Yunus rubbishes accusation of lobbying against WB

Last Updated: Saturday, October 22, 2011 - 19:46

Dhakal: Bangladeshi Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus has dismissed accusation that he had lobbied with the
World Bank against funding the country`s largest bridge
project after he was forced to quit the Grameen Bank following
a protracted row with the government.

"I would like to categorically state that this allegation
is completely untrue and without basis. The building of the
Padma Bridge has been a dream of all Bangladeshi people for
many, many years," he said in a statement today.

The 71-year-old microcredit pioneer rejected as
"baseless" the allegations that he had lobbied with the World
Bank against funding the bridge project over Padma river, the
local name of the Ganges.

"It is totally contrary to my life`s work and belief to
think of anything that might even remotely harm this
development initiative," the media quoted Yunus, who is now on
a visit to Moscow, as saying in the statement.

The statement came after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,
who without directly naming Yunus, told a rally that "a
Bangladeshi Nobel laureate" had lobbied with the World Bank
through a top US official against financing the project for
the 6.15-kilometre bridge, a key key election pledge of the
Hasina-led government.

The government has been faced with uncertainties over the
funding of the mega structure that is to connect the largely
isolated south western region with rest of the country as the
World Bank decided to suspend the funding pending allegations
of corruptions.

Reports said the Bank earlier this month halted a USD
1.2-billion credit line for the USD 3 billion bridge, the
country`s costliest project, amid fears of corruption issues.

Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 with
microlender Grameen Bank which he founded to combat poverty,
said it was simply preposterous to suggest that an institution
like the World Bank would act so drastically because someone
asked it to do so.

Yunus stepped down in May last year as the managing
director of Grameen Bank, severing links with the pioneering
micro lending agency he founded nearly three decades ago after
he lost his final legal battle in the apex court to thwart a
Bangladesh Bank decision to remove him from the position.

Analysts said the removal of Yunus came as he apparently
developed friction with the prime minister over "political
ambition".

PTI



First Published: Saturday, October 22, 2011 - 19:46

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