Members of the Grameen Bank’s board and shareholders on Wednesday demanded cancellation of the amendment to the Ordinance which has stripped the board of its power to appoint the managing director.
They said that since the inception of Grameen Bank, all changes in laws and regulations concerning it were aimed at empowering the women, but the latest amendment to the 1983 Ordinance was aimed at decreasing their authority.
They said that after the resignation of the bank’s founding managing director Dr Muhammad Yunus, the board was looking for a suitable MD and formed a selection committee and had their choice passed thrice on majority of votes, but chairman of the board, appointed by the government, did not implement the board’s decision and subsequently changed the Act, stripping the board of the authority to select the MD.
‘The government is eager to appoint its own chosen person as the managing director. This is tantamount to taking away the authority of the board,’ said Tahsina Khatun, one of the members of the board at a news conference in the National Press Club.
‘The government is claiming that transparency will be ensured through the amendment to the Ordinance. We do not understand how transparency can be ensured by decreasing the authority of the board to select the MD and vesting it in the chairman who is appointed by the government,’ she said.
The board’s members said that the decision would make the bank similar to other public sector banks. ‘There has been controversy about Sonali Bank but no such thing can occur in Grameen Bank. We are confident that if we are given the responsibility to run Sonali Bank it will become a transparent and efficient institution,’ said Rozina Begum, who was in selection committee.
The board’s members rejected the notion that they were just puppets and all the work was really done by Dr Yunus. ‘We are the owners of the bank and we had appointed him to run it. He was just an employee,’ said Tahsina.
When asked why the board had allowed Dr Yunus to serve the bank after he passed the retirement age, Tahsina said, ‘We thought Dr Yunus and Grameen Bank cannot be separated. That was why we forced him to continue in his position though he wanted to leave several times.’
She said the board was not opposing the appointment of a new managing director, but it opposes the way it is being carried out. ‘We were about to appoint a managing director who would be able to run it properly. We did not want an outsider to be imposed on us. It was our authority to appoint anyone to the position but the government amended the Act to strip us of the authority,’ she added.
When asked what they would do if the government stuck to its decision, Rozina replied, ‘We are protesting against the government’s decision on behalf of 84 lakh members of the bank. If the government continues to ignore our demand, we wage a movement for as long as we can.’
Women members on the board and some shareholders of the bank were present at the briefing.
Courtesy of New Age