Say good-bye to IMF, Speakers urge Bangladesh government

The Daily Star, September 16, 2007. Dhaka, Bangladesh

Speakers at a roundtable yesterday urged the government to “say good-bye to IMF” and not to sign any agreement that would go against the interest of the country. They also called upon the government to place the proposed Policy Support Instrument (PSI) in front of the public before signing it.

Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA) President Quazi Kholiquzzaman emphasised that the country must be freed from the clutches of IMF. “We don’t want the IMF at all, they can leave the country tomorrow,” he said. About the PSI agreement, he said the government must let the people know the conditions laid by IMF.

Dr Atiur Rahman said it is the high time to think about throwing IMF out of the country. “We don’t need another PRGF agreement as this type of agreement compromises the sovereignty of a country to take policy decision,” he said.

“The government should discuss more to make the PSI treaty transparent,” said Prof Muzaffer Ahmad speaking at the roundtable titled ‘IMF policy and Bangladesh’ at Jatiya Press Club.

Media Foundation for Trade and development and Young Entrepreneurs’ Forum of Global-Bangla Foundation jointly organised the roundtable.

Prof Muzaffer, also chairman of Transparency International Bangladhesh (TIB), suggested a thorough discussion on the PSI agreement in the media in the absence of parliament. He said the objectives of the IMF are now under question for it has deviated from its initial objectives. Interest of the country must be preserved in entering into any agreement with donor agencies and countries, he added. Prof Muzaffer was highly critical of the bureaucrats. “The bureaucrats always tend to take decision quietly, hiding the intricate issues from the economists lest their intention is exposed.” He added, “Many of the ministers of Ershad regime were appointed in the World Bank and for that they could not get out from that mentality.”

Economist Abu Ahmed wanted that the PSI is informed to the people before signing any agreement with IMF. “IMF wants to sell loans to us as our present policy makers are weak-hearted … IMF is not at all a donor agency.” “People of this country are ready to extend loans to the government through capital market and that may help overcome its problems,” added Prof Abu.

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