Yunus expresses concern about Grameen Bank`s future

Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus founded the Grameen Bank in 1983.

Updated: May 07, 2011, 21:51 PM IST

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

"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

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.