Momen seeks apology, compensation from “institution” that claimed Padma Bridge corruption
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has sought apology and compensation from those who humiliated Bangladesh through accusing some top officials of a conspiracy of corruption in the Padma Bridge project.
"It is time for those, who defamed and humiliated us … the ones incorruptible, to seek apology and voluntarily compensate for the disservice," he said in an oblique reference to the World Bank.
The minister made the remark at a discussion marking the inauguration of the Padma Bridge at the Foreign Service Academy today.
Participating in the discussion virtually from the UK, Momen said it is not right to believe the institutions just because they are big. Many a times, they resort to trickery for various purposes, he said.
The 6.51-km bridge, which cost USD 3.6 billion, over the river Padma, is the first such mega project implemented with domestic funds after the World Bank and other global lending agencies in 2012 backtracked from funding the project following a corruption scandal involving a Canadian construction company.
Syed Abul Hossain, the then communication minister, resigned, while then secretary to Bridges Division Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan was suspended and arrested for his alleged involvement in the corruption conspiracy. Fingers were also pointed towards Prime Minister's Economic Affairs Adviser Dr Mashiur Rahman. The corruption charges then went to a court in Canada, but the allegations were not proved.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina later declared to construct the bridge with the nation's own fund and the project was complete and opened on June 25 this year.
"Many of our scholars danced to the tune of the foreigners. It is time for them to rethink their perspectives," Momen said.
Addressing the event, Dr Mashiur Rahman said the World Bank inefficiently worked in regards to the allegations of corruption conspiracy.
Mosharraf Hossain Bhuyian, who is now ambassador of Bangladesh to Germany, said that it was not at all a good practice that the World Bank took a major decision based on secret information.
"In fact, that was the time when I had told the World Bank that its jurisprudence was weak. That way of working can only humiliate people, not support them," he said at the event.
He also said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's decision was so accurate because it was aimed at peoples' welfare, dignity of the nation and above all, driven by patriotism.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said the LDC countries often are trapped in various forms of conditions set by the global lenders.
Bangladesh's success in implementing the Padma Bridge project would be an inspiration for other LDC countries, he also said.
Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said Padma Bridge would make Bangladesh's position stronger in the regional geopolitical landscape, apart from boosting connectivity in South and Southeast Asia.
"We have implemented a number of mega projects and more are underway, but now we need to focus on mega social infrastructure that is education and health, to reap the full benefits of the projects," said Dr Selim Raihan, professor of Economics at Dhaka University.