April 6, 2017 - 4:02pm
The 84-year-old veteran politician, who presented 10 budgets as finance minister, has said he will bid farewell to politics in 2018
Finance Minister AMA Muhith, an 84-year-old veteran bureaucrat-turned-politician, now says he will quit politics next year.
“I will retire from politics in 2018. I think it will be a nice time for me; I will turn 85,” said Muhith, who has presented 10 budgets as finance minister of Bangladesh.
Former BNP minister Saifur Rahman prepared 12 budgets during his political career.
Muhith earlier hinted about retirement on March 25 last year while speaking at a programme in Dhaka. “At this age, it has become very necessary to call it quits. I feel very lucky that I am still in service even at the age of 83 but still it is important that I retire,” he had said.
Talking to reporters at the Secretariat on Wednesday, Muhith hoped that the country would be able to reach the GDP target of 7.2% soon.
“Bangladesh has come out of violent demonstrations like hartal [shutdown]. No one will enforce hartals in this country,” he said.
“Trade and business were satisfactory in 2016 as there was political stability in the country. The way the economy is progressing, it will definitely see bigger growth. People’s income has increased.
“We have already become a middle-income country … the official announcement will come in 2024,” the minister added.
Muhith was given the Independence Award last year for defecting to Bangladesh government while working with the Pakistan Embassy in the United States in 1971 and as an organiser for creating public opinion in favour of the Liberation War abroad.
A Dhaka University English Literature graduate, Muhith later studied at Oxford and Harvard while in service during the Pakistan period.
He retired from service in 1981 and worked for Ford Foundation and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) as a consultant before entering politics.
He placed two national budgets under the rule of military dictator HM Ershad in 1982-83 and then eight consecutive times from 2009-16.
The Sylhet lawmaker is also a member of the Awami League’s Advisory Council. He has penned over two dozen books on economy, history, Liberation War and politics.
Muhith has retained his post despite being criticised for failing to prevent or taking effective action after major financial crimes involving the share market, Destiny 2000, Hall-Mark, Padma Bridge, BASIC Bank, and the latest Bangladesh Bank digital heist.
His sudden decision of imposing 15% VAT on tuition fees of private university students triggered massive protests in 2015. He drew criticisms from cabinet members and MPs recently after praising Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus, saying its micro-credit programmes helped alleviate poverty.