Bangladesh denies plan to take over Grameen

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

DHAKA, Dhaka Division (AFP) – Bangladesh denied on Tuesday that it plans to take control of pioneering microlender Grameen Bank which has lifted millions of people out of poverty.

The statement by a government spokesman came ahead of the release of a report by a commission expected to recommend that the government increase its stake in the Nobel-Prize winning bank to 51 percent from 25 percent.

“The government does not have any plan to raise its stake in Grameen Bank from 25 percent to 51 percent,” Shahedur Rahman, senior information officer of the finance minister, told AFP.

A preliminary paper by the government-appointed commission, circulated to Bangladesh’s financial experts for discussion, said the government should take majority control of the bank, diluting the ownership rights of its poor borrowers who are also shareholders.

Formal release of the report could come as early as this week.

Some Bangladesh ministers argue the government needs to take control of the bank to increase supervision.

They say the bank has drifted from its original mission of lending to the poor by setting up various firms unrelated to microlending.

Grameen was founded by co-Nobel prize winner Muhammad Yunus.

Yunus, who jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize with the bank in 2006 for economic and social development, earlier slammed the preliminary commission recommendations as an “extreme abuse of government power”.

Source: AFP/Fox News (link opens in a new window)