Dhaka: A senior government leader has suggested Nobel Laureate Professor Mohammad Younus should retire as a government "review" was underway on transactions of his Grameen Bank, which apparently is in a growing row with Prime Minister Shaikha Hasina's ruling Awami League.
"He (Younus) should give it to others to continue because you never continue all the time in any institution," newspapers quoted Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith as telling BBC Radio two days ago.
Muhith also told the radio that Younus recently rejected a government suggestion requesting him to stay away from the bank's affairs while the "review" was underway.
He added Younus said it could cause a "collapse of the institution at the moment".
"But I think it would have been better for him had he stayed away for some time as the review is underway on Grameen Bank's transaction," Muhith said.
The minister, however, said the government was yet to take any decision about Younus' current position as Grameen Bank's managing director but hinted a newly-constituted governing body with government representatives could decide his future after the findings of the "review committee".
Muhith added that according to Bangladeshi law, the retirement age for executives at private banks was 65 but acknowledged the "unique nature" of Grameen Bank as a statutory body having a special status, unlike NGOs or ordinary banks which were accountable to the central bank.
The minister also appreciated Younus' pioneering role in spearheading the microcredit campaign, as his experiment earned Bangladesh the reputation of being the home of microcredit and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for himself and the institution.
In another development, a court in northwestern Pabna district yesterday summoned Younus in a case filed by a former official of Grameen Bank for sending an "inflated phone bill" to a subscriber of the bank's rural phone service. The court ordered Younus' personal appearance on May 18.
The developments came as Hasina's government appeared to be tightening its grip on the specialised institution. Younus was summoned to court twice last month in separate cases, having no apparent link to the government. Last month the government ordered a "review" of the bank's transactions and constituted a five-member expert committee.
Younus could not be reached for comments but a Grameen Bank statement to Gulf News said: "The Grameen Bank is governed by the Grameen Bank Ordinance, 1983, under which the board of the bank is given autonomous power to manage the bank and make all policies, and rules." The government owned 25 per cent of the bank, it said.
The government has a 3.5 per cent ownership and share in its profits, it said.