Dhaka Sep 17 (bdnews24.com—Dr Moshiur Rahman went on leave Monday, a highly-placed government source told bdnews24.com, apparently giving in to pressure from ruling party stalwarts that he departed for now to make way for the World Bank to release $ 1.2 billion for the Padma project.
Several sources said Moshiur, who advises the Prime Minister on economic affairs, had left office temporarily but no senior government functionary could say for how many days.
The under-fire advisor, who is also the Integrity Advisor in the Padma bridge project, was absent in Monday’s regular weekly Cabinet meeting that he usually attends.
The Advisor could not be reached.
Another prime ministerial advisor, Dr Gawher Rizvi, left for Washington on Sunday night to negotiate with the World Bank over the Padma funding, a source in the government said.
World Bank Country Director Ellen Goldstein also went to Washington, where the global lending agency is headquartered, on Saturday to discuss the issue, Communications Officer at its Dhaka office Mehrin A Mahbub told bdnews24.com.
All the bdnews24.com sources declined to be named because they were not authorised to speak to the media.
Allegations of corruption in the Padma bridge project were raised against Moshiur, former Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain and several others. The World Bank demanded that he be removed as well if the money was to be made available.
No government official, however, agreed to speak on record about the Advisor going on leave.
A press photographer who took pictures of the Cabinet meeting and several intelligence officials tasked with the security of the meeting had also confirmed the absence of the advisor there.
They said Moshiur was not seen even five minutes before the meeting started and added that he would usually take his seat before the Prime Minister does.
When asked about Moshiur’s absence, Cabinet Secretary M Mosharraf Hossain Bhuyian told bdnews24.com: “I was busy receiving the Prime Minister and later with the agenda of the meeting. So I can’t say whether he came or not.”
On whether the Advisor resigned, Bhuiyan said he knew nothing about this.
Earlier, former Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain had resigned and Bridges Division Secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuyian was sent on leave.
Facing the demand of his resignation, Moshiur on Sep 12 said he had not yet taken any decision on the issue.
On Aug 26, he had said he would resign if the government and the Prime Minister thought that he had not worked faithfully.
“I’ll not only resign once but 10 times if the $2.9 billion fund row is settled. But if there is any allegations, witnesses and evidences will have to be presented to prove these and I’ll have to be given the chance to defend myself,” he had added.
Last Saturday, at the Awami League Central Executive Committee’s meeting, the party’s General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam suggested that Moshiur be sent on leave, saying it would help to get the World Bank back on the Padma bridge project.
Following Abul Hossain’s resignation, Finance Minister AMA Muhith had said that the other obstructions to bring back the global lender to the project would be removed, too.
Later, the opposition BNP asked for Moshiur’s resignation. But media reported that the World Bank’s return to the project had been hanging in the balance once again as the advisor did not resign or went on leave.
In September last year, the World Bank gave some conditions after allegations of corruption in the project had surfaced. The conditions include sending relevant government officials to leave. The global lender cancelled the fund in June, saying that the conditions were not met.