Yunus expresses concern about Grameen Bank`s future
Last Updated: Saturday, May 07, 2011, 21:51
Dhaka: Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus on Saturday expressed concern over the survival of the Grameen Bank he founded in the face of "political influence", as he lost his last bid to remain the chief the pioneering micro-finance agency.

"The big questions are whether Grameen Bank can maintain its independent existence (or) whether it can be successful in keeping itself away from political influences," he said in a long statement two days after the Supreme Court dismissed his petitions and validated his removal.

Yunus added: "What actually happens to financial institutions in our country if political influences start playing a role in these institutions is known to all and) This experience will not inspire trust in the borrowers."

Yunus, 70, whose experiment of poor men's banking earned Bangladesh the repute of being the home of microcredit and him the Nobel peace prize jointly with the Grameen Bank, called for a continued civil society and media campaign for the undisrupted advancement of the high-profile specialised financial institution.

Yunus did not elaborate his future plan after his court debacle but hinted to carry on a campaign to protect "Grameen Bank's identity and ensure that poor people remain as its owners".

"Whether I remain within Grameen Bank, or I work outside of Grameen Bank, I can't ignore my responsibility," he said.

He also called on all to make sure that Grameen Bank, "which created the opportunity for poor women all around the country to express their latent abilities, is able to continue to achieve more successes".

Yunus's statement came a day after his lawyer Rokonuddin Mahmud said the Nobel laureate was still the executive chief of the Grameen Bank and continue to be its managing director until the bank's board of directors appointed a new director.

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told newsmen the apex court verdict meant Yunus could no more cling to his position as he lost his "last legal battle".

Yunus said some people felt that he intended to cling to his position in Grameen Bank "but, the nation knows that this position is not my life's goal".

"I was, and am, conscious of the fact that my future work will not be based on my holding on to this position, but rather, it would be working with the young generation, from other platforms to address the problem of poverty at home and abroad."

But he added "I want to do that without jeopardising the interests of Grameen Bank".

Yunus, however, concluded his statement with a clarion call for a close collaboration between the government and the civil society to "make our nation a nation that is globally admired for its creative solutions to its own problems".

"With close collaboration between the government and the civil society we can make it happen. Let us not miss our opportunity," he said.

Grameen Bank employees earlier demanded Yunus be appointed as the largely ceremonial "chairman" of the institution by the government keep up the spirit among its employees and its borrowers.

Yunus founded the Grameen Bank in 1983.

The Grameen Bank model was copied in a number of developing and developed countries despite criticism of its effectiveness in removing poverty and for its interest rates.

The government has 25 per cent stake in Grameen Bank that employs 24,000 people, provides collateral-free loans to eight million borrowers, the vast majority from rural areas.

Bangladesh Bank, which is nominally independent from the government, fired Yunus on March 2 this year as the central bank found that his 2000 appointment as the micro lending agency's executive chief was faulty because its mandatory approval was not obtained at that time.

Analysts, however, said the central bank decision was the outcome of the government reservation against him.

Yunus's troubles stem from 2007 when he announced formation of a political party. The idea was visibly unwelcome by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her archrival Khaleda Zia of BNP. He abandoned the idea within months.


First Published: Saturday, May 07, 2011, 21:51

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