Bangladesh’s Yunus denies scuppering bridge funding


Bangladesh’s microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus has denied accusations he told the World Bank to cut off funding to a project to build the country’s largest bridge over graft allegations.
The World Bank earlier this month halted a $1.2-billion credit line for the $3 billion bridge, the country’s costliest project, citing suspicions of corruption.
Bangladeshi media quoted Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina accusing Yunus of telling the World Bank not to fund the bridge being built over the Padma river – the local name of the Ganges. “I would like to categorically state that this allegation (of the prime minister) is completely untrue and without basis,” the 71-year-old Nobel laureate said in a statement late Friday.
“The building of the Padma bridge has been a dream of all Bangladeshi people for many, many years. Also, it is simply preposterous to suggest an institution like World Bank would act so drastically because someone asked it to do so.”
The 6.15-kilometre (3.8-mile) bridge was a key election pledge of the government led by Hasina. Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 with microlender Grameen Bank which he founded to combat poverty, has clashed with Hasina before. But corruption allegations have been rife ever since the government launched a bidding process for the project.