Vol. 5 Num 850 Sun. October 15, 2006  
Front Page

Prof Yunus for EU-type Saarc union

Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus has forcefully suggested the creation of a European Union (EU)-type union in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc).

In an interview to The Economic Times, a leading Indian economic daily, he said, "In the road ahead, as I see it, the formation of a EU-like union in Saarc is a must. It is only an integrated economic system in which Saarc members can cooperate and collaborate with each other and start moving forward. Micro-financing will have to be a part of it."

"If this model can be evolved, common place political issues like in Kashmir or the problems in Nepal will no longer be relevant," Yunus said.

He said the policy support for microcredit must come in the form of availability of wholesale funds, as this will enable everybody to take part freely in the overall system.

"I have mentioned this to Dr Singh [Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh] and he has promised to pay attention to the requirements of the sector. If Bangladesh can do it, why can't India?" Yunus asked.

He said if necessary India would have to create an independent regulatory body to monitor the micro-finance sector and "it will also perhaps bring in legislation for formation of a microcredit bank."

"In all this effort, large scale support from NGOs needs to be harnessed. Don't forget that at the end of the day, this is a business just like any other business. We have proved it to the world and there is a message in it for everybody, the Nobel winner said.

"The situation in Bangladesh is similar to that in India. But I would like to see this whole thing in a broader regional context," he added.