9 women directors vow to resist ‘move to break up GB’

Dhaka – Nine women borrower directors of Grameen Bank on Monday sharply reacted to the recommendations of Grameen Bank Inquiry Commission to change its structure, and vowed to resist any move to grab the globally acclaimed microcredit organisation.“The money of Grameen Bank is created out of our savings. We’ll never allow our savings to be looted by government people. We’ve so far defended every taka of our bank from being spoiled. Little by little we’ve saved money to build up this bank,” they said in a statement.
“Year after year we worked hard to save the money to accumulate through our weekly meetings. Why do you think we’ll sit idle while you hand over our bank to your people with a stroke of your pen?” the statement said.
The elected women directors are Tahsina, Sajeda, Rehana Akter, Sultana, Saleha Khatun, Parul Begum, Merina, Sahida Begum and Momena Begum.
The women directors said they have come to know from newspaper sources that the Grameen Bank Commission, formed by the government, is going to present its recommendations through a workshop on July 2 and seek comments from the country’s intellectuals.
“Although we’re elected directors of the bank representing its borrowers-shareholders who own 97 percent of the bank’s shares, we’ve not been invited to the workshop. The reason for is perhaps that we’re poor and women. But since the matter is directly related to our interest, we feel it’s imperative for us to put forward our opinions in this regard,” they said.
The commission recommends total disintegration by splitting Grameen Bank into 19 pieces, the directors said adding that it also recommends 51 percent government shares in the bank. “This scheme is absolutely unacceptable to us. It’s not at all understandable to us why the bank that we have built up little by little should be handed over to government.”
Mentioning that the bank is running perfectly as a private organisation under the existing laws that govern it, the elected nine directors said the intention to turn it into a government bank is not at all clear to them
Referring to the mismanagement of the nationalised banks of the country, the statement said, “The Hall-Mark scam and many similar other scams have completely destroyed people’s faith in our government banking system. Efforts aimed at establishing government control over Grameen Bank have caused worry among us for good reasons.”
Grameen Bank is not run by government money, they said adding that government has no stake in the bank except for a 3perecent share in its paid-up capital. Neither does the bank use donor money. The bank’s loan activities are financed by its borrowers’ savings, and which today amounts to about 80 billion taka. It does not require much wisdom to understand that the purpose to bring this institution under government control is to rob the poor women borrowers of the bank of their hard-earned savings.
The commission has asked government to guarantee the savings of the bank, the directors said, “How can we feel that our money is safe with government while government itself is destroying the country’s banking system by borrowing billions of taka from different banks?”
Reacting to the Grameen Bank Inquiry Commission’s recommends for bringing some changes in the legal structure of the bank, the nine women directors said they are not only surprised but also angry at these suggestions.
“We the poor women borrowers of the bank are its actual owners. But the commission distributes the bank without any consultation with us. Grameen Bank is run with our own money. We don’t receive any money from Government (except 3percent of the capital). It is our bank, it is our money, it’s our wealth. Of course, the government may change rules, but it must do it with our consent. If the government thinks it can benefit us more effectively by changing or amending laws, it can do it in consultation with us,” the statement further said.
Questioning the government’s intention for changing the law against the interest of the owners of the bank, they said everything that the commission is proposing goes against their interest.
Mentioning that increasing the government share in the bank and increasing the government control in the bank – all go against their interest, the directors said, ”It’ll amount to snatching our bank from us. We’ll never agree to such an initiative. Why should we? Are we not aware of the looting that is going on in government banks? Are we not aware of the robbing of billions of taka of the banks?”
Claiming that the Grameen Bank has awakened the poor women of Bangladesh, they said the poor women of the country are now fully conscious. “You have not seen the power of the awakened women of Bangladesh. If you dare to snatch away our wealth, you’ll see our power.”
Warning the government of creating a strong resistance if it tries to grab the Nobel Prize-wining organization, they said, “You take away the wealth of 8.4 million women by striking your pen and we shed tears sitting at home – those days are gone. If you don’t come to senses and retreat from your evil motive of robbing us of our money, we’ll come forward to confront you. To protect our wealth we’ll come in thousands, in millions, to protest against your injustice. We’ll bring our children along with us. We’ll call all the women of Bangladesh. We’ll also call our men-folk too, our brothers and sisters. They’ll be with us. All the women of the world will be with us, we’ll call them to join us.”
Calling upon the government to retreat from its plan, the women directors said, “You stay in peace and also let us live in peace….. We’re 8.4 million women. Our families are with us. Don’t underestimate our power. We’ve come here to warn you. Don’t push our backs against the wall. If you do so, we’ll have no other way open. We’ll never allow our beloved organisation being snatched away from us.”
Mentioning that Grameen Bank will run by its rules – the rules under which the bank is governed now, they said they will not allow any changes to it. “We let you know in clear terms. We’ll never allow the government to grab our bank in the name of changing laws. We’ll also not let government’s plan succeed in breaking it up into pieces.”
Claiming that the people of the country and people of the world are with them, they remind the government that justice is on their side. “Your families – your children and your wives are also with us. Don’t put your hand into the hornet’s nest. It won’t bring you any good. That’s for sure.”

Leave a Reply