News Desk: Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus in a statement on Wednesday congratulated prime minister Sheikh Hasina and the people of the country on completion of the Padma Bridge while refuting the allegations raised against him by the PM over influencing the World Bank to block funding for the mega project.
In response to the allegations, it has to be said again that professor Yunus has never made any complaint to the World Bank or any other organisation or individual about the Padma Bridge, Yunus’ office Yunus Centre said in the statement, terming the matter ‘purely imaginary.’
‘I congratulate the prime minister and all the people of the country for this historic achievement,’ the statement quoted Yunus as saying.
The Yunus Centre statement quoted the 2006 Nobel peace laureate emphatically saying that Padma Bridge had been a long-time dream of all the people of Bangladesh, including himself.
‘There was no question of his opposing the realisation of this dream,’ the statement reads.
On June 25, Hasina inaugurated the bridge that connected 21 south west districts with the capital Dhaka and other areas of the country.
The Yunus Centre statement mentioned a ‘series of serious allegations’ made by the prime minister against the Nobel laureate in the bridge opening ceremony and other occasions.
Yunus refuted the allegation that he desperately wanted to remain as managing director of the Grameen Bank until he was 70-71.
‘First thing to clarify is that Grameen Bank is such a bank that is owned (75 per cent) by its borrowers. Grameen Bank was established by incorporating some unique features through a separate law, which makes it different from other public and private banks,’ the statement said.
‘Managing director of Grameen Bank is appointed under a contract with conditions set by the board. There was no age limit mentioned for this appointment in the law or in the decision of the board of directors,’ the statement clarified.
The statement noted that Yunus exceeded 60 years of age during the first tenure of the Awami League government in 2001. But the government never raised the issue of his age at that time. Bangladesh Bank also never raised the issue at any later time.
About the allegation of calling Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair’s wife Cherie, it said the removal of Yunus from Grameen Bank was global news, not because he wanted to hold on to his post of managing director, but because it was so unbelievable to the large community of admirers and followers of Grameen philosophy and action programmes around the world.
‘They were very puzzled by this action and expressed their concerns in various ways. They were not trying to help professor Yunus get back his job, they wanted to see that the Grameen programmes to continue without interruption. It only showed how much Grameen was viewed by many as a hope for the poor,’ the statement said.
In 2012, the World Bank cancelled its $1.2 billion IDA credit - under which it provides zero to low-interest loans - for the Padma Multipurpose Bridge project, citing ‘credible evidence’ of high-level corruption risks.
Hasina has lashed out at Yunus for allegedly influencing the World Bank to cancel the funding for the construction.