Dhaka, Aug 23 (bdnews24.com)—President Zillur Rahman on Thursday finally accepted the resignation letter of Syed Abul Hossain who had come in for bitter criticism over allegations of corruption in the Padma bridge project.
President’s Office Secretary Shafiul Alam confirmed bdnews24.com about the President accepting the resignation, a month after the former Information and Communication Technology Minister tendered it to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who forwarded it to the President after approving it.
His standing down paved the way for the government to renew negotiations with the World Bank for its promised funds for ambitious project.
The Cabinet Division issued a notification on Thursday declaring vacant the post of the former ICT Minister, Cabinet Secretary Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told bdnews24.com.
With the exit of Abul Hossain, there is no minister or junior minister for the ICT ministry.
Hossain, who earlier served as the Communications Minister, was transferred to the ICT Ministry on Dec 5 last year after the Washington-based global lender raised corruption allegations in the country’s largest-ever infrastructure project.
Hossain denies the charges and claimed himself innocent.
When asked who will now take charge of the ministry, the Cabinet Secretary said that no order was there to assign anyone for the task. “As per law, if there’s no one to oversee a ministry then it goes under the Prime Minister.”
Beleaguered Abul Hossain had tendered his resignation letter on July 23, almost 10 months after corruption charges surfaced. According to the government sources, he decided to quit in the interest of fair investigation into the allegations.
Elected in each parliamentary elections in 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2008 from Madaripur-3 constituency, Abul Hossain, who was inducted in Hasina’s cabinet on January 6, 2009, had served as the communications minister for about three years.
He also served as a junior minister in Hasina’s previous cabinet (1996-2001).
The World Bank on June 29 finally cancelled its pledged $ 1.2 billion fund for the $2.9 billion project, saying it had ‘credible evidence’ which points to a high-level corruption conspiracy among the Bangladeshi government officials, SNC-Lavalin executives and private individuals in connection with the 6.15-kilometre bridge construction project.
It defended its decision saying that the government did not meet its condition of sending the high officials against whom the corruption allegations were raised into mandatory leave.
After the fund cancellation, the government announced to build the bridge with its own fund if no other donor agency comes forward, but is still trying to persuade the World Bank to review its decision.
The Finance Minister has said that the government had already fulfilled all the conditions the World Bank had given to make the fund available.