Abul goes, finallyMustafizur Rahman
Syed Abul Hossain on Monday finally stepped down as the information and communication technology minister amid mounting pressure from within and outside the government over graft charges in the Padma Bridge project.
The former communications minister neither attended the weekly cabinet meeting nor was present at his office in Agargaon, triggering rumours of his resignations.
Abul Hossain, who was inducted in Sheikh Hasina’s cabinet on January 6, 2009, served as communications minister for around three years.
In the wake of the World Bank’s corruption allegation
the prime minister gave him the responsibility of the ICT ministry.
He tendered his resignation to the prime minister to facilitate ‘proper investigations’ into the allegations of corruption in the Padma Multi-purpose Bridge Project, brought by global lending agency World Bank, according to officials.
‘I have sent a letter to the prime minister, expressing my decision to resign from the cabinet…I have decided to step down for the sake of proper investigations into the allegations of graft in the Padma Bridge project,’ Abul Hossain told a private television channel on the day.
He, however, asserted that the allegations brought against him would eventually prove false.
Asked about Abul Hossain’s resignation, cabinet secretary Mohammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said that he was not aware of it. He, however, confirmed that Abul Hossain was not present in the cabinet meeting on the day.
Abul Hossain announced his resignation just a day after finance minister AMA Muhith said that the government was considering the World Bank’s fourth condition although it was difficult to persuade the global lender to review its decision on the Padma Bridge project.
The Word Bank’s fourth condition was that the government should send on leave government officials and those appointed politically for their alleged involvement in corruption in the mega project during investigations.
His resignation came on the heels of the World Bank’s cancellation of its $1.2 billion loan for the $2.9 billion Padma Bridge project for alleged corruption.
‘Sir [Abul Hossain] left the house at around 7:30am in a car without flag. We have heard that he has sent his resignation letter to the prime minister,’ said constable Hasan who was on duty at his residence in Gulshan 2.
When his attention was drawn to the flag hoisted in front of his house, the constable said the flag would remain hoisted until his resignation was accepted.
On June 30, the World Bank cancelled its $1.2 billion credit for the Padma Bridge saying it had ‘credible evidence’ of corruption conspiracy involving Bangladeshi officials, executives of Canadian firm SNC- Lavalin and individuals.
In September, the global lending agency withheld disbursement of the credit following allegations of corruption in the bidding process halting the implementation of the project.
In an open letter published in different dailies in last couple of days, Abul Hossain dropped a broad hint about his resignation for the ‘interest’ of the country. In the letter, he claimed to have maintained high integrity and honesty throughout his life.
AMA Muhith went to the Gulshan house of Abul Hossain in the evening but he was not available as reported in the media. Abul Hossain kept his cell phone switched off soon after the news of his resignation spread and he remained out of contact.
During the 1996-2001 tenure of the Awami League government, Abul Hossain was forced to resign as a state minister after he travelled abroad on his green passport instead of using his ministerial passport.
Abul Hossain, who came under fire from a cross section of people for failing to repair roads and highways before the Eid festival last year, was removed from the communications ministry and given the charge of the ICT ministry on December 5 last year.
He faced severe criticism for dilapidated condition of roads and highways and there was also demand even from within the ruling party and the civil society for his removal from the cabinet at that time.
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