Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday claimed that Nobel laureate Amartya Sen sees Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus as the single major reason behind Bangladesh’s failure to project its positive image on the world stage.
“Prof Sen told me that so many good things are happening in this country but they are not highlighted anywhere in the world only because of Prof Yunus,” Muhith said referring to a meeting with the highly-acclaimed Indian economist.
When reporters asked Muhith how an individual like Yunus could cause such damage to a nation, the minister replied: “He has wonderful publicity machinery.”
Neither Sen nor Yunus was available for comments.
The minister also questioned the honesty of Yunus, whose microcredit model won him and the microfinance bank Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.
“What he says is not entirely honest,” said the minister.
Muhith said Grameen Bank is Prof Yunus’ organisation. “He does not want to leave it. That is the problem,” he told reporters after a review meeting on the sixth five-year plan in the National Economic Council auditorium at the planning ministry in the capital.
Yunus has already stepped down as Grameen Bank managing director and currently, he has no liaison with the bank.
Muhith pointed to various issues, including corruption, for the less-than-expected flow of foreign direct investment to the country.
“Foreign investors have to go through many hassles if they want to invest in the country. Some other things, including petty bribery, also create problems. Doing business in Bangladesh is still difficult.”
The minister said sluggish flow of foreign direct investment is the biggest weakness in implementing the sixth five-year plan.
“Our biggest weakness lies in FDI. We are struggling for lack of investment. Our resources are limited. We need foreign investment.”
According to World Investment Report, Bangladesh received $1.13 billion of FDI in 2011-12 fiscal year, 24.42 percent more than the previous year. Even with the higher flow of foreign investment, it is still less than 1 percent of the overall gross domestic product.
Muhith said the positive report published recently in The Economist, a London-based influential magazine, has brought a big change in the scenario and could help Bangladesh get more FDI.
“In the last four years, their [The Economist] objective was to trash this government, but they could not trash the country,” said Muhith.