Friday, March 2, 2012

Thank you, but no thanks: Yunus

Muhammad Yunus has 'sincerely' thanked prime minister Sheikh Hasina for proposing his name for The World Bank presidency, but said he is not interested in the job.

In a statement released by Yunus Centre in Dhaka on Friday, the former Grameen Bank managing director said the proposal "was an unexpected good news for me".

Widely perceived to be instrumental in getting Yunus out of Grameen Bank as its chief executive, Hasina surprisingly floated the idea at a meeting with a delegation of Members of European Parliament in Dhaka on Feb 22.

The next day the leader of the team of European Union parliamentarians termed "very positive and interesting" the idea that Yunus be made the chief the Washington-based bank that has never seen a non-American as its head since its birth after the Second World War.

The US ambassador to Bangladesh, Dan Mozena, also said that Washington will give its "fullest consideration" to the candidature of Yunus for presidency.

Yunus in the statement felt that the prime minister's broaching the idea signalled a change in the frosty ties he had had with Hasina.

"Now I am hopeful that the government's policy towards the Grameen Bank and me will be in line with the Prime Minister's latest position," he said.

He said that he had been among the staunchest critics of World Bank and then went on to throw cold water on the talk.

"I never thought of taking up the top job of the World Bank or any other such multi-lateral institutions. I have been a regular critic of the World Bank for its policies and programs. My criticism also included the fact that this Bank's highest post is always reserved for an American citizen.

"But I never had any interest in stepping out of the work that I have dedicated my life to, to take up the highest responsibility of the World Bank.

"President Bill Clinton had invited me to the Oval Office. Among other issues, he discussed the role of the World Bank and asked for my advice. Then he said that a new president was to be appointed for World Bank and asked whether I had any interest in this."

Yunus said that in 2005 former prime minister Khaleda Zia decided to nominate him for the position of the secretary general of the United Nations.

"I want to remain completely focused to these tasks. I hope some time soon, there will be a "World Social Business Bank" and this bank will have an important role in solving the fundamental economic, social and environmental problems faced by the world today.

"When this bank is created, if someone requests me to take the Presidency of the bank, I'll accept that responsibility with great pleasure, no matter what my age will be at that point of time."