Disengaged, not leave
Amid confusion over Mashiur Rahman's proceeding on leave, the government has sent an envoy to Washington with an alternative proposal for the revival of the Padma bridge loan deal.
Under the alternative proposal, Mashiur will remain disengaged from government responsibilities instead of going on leave, sources in the Prime Minister's Office told The Daily Star yesterday.
Gowher Rizvi, foreign affairs adviser to the prime minister, left Dhaka on Sunday night for the World Bank head office in Washington carrying a letter to this end, added the sources.
The letter, however, did not clarify how Mashiur would disengage himself from government duties, which leaves room for confusion for the global lender.
A high-level delegation of the Bangladesh government was scheduled to start talks with top WB officials in Washington in this regard last night.
But finance ministry officials say they are doubtful that the WB will accept such an offer.
After cancelling its $1.2 billion loan deal in June, the WB made a fresh commitment to the government that it would revive the deal on three conditions, including the removal of Mashiur, who is the integrity adviser of the $2.97 billion project.
On Monday night Mashiur rejected media reports that he had gone on leave, although a number of top government and Awami League sources told this paper that he had proceeded on a month's leave.
According to government sources, the adviser did not attend the weekly cabinet meeting on Monday and the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council meeting yesterday.
Asked to comment on his reported going on leave, Mashiur told reporters yesterday, "There were no talks between the person who will seek leave and the person who will grant it."
He evaded a directed reply on whether he would still be discharging his duties as an adviser, but said, “I took breakfast today as I take on other days. If you still ask me whether I am hungry, I have no reply. I have taken the amount of food I usually take and I have done the work I do every day."
He has all along maintained his innocence, but said he would go only if the prime minister asked him to.