One of the most formidable figures in the country’s political arena, one whose legacy still steers the country’s journey, and as the holder of the most important portfolio in the cabinet for 10 years at a stretch, the architect of the Bangladesh economy as it stands today, AMA Muhith, son of Sylhet, has passed away.
He – an economist, diplomat, freedom fighter and language veteran – passed away at a city hospital in the wee hours (12:56am) of Saturday, his brother Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told UNB.
Muhith, 88, had been keeping unwell for quite some time. In July 2021, he tested positive for Covid, but fought that back.
Then in March, he was hospitalised again as he became enfeebled in his old age.
Muhith's first janaza will be held at Gulshan Azad Mosque at 10:30am Saturday and the second at 11:30am at the Parliament premises, Momen said.
Afterwards, his body will be taken to Central Shaheed Minar at 2pm for public homage and after that to Sylhet for burial.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed their grief at the death of Muhith.
Foreign Minister Momen Saturday expressed deep shock at the death of his brother.
In a condolence message, he prayed for the salvation of the departed soul and conveyed deep sympathy to the bereaved family members.
Momen fondly remembered Muhith's extraordinary personality, human qualities, patriotism and contribution to the welfare of the country and the people.
In a separate message, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam also expressed his grief at the death of Muhith.
Muhith, as the finance minister of the Awami League government, presented the budget in the parliament for 10 years at a stretch.
It was during his tenure that the size of the budget expanded.
On January 6, 2009, Muhith took oath as the finance minister of Bangladesh.
He retired from politics after serving as the finance minister of Sheikh Hasina's government from 2009 to 2018.
Muhith was born on 25 January 1934 in Dhopadighi, Sylhet.
He was the third child of Advocate Abu Ahmad Abdul Hafiz who was a leader of the Pakistan Movement and the founder of the then Sylhet District Muslim League.
His mother Syed Shahar Banu Chowdhury was also active in politics and social work.
Muhith had been a recognised figure in the World Bank, IMF, IDB, ADB and different organisations of the United Nations for quite a long period.
He secured first place in the intermediate examination in the province in 1951 from Sylhet MC College.
Muhith stood first class first in BA in English Literature in 1954 from Dhaka University and passed his MA with credit from the same university in 1955.
During his service period, he studied at Oxford University from 1957-58 and received an MPA degree from Harvard University in 1964.
After joining Pakistan Civil Service in 1956, he served in different capacities in the East Pakistan government, the central government of Pakistan, and then Bangladesh.
During his service as the chief and deputy secretary of the Pakistan Planning Commission, he made a report on the disparity between East and West Pakistan in 1966, and that was the first report submitted on that issue in the Pakistan National Assembly in fulfilment of the constitutional obligation.
Muhith was the first diplomat of the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington who transferred his allegiance to Bangladesh in June during the Liberation War of 1971.
He was appointed as the secretary of planning in January 1972 and secretary of the External Resources Division of the Finance and Planning Ministry in May 1977.
Muhith went for early retirement in 1981 from his service and started the second chapter of his career as a consultant on economic and development matters at the Ford Foundation, IFAD, UN, UNDP, ADB and World Bank.
He was finance and planning minister from March 1982 to December 1983.
Muhith was also a pioneer of the Bangladesh Environment Movement and the founder and president of BAPA established in 2000.
He joined the Awami League in 2001 and was elected a member of parliament in 2009 from his home constituency in Sylhet.
Muhith was awarded the highest civil award Swadhinata Padak (Independence Award) in 2016 for his contribution to the Liberation War and devoted record of public service.
He was equally gifted as a writer and published 35 books on different subjects, including the Liberation War, economic development, history, public administration and political problems.