4:32 pm - Wednesday September 25, 1518

Separate EC to elect Grameen Bank board likely  

The government is likely to form an Independent Election Commission (IEC) soon headed by a retired judge for holding election of the board of directors of Grameen Bank (GB) in a move to shift the responsibilities of electing the Grameen Bank board from Bangladesh Bank.

The move comes after the central bank had recently expressed its inability to oversee the election.

Two ministers – Finance Minister AMA Muhith and Law Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud – have discussed primarily about formation of the IEC. The final decision may come within a few weeks, reports the Daily Sun.

“This has not been decided yet, but this might be the appropriate way to hold the (GB board of directors) election. Final decision in this regard would come soon—perhaps by the next couple of weeks,” said Dr Md Aslam Alam, secretary of the Banking and Financial Institutions Division (BFID) of the ministry of finance, on Monday.

grameen bankRegarding Bangladesh Bank’s unwillingness to do conduct the election, the secretary said, “Bangladesh Bank is the regulator and its stance was right.”

He also said the finance minister had also agreed keep Bangladesh Bank out this responsibility.

Earlier on April 6 this year, the BFID had issued a circular asking Bangladesh Bank to conduct the election within a timeframe of six months.

The BFID circular was issued in line of the Grameen Bank Act 2013 (amendment to GB Ordinance 1983) without examining the regulatory aspects. As a result, it has become necessary to amend the rules regarding the GB election.

“At first, we will send a draft proposal for relieving Bangladesh Bank from this specific task along with a new provision to the law ministry for vetting. The draft will be examined before being finalised. Then, we will be able to form the commission (IEC),” Dr Aslam told daily sun.

After removal of Novel Laureate Dr Mohammad Yunus in May 2011, the Grameen Bank is being operated by an acting managing director (Md Shahjahan) with a government-formed board of directors. Meanwhile, the GB board chairman Khnadker Mozammel Haque resigned in October 2013. The board’s current tenure will end on March next year (2015).

The government claimed that it owns 25 percent of share of the GB while remaining 75 percent share owns by the bank’s credit-recipient members. There has been much criticism from different quarters at home and abroad regarding the ‘government’s interference’ into the GB on the apprehension that frequent government interferences might affect the system the bank developed over the years.

Defending the government, the BFID secretary said the government can intervene into any organisation for its wellbeing if necessary— irrespective of its share or ownership.

The BFID secretary said the GB needed appropriate regulation as it serves the purposes of a large numbers of people across the country to alleviate poverty by promoting entrepreneurship for poor women in the rural areas.

However, the government doesn’t have much time in hands to hold the GB board’s election.

According to the existing rules, the GB board’s election will have to be held at three stages—from bottom to upper stages.

Each centre heads will first cast vote to elect a branch representative. Then, the elected branch representatives will elect area representatives by direct vote. Later, the area representatives will cast vote to elect a regional representatives at 40 regional offices of the bank, as per the bank’s rules.

Finally, 40 regional representatives will elect nine directors, from whom one director will be elected as chairman in direct votes.

The board of directors usually appoint a managing director for the bank, a long-run practice introduce by Dr Yunus. Later, the appointment approval came from the Bangladesh Bank on legitimate perusal.

The Grameen Bank has 567 branch offices, 266 area offices and 40 regional offices across the country. The total numbers GB centres is currently 143,500.

The micro-credit institution has more than 86 lakh clients (credit recipients).