Friday, November 24, 2017

Sheikh Hasina slams AMA Muhith for remarks on microcredit

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2017-03-04 15:29:48 BdST

Finance Minister AMA Muhith has come under fire from the prime minister for his assertions that microcredit played a significant role in alleviating poverty in Bangladesh.

Speaking at the council of Awami League's women affiliate on Saturday, Sheikh Hasina pulled up Muhith saying that it was the government's initiatives, which were behind poverty reduction.

On Thursday, Finance Minister Muhith lauded Grameen Bank's role while speaking at a programme of the Social Development Foundation, an autonomous body under his ministry.

"There was a time when 70 percent people of this country were poor, which has now come down to 22 percent. The Grameen Bank has played a successful role in it," is what he said.

Referring to his remarks, Prime Minister Hasina said on Thursday, "We saw the honourable finance minister praising microcredit. Micro-financers make wealth, they run a business.

"They do not want the people to come out from poverty or else what will they make money out of?"

She said it was during the Awami League regime when poverty came down to 22 percent. "We have succeeded in alleviating poverty. We took office to work for the people."

The Awami League chief came down hard on Muhith from praising Grameen Bank founder and Noble laureate Mohammad Yunus. "He mentioned the name of that person, who is behind the delay of the Padma Bridge project."

The Grameen Bank was founded in the 1980s during the military regime of HM Ershad.

It was Yunus who initiated the steps to form the bank, where the government holds 30 percent stake, when Muhith was serving as the finance minister three decades ago.

Yunus had been the managing director of Grameen Bank since its inception in the 1980s. He shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the bank in 2006.

Bangladesh Bank sacked Yunus in 2011 on the ground that he had crossed the official age limit. Yunus had challenged his dismissal in the top court but lost.

The Nobel laureate's relationship with the government has been tenuous, often erupting in heated exchanges.

Hasina on several occasions described Yunus as a 'usurer' as well as a 'blood sucker', a widely used reference to centuries-old tradition of money-lending in rural Bangladesh.