Hasina invites Yunus to a debate with her

Hasina invites Yunus to a debate with her

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today invited Nobel Laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus to join a debate with her, saying that Younus got the most benefit from her and is now pursuing a propaganda against her using the money he amassed illegally. 

"There is nothing to be jealous of. He may come and have a debate with me as is done in the USA," she said. 

The Prime Minister was replying to a question at a press conference held at her official Ganabhaban residence in Dhaka to make public the outcome of her recent two-day state visit to India. 

About the TIME Magazine column against her, she said Dr Yunus has been using his illegally earned money to write against her. 

Earlier a statement of several Nobel laureates was released which was an advertisement. 

"If he is so much popular why he had to publish an advertisement?" she questioned. People from across the globe should have talked in favour of him, but none came forward to talk for him, she added. 

Mentioning that Yunus got the most financial and other benefits from her, she said, "It is true, we promoted him very much." 

The Prime Minister said she has no comparison with Dr Yunus as he is a businessman. 

"Sheikh Hasina feels no jealousy with anyone. Sheikh Hasina is the daughter of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. None can come up at least this position. I feel proud of it," she said. 

She went on saying that prime ministership is a temporary thing. 

Being a politician, the premier said, she always protects the interest of the country and its people. 
"I never sell the country or the interests of the country (to anyone)," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said she promoted the micro credit idea at home and abroad thinking it was a good move to alleviate poverty.

She said she gradually realized that the micro credit has been nurturing the poverty.

Yunus is now blaming her the most despite the fact that she helped the Grameen Bank survive by giving Tk 400 crore in three phases, Sheikh Hasina said.

The Prime Minister said she even gave Yunus the business of Grameen Phone in partnership with Telenor as he pledged to run the bank with the money of telephone business.

But, he did not give a single penny to the bank from the business of Grameen Phone, she said.

The Premier said Yunus did not use the foreign donation he got for the Grameen Bank for its survival.

In every case, he used the money for business purpose and did not give the taxes against the business, she said.

Whenever cases were lodged against him for dodging taxes, Yunus paid some money as taxes and thus he proved that he evaded taxes.

Yunus did business with the welfare fund of the Grameen Bank employees and did not pay any money to the labourers since 2006, though it is a must to provide five percent interest against the fund.

The Grameen Bank employees had filed a case against Yunus at the Labour court and he was convicted in the case.

“What is my fault here?” she said.

The government did not file the case rather Yunus had filed two separate cases against the government and Bangladesh Bank and he lost in the cases, she said.

Sheikh Hasina questioned what action the USA and European countries would take if anyone evades taxes years after years and if anyone embezzles the money of the Labour welfare fund and doesn’t pay the dues of the workers.

She said Grameen Bank was established during the regime of General Ershad and Dr Yunus was made its Managing Director. “But he didn't establish this bank himself,” she added.  

She said he used to do a job as the managing director and drew the salary at the bank which is a statutory authority. 
The salary and other things were provided from the government, she continued.

But a campaign was run in such a way as if he (Dr Yunus) had established this bank, she said.

Noting that his microcredit scheme was not acceptable, she said the people had to pay upto 40-45 percent interest for loans under his microcredit scheme.

She questioned why poverty was not alleviated with his microcredit scheme in the country when it was so effective.

“It is I who alleviated poverty in Bangladesh. I brought down the poverty rate to 18.7 percent from 41.6 in only 15 years,” said the premier.

Sheikh Hasina said she has no conflict with anyone and never has a desire to get a Nobel Prize.  

Citing her role for the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord 1997, Sheikh Hasina said it was a unique peace accord as some 1800 armed persons surrendered and submitted their arms.

She said many noted personalities at home and abroad wrote for giving her the Nobel Prize after the peace accord, but she never went to tell them such, she said.

“When the MD of a bank obtains a Nobel prize, why would I go to contest with him,” she said.

The Prime Minister said Yunus wanted to enter into politics in 2007, but he did not get any response from the masses as people were under tremendous pressure of interests of loans taken from the Grameen Bank.

She asked the media to unearth where are the people who got loans from the Grameen Bank at a programme in Jeshore in presence of Hilary Clinton.

They have to leave the localities selling their belongings and many of them committed suicide under the pressure of paying the interest of loan.

AL General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Presidium Members, Deputy Leader of the House Begum Matia Chowdhury, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim and Kazi Zafarullah, Joint General Secretary and Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud and PM's Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, shared the dais with the Premier.

PM's Press Secretary M Nayeemul Islam Khan moderated the press conference.