Bangla issues ordinance to change Grameen Bank's functioning

Dhaka, Aug 23: Bangladesh on Thursday issued an ordinance changing the operational structure of the Grameen Bank as the government tightened its grip over the pioneering micro lender, defying appeals from its Nobel Laureate founder Muhammad Yunus and US pressure. Under the ordinance, in consultation with the Grameen's governing board, the chairman of the Bank would constitute a search committee to find out three to five suitable persons, who are "competent" to be the managing director of the "poor men's bank".

The government-appointed chairman would select one from the panel to be appointed as the executive head of the bank. Previously, the authority of appointing the managing director lied with the 12-member board, nine of them being borrower-directors drawn from Grameen beneficiaries which the bank call as owners of the micro lending agency.

On formation of the committee, the chairman will publish an advertisement seeking applications from the candidates for the managing director post. The post fell vacant after Yunus was forced to step down as its chief executive following his protracted dispute with the government in May last year after he lost his final court battle to retain the position.

Yunus earlier feared the government move to expand the power of the government-appointed chairman could hurt the millions of poor borrowers who own 97 per cent of the lender saying "the government's decision will destroy the bank of the poor and the country's bank of pride". "I am very disheartened to see that the poor people are being deprived of the ownership of the bank... I had always apprehended this. Now my apprehension is going to be a reality," he had said.


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