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Bangladesh govt actions on Nobel winning microlender worry US

Publication Date : 06-08-2012

 

The United States yesterday expressed deep concern about the Bangladesh government's move to give the chairman of Grameen Bank -- Nobel Peace Prize winning microlender of the country -- control over the selection of the bank's new managing director.

It also urged the Bangladesh government to ensure transparency in the selection of a new managing director for the bank.

“The United States is deeply concerned about recent actions the Government of Bangladesh has taken to give the government-appointed chairman of the Grameen Bank Board control over the selection of the bank's new managing director,” Patrick Ventrell, acting deputy spokesperson, Office of Press Relations of US Department of State, said in a statement.

This move would diminish the role the largely female borrower-shareholders play in shaping the direction of an institution that has made a difference to millions of impoverished women in Bangladesh, and indeed around the world, read the statement issued in Washington DC.

During her May visit to Dhaka, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Dipu Moni to take no actions that would undermine Grameen Bank, it said.

“We are concerned that the latest actions by the government could threaten the future of the bank, which was founded by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus.

“We call on the Government of Bangladesh to respect the integrity, effectiveness, and independence of Grameen Bank. We urge the Bangladeshi Government to ensure transparency in the selection of a new managing director who has unquestioned integrity, competence, and dedication to preserving Grameen Bank, its unique governance structure, and its effectiveness in bringing development and hope to 8.3 million of Bangladesh's most vulnerable citizens, mostly women.”

The cabinet in a meeting on Thursday approved a proposal for amending an ordinance to give more powers to the Grameen Bank chairman to choose the managing director of the microlender.

'Stop interference in GB'

US Senator Barbara Boxer has called on the Bangladesh government to stop interfering in the management of Grameen Bank.

“I am deeply disappointed in the Bangladesh government's efforts to exert control over Grameen Bank,” she said in a statement issued in Washington DC on Friday.

“This move threatens the ability of millions of Bangladeshi women to find a path out of poverty. Critical decisions regarding the Grameen Bank's leadership should be left to the Board of Directors so that the bank can continue its vital work helping Bangladeshis start businesses and provide for their families.”

Grameen Bank is an important institution that provides loans and other assistance to 8.3 million borrowers, mostly women, said Senator Boxer.

She asked the government to stop interfering, so the borrowers can gain financial independence and help support their families.

The US senator argued that the Bank's Board of Directors, which includes nine women elected by the Bank's shareholders, should be empowered to appoint a permanent individual to the position of managing director.

On June 27, Boxer led the 17 women of the US senate in writing to Hasina, urging her to allow the Bank's Board of Directors to appoint the chief executive.

 

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