Obaidul Quader, Suranjit Sengupta get ministries; GM Quader, Faruk Khan swap portfolios
IN a major cabinet reshuffle, the government on Monday replaced embattled Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain with newly sworn in Obaidul Quader months after allegations of corruption and inefficiency dogged the “prize post”.
Abul however still remains a minister and will now head Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), which was created on Sunday splitting the Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology.
State Minister Yeafesh Osman got the charge of Ministry of Science and Technology, the other offshoot of Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology.
Veteran Awami League leader Suranjit Sengupta has been made head of the Ministry of Railways, which used to be a wing of the Ministry of Communications till Sunday.
In another significant change, Commerce Minister Lt Col (retd) Mohammad Faruk Khan and Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister GM Quader swapped their portfolios.
The Cabinet Division issued separate gzette notifications in this regard Monday morning.
Sources said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved the cabinet reshuffle around 11:10pm Sunday.
Corruption allegations raised by the World Bank and shown as the cause for suspending its $1.34-billion loan commitment for the Padma Bridge project and pestering failure to repair and maintain the roads and highways that caused acute public sufferings seem to have seen Syed Abul Hossain go.
The government move also appears as recognition to widespread public criticism over Abul’s role and to attempts by several key government officials, including the prime minister, to defend him.
Thrown in an awkward position by Padma Bridge fund suspension by the WB, some government officials insisted in vain that it would not be a problem to manage fund from alternative sources and also that they would be able to convince the WB that no corruption had taken place in the bridge project.
The government is yet to be successful in either of the two.
Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Faruk Khan was the target of strong criticism from the common people for failing to rein in skyrocketing price of essentials which caused untold sufferings especially the low income people.
According to sources, the tourism minister GM Quader had been undergoing an uncomfortable feeling for quite some time due to differences of opinion between his ministry and the authorities of the national flag carrier, Biman Bangladesh Airlines.
At the fag end of the government’s third year in power, the PM expanded her cabinet on November 28 by inducting into it two party stalwarts, Suranjit Sengupta and Obaidul Quader, as full ministers.
The status of state minister for environment and forest Hasan Mahmud was also upgraded to that of a minister.
To accommodate the newly appointed ministers, the government on Sunday bifurcated the Ministry of Communications and established a new Ministry of Railways. It also divided the Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology to create a Ministry of Science and Technology and a Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.