Mashiur resign ‘ten times’ to fix row with World Bank

The prime minister’s economic affairs adviser Mashiur Rahman on Sunday said he would resign ‘ten times’ if that helped resolve the problem with the World Bank over its committed loan to the Padma Bridge.

File Photo

The prime minister has not yet consented to the idea of her adviser Mashiur Rahman resigning to meet the World Bank's conditions for reviving its Padma bridge financing.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith met the prime minister yesterday in a bid to work out ways to remove the snag over the project's funding. But there was no positive outcome.

PM's Economic Affairs Adviser Mashiur said he would resign only if the prime minister told him that he had failed to discharge his duties trustfully.

The removal of Mashiur, also integrity adviser of the project, is the last hurdle for the government to convince the global lender to revive its $1.2 billion loan that it had cancelled in June over corruption allegations.

The government must reach an agreement with the WB by this week, as the loan effectuation date given by project's co-financiers ADB and Jica expires on August 30. It was the fourth time the two donors extended the deadline.

The WB gave a clear signal to the government that it would withdraw the loan cancellation if the government implemented its three conditions, including the removal of Mashiur.

After meeting the prime minister, Muhith directly went to his official residence on Minto road. He did not attend office yesterday and cancelled the day's appointments at his office, said a finance ministry official.

Reporters kept waiting in front of his residence till evening for comments. Muhith later sent out a word that he would not speak to the press.

A source close to Mashiur said that he had met prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday and offered to resign. The prime minister, however, told him that the government had not yet made a decision over his resignation.

When reporters asked Mashiur about his resignation at his Minto Road residence, he avoided giving a direct answer, and started narrating a story.

“In the past, someone was sacrificed to satisfy the gods before constructing a huge building, and if none was available a chicken would be sacrificed. When even a chicken was unavailable, its shadow was sacrificed to make the building's foundation strong.”

“In those days, shadow business was done over shadows. I think something like that has happened in case of the Padma bridge project.”

Mashiur said a person should be given a chance to defend himself before holding him responsible. Otherwise, it would not be a “civilized behaviour.”

“If there are any allegations against me, it has to be considered whether those can be proved.”

“I have nothing to say about my resignation. However, if my resignation solves the problem over the World Bank's financing, I am ready to resign not only once but ten times.”

After Eid, rumours swirled that the advisor would also be following similar steps and a number of dailies ran stories on the issue on Saturday.

Muhith on Saturday told at his Minto Road residence that the barriers to an understanding with the World Bank are being removed one by one. He also expressed hopes of reaching a resolution within a week.

The advisor time and again ducked questions from the media crew on Sunday about the gossips that he had stood down.