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Grameen break-up plan sparks criticism

Dhaka, June 19 (PTI): A Bangladesh commission has proposed that the government acquire or break the Grameen Bank into 19 parts, sparking criticism among analysts who feared that it is a systematic move to destroy the micro-lending agency.

The government commission released a working paper on restructuring the bank which was founded by Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus.

It said the bank should be broken into 19 separate organisations to decentralise the agency’s operations and management. The paper also suggested that Grameen’s legal status be amended with the government owning at least 51 per cent.

“The government takeover of a sound financial institution owned by 8.4 million poor women would be a case of an extreme abuse of government power,” said Yunus, who was forced to quit the bank two years ago after a court battle following a dispute with the government.

Yunus said the Grameen Bank Inquiry Commission proposal was “unworkable and deserved no consideration” while economists joined him in criticising the move.

“The government has taken the step to destroy the (Grameen) bank. It is totally a political decision,” a newspaper today quoted former finance secretary Akbar Ali Khan. Development analyst Hossain Zillur Rahman harshly criticised the move saying it was led by a “political vindictiveness”.

 
 
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