Govt to unearth the facts
Reacting sharply to the recent controversy over Grameen Bank, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said yesterday it must be investigated extensively to find out if there was any unlawful activity.
“I think there must be an extensive probe into the matter to find out if there was any unauthorised fund transfer by him (Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus),” she said.
The government will take steps to unearth the facts, the PM added.
Replying to questions at a press conference at the Prime Minister's Office following her tri-nation visit to Russia, Belgium and Japan, Hasina said it is time to know what has been going on in the name of poverty alleviation, and improving the fate of the poor.
Referring to Finance Minister AMA Muhith's comment on media reports about 'unauthorised' fund transfer by Prof Yunus, the prime minister said her government never wants to destroy the image of the country, and always upholds its image.
That's why, she said, the finance minister made the comment.
Muhith told journalists on Saturday there was nothing wrong in the transfer of funds from Grameen Bank to Grameen Kalyan and vice versa.
But Sheikh Hasina said the fund transfer took place to evade tax, and this was very unfortunate. “What had happened in the Grameen Bank was just a trick, and this was done to evade tax, nothing else.”
She said sarcastically, “Bangladesh sometimes sets examples in different fields. You can think of this also as an example.”
The premier went on, “Nobody can hide the truth for long … Truth will definitely come out once.”
Turning to microcredit, Hasina said the micro financers nurse poverty to run their quick business, which is a bad luck of the poor people of the country.
She alleged that the micro financers suck blood out of the poor in the name of eradicating poverty. “We cannot allow use of the poor people as guinea pigs,” she said.
The premier also said the poor hardly crossed the poverty line by taking loans from the micro financers. Rather, they (micro financers) nurture poverty to bring funds and utilise those for their own gains.
Hasina recalled that in her previous term as prime minister, she was convinced initially when Grameenphone approached her for a licence in the name of empowering women.
“I was so charmed when they told me that they will give cell phone to the rural poor women for doing business, and they will thus come out of extreme poverty.…I do not see any phones in the hands of the poor women, using which they are supposed to earn money,” the PM said.
She mentioned that her (previous) government provided Tk 400 crore in 1998 when Grameen Bank was in a miserable condition. “We had given everything to this bank -- from business to money,” she said.
Replying to a question, Hasina said the government has a 25 percent stake in Grameen Bank, but it seems that this bank is solely owned by one person.