Ties with Washington not comfortable: Muhith

Ties with Washington not comfortable: Muhith

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Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Saturday said Bangladesh’s relation with the United States is not ‘comfortable’ politically though the ties in economic field are okay. “Politically, their (US) pressures aren’t comfortable, not good either, and beyond norms,” he told reporters at the Secretariat while briefing about his Washington, New York and Mexico City tours. The Finance Minister also said the relations between the two countries have always been ‘cold’ and the government is trying to make it ‘a bit soft’, at least in the economic front. Making a flashback, Muhith said the US had ‘badly opposed’ the emergence of Bangladesh saying such ‘heinous opposition’ is rare in history. “It seems to me that politically our dealings with them aren’t very comfortable.” Referring to his talks in the US, the Finance Minister said he conveyed Bangladesh’s position on the January 5 elections and termed US attitude towards the election results ‘wrong’. “It’s not a very happy position. You’re questioning elections. So, I said, it’s a wrong attitude,” he continued. Muhith explained further and said candidates in 153 seats elected unopposed because BNP was ‘foolish enough’ not to participate in it. On Grameen Bank and Prof Muhammad Yunus issue, the Finance said the US always makes hue and cry over the Grameen Bank. “Their (US) concern is about Dr Muhammad Yunus. He is a respected person and we had no desire to dishonor him. We had tried to reach a compromise with him, but he went to the court,” Muhith said. Responding to a question, he said the US does not give trade benefits as expected, especially the duty- and quota-free (DFQF) market access to their market, though Bangladesh is a large exporter to the US market. “They (US) never deny it (97 percent DFQF access) but they never endorsed it either. They think they’re yet to reach that stage of offering such trade benefits,” he added. The Finance Minister said he would prepare a report on how much products have been exported and how much duties Bangladesh paid so far. “We would like to have a statement for at least 10 years so that all of us know exactly the export figure.” Sought comments on allegation of not taking opinion from the directors for the Grameen Bank rules he said, “Why should we take directors’ opinion? They’re picked up by…they’re not really elected.” About Padma Bridge, Muhith said the work on the biggest-ever infrastructure of the country project is going on. He also said the ‘more or less’ of the cancelled US$ 1.2 billion loan of the World Bank has been restored. Responding to another question, Muhith said the Bangladesh Bank is a ‘fairly independent’ institute apparently leaving a question for the governor. “I would ask in which sector the ministry has interfered in? Point it out where and in which case it (ministry) interfered in? – UNB

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