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Bangladesh Budget 2013-14 June 7, 2013

Posted by bdoza in BANGLADESH, ECONOMY.
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The Bangladesh Budget for 2013-14 has been announced in the parliament by Finance Minister AMA Muhith.Prime Minister Sk. Hasina was present in the session along with other ministers. But opposition was absent from the session.

Budget in English: Full version
Budget in Bangla : Full version
Budget in Brief: English
Budget in Brief: Bangla

An ordinary citizen

Sonali Bank Scam- Mismanagement in Banking Sector September 6, 2012

Posted by bdoza in BANGLADESH, ECONOMY.
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Hallmark group, a virtually unknown company has been given more than 3.5 crore loan from Sonali Bank. The disbursement raised questions about its legality. It is found that the company doesn’t deserve the loan, had no adequate collateral,the owner had little credibility and still the company got an amount that the bank can’t lend. It is found that not only bank managers, but the board of management are also involved with the scam. It is thought that there is lapse in the monitoring of Bangladesh Bank. The Ministry of Finance also had its lapses.

The Bank Management has dismissed and suspended dozens of its officials and are trying to get back the money. Finance Minster has said that 50% of the money could be collected back.
The incident has created a stir in the media and in the public mind. People are confused seeing Finance Minister preventing Bangladesh Bank dissolving the Board management of Sonali Bank. People become more confused when Finance Minister told that Tk. 4000 crore is not a big amount in comparison to 40000 crore of money of loan transaction! He also asked Media not to make noise over the scam otherwise it will be difficult to collect the remaining amount of money.

The situation is in real contrast to Grameen Bank where an effective and innocent Board Management is taken over by the Government.

The opposition is demanding the resignation of Finance Minister. The Members of Parliament have also criticize loose talks of he Finance Minister.
The scam indicates absolute mismanagement of banking sector and if the Government couldn’t take convincing action against the offenders, then the Government will have to pay the price polically.

An ordinary citizen

Courtesy: The cartoon is from Daily Star.

Grameen Experience and Prospect of PPP in Bangladesh August 14, 2012

Posted by bdoza in BANGLADESH, ECONOMY.
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I was listening to a talk show in the midnight in one of TV channels. One of the experts of the program was a professor of a university. He was discussing the impact of experience of Grameen on the future of Private Public Partnership’ in Bangladesh.
Grameen Bank was institutionalized through an ordinance in 1983. Through this ordinance, Bangladesh Government has the privilege of having a percentage of share in the capital of Bank and also to appoint the chairman and to have 2 more members in the board of directors. Initially the government had a good share but at present it comes to 3% and the client shares is 97%.
Dr. Muhammad Yunus was its Managing Director since its inception till 2011 until he had to resign on the pressure of the government. During his stay in the helm of bank over the last 30 years, Dr. Yunus had transformed the bank into an internationally acclaimed institution that also brought Nobel Peace Prize Prize not only for him but also for Grameen Bank. Grameen bank has 8.3 million borrowers, 97% of whom are women, about 25 thousand employees, covered above 80,000 villages, distributed more than 11.5 billion US $ (approx. tk 700 billion), recovery rate is 95%.

Government has recently taken a move to change the Grameen Bank ordinance 1983 to empower the government selected-chairman to fix the managing director of his choice ignoring the elected members of the borrower-shareholders of the Grameen bank. Earlier the government also forced Dr. Muhammad Yunus to resign from his of Managing Director against the will of Board of Directors.

The move will create confusion in the minds of the willing partners of PPP of loosing their control on the joint enterprises with the Government.

An ordinary citzen

Padma Bridge, World Bank and Bangladesh July 5, 2012

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World Bank has cancelled the Padma Bridge contract of 1.2 b US$.In support of their decision, they said that Bangladesh Government didn’t comply with their request to convincingly investigate the allegation of corruption in the project by the Bangladesh officials.

WB sought the following actions “(i) place all public officials suspected of involvement in the corruption scheme on leave from government employment until the investigation is completed; (ii) appoint a special inquiry team within the ACC to handle the investigation, and (iii) agree to provide full and adequate access to all investigative information to a panel appointed by the World Bank comprised of internationally recognised experts so that the panel can give guidance to the lenders on the progress, adequacy, and fairness of the investigation,”

In in immediate reaction, Finance Minister of Bangladesh Mr. MA Muhith refutes the decision of World Bank and said that it is based on the opinion of past World Bank President Zoellick. Then in the prliament, Muhith gave a statement blaming World Bank not to hid to Bangladesh proposals and blamed World Bank for dishonour Bangladesh people. Muhith says that the credible evidence of World Bank is not acceptable to Bangladesh.

Communication Minister Obaidsul Quader said that Padma bridge will start in set time. He is negotiating with Malaysia to develop an alternative proposal over months.He declared to show surprise that he withdrew later as a slip of tonge.

Noted personalities, different socio-economic forums and political oppositions urged the government to punish the culprits and to renegotiate with World bank to settle the issue.

Prime Minister Sk Hasina said in the Parliament that Bangladesh will build Padma bridge with it’s own fund and criticized World Bank for withdrawing the fund.

People are waiting to see the end of the debate and to see their dream come true.

An ordinary citizen

Post script:

Sajeda Chowdhury said the we can build the bridge by donating our one day expenses.
Suranjit Sen Gupta expressed that 2 hands of 16 crore people are enough to construct the bridge.
Insurers offer their support for construction.
Padma bridge will be constructed with our own funds-PM. PM also declares that the work will be done by this fiscal year.
BNP opposes Padma bridge with own fund

Bangladesh Budget 2012-13: Comments and Reactions June 10, 2012

Posted by bdoza in BANGLADESH, Budget, ECONOMY.
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Problems aplenty, prospects bleak
Tax,more tax it needs
Surplus electricity from next year
Budget shift into big spending
It is impossible to implement-BNP
Essential hang in international balance
Mission inflation impossible
43% higher goal set for foreign investment
Farm subsidy inadequate
The budget is not big
Black money for investment-Muhith defends budget
Padma bridge-work from next year
Black money for investment

Govt borrowing is the concern
It is political bankruptcy-TIB

Tax hike to hurt export
Boon for millers and bane for farmers

Padma Bridge: Dream yet not fulfilled October 28, 2011

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Padma bridge is a long cherished dream for the people of south of Bangladesh. Once done, it will connect the south with the other parts of the country. was thought to be a revolutionary step to eliminate the economic discrepency with the east .

A plan was chalked out and World Bank was set as the major donor for the project of about 6 billion dollar. It would provide more than 3 billion dollar and ADB, Jaica and IDB would share the rest of the burden. 
When people was hopeful about the start of the project , WB declared to stop the funding on the charge of corruptiontion in ralation to the handling of the project. Soonafter, ADB and Jaica also withheld their commitment. The finger pointed to the Communication Minister Abul Hossain who was recently heavily criticised for failure to maintain and develop the roads and hiighways of the country. Government said that no specific allegation was raised by the WB. Anti Corruption Commission made an enquiry into the allegation. The chief of the commission declared that they found no corruption in the project and there was attempt to wrong doing in the the process. 
 In the meantime the Prime Minister declared in a public meeting that Padma funding is stopped due to corruption of BNP government. the PM also assured the natiom that if WB dont provide thw money then alternatives are there to suppot the project. Muhith said later that government is not looking for any alternative source. The pending of the WB fund is only a temporary one .After one or two days she expressed that a Nobel Laureate of Bangladesh is behind the stoppage of the funding. The only Nobel Laureate of the country Dr. Mohammad Yunus immediately protested the assertion saying that he was always advocated for Padma bridge and as a citizen of the country he never thought of preventing any effort for the briadge and added that WB can’t take such a major decision on the opinion of an indivividual. Finance Minister Muhith two days later denied any involvement of Dr. Yunus in influencing the funding of WB.

Then two days later, the senior information officer of Finance Minister issused an statement complaining that the media misreported the finance minister. PM in the current parliamentary session expressed that complications regarding Padma project will be solved soon and no alternative souce will be required.

Among all the hopes and contradictions, the dream of people for Padma Bridge still remain unfulfilled.

An ordinary citizen

Wall Street movement: Spilling over October 15, 2011

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People have started to occupy Wall Street for some 4 weeks back as a protest to the support that the corporate houses are getting from the government and the treatment they have offered to the people. The protest has a very close relation with recession in USA, bailout of banks by the state money, failure of the government steps to overcome the recession, no improvement of unemployment situation and no abatement of luxury of corporate bosses.

From initial small presence it is gradually swelling up with days and nearby streets and park are being occupied by the people. They are virtually camping in the areas.

Hundreds of protesters are already arrested and it’s spread causing a headache for the government.

People in sympathy to the movement are organizing protests in different cities of USA.

And now, it is spreading to the other cities of the world from Melborne to London.

Will there be any ripple of this movement in Bangladesh also where people are frustrated over the plight of the poor, state of governance and politics and immunity of the rich?

An ordinary citizen

Link: Follow Wall Street Movement

1st poster of wall street movement

The poster that inspires the movement

Transit: prospects and speculations September 5, 2011

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Manmohan Singh, PM of India is coming to Bangadesh. Many unsolved issues will be discussed and some MoU will be signed.

One of the important MoUs will be about transit. Foreign Minister Dipu Moni in a previsit presss briefing said that a MoU on trasit will be signed during the period. 
Depapriya Bhattacharjee, Fellow, CPD expressed that transit will bring tremoundous opportunity to Bangladesh but we shouldn’t mess it by ill thought and ill planned unnecessary hurried steps. He added that an independent and complete formulation of the agreement was needed and he is feeling uneasiness to the tidbit approach to the issue. 
 Many demanded to pubish the draft agreement in public but the government is not ready to accept this.

An ordinary citizen

Google search: Transit to India

One Farm, One home Project September 4, 2011

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One of the important agenda of the present govt is the one farm and one home project. The state minister for LGRD minstry said that govt is determined to see the project a success. He hopes that the process will create a revolution in Bangladesh.

But the eminent Economist and Researcher Dr. Hussain Zillur Ranman who was an adviser to last caretaker goverment said that the one farm, one home project is going to be a failure. He said that without any pilot project the idea is implemented at national scale.He added that policalistaion of the project will make the project a failure and wastage of national economy.

An ordinary citizen

A Conversation with Dr. Yunus on Social Business Day 2011 July 6, 2011

Posted by bdoza in BANGLADESH, ECONOMY, Yunus.
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I was not sure that I could attend the evening session of social business day that held in Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon on 28th June 2011. The session was exclusively for the students. But as Dr.Yunus declared in the morning that others could attend but would not participate in the conversation I took the opportunity and stayed for the evening session.

When I entered the Hall after a small lunch in the costly Pan Pacific, I found the hall full of young girls and boys. Later I knew that they are students of different universities, private and public from Bangladesh and also some from other countries.

As we were waiting,Dr.Muhammad Yunus and Dr. Huzaifa Khorakiwala, President of Wockhardt Foundation approached to the lone Sofa on the podium.After a brief introduction by Dr. Huzaifa Khorakiwala conversation started. Dr. Khorakiwala took the moderator’s role.

We were informed that students from 20 professional institutes/universities across India were participating in the discussion. Also people are watching through yytube, a special online video media developed for the transmission of the program. Five of India’s top Management Institutes -Symbiosis Management Institute Pune, ISB Hyderabad, Great Lakes Chennai, Narsee Monjee Mumbai and Shree Ramachandra Medical University, Chennai were among the institutes participated.

Students from Indian institutes started to ask questions. Maximum 2 questions were allowed to be asked by each institution. On preventing the microlenders from going weird Dr. Yunus told that microfinance is not for business or not for making money but to support the poor to make them financially solvent. The microfinance institutions should be well regulated. On the way how students can play role in social business,he told that social business needs ideas, needs creativity. The young brains have ideas, so they will develop ideas, ideas for social business. On getting fund , he told that there will be social business fund. There are people who could contribute for social business fund and with creative ideas social businesses will develop.
Students from the audience also asked questions. But East West University surprised us all when they stood up singing ‘happy birth day’ to Dr. Yunus as the day was coincided with the birthday of Dr. Yunus. They also handed over flowers to Yunus coming to the podium.

Dr. Yunus continued to answer few more questions. Thousands of people were watching over internet. One of last questions was from East Timur. The question goes like,’people in East Timur have liking for social business but they have no entrepreneur to take the initiative’. Dr. Yunus in reply said that entrepreneurship is not something confined to a geographic area. Every person has the potential to be a good entrepreneur. One needs to have idea and take initiatives.

We enjoyed the conversation very much and the program looked ended early after 2 hours of conversation.

The whole episode was organised by Wockhardt Foundation of India and Yunus Centre Bangladesh. WF is a non-profit organisation committed to social uplift.

From Bangladesh, 400 students from 12 universities including IBA, North South,East West,Brac and Dhaka University and 50 students from USA, UK, Japan, Italy, Austria, Thailand etc participated in the program.

After the program, students signed their books in long queue by Professor Yunus. I have also signed my two books by him.

The whole episode is an unforgettable memory.

An ordinary citizen

Link : Live Telecast by Wockhardt Foundation

A Social Business Day July 4, 2011

Posted by bdoza in BANGLADESH, ECONOMY, Yunus.
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I was just in time at the Pan Pcific Hotel Sonargaon at Dhaka on 28 June 2011, after 10 hours of long overnight journey by train. I introduced myself to the registration corner and got my name checked.

The theme of day was ‘achieving millennium development goals by social business’. The premier discussion started at 10 am. The session was chaired by Dr. Mohammad Yunus himself.

At the start of the program Professor Yunus introduced the guests coming from all over the world from Japan to Costa Rica. In his inaugural speech Dr. Yunus explained the social business, its scope and difficulties. Some of the points that I marked in his speech are- ‘people will attract to social business as it is a simple term, easy to understand’, ‘it is dedicated to alleviate the poverty’, ‘is addressed to any social problem’, ‘based on no loss no dividend policy’. He hopes that though social business is in it’s early stage like the aeroplane of the Write Brothers but soon the supersonic planes will fly over.

Then the speakers on the dias spoke on their experience on social business one by one. Thomas Stelzer, UN assistant secretary-general for policy coordination and inter-agency affairs was present in the day as a representative of Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of UN. He declared that Dr. Muhammad Yunus has been made a member, among 20 other Nobel Laureates, of the Millennium Advisory Group to the Secretary General. He told that he has come to have a deeper understanding of the social business as tool to achieve the millennium goals. Saori Dubourg, president of regional functions and country management for Asia-Pacific of BASF narrated their experience in providing insecticide impregnated mosquito nets to the rural people of Bangladesh as social business. Corinne Bazina, chief executive of Grameen-Danone described their struggle to provide the vitamin fortified yugurt to improve the nutrition of Bangladeshi children. Hans Reitz, founder of Grameen Creative Lab, Germany described his new mission of solving problems by social business after long years of expreience in entrepreneurship. Masaharu Okada, executive director of Grameen Creative Lab at Kyushu University in Japan discussed why they started Grameen Creative Lab to find out solutions to the social problems and Grameen Technology Lab to innovative technologies to support social business. He expressed using social business to serve the victims of Japan recent earth quacks and Tsunami.

A Bangladeshi businessman,based in Bahrain, running fiber glass business worldwide, narrated how he thought of founding a fibreglass factory in Bangladesh through social business model. At the end Dr. Yunus thanked all who came from abroad and all who participated from Banladesh to support the social business initiative.

Dr. Yunus also has given a short interview to the media. One interesting question they asked whether he starts social business bieng failed in microfinance. He replied ‘Microfinance (Grameen Bank) is also a sort of social business, whether it failed not time will tell. We are now thinking of many other social business to alleviate the poverty’.

About 1200 participants from home and abroad were present on the event. Delgates from USA, French, Germany, Italy, Swizerland, Japan, India, Middle East and Costarica attended the event. Citizen Groups representatives Mr. Hafizuddin, ex adviser to the caretaker government, Mahfuz Anam, editor Daily Star, Badiul Alam Majumder, Secretary , Citizens for Good Governance,Dr. Ainun Nishad, Bagladeshi water expert, Atiqul Hoque chowdhury, eminet play writer, Abul Ahsan Chowdhury, ex-state minister for foriegn affairs of last AL regime among many that I could recognize in the meeting among the locals.

After the premier program, Dr. Yunus visited the stalls that are set to project the social business activities that the companies and institutions were promoting.The stalls include Grameen Bank, Yunus Centre, Grameen Dannone, Grameen-BASF, Grameen Veolia, Japan Kyushu University, Grameen Nursing College, A solar energy from India, Grameen Shakti and few more. Dr. Yunus took the trouble to visit every stall and gave time to listen their ideas of projections.

The event was neat, well organised and highly satisfying to the participants.

An ordinary citizen

Social Business Day 2011- All the Links

Bangladesh Budget 2011-12: Reactions and Analysis June 16, 2011

Posted by bdoza in BANGLADESH, Budget, ECONOMY.
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Risk remain in implementation- Muhith
Big budget meets political demand:Dr.Wahiduddin Mahmud
Budget out of sync with Al manifesto
Medicare at stake
Financing budget is a major challenge: MCCI
FBCCI warns of liquidity crisis
Black Money whitening- Muhith defends, CPD opposes
Bourses urge govt to reverse tax plan for brokers
Subsidy cut to upset agriculture
No stimulus for RMG export
Budget lacks clear focus
Hefty govt borrowing to hurt private investment:CPD
Budget bypasses vision for Digital Bangladesh: Say ICT sector leaders
27 budget pledges 2010-11 unfulfilled

Bangladesh Budget 2011-12 announced June 9, 2011

Posted by bdoza in BANGLADESH, Budget, ECONOMY.
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Finance Minister MA Muhith presented the Budget for fiscal year 2011-2012 in the Parliament:

Budget speech 2011-12: in English
Budget speech : in Bangla
Budget in Brief : in English
Budget in Brief : in Bangla
Annual Financial Statement : in English
Annual Financial Statement : in Bangla

Full Budget documents-2011-12, Ministry of Finance, Government of Bangladesh

Will Share Market Scam Report Produce Anything? May 5, 2011

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After repeated fall of share market prices and consequent violences on the streets, government formed an inqury committee to look into any irregularities that happened in the share market. A committee was formed headed by Ibrahim khalil’ ex Deputy Governor of Bangladesh Bank and current chairman of Krishi Bank. Finance Minister Muhith was taking time o announce the committee as he was looking for persons not associated with the share market.Ibrahim Khalil, after taking the charge started his work but initially was not getting any cooperation from the Security Exchange Commission (SEC). Nevertheless, he has completed the investigation and submitted his report to the Finance Minister. In the report, he said, after submitting it to Finance Minister, that many big name are involeved from the politicians and business circles , in addition to the men from sec. The disclosuer created a stirr in the political and business circle. Bdnews24.com unofficially release releases partial report in their website. Because of ungrounded speculation, head of inquiry had to defend himself to the media and public. He emphasises that the report is not intended to punish any individual but tried to find out the lapses in the system. After a period of waiting and confusion, Finance Minister decided to publish the report officially in full.

But will the report produce anything noteworthy? when report after the share market crisis in 1996 also produce nothing. In that report also a dozen of offenders were identified but no penalty or punishment could be imposed.

Bangladesh Bank has formed a special fund of Tk.5000 crore to refurbished the share market. The skeptics opined that it may affect adversely if not properly used and fall in the wrong hands.

An ordinary citizen

Is USA doing excess on Yunus issue? March 30, 2011

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US Asstt. Secretary of State for South and Cental Asian Affairs Mr. Roger Blake recently visited Bangladesh and met with Prime Minister and other dignitaries and talked with the press. He expressed the US concern over the removal of Dr. Yunus from Grameen Bank. He said that Dr. Yunus and Grameen Bank bear a good image in USA also. Grameen Bank is also working there. USA is interested to see the freedom and integrity of Grameen Bank maintained. President Barak Obama and Secretary of State of USA Hillary Clinton are personally concern for Dr. Yunus. Hillary and Clinton have long personal association with Dr.Yunus since their days of Ankarasas. Obama bestows the Presidential Award of USA on Dr. Yunus. USA hopes that a settement can be found out by open discussion between Dr. Yunus and Bangladesh Government.

Is USA playing excess? Apparently it seems. Mr. Blake has gone far to even say that the visit of Hillary Clinton to Bangladesh will depend on the amicable settlement of the issue. Dipo Moni , our foreign minister termed excess US interest as interferce in our internal affairs. At this point the Adviser to the Finance spoke out and said that government is searching a solution for the issue and a committee is formed with the finance minister MA Muhith as the chairman of the committee.

Badruddin Omar and Farhad Majhar, two left leaning intectectual in Bangladesh look the matter as an interference in our internal issues. They see it as a part of all out agenda of USA to dictate the affairs of the region ranging from Afganistan to present conflict in Libya. Professor Imtiaz Ahmed of Dept of International Affairs of Dhaka University said that we created the opporunity for others to interfere in our own affairs.

Many also think that the way the government handle the matter not only demean the only nobel laureate of the country but also the country itself.

As the news goes, the government is taking new initiative to settle the issue. Finance Minister MA Muhith has given the assignment to do the job. Muhith wants Dr. Yunus to come up with fresh proposal.

An ordinary citizen

The Need for Statesmanship-Rehman Sobhan March 15, 2011

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Rehman Sobhan, the Chairman of Centre for Policy Dialogue, a think tank for Bangladesh policy issues has presented a discourse that published in the Daily Star on the present complicacies related to Grameen and Dr. Yunus and has outlined a way out from the present situation for the consideration of the Prime Minister herself.
The article is worth reading. It is one of the finest on the issue. Following is the concluding part of the article:

From confrontation to statesmanship

‘The spokespersons for the government, in their recent public pronouncements, have stated that the government has no political quarrel with Yunus. All they wanted to do was to preserve the rule of law. I would like to take these declarations on behalf of the government at their face value. If, indeed, the only issue was the rule of law then the principal deviation from the law, as cited in the Bangladesh Bank order, was the failure of the Grameen Bank to seek prior approval of the Bangladesh Bank in their reappointment of Yunus as managing director in 1999. The Bangladesh Bank raised this issue in its Annual Audit Report of Grameen Bank, which gave a full reply to the queries in the Report.

If the Grameen Bank’s reply was at all problematic for Bangladesh Bank or the GoB, the Bangladesh Bank could easily have sent further notices to the Grameen Bank to formally correct such a legal anomaly. The Bangladesh Bank, during the tenure of three democratic governments, two caretaker governments and four governors who held office from 1999 to 2011, sent no further notices to Grameen Bank. This sustained silence by the Bangladesh Bank was quite reasonably interpreted by Grameen Bank as the acceptance of their response to Bangladesh Bank’s audit report and the validation of the Board’s decision on their continuation of Yunus’s appointment as managing director.

Even today, there was nothing to prevent the Governor of the Bangladesh Bank from sending such a notice to Grameen Bank before seeking to remove Yunus from office. Grameen Bank could have explained its actions and/or it could have sought an approval for the continuance of the appointment of Yunus. The Bangladesh Bank could then have accorded its approval if it thought that Prof. Yunus was running the bank efficiently, based on positive reports of the Bangladesh Bank audits of Grameen Bank over the last 12 years. Why such a sensible step was not taken needs explanation. We are, consequently, witnessing these legal encounters which do not greatly enhance the credibility of our institutions of governance nor are they likely to resolve this needless crisis.

So where do we go from here? Given the historic role of Yunus to the development of Grameen Bank, the confidence he generates among its investors and the corporate asset value of his name, such observations as indicated by the finance minister or the Local Government Minister, Ashraful Islam or even by Yunus himself, of providing Yunus with an “honourable exit” from the Bank, appear to overlook the central issue, which is the well being of the Grameen Bank and the livelihood of its millions of members. About the last thing anyone with the best interests of the Bank and its 8 million members in mind, would want is the “exit,” graceful or otherwise, of Yunus from Grameen Bank.

Any precipitate move to oust its founder could shake the confidence of its members in the Bank and expose it not just to a withdrawal of their savings but even a default on their debts. Such a run on Grameen Bank could have a contagion effect which could jeopardise the financial stability of other micro-finance institutions across the country. The relevant issue to be resolved is, therefore, not Yunus’s exit but the terms and conditions which should govern his continuing role in Grameen Bank until he chooses to withdraw from any institutional involvements.

Under the prevailing circumstances what may be a sensible way forward? Prof. Yunus has already suggested such a path. At the age of 70 Yunus still has the energy and creativity of a young man. Even if he were to withdraw completely from Grameen Bank, he chairs a variety of Grameen branded institutions dedicated to serve the resource poor. He can mobilise millions of dollars from both international development agencies as well as Fortune 500 companies to partner any of these or further ventures he sets up. A person of his energy, reputation and fund raising capacity should, thus, be irrevocably bound to the Grameen Bank with hoops of steel and age should not be seen as a bar to his involvement.

Indeed, in Bangladesh as in many countries, age is no disqualification to discharging responsibility. Bangladesh’s finance minister is 78 years old. Our planning minister is nearly 80 years old. Several of the ministers or ministerial level appointees serving the prime minister as advisors have either crossed or are approaching 70. The prime minister as well as the leader of the opposition have led their respective parties for 3 decades, longer than Yunus’s tenure as Managing Director of Grameen Bank.

All these public figures should have long been retired if the attorney general’s declaration in court, that 60 was a universal retirement age, would have been recognised. Fortunately, all the above figures appear to be in the prime of life, enjoy the confidence of their party and government and appear quite capable of carrying on as long as they are willing to do so. To, therefore, apply some arbitrary age limit to the active engagement of Yunus with an organisation he has created from nothing, is neither fair nor good business.

In point of fact, Yunus himself, has declared that he is no longer interested in managing the day to day affairs of an organisation as large as Grameen Bank. He has repeatedly stated he wants to step down and hand over the position of CEO to a professionally competent person, selected through a fair search procedure, who can command the confidence of the millions of members who own the Bank.

In order not to shake the confidence of the members in the continuity of the organisation and to retain the presence of their most valuable capital asset with the Bank, ideally Prof. Yunus should be invited to assume the Chairmanship of the Board of Grameen Bank. In this capacity his presence will perpetuate the global reach of the Bank and retain its access to the policymakers of Bangladesh and the world as well as to the financial community. This would greatly reassure the Bank’s 8 million members that their most prized asset remains engaged with the organisation which embodies their livelihood and life’s savings. Any reluctance to accept such a logical and constructive solution to this gratuitously destructive confrontation would indicate to the world that other variables, unrelated to the interests of Grameen Bank, are in play.

The person who should initiate this constructive conclusion to this regrettable and damaging episode in our history should be none other than the prime minister, who could hardly be insensitive to the concerns of the millions of women who own Grameen Bank or to the political consequences of their alienation. Nor could she be unaware of the domestic political and diplomatic capital so painfully accumulated by her, which is being squandered over an issue which is quite peripheral to her immediate political agenda.

The time has come for the prime minister to re-evaluate the politically costly advise being fed to her. She has already demonstrated her maturity and statesmanship in her decision to resile from her government’s unwise decision, based again on poor advice, to take over Arial Beel. She should now decide to put this unsavoury as well as destructive episode over Grameen Bank behind her and move on.

This may be done through an invitation to Prof. Yunus to meet with her and the finance minister, where all the misgivings she may have accumulated about Grameen Bank and Prof. Yunus should be discussed in a spirit of constructive engagement. The prime minister should then personally invite Prof. Yunus to assume the Chair of the Board of Grameen Bank and for them to open a new chapter in the relations between the state and Grameen Bank. Under such a dispensation the search for a managing director of international stature should be initiated.

Within such a spirit of reconciliation, the prime minister should perceive Yunus not as her adversary, which he obviously cannot be as she is the democratically elected leader of the country, but as an asset in the building of a din bodol where poverty and injustice can be banished from Bangladesh. The measure of a leader is the ability to transform her perceived adversary into an ally. The measure of a statesman is a leader who can join hands with her adversary in building a better tomorrow for the generations to come.’

For the full article, please click

An ordinary citizen

Possible impacts of removal of Yunus from Grameen Bank March 13, 2011

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Fazle Hussain Abed,founder and chairman of BRAC in a statement on the removal of Dr. Yunus from Grameen Bank said that the haste removal will create in-confidence among the borrowers. Either they will delay the payments or withdraw the money hastily. He asserted that Grameen Bank and like organizations are unique in character and it will be difficult to maintain it by the normal banking system. One thing Fazle Hussain abed didn’t mention is the in-confidence it will create on the social entrepreneurs.

A general notion would be, ‘the government may remove anybody from any organization, public or private, whenever it likes; it can remove the bosses, how popular he is at home and abroad . It may not be true only for Grameen Bank, each and every organization or institution in Bangladesh that is in someway under the control of Government may face the same ordeal. In a country where judiciary is dictated by the government, there is no way out for the victim’.

The attempt to remove already created a stir. USA and other countries have expressed their concern. Finance minister tried to explain the steps taken by the government in a meeting of ambassadors and representatives of international bodies. The impact of the meeting on the ambassadors and others present in the meeting was expressed by Mr. James Moriarty, the ambassador of USA as he said his government is deeply troubled by the move.

The move will create a bad impression about the attitude and intellect of the present leaderships and integrity and independence of institutions of Bangladesh.The hope on the present political and administrative system of Bangladesh will be lost.

The citizens of Bangladesh are closely following the incident. They are judging the prudence of this government and forming a notion about this governance that will be reflected in the next election.

It may be easy to take the control of Grameen Bank but it will not be easy for the government to run it properly. Government has already shown its in-aptitude in running the share market and other financial institutes. Any attempt to run Grameen Bank if ends in failure, then the attempt will be boomerang for the government. As 4 crore people are directly or indirectly connected with Grameen Bank, they represent a huge vote base for any party. Any displeasure of them will be enough to shatter the dream of any political party. Rehman Sobhan, leading think-tank of Bangladesh economic policies urge the government to listen to the 8 million owners of Grameen Bank.

So government should deal with the issue very cautiously.

An ordinary citizen

Share Market Crisis: Whom to blame? January 29, 2011

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Government has formed an inquiry committee with Mr. Ibrahim Khaled as the chairman of the 3 member committee. He is given 2 months time to find out the loop holes of the share market of the past 2 years.

Even before initiating his investigation, the chairman said that it will be difficult to punish the stalwarts but atleast they will be able to identify the persons responsible for the irregularities of the share market.

In the meantime, immediately after the fall in the share market, a high level meeting in presence of the finance minister Mr.M A Muhith was held in the secretariat where fingers were pointed at a big businessman close to the government for the share market crisis.

The ordinary citizen does not like to blame any individual, rather he will blame the system or the regulatory bodies for the failure.

Barrister Moudud of BNP demanded the resignation of the finance minister. We don’t like to go that far. But atleast SEC should have taken the responsibility and chief of SEC should have resigned. 8angladesh Bank as policy maker and monitoring organization also should have taken some responsibility and should correct itself. So far an spokesman of SEC has been made OSD and an officer of SEC has been transferred. The measures are not enough to prevent the future collapse of the market.

The government also tried to revitalize the share market by the participation of the commercial banks in the share market. Many opine that progressive involvement of the commercial banks in the share market will jeopardize the share market as well as money market.

The serious concern is that if the offenders have political blessings, then the market will have little chance of revival.

An ordinary citizen

Crisis in share market January 13, 2011

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The share market in Bangladesh made a nosedive and fell to the deepest in its history. Both the DSE and CSE were feeling the same experience in the last week.

The general index of DSE fell by 600 points or 7.75 percent to 7135 on 10.01.2010 . The general index at CSE fell 1395 points or 6.34 percent . The fall was consecutively for 5 days. Before this, on 19 Dec, 2010 the index fell 552 points or 6.72 percent. In 1996 on 5 Nov the fall was 233 point or approx. 6 point.

The fall created a deep depression among the investors.They took to the streets and tried to protest but in the face of police strong measures they had to retreat. Some of the protesters were also arrested.

The SEC, Bangladesh Bank and the government took measures to thwart the fall. Bangladesh Bank said that there is no liquidity crisis. Some blame on the inconsistent measures of SEC to regulate the market. Some blame the inherent weakness of AL government in managing the share market. In 1996 also after AL came to power share market experienced similar jolts.

The fall makes thousand of the shareholders penniless.

On the following day after the maximum fall, the market showed sharp rise which is also contrary to healthy state of the market. General index of DSE rose to 7512 points regaining 1012 of 1235 points lost in the previous two days. But there was minimum exchanges of shares and the matter seems to be beyond the control of the regulators.

The ordinary citizen had some experience with the share market. But he left it, as to him the market follows no logic. The matter seems to become a gamble and some powerful are stage-managing the whole show.

An ordinary citizen

Cost of rice and Cost of living October 8, 2010

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AL in its election pledges, promised to keep the price of rice to the minimum and within the reach of the common people. AL after forming the government has tried to keep it’s pledge in respect to price of rice. But the price of other essentials rises , some steadily and some occassionally in the market making the life harder for the low and middle income people.

The other items that making the life difficult is the cost of transport. The cost increases more in special occasions like Eid. The government has little control over the fare especially of Baby Taxi, the mode of transport of middle class citizens. Government has no effort to impose meter reading fare in Taxi, the reasons only better known to them.

The education cost is also increased over the years. The tuition fees is increased. The parents are compelled to admit their wards in coaching centers or have to employ additional teachers at home to compensate gap of teaching at school. At university level, Government has no control over the fees incurred by the administration of private medical colleges and universities.

The cost of living healthy is also gone beyond the reach of the common people. The Government hospitals and heath centers could hardly supply any medicine to the needy.When a major cost of medicare falls on the shoulder of a common man then he sees stars in his eyes. Such is the medicare support in our country.

Most of the people in urban areas, need to depend on rented house for their accommodation. As the government has no control over the rent, the owners are increasing the rent every year on their whims increasing the financial burden of common people.

The cost of living is also increased to maintain the culture in wedding, social functions etc and for the common man to pay the dowry for their daughters.

Will the government take necessary steps to keep the inflation controlled and to reduce the cost of living? Or the people will lose their last faith on the government?

An ordinary citizen