Three eminent citizens yesterday denounced the government move to amend the Grameen Bank Ordinance to give more powers to the bank's chairman to choose the managing director of the microlender, saying that it would destroy the "bank of the poor".
In separated statements, internationally reputed jurist and a constitution expert Dr Kamal Hossain, former advisers to the caretaker government -- Mirza Azizul Islam and Hossain Zillur Rahman -- termed the government's move damaging for the high reputation of Prof Muhammad Yunus which he had earned at home and across the globe.
On the government's move to investigate how much salaries and benefits Prof Yunus received during his tenure as the Bank's managing director past the retirement age, they said it was an example of persistent harassment.
In a statement, Dr Kamal called upon all senior citizens to demand from the government why it had chosen to damage the image and high reputation of Prof Yunus.
“We need to ask why such a sustained attack is being made on Grameen Bank institutionally and Professor Yunus personally? Why is it a priority for the government to damage Professor Yunus's reputation and to affect the proper, democratic functioning of the Grameen Bank by curtailing the rights of the shareholders and their elected directors?”
Dr Kamal mentioned: “We need these answers precisely because the government has given single-minded priority to target Prof Yunus and the Grameen Bank while major enquiries which have been demanded and which the government is obliged to initiate are going unanswered.”
While expressing his grave concern, Mirza Aziz in his statement said the government's decision would politicise Grameen Bank which, in result, would bring no good for the “Bank of the Poor”.
“First thing, I do not see any necessity for this [government] decision. The second thing is, it seems that the chairman is vested with the actual power to appoint the managing director,” he pointed out.
On the move to investigate into Yunus's salaries and benefits, Mirza Aziz said Bangladesh Bank had raised an objection on this matter. But after getting clarification from Grameen Bank they did not pursue it.
Hossain Zillur said arbitrary oversight by the government, particularly where political partisanship is such a big problem, is not conductive to good institution building. “So it goes against the economic democracy as well as a bad precedence of good governance,” he said.
Nagorik Oikya, a newly formed civil society platform, yesterday at a meeting in the capital also denounced the government's plan to “politicise” Grameen Bank by amending its ordinance.
Convener of the platform Mahmudur Rahman Manna urged the government to refrain from harassing the Nobel laureate and let the bank function normally as usual.
The cabinet on August 2 approved a proposal for amending the Bank's ordinance to give more powers to its chairman to choose managing director of the microlender.