No change in GB structure

Muhith says no plan to raise govt stake in Grameen Bank

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Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday made it clear that the government would not bring any changes to the current structure of Grameen Bank.
“From the very beginning, the government has been saying it has no intention to change the ownership or management style of the bank,” the minister told reporters after a meeting at the Economic Relations Division in the capital.
Muhith made the comment after reporters asked whether the government has any intentions to secure majority share in the microcredit organisation founded by Nobel laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus.
He said the government has 25 percent share in Grameen Bank, and insisted that it would remain the same.
“What Prof Yunus said about increasing the government share in the bank is utterly nonsense. It came from his head.”
Muhith said he has not yet received the final report of the Grameen Bank Commission that the government set up in May last year to review the operations of the bank and the associated organisations founded by Prof Yunus, and to make recommendations about their future structure.
The committee was asked to submit a report in three months of its formation. But it is yet to turn in the report.
“The report may suggest increasing the government share in the bank. But the government has no such plan,” said Muhith.
The commission drew widespread criticism at home and abroad after it made suggestions in its interim report and also in letters to the participants of a proposed workshop. It planned to recommend that the bank be restructured in a way that would give the government a controlling stake in it.
The government’s share in Grameen Bank remained at 3.29 percent until June, as the government didn’t make payments against its share in the paid-up capital. As a result, the share of borrower-shareholders had increased to 96.71 percent.
The government made payments in June to win back one-fourth share in the microcredit organisation.
Muhith said the government has already increased its share in the bank to the desired level.
Criticising Prof Yunus, the minister said from the day he left Grameen Bank, he had been saying that the government wants to take control of the bank.
“He [Prof Yunus] also said many other things. All these are lies.”
Finance ministry officials said an inter-ministerial meeting will be held on August 14 to get the opinions of representatives of Bangladesh Bank, Grameen Bank and nine ministries about turning the Grameen Bank Ordinance 1983 into an act.
Asking not to be named, a finance ministry official said no new provision has been included in the proposed law.
It has suggested that the approved capital of Grameen Bank should be Tk 350 crore and it should be turned into 3.50 crore shares of Tk 100 each.
And the bank’s paid-up capital will be Tk 300 crore, which now stands around Tk 74 crore. The government will have 25 percent share in it, while the rest will be in the hands of bank borrowers.
Ministry officials said the managing director of Grameen Bank, the director general of the NGO Affairs Bureau, vice chairman of Micro-credit Regulatory Authority, the registrar of the Directorate of Joint Stock Companies and Firms, and representatives of the National Board of Revenue have been asked to attend the August 14 meeting.

Source: The Daily Star

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