Former finance minister AMA Muhith passes away

Former finance minister AMA Muhith
File photo

Economist, diplomat, freedom fighter, former finance minister, ruling Awami League’s advisory council member Abul Maal Abdul Muhith has passed away, inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajiun.

The 88-year old veteran economist breathed his last at United Hospital at around 12:55am, his younger brother foreign minister AK Abdul Momen’s personal officer Shafiul Alam Jewel confirmed to Prothom Alo at 1:30am.

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen told Prothom Alo that the first namaz-e-janaza of AMA Muhith would be held at Gulshan Azad Mosque at 10:30am on Saturday. His second janaza would be held at Parliament Plaza at 11:30 and the body would be taken to Central Shaheed Minar at 12 noon where people would pay their respects. AMA Muhith’s body would be taken to his hometown Sylhet for burial.

Abdul Maal Abdul Muhith was born on 25 January 1934 at his home in Sylhet's Dhopadighirpar to Abu Ahmad Abdul Hafiz and Syeda Sahar Banu Chowdhury. His father was a veteran lawyer and politician of Sylhet. He was the third child.

Muhith earned his bachelor's (Honours) degree in English literature in 1954 from Dhaka University, securing first class. He earned his master's degree in the same subject the next year. In 1955, he became the vice president (VP) of Salimullah Hall students' union.

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After joining Pakistan Civil Service (CSP) in 1956, he served in different departments of East Pakistan, Central Pakistan and then Bangladesh. He was appointed as the secretary of planning in 1972 and secretary of the external resource department of Finance and Planning Ministry in 1977.

He studied at Oxford University in 1957–1958 and completed a master of public administration at Harvard University in 1964.

He is one of the major architects behind elevating Bangladesh to the level of a developing country.

AMA Muhith was finance and planning minister in 1982-83 during Ershad regime. He was elected ESCAP member at that time. Muhith joined Awami League in 2001. He was elected member of parliament from Sylhet-1 constituency in 2008.

As finance minister of the Awami League government, he presented the budget in parliament for 10 years at a stretch. It was during his tenure that the size of the budget expanded. He even set a precedent by voluntarily relinquishing office of finance minister in the eighties.

AMA Muhith also played a glorious role in Bangladesh’s liberation war. In 1971 he had been serving at the Pakistan embassy in the US when he declared his allegiance to Bangladesh. He mobilised support abroad for the Bangladesh Liberation War. That is why in 2016 he was accorded the highest civil honour of state, Swadinata Padak.

On 25 July 2021 AMA Muhith contracted coronavirus. In the beginning of March this year he took ill again and was hospitalised. After recovering, on 14 March he even went on a visit to Sylhet. On 16 March the Sylhet City Corporation gave him the 'Guni Shrestha Sammanona' (award for highest merit).

He has authored 40 books, in English and Bangla.