Nobel Peace Prize-winner Prof. Yunus featured on BENCHMARK
Nobel Peace Prize-winner Prof. Muhammad Yunus was featured at length in a thought-provoking interview on the most recent edition of the weekly programme BENCHMARK. “My position is that we need to bring peace. This is the most critical part in Sri Lanka as well as other South Asian countries. It’s a very important item on the agenda and it’s not something we can achieve later. Turmoil, conflict, war – these are extremely costly things for any nation,” he said, during the in-depth interview with the widely watched business programme.
Speaking at length to BENCHMARK during his recent visit to Sri Lanka, Yunus applauded the island’s economy, opining that it had performed reasonably well in the South-Asian context, despite the devastating and protracted war.
Asked what short and medium-term resolutions that any government which is serious about administering the country should be looking at, Yunus pointed out to poverty as the most critical factor. He revealed that Asia alone accounted for some 40 per cent of global poverty and emphasized that all governments in the region should consider this as the main hurdle to be overcome.
Given his long-term vision of eradicating poverty in the world, BENCHMARK asked Yunus if he believes that micro credit alone can achieve all desired developmental objectives – especially for developing countries such as Sri Lanka. In response, he averred: “Credit is a financial transaction. You can create employment and income. What about health, education and many other aspects such as democracy, empowering women and giving children a better future? So, everything has to be addressed. But we always say: ‘Never forget the micro-credit part’ – because it makes everything else easier to achieve…”
The Bangladeshi-born Yunus also provided some valuable guidelines on how best Sri Lanka can put the innovative tools made available through micro credit into practice. First on his list was developing an adequate and supportive legal framework as well as a separate regulatory body that could control and promote micro-credit programmes. He advised: “Keep it away as much as possible from the Government, because if the Government gets in to the picture as a delivery machinery, then it doesn’t work. It’s much better to leave it to civil society to do it.”Responding to a query by BENCHMARK as to what he feels about the role played by Sri Lanka in the SAARC region, Yunus noted that the island-nation is an important and effective partner in the region. However, he expressed some dissatisfaction with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) itself. He elaborated that SAARC does not work as a functioning entity, observing that it is more of a ceremonial body. He was of the view that SAARC should transform itself into an organisation that addresses real problems and finds real solutions to regional issues – and that, sooner rather than later, he urged. via Financial Times