Thirty two members of the US Congress and forty prominent personalities from around the globe in two separate open letters to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appealed not to implement the recommendations of the government-appointed Commission on restructuring the Grameen Bank.
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Implementation of the recommendations would affect the Grameen Bank and its associate organisations’ effort in eradicating poverty, they stated in the open letters.
According to US-based news magazine Bloomberg, sixteen senators and equal number of lawmakers in the House of Representatives had urged the Bangladesh government to refrain from implementing the commission’s recommendation to restructure the microfinance bank.
They felt that restructuring would diminish the power of the borrowers and share holders, who played a vital role in the success of the bank.
Senators Barbara Boxer, Michael Enzi, Mark R Warner, Tim Johnson and House of Representatives’ Rosa L DeLauro, Keith Ellison, Joseph Crowley, Erik Paulsen and Jim McDermott are among the signatories to the letter.
“As Members of the United States Congress, we write to urge you to reject the recent recommendations of the Grameen Bank Commission that would jeopardise the role Grameen Bank has played in the critical fight to end poverty in Bangladesh,” they said in the letter.
Stating that both Bangladesh and the international community have a compelling interest in the safety and soundness of Grameen Bank, the signatories to the letter said they were “profoundly troubled by recent proposals that would fundamentally alter the future of this Nobel Prize-winning institution.”
A similar appeal was made to the Prime Minister in another open letter written by several prominent citizens of US and other countries. Signatories include Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former US Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright, former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland, former President of Peru Alejandro Toledo, the President of the Washington-based Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights Kerry Kennedy and Virgin Group Chairman Richard Branson.
In the letter sent to Bloomberg the signatories lauded the role of Hasina in safeguarding the interest and business of the Grameen Bank. However, they added that the commission has not shown the same concern for the well-being of the institution.
“We believe that it and its members are attempting to mislead your government and this is putting the Bangladeshi people and their well-wishers to a great risk.”
They appealed to the Prime Minister to prevent the ruin of the bank by rejecting the Commission’s recommendations.
The letter further said the Prime Minister and her Finance Ministry have the power and right to reject the recommendations as implementing them would be disastrous.
Abul Kalam Azad, Hasina’s Press Secretary, said he wasn’t aware of the letter when Bloomberg reached him on his mobile phone.
On the other hand a director of the Grameen Bank Tahsina Khatun said it was 'good news' for the bank.
“It’s good news that global leaders are on our side. I hope the government will listen to them. We have tried to convince the government to let Grameen Bank be as it is,” she told Bloomberg.