US doesn’t give duty and quota free access: Muhith  

Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said the United States does not give Bangladesh duty and quota free market access though many countries are providing such facilities.

“The United States is the single largest market for Bangladesh readymade garments and we pay the highest duty on RMG and it is US$ 800 million for the export of US$ 3.5 billion worth products . . . it is an unusual issue. . . the richest country in the world is extracting this kind of money from the poorest country,” said he.

MuhithMuhith made the remarks at a press briefing at the finance ministry here on Saturday after his USA and Mexico visit. State Minister for Finance and Planning M A Mannan, Economic Relations Division Secretary Mohammad Mejbauddin and Additional Secretary Arastoo Khan were also present, BSS reports.

He said: “I have been telling them about it over the last five years, but they have no reaction.”

The finance minister said he will publish a report on the duty free and quota free advantages provided by different countries for Bangladesh.

Muhith said he had spoken to US Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Charles H. Rivkin about the issue during a recent bilateral meeting.

The US is paying attention to too many issues of Bangladesh though they provide fewer facilities, he added.

Commenting on the US concern over Grameen Bank (GB), the finance minister said they did not give any money to the GB, but always talked about it.

“The US told us that Professor Muhammad Yunus is a respected person to them and they are concerned about his respect,” Muhith said.

“I told the US that we had no intention to disrespect Prof Yunus, rather we wanted to cooperate him. But, he went to the High Court and became defeated and we had nothing to do about it,” said the finance minister.

Muhith also said there was no criticism whenever Professor Yunus used to pick up members of the board of directors of Grameen Bank. “Now, we’ve changed the rules of selection of members of the board of directors and Bangladesh Bank will elect the members of the board,” he added.

He said Grameen Bank is now providing only 30 per cent of the total micro credit in the country which was 80-90 per cent in 1987.

Work order for the construction of the main part of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge would be given in June-July, he said.

About the alleged corruption in the Padma Bridge project, he said after the conclusion of the Canadian case, the Anti-Corruption Commission will start the proceedings of the case in the court.

During his visit, Muhith also met with officials of the World Bank, IMF, IFC and other donor agencies.

The finance minister said the IFC is mobilising nearly US$ 1.0 billion for the country’s private sector.