State is ‘snatching’ bank, Yunus warns

AFP-JIJI

Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus on Thursday accused the Bangladesh government of “snatching” control of the Grameen Bank from the poor after it raised its stake in the pioneering micro-lender.

In an opinion piece published in all major Bangladeshi dailies, the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner said a proposal by a government commission to break up the bank into smaller units, or wrest majority control, would be disastrous.

“This is nothing but snatching. Please do not try to snatch the poor people’s bank out of their hands,” Yunus said, comparing the move to “land-grabbing” from the bank’s 8.4 million borrowers.

His comments came as the government raised its stake in the bank to 25 percent in a bid to consolidate its hold on the lender, which was 97-percent owned by the bank’s millions of poor borrower-shareholders.

Yunus, who jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize with Grameen in 2006 for economic and social development, was sacked from the bank in 2011 after he briefly went into politics, enraging the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.