Dhaka: US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday urged Bangladesh’s government not to do anything that could undermine the effectiveness of Grameen Bank micro-lender.
Addressing a gathering in Dhaka, Hillary said the pioneering bank founded by Nobel peace laureate Muhammad Yunus is a "tremendous" model for the developing world and that its structure should not be tinkered with.
A search for a new bank chief is now underway since the government ousted Yunus last year.
Hillary is a personal friend of Yunus and met with him for about 45 minutes before the town hall. She met on Saturday with Bangladesh's feuding Prime Minister and main opposition leader.
"We do not want to see any action taken that would in any way undermine or interfere in the operations of the Grameen Bank or its unique organisational structure where the poor women themselves are the owners," Hillary told the town hall. "I don't want anything that would in any way undermine what has been a tremendous model."
"The Grameen Bank has played an instrumental role," she said. "I highly respect Mohammed Yunus and I highly respect the work that he has done and I am hoping to see it continue without being in any way undermined or affected by any government action because that would be unfortunate."
Earlier, Hillary had an hour-long breakfast meeting with Yunus and Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) founder Sir Fazle Hasan Abed.
Emerging from the meeting with Hillary, Yunus said they discussed Bangladesh's possibilities and achievements so far.
"We have discussed the country's political scenario. We have discussed about microcredit and Grameen Bank," Yunus told newsmen.
The meeting between 71-year-old Yunus and Hillary came almost a year after "the Banker to the Poor" resigned from Grameen Bank, which he founded three-decade ago.
The talks were held at a time when the financial health of Grameen Bank is looking shaky and the government is apparently trying to take over about 50 legally independent associate organisations linked to the bank, the Daily Star reported.
In March 2011, only five years after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Yunus was ignominiously thrown out of his job as managing director of the bank, which shocked many of his admirers and supporters around the world, it said.
(With Agency’s inputs)
First Published: Sunday, May 06, 2012, 12:00