Shah A M S Kibria

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Shah A M S Kibria
Finance Minister of People's Republic of Bangladesh
In office
1996–2001
Preceded by Saifur Rahman
Succeeded by Saifur Rahman
Executive Secretary of ESCAP
In office
1981–1992
Preceded by J B P Maramis
Succeeded by Rafeeuddin Ahmed
Personal details
Born (1931-05-01)1 May 1931
Habiganj District, British India
Died 27 January 2005(2005-01-27) (aged 73)
Political party Bangladesh Awami League
Alma mater Dhaka University
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
Religion Islam

Shah Abu Muhammad Shamsul Kibria (শাহ আবু মোহাম্মদ শামসুল কিবরিয়া), commonly known as SAMS Kibria or Shams Kibria (born 1 May 1931-died 27 January 2005), was an economist, diplomat and politician from Bangladesh.

Joining the Pakistan Foreign Service in 1954, Kibria became the Director General of the Political Affairs department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Between 1981 and 1992, Kibria wasExecutive Secretary of UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific(ESCAP). Kibria served as the Minister of Finance of the government led by Sheikh Hasina from 1996 to 2001. He was elected a member of parliament in the general election of 2001.

Kibria was assassinated on 27 January 2005 in a grenade attack in his constituency of Habiganj in Sylhet.[1]

Biography[edit]

SAMS Kibria was born on 1 May 1931 in Habiganj District, Sylhet Division. His father Shah Imtiaz Ali was a pioneer in the field of primary education in the greater Sylhet region. Shah Kibria was a brilliant student. He graduated in Economics from Dhaka University in 1952. In the same year he was arrested by East Pakistan police for his involvement in the Bengali language movement and was released shortly. After obtaining his Master's degree in Economics in 1953, Kibria topped the Central Superior Services Examination of Pakistan government in 1954 and was selected for the Pakistan Foreign Service.[2] He received training for diplomatic service at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Boston, USA and British Foreign Office in London, UK.

Diplomatic career[edit]

Shah Kibria served in Pakistan diplomatic missions in Calcutta, Cairo, UN mission, New York, Teheran and Jakarta. He was also appointed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad and the Pakistan Embassy in Washington D.C. During the liberation war Shah Kibria was serving as political counselor in the Pakistan Embassy, Washington DC. On 4 August 1971, he along with his Bengali colleagues, quit the Pakistan embassy and declared allegiance to the interim Bangladesh government. He took part in organising a Bangladesh mission in Washington DC, and mobilising public opinion in support of Bangladesh. He also issued a bulletin to inform the international community about the progress of Bangladeshi forces in the war.

After the war Kibria joined the newly established Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh in Dhaka as Director general of the political affairs department.[3] He also held the post of secretary in the Ministry of Administration. In January 1973, he was appointed High commissioner to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. He was appointed the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the European office of the UN in Geneva in 1976. He returned to Bangladesh as Foreign Secretary in 1978. In 1979, Kibria served as the elected Chairman of the Group of 77 Preparatory Committee for United Nations Conference on Trade and Development V held in Manila. From May 1981 to March 1992, Kibria held the post of Executive Secretary of UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).[4] He also assumed the additional assignment of special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Cambodian humanitarian relief in 1986.

Political career[edit]

After the UN assignments, Kibria returned to Bangladesh in 1992. He started to take in interest in politics and joined Bangladesh Awami League in September as a member of the advisory council.[5] At the same time he started writing columns on economic and political issues in the national dailies. In 1994, he was appointed Political Advisor to the Awami League President. After the general election on 12 June 1996, Kibria joined the cabinet of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as Minister of Finance. He served in this capacity until the government's term expired in July 2001.

Kibria was elected Chairman of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, 1997 annual session. He was also elected President of the Governing Council of International Fund for Agricultural Development 1998.

In the general election on 1 October 2001, Kibria was elected a member of parliament from Habiganj-3 constituency.

Term as Finance Minister[edit]

Shah A M S Kibria's five-year term was marked by economic progress and stability, the only exception being a stock market failure in 1996.[6] During his term (1996–2001) Bangladesh achieved, for the first time, a GDP growth at average rate of 5.83%. Average rate of inflation was well below 5%. The inflation rate in June 2001 was only 1.53%. Exports rose from $3884m in 1995–96 to $6477m in 2000–2001. Investment in the social sector, (education, health etc.) increased from 21.02% of the total budget in 1995–96 to 24.7% in 2000–2001. The rate of national savings increased over the five-year period of the Awami League from 20.17 to 23.78 percent. Similarly, rate of investment increased from 19.99% in 1995–96 to 23.63% in 2000–2001. The physical infrastructure was improved and modernised. Electricity generating capacity rose from 2105 megawatts to 3600 megawatts. Rice and wheat production in 1995–96 was 190.6 m metric tons. In 2000–2001 the figure rose to 264.91 tons and for the first time in half a century, Bangladesh achieved food self- sufficiency.

Expectation of life at birth rose from 58.7 years in 1995–96 to 61.8 years in 2000–2001. Per capita calorie intake went up from 2206.1 to 2274.2 kilocalories in rural areas and from 2220.2 to 2283.3 kilocalories in urban areas during his term as finance minister. Literacy rate for 15 old and above was 47.3 percent in 1995–96; the rate went up to 64 percent in 2000. Infant mortality rate, which was 67 per thousand in 1995–96, went down in 1998 to 57 per thousand live births.[citation needed]

Assassination[edit]

On the afternoon of 27 January 2005, Shah Kibria addressed a political rally at the Boidder Bazar primary school, Habiganj. After the speech, as he was exiting the grounds through the school gate, two Arges grenades exploded in quick succession.[7] Three of his companions including his nephew Shah Manjurul Huda died instantly. Kibria was taken to hospitals at Habiganj and Madhabpur, but no treatment was possible because of lack of personnel and medical supplies. He was then taken to the BIRDEM hospital in Dhaka, about 65 miles away from the place of occurrence. As the ambulance carrying Kibria reached BIRDEM, the doctors on duty declared him dead.[8]

The role of the security forces, government officials and medical personnel of Habiganj spurred controversy. Bangladesh Awami League, Kibria's party, organised anti-government protests and countrywide strikes in protest of the killing.[9] The family members of Kibria called for a non-violent movement in Dhaka demanding justice.[10] On 21 March 2005 the police charged ten people with Habiganj bombing. The widow of Kibria denounced the charges, alleging they are part of a cover up to protect the real culprits.[11]

Writings[edit]

Shah Kibria regularly wrote columns in national dailies addressing economic and political issues. He was the founder and editor of the weekly Mridu Bhashan.

Kibria authored four books –

Personal life[edit]

Shah A M S Kibria was known to be a soft-spoken, refined gentleman. His honesty and modesty established him as a highly respected politician in Bangladesh. Kibria's son Dr. Reza Kibria is a renowned economist and his daughter Dr. Nazli Kibria is a professor of Sociology at Boston University. His wife Asma Kibria is a painter.

References[edit]