Not interested for World Bank presidency: Prof Muhammad Yunus

DHAKA, March 2: Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus today thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for proposing his name for the World Bank presidency but said he was unwilling to be its head as he wanted to dedicate his life to social business, an idea he was propagating for the past several years.

"I have no interest in taking the responsibilities of the position of the World Bank chief," the 70-year old economist said in a statement adding that he wanted to dedicate his life to social business, an idea he was propagating for the past several years for the "poor men's benefit".

He, however, said, the premier's proposal was an "unexpected good news for me" and he "sincerely thanked" the premier for her "kind gesture" but rejected the suggestion saying "all my life, I have dedicated myself to do things in my own way, and do things which I thought important for me to do".

"I would like to sincerely thank the Honorable Prime Minister for the kind gesture that she has shown by proposing my name for the top job in such a prestigious and influential global institution," Yunus said.

He said he was happy also because the premier's proposal itself, and "the generous list of my qualifications for the job that the Honorable Prime Minister presented to the (EU) delegation, make clear that the impressions she previously had about me and Grameen Bank no longer exists".

"Now I am hopeful that the government's policy towards the Grameen Bank and me will be in line with the Prime Minister's latest position. This will remove a huge burden of pain and worry from me, also from many others in the country," Yunus said.

Yunus said being a "regular critic of the World Bank," he criticised the regulation and activities of the bank for a long time while the provision of keeping its top position for a US citizen was "also a matter of my criticism".

Yunus's comments came more than a week after Sheikh Hasina on February 22 proposed Yunus's nomination as the World Bank chief during a meeting with a EU parliamentary delegation months after his resignation from the Grameen Bank following a protracted dispute with her government.

US Ambassador Dan Mozena earlier this week said Washington would give its "fullest consideration" to Yunus's candidature for the World Bank presidency "if he agrees" to be the head of the Bretton Woods institution.

Yunus's experiment of poor men's banking earned Bangladesh the repute of being the home of micro credit and the Nobel Peace Prize to himself in 2006 jointly with his Grameen Bank.

During the meeting with the EU delegation Hasina noted that Yunus also was respected all over the world for his outstanding contribution towards alleviating poverty through micro credit activities and his experience would be a valuable asset for the World Bank.

Historically the World Bank presidents come from the United States but Yunus's name was suggested for the position as proposals were floated to amend the provision and keeping the presidency of the multilateral lending agency open for prospective candidates outside the US.

But Yunus said he was now involved in works to make "the world aware of the potential of social business, the successful implementation of social business, making the next generation across the globe optimistic about the future of humanity and encouraging them to take the leadership in creating a new, and better world".

"I want to remain completely focused to these tasks. I hope some time soon, there will be a 'World Social Business Bank' . . . When this bank is created, if someone requests me to take the Presidency of the bank, I'll accept that responsibility with great pleasure, no matter what my age will be at that point of time," he said.

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