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IFC country representative has shown his anti-Bangladeshi stance!

World Bank sacks 6 Bangladeshi employees unfairly?

2014-05-29 20:35:05
World Bank sacks 6 Bangladeshi employees unfairly?

Md. Al-Amin, Thereport24.com, Dhaka:

The World Bank Group in an unfair and unethical move has taken decision to terminate six Bangladeshi employees from its International Finance Corporation (IFC) office in Dhaka.

The termination victims were identified as Sarah Karim, Javeed Ahasan, Jaheed Pervez, S Amal Ahmed, A Rashid Joy and Lutful Kabir. The World Bank Group mentioned only “shortages of donor funding for Bangladesh and business” as the cause for the six Bangladeshis’ termination of contracts by June this year, though the ground reality is quite opposite as the bank has been expanding its operation in Bangladesh taking up more projects.

The World Bank has made commitment of providing a record amount of around USD 2.8 billion fund in 2014-2015 for Bangladesh. In a recent visit by the Vice President of WB, South Asia, Philippe le Houerou, emphasized the World Bank’s strong support for the people of Bangladesh in its infrastructural development.

In the recent concluded IMF-World Bank Group, Annual Spring Meeting in Washington during April 11-13, Bangladesh delegation led by Finance Minister AMA Muhith, met IFC VP (Asia-Pacific) Karin Finkelston on the sidelines of the event and requested IFC to invest USD 1 billion annually. In fiscal year (FY) 2013, the IFC invested $774 million worth of funds to 12 projects in the private sector in Bangladesh. The delegate told the IFC team, Bangladesh's private sector was growing; it has requested the IFC for expanding its financial support to Bangladesh. The Corporation (IFC) has assured Bangladeshi delegate of considering its proposals. IFC also contributed through efforts such as an online tax-payment portal, ADR and improvements in corporate governance. And all those things manifest that the business of the World Bank Group in Bangladesh has been increasing and will definitely be boosted in the days ahead.

When contacted over telephone for confirming the termination news of six Bangladeshis from World Bank Group’s lending organ IFC, communications officer of the World Bank, Dhaka, Mehrin Mahbub told thereport24.com, “It is all rumours and I do not know anything regarding the termination of six Bangladeshis from the World Bank group.” She also suggested making direct contact with IFC communications officer Touhid Feroze for further clarification.

When contacted with Communications Officer of IFC, Dhaka Touhid Feroze, he declined to make any comment over phone on the issue suggesting the correspondent to send an email mentioning all the queries in writing to his official email address for receiving an official answer. Thereport24.com has already sent an email to his address regarding the issue and is waiting for his formal answer.

The bank also sacked four other ICF officials from Nepal though none were sacked from either India, Pakistan, Bhutan or Sri Lanka offices of the World Bank Group as the employees there are more righteous and vocal. Interestingly in South Asia region, Bangladesh and Nepal are the only poor countries; rests are middle income countries.

Earlier the bank announced reform initiatives in the bank’s management but assured that the no manpower would be curtailed in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), rather some redundant manpower could be slashed from the Work Bank head office as a cost cutting measure without hindering the bank’s operations in the poor countries like Bangladesh and Nepal.

But in a contradictory move to the World Bank Group’s guiding principle, the bank curtailed its manpower from its IDA countries like Bangladesh which might suffer immensely as the projects would face uncertainty due to shedding of the manpower who had been handling a number of development projects, said WB sources in its Dhaka office preferring strict anonymity fearing reprisal actions.

In an unethical and unfair practice of curtailing jobs of the global organization, the World Bank Group issued termination notice to one of its best performing executive whom the global lending agency had just promoted three month’s back for his extraordinary performance. Ahmed Rashid Joy, was promoted to G1 grade within 1 year and 10 months of joining IFC in November, 2013 for his outstanding business contribution in managing eight projects in Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. He was informed that his contract will not be renewed for ‘business reasons” within 4 months of promotion that shocked many IFC staffs around South Asia and in Washington as well, the sources said preferring anonymity.

Before sacking the six Bangladeshis, the World Bank Group had failed to learn its lessons from its earlier unethical sacking of Ismat Zerin Khan that sparked off a legal tussle against the global lender.

In the legal tussle the World Bank also lost in its own Administrative Tribunal on the illegal termination of Ismet Zerin Khan. The Tribunal confirmed, among other things, that injustice had been done to her and that she had been "denied fair procedures by the Bank, the staff rules were not followed in her case, treatment towards her fell short of appropriate standards of justice, which effectively caused her harm, the actions of the Bank were not compatible with the guarantees of due process and that the Bank did not act with the fairness and impartiality which is called for in the Principles of Staff Employment". So the WB Tribunal recommended payment of one year’s salary and $10,000 legal fees as compensation to Ismat Zerin Khan.

More importantly sacking of best performers like AR Joy and five other well performing junior staffer put to the focus of the World Bank Group’s Bangladesh country representative Kyle Kelhofer’s anti-Bangladeshi stance and also to create scope for employees of a neighbouring country to perform in Bangladeshi projects, alleged some WB employees.

Bangladesh is one of the poorest IDA countries in the world where IFC expanding its operations at larger scale, surprisingly in the name of reform, led by its Country Head, Kyle Kelhofer and his one manager, so far asked in total of six Bangladeshi young and promising staffs (10% of total term staff in Dhaka) that their contract will not be renewed. In the last town hall meeting the Country Head, Kyle threatened almost all the Bangladeshi staffs that the consequence of protesting job cuts will impact every staffs in Bangladesh which is a manifestation of his anti-Bangladeshi stance, the WB sources said.

By sacking of six staffers, WBG is contradicting its own mission statement on Bangladesh and unfortunately sending incorrect signals to its stakeholders.

Few staffs speaking to this correspondent requesting strict anonymity said, “All depends on the country head, Kyle. He runs the organization like a private firm owned by him. He even doesn’t discuss any issues with the senior Bangladeshi managers.”

The matter has already been notified to the Governor of Bangladesh Bank, Ministry of Finance (ERD-WB Wing), Prime Minister Office (PMO) and other concerned departments in Bangladesh.

The World Bank Group is undergoing reform in entre group throughout the world. President Dr. Jim Kim initiated the reform program 2 years ago. The reform is meant to enhance productivity and efficiency of the highly bureaucratic organization. President Jim Kim said the Bank’s clients, mostly poor and emerging economies need its advice, funding for basic infrastructure and other supports but didn’t get those because of the bureaucracy.

Before starting the global overhaul plans, the World Bank high-ups reassured its staff members that staffs layoffs will be at middle income/developing countries and not in poor/IDA countries like Bangladesh.

Exactly the opposite has happened in the cases of job curtails in Bangladesh and Nepal.

Staffs layoffs was supposed to be at The World Bank mostly and less at IFC. Not a single staff of World Bank Dhaka office so far has been asked to leave the global lending agency.

Moreover, the most job cuts were planned targeting senior management level executives in Washington but surprisingly it happened at junior level just to protect the jobs of seniors, alleged some local WB and IFC officials preferring anonymity.

Some of the 10,000 employees of the WBG operating in 120 countries are concern on job cuts. The World Bank Group decided to save $400 million over 3 years in an overhaul of the poverty-fighting institution. The cost savings would be done by addressing staffing levels, simplifying the bureaucracy, and reducing costs from travel and facilities.

Ends/thereport24.com/AMA/May 29, 2014

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