decision could be disastrous, and may convey the impression that the leader is ineffective. Our government has reached the conclusion at last better late than never. Yes, I am talking about the resignation of a minister, for whom, many believe, a dream of 15 crores people was shattered.
It is a late yet good decision and people will agree that it would have been better for both him (minister) and the nation if he had resigned earlier.
It makes the people happy that the government has finally swallowed the bitter pill by removing Information and Communication Technology Minister Syed Abul Hossain from the Cabinet in the greater interest of the nation. It is clear that it is apparently government’s fresh move to revive the World Bank’s loan deal for the Padma Bridge project though the government is yet to give any statement confirming Abul’s resignation.
Speculation had been running high since Monday morning that the embattled minister might be shown the door as he did not show up at day’s scheduled cabinet meeting. It had happened ultimately and Abul Hossain, a former communications minister who was transferred to the ICT Ministry on December 5 after the WB brought graft allegation against him in the bridge project, quit after a prolonged controversy.
Though the government kept mum about his resignation sources at the ICT Ministry said Abul submitted his resignation letter to the Prime Minister at 7.30 am on the day.
The indication of Abul Hossain’s removal came on Sunday when Finance Minister AMA Muhith said the fourth condition of the World Bank – sending those charged with graft in Padma Bridge project on leave until they come out clean – is under consideration of the government to have a review on the Bank’s decision on its cancelled Padma Bridge project loan deal.
There was indication in an open letter to the people of the country on Sunday and Monday where Abul mentioned, “I’m ready to take any step in the greater interest of the country…I’ll surely make any sacrifice without any hesitation for what will be good for the country.” Ex-communications minister Abul Hossain is among those charged with the graft allegation.
It seems that the departure of the controversial minister would pave the way for reviving the Padma Bridge funding talks with the World Bank because the latest development will put moral pressure on the WB to reconsider its cancellation of committed funding.
However, the key opposition thinks the resignation of the minister, in other words, proves that the allegation raised by the WB was correct.
“This resignation has proved the government’s involvement in the Padma Bridge project graft,” BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said.
The World Bank annulled a $1.2 billion credit for Padma Bridge project last month, saying it has “credible evidence” of a high-level of corruption conspiracy among Bangladeshi government officials.
“In light of the inadequate response by the government of Bangladesh, the World Bank has decided to cancel its $1.2 billion … credit in support of the Padma multipurpose bridge project, effective immediately,” the World Bank said in its statement after the cancellation of the loan deal.
The global lender said it had provided evidence of corruption from two investigations into the Padma Bridge project to Bangladesh’s Prime Minister and other senior government officials in an effort to press for action.
The 6.2-km bridge is meant for linking the country’s impoverished south with capital Dhaka.
The annulment of the deal by the WB virtually pushed the AL-led grand alliance government backward and triggered blistering criticism from the opposition camp.
In her instant reaction to the WB decision, opposition leader during her visit to disaster victims in Chittagong, demanded resignation of the government claiming the Prime Minister and her family members were also involved in the bridge project graft.
In her efforts to keep the bridge project afloat, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in her winding-up speech at the 13th session of the 9th parliament recently revealed a plan for the construction of the mega project with own fund.
According to the plan, the construction work on the bridge will start in the current fiscal year and complete within fiscal 2015-16 at a cost of Tk 23,000 crore.
But her plan also drew criticism from exporters and opposition as they believe the country will not be able to implement the mega project like Padma Bridge with domestic fund.
Experts and top opposition leaders have long been urging the government to remove Abul Hossain in line with the WB suggestion and reinstate the scrapped deal.
Though government has long been showing a rigid stance not to remove Abul as per the WB demand, it softens its position on Sunday through announcement of accepting the World Bank’s fourth condition.
The desired resignation has come too late but it is evidence that the government is taking action, regardless of the fact that many consider it as ‘be too little and too late.’ We hope the World Bank will reconsider the cancellation decision so that the bridge can be built without further delay.
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