Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bangladesh poised to offer Nobel laureate Yunus a position in the bank he founded

SALEEM SAMAD

BANGLADESH GOVERNMENT is contemplating to propose Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus a respectable position in the bank he founded, possibly after series of global uproar.

Hours after Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus announced his resignation from the Grameen Bank as managing director on Thursday, government is considering to offer him an honorable position.


Microfinance pioneer Yunus announced Thursday his 'resignation' from the bank he founded as managing director, after two and a half months when he was forcibly removed by the central bank.

Last month, the United States and France exerted diplomatic pressure on Bangladesh to negotiate an honorable exit for Prof. Yunus. Robert O. Blake, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs threatened the Yunus issue will cause dent in US-Bangladesh relationship.
Finance minister A M A Muhith told BBC Bangla Service radio on Friday night that government is considering to offer Prof Yunus the position of emeritus member of the bank in recognition of his contribution to the institution.

He did not elaborate the roles and responsibilities of an emeritus member. But said, if necessary the Grameen Bank ordinance will be amended to have the new position in the bank.


Nevertheless, the minister said Yunus is a pride of the nation and the government wants to ensure a respectable departure for him.

In a letter of the central bank on Mar. 2 Yunus, 70, had no legal authority to act as the micro-lender's managing director, and alleged that its board had not obtained the central bank's sanction to re-appoint him beyond the bank's official retirement age, reports news portal bdnews24.com.

Yunus is confident and said that his resignation would not interrupt the operation of Grameen Bank. He believes that the eight million beneficiaries of the bank, mostly rural poor women will not be subjected to any difficulty.

Earlier Bangladesh finance minister A M A Muhith announced that deputy managing director Nurjahan Begum will be the stand-in managing director until the position is filled in by the board.


The Nobel laureate echoed Muhith’s statement, adding that Nurjahan would hold charge until a managing director is appointed in accordance with the Grameen Bank ordinance.

The government, however have rejected the Grameen Bank employees demand for making Prof Yunus chairman of the microfinance institution.
Yunus resignation announcement follows his losing a series of determined court battle against his 'removal' as the micro-lender's managing director for flouting rules when he was reappointed in 1999.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and politics. He has recently returned from exile after living in Canada for six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com