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Parliament Passes Grameen Bank Law November 8, 2013

Posted by bdoza in BANGLADESH.
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parliament -1The present parliament passed Grameen Bank law at its fag end to convert the said ordinance of 1983 into law and to increase the Govt authority on the bank in the face of opposition from its founder Dr. Mohammad Yunus.
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A New Ordinance for Grameen Bank ? October 4, 2013

Posted by bdoza in BANGLADESH.
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Grameen Bank -1Cabinet approved a law to modify the Grameen Bank ordinance, 1983 to be placed in the parliament in this session. The law will give more power to Bangladesh Bank to have more control over the Grameen Bank. The move is the latest one by the Government in the conflict with Dr. Yunus over Grameen Bank. (more…)

Grameen Bank to Split June 24, 2013

Posted by bdoza in BANGLADESH.
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Grameen Bank -to split-2Theconflict between Government and Dr. Yunus on Grameen Bank is probably at its last round. Government has decided to disintegrate the bank into 19 components that may distort its basic character and its nature of control. (more…)

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.

Options Left for Dr. Yunus May 11, 2011

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Verdict of supreme court has been given and as was predicted it was gone against Dr. Yunus and Board of Directors of Grameen.

Grameen has tried it’s best to mainatin it’s integrity and appeal to the high court against the order of Bangladesh Bank. High Court rejected it’s appeal. Then they appeal at the Supreme Court. Supreme Court also refused to consider their appeal. They appeal for review of the judgment again in the highest court. The lawyers are best of the country. They placed their arguments eloquently but neither the eloquency, nor the logic could change the determination of the judges.

Now, Dr. Yunus will have to leave the post that he was holding for 30 years. In a letter Yunus expressed that he is waiting for the decision of the Board of Directors. According to the Grameen Bank Ordinance,1983 it is the BoDs to decide the next managing director and to place to BB to approve it. It is not the other way round that BB will appoint MD and BoD will approve it. If government does not like to play in the mud, it should leave Grameen Bank to work by its own rule.
There is little chance that Government will nominate Dr. Yunus as the Chairman of Grameen Bank.

Then what is left for Dr.Yunus to do. His legal fight may not yet over. Governmnet may next take steps to incorporate the social enterprizes with Grameen Bank. There are about 44 ‘social business’ companies where Dr. Yunus is working as chairman or director in most of them. As these businesses are associated with different international companies, such as Danone, Adidas, Intel etc, any government attempt will not go unchallenged.

One option for Yunus is to look after the social business companies he has established. His second option is to be appointed as chief executive in an international body that is looking after the poverty alliviation program. UN may think to open an Special Commission to be headed by Dr. Muhammad Yunus that will look after provery alliviation program of different countries including Bangladesh.

The last option for Yunus is to enter into politics. He could only join politics if a social environment is created in Bangladesh to accomodate a person like him in our politics like ELBaradei in Egypt. ElBaradei is also a Nobel laureate.

An ordinary citizen

Yunus and after: Grameen Bank will be a political liability for the Government April 9, 2011

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Government has almost achieved what he intended to achieve that is to remove Dr. Yunus from the post of Managing Director of Grameen Bank. Whatever the reason behind the move, it will be a matter of past. But new issue will come up and will link it with the past.

What steps government takes to run the GB smoothly, will be the next issue to observe. It will be important not only to the political observers but more to the borrowers-shareholders of the bank. As because the issue is so much discussed nationally and internationally, international communities and micro-credit pundits will also observe the move.

Grameen Bank is a unique bank in structure and function, baptized in 1983 by a presidential ordinance. It has grown up into a huge financial institution with 83.3 lac borrowers with a branch in every village of the country.

One of the uniqueness of GB is that it’s borrowers are it’s shareholders. It is difficult to conceive how the borrowers could be the shareholder and the question is asked by a minister. The borrowers have to put a part of their borrowed money as obligatory deposit to the bank and GB incorporates them as the shareholders of the bank.

The money lending and money collecting system are also unique. Grameen lends money without collateral, but not an individual but to a member of a group where the group acts as the guarantor. Repay system is weekly. Grameen staff goes to door to door and collect the money. All these indicate a very strong organizational system,committed management and competent leadership.
It will be hard for the government to render that leadership and the management will become corrupt soon and the system will be disorganized.

Board of Directors of Grameen is composed of 12 members, 9 elected from borrowers-shareholders and 3 nominated from the government and headed by a chairman, nominated by the government. Board of Directors appoints the Managing Director and Bangladesh Bank approves it. Government has already appointed a chairman, how competent, time will only prove. Grameen Board of Directors are illiterate-commented a minister. I am not sure whether they will appoint more educated new directors on the board violating the constitution or changing it. But lest not we forget that these illiterate leaders of Grameen brought the Nobel peace prize to the bank. Any move to replace them, will cause the borrowers to lose their confidence in the management.

Losing trust of the borrowers will make AL-led government to pay the price politically in near future.

An ordinary citizen

Dr. Muhammad Yunus: Bangladesh new antihero? March 18, 2011

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Dr. Muhammad Yunus is struggling with the government and the court for his post of managing director of Grameen Bank. His personal appeal to the finance minister and explanation to the Bangladesh Bank all went in vein. His appeal to the High Court has been rejected. His counsels compelled to take the refuge to the Supreme court. After hearing on the first day from Dr. Kamal Hussain on merit of the case, supreme court suspends the case for 15 days. The attempts taken by Dr. Yunus, his counsels and Board of Directors so far couldn’t tilt the determination of the government to reconsider its decision.

A parallel current is also flowing at the same time. The board of directors , the borrowers and the beneficiaries of Grameen stand by the side of Dr. Yunus. They are not small in number. About 4 crore people are directly or indirectly connected with Grameen Bank. They are expressing their support for Dr.Yunus and worry for Grameen.

The citizens are reassessing the contribution of Grameen to the economy and judging the commitment and character of Dr. Yunus against the contemporary politicians.

Are the people of Bangladesh reinventing their lost hope in Dr. Yunus?

Is Dr. Yunus Bangladesh new antihero?

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

Dr.Yunus’ ‘removal’: exploring the reasons March 5, 2011

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Government of Bangladesh is trying to remove Dr. Yunus from the post of managing director of Grameen Bank that he developed on his own pioneering idea of micro-financing to the poor and empowering the women for the last 30 years. As per a 1983 ordinance Government holds 25% statutory stake now with less than 5% of the contribution of the bank.

The Government found him more than 60 years of age, an age limit set for the employees of the Grameen Bank but not for its MD. Th other fault is not taking prior approval of Bangladesh bank before his appointment as MD, though the Board of Directors, the appointing Authority of this bank, duly appointed him.

Then where does lie the fault? The ordinary citizen can only speculate 4 possibilities to explain the situation:

1) This Government may consider him as a threat to it’s ambition to stay in power for an indefinite period. Dr. Yunus has shown his political interest in 2007 floating a political party, though shortly afterwords he had withdrawn himself from the venture. He was also approched by the sponsors of the last care taker government to hold the post of Chief Adviser though he refused, but had suggested the name of Dr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, a fellow economist who ran the caretaker government for long 2 years that successfully organized last national election of 2008 with the participation of all political parties. Dr. Yunus had his full blessing for the caretaker government.

2) Government may be thinking of taking control of Grameen Bank that has more than 8 million clients, has disbursed more than 16000 crore of money in the last year, has more than 20 commercial enterprises with renowned international companies like danone, Adidas, Viola.

3) May be the whole matter is personal. As Dr. Jafar Iqbal said in one of his recent articles that at one time Bangladesh was known to the world by the name of Bangabandhu Sk. Mujbur Rahman but Bangladesh is now known to the outside world by the name of Dr. Yunus and his activities. It may be difficult for someone in the center of the state to digest the matter.

4) Or there may be no apparent reason as Finance Minister MA Muhith said, there was no way out except to remove Dr. Yunus from Grameen Bank.

An ordinary citizen

Dr.Yunus, controversies & comments December 16, 2010

Posted by bdoza in BANGLADESH, GOVERNANCE, Media, POLITICS, Yunus.
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When I first saw the news in a leading Bangla newspaper, I was surprised and hardly believe myself. The headlines and the news is arranged in such a way as if Dr. Yunus has removed $700m from Grameen Bank for his own purpose. Many people who didn’t go into the depth of the news would be confused the way it was presented in the media except a few.

Tom Heinemann, a journalist from Denmark cites in his documentary of the events of 14 years back that was shown in the Norway National Television. The documentary shows that Norway and allied countries collected 700m and donated to Grameen Bank for the alleviation of poverty.

Grameen Bank in a Board Meeting headed by Dr. Yunus decided to transfer the money to Grameen Kalyan for better utilization of money. The money was deposited back to Grameen Bank, the interest of which was utilized for education, housing and business of the poor people.

Interesting is that the news got huge coverage in Bangladesh media. They not only accused Dr. Yunus of wrong doing but many of them expressed their in-confidence over the microcredit system operating in the country and abroad. In the Internet blogs, facebook and other social media were flooded with posts and comments. While many of the comments from Bangladesh were crudely critical, the observation from outside were mostly cautious. The Grameen Bank on behalf of Dr. Yunus was awkwardly trying to defend Dr. Yunus by disseminating the facts at its hand. Even MPs demanded inquiry into the allegation. Prime Minister Sk. Hasina came out as the harshest critic on the event. Dr.Yunus hails the bid for inquiry. He emphasised that there was no wrong doing. A news also circulated in the media in reference to Indian PM which proved false.

When the tide was at it’s peak, the Government of Norway issued a statement that there is no irregularities or embezzlement of any fund by Dr. Yunus and Grammeen Bank and the issue was settled in 1998. The statement drew a curtain over the controversies regarding Dr. Yunus and Grameen Bank pointing at the shallowness of our thoughts and intellect as a nation.

I was amazed by some of the answers of Dr. Yunus to the journalists when he came back to Bangladesh a few day’s back. At the end of interaction, he hoped that Bangladesh will move forward by the collective effort of us all.

But one thing is not clear to me why Tom Heinemann, took an event of 14 years back, the dispute of which settled at that time. Is it because he is a self employed journalist who thrives on so called investigative report and chose Dr.Yunus, who was at his peak of popularity , as his target to become famous in days? But it is not him to blame but it the temperament of Bangladesh people that made the news so important.

An ordinary citizen

Links: Opinion
Vilification of Grameen: Daily Star editorial
Honouring ourselves- Dr. Rehman Sobhan
Proud of Dr. Yunus-Dr.. Muhammad Ali Bhuiyan-University of North Carolina
A very dignified response-Abdul Hannan in Daily Star
Why this tirade against Professor Yunus-Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed -a Rhodes Scholar

Follow up:

A case has been filed against Dr. Yunus in a magistrate court in Myemenshigh for making comments against the politicians in 2006.

A parliamentary committee has been formed to probe into the allegations against Grameen Bank.
Dr. Yonus appeared at the magistrate court to reply to the summon.

USA requested Bangladesh to deal with respect the matters related with Dr. Yunus.

Parliamentary subcommittee has submitted 16 allegations against Dr. Yunus and Grameen 8ank.

A case has been put against dr. Yunus for adulteration in the Sakti dai. Sakti dai is a food product of Grameen Dannon a joint venture of Grameen with Dannone- a world leader in nutritional product.

‘Bangladesh would be able to see its dream come true’- says Nobel Committee Chairman Professor Mjos July 18, 2008

Posted by bdoza in BANGLADESH, Yunus.
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‘Bangladesh would be able to see its dream come true’- says Nobel Committee Chairman Professor Mjos The Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Professor Ole Danish Mjos is on a visit to Bangladesh on an invitation of Dr. Muhammad yunus. Dr. Yunus first invited him while he was in Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006 at Oslo.

In Bangladesh he attended the inauguration of Nobel Peace Prize Exhibition at Grameen Bank head quarters at Mirpur,Dhaka where he opined that Bangladesh would be able to see the dream come true through building a prosperous Bangladesh free from poverty. The exhibition was organized by The Norwegian Nobel Peace Center, the Norwegian embassy and the host Grameen Bank.[DS]

Professor Mjos also addressed some 3000 students of different institutions and universities gathered at Bangladesh-China Friendship Centre on 17 July 2008. He said, ‘lets together create a world without poverty, let’s build peace and prevent war, focus on integrity, fight global warming and protect environment and let us work for a word free from nuclear weapon’. [DS]

The visit by Nobel Committee Chairman Professor Mjos to Bangladesh is very remarkable and is the recognition of Dr. Muhammad Yunus’ contribution to peace and poverty alleviation the relation of the two is defined by Mjos as ‘the struggle against poverty is the work for peace of the first order’

An ordinary citizen
Post Script:
Mijos visited Damrai, a rural area where the women changed the fate of them and their families through microfinance from Grameen Bank. Mjos was greatly impressed with the effort of these women[DS]

Mijos in an interview to Prothom Alo on 20 July, 2008 , the leading bangla daily, ‘To be mid-income country or to attain the mellenium development goal Bangladesh needs good governance in total perspective and for that competent leadership is needed. Bangladesh has many problems. Climate change due to global warming has added to the problem of poverty. So problem becomes doubles. To overcome this and to progress to success Bangladesh needs educated, competent a trained leadership.’

His comment on Dr. Yunus is also interesting. ‘Professor Yunus is a man of rare qualities. If he stayed back in USA, then he would have been acclaimed as an exceptional scholar throughout the world….’ he said.

Details of the interview[PA]