Yunus’s Grameen Bank Board will appoint its MD, says government

Dhaka, Aug 6 (

Grameen Bank’s Board, not the Chairman, will appoint the Managing Director, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said on Monday as he attempted to set to rest the debates over the amendment to the ordinance governing the Nobel-winning microlender.

Bhuiyan spoke to reporters after a regular Cabinet meeting to clarify misgivings about the Aug 2 Cabinet decision to change the bank’s ordinance.

‘বোর্ডই গ্রামীণ ব্যাংকে এমডি নিয়োগ দেবে’

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“The Chairman, after discussing the bank’s board of directors, will constitute a selection committee for appointing the MD. That committee will recommend a panel of three to the board. The Managing Director will be appointed from the panel in light of the recommendation with approval from the Bangladesh Bank,” said Bhuiyan.

He said this is the first time the Managing Director will be appointed after selection of a three-member panel.

Replying to a question over US concerns that the amendment may upset the bank’s activities and curtail women’s representation, Bhuiyan said, “The Cabinet did not discuss the matter. But the government is in no way interfering with the bank’s activities.”

The US State Department on Sunday says it was ‘deeply concerned’ about the government move regarding the Grameen Bank.

Answering a question about the legitimacy of Muhammad Yunus staying on as Managing Director past 60 years of age, Bhuiyan said,” The court in its ruling declared continuing in the office after 60 years of age illegal. So, the Cabinet did not have any observation on this issue.”

He said the Cabinet discussed whether the law permitted Yunus to take salaries and allowances during his extra stint and ordered the relevant authorities to open an investigation.

Since the bank was founded in 1983 through a martial law ordinance, Yunus had been its Managing Director. The government also has stakes from the start in the bank with which Yunus shared Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

Yunus was questioned by the central bank for continuing in his job far beyond the retirement age for any executive in any such institution in Bangladesh. Yunus was nearly 71 when the Bangladesh Bank gave the notice in March 2011.

He went to the court and lost a series of legal battles, finally in the Supreme Court, eventually losing his hold on the institution.

After the Cabinet decided to change the legal provision last week, Yunus claimed the government was eyeing a full takeover and appealed to the people to save the microlending institution.