Mr. Allah Malik Kazemi, former Deputy Governor of Bangladesh Bank who was engaged with Bangladesh Bank as Change Management Advisor since his retirement in 2006, died at 5.06 pm on Friday at Evercare Hospital (formerly Apollo Hospital).
Mr. Kazemi had a long engagement in almost all of the arenas of central banking since joining Bangladesh Bank in September 1976 as an officer class -1, and serving till his death in June 22, 2020 as an advisor.
During his long tenure of service in Bangladesh Bank, he had all along been a very brilliant officer, promoted every time on an accelerated basis as recognition of his excellent performance. The more days that passed, the brighter the flame of his brilliance and innate capability came to the forefront, drawing the attention of almost all the officials of the banking community.
A very straightforward, clear spoken, sometimes very harshly point blank person, he was hardly known to have compromised with any dishonesty and the greater interest of the country as a whole. Because of his honesty, integrity, sagacity, depth of knowledge and maturity, he had been a highly respected personality throughout the banking sector.
I had the opportunity of replacing him as personnel officer in the regulation section, (now Asstt. Director) in 1982 when he got promoted and became my boss in the same department i.e. personnel department (now HRD). It had been a rare opportunity for me; I learnt from him how to write notes highlighting the key points that would facilitate the higher authority to make proper decisions.
After a few months he was transferred to the Banking Control Department (now Banking Regulation and Policy Department ─ BRPD) but he was not retained there for long; very soon he was transferred to the Exchange Control Department (now FEPD) where he worked for a long time and became an expert in the realm of foreign exchange policy, operation and investment. His memory was so sharp that all the rules, regulations, guidelines related to foreign exchange were at his fingertips.
Immediately after liberation, the Foreign Exchange Regime was very tight and conservative for obvious reasons. It was more so because of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA, 1947) itself enacted during the British India period to control movement of gold and foreign currency.
With the passage of time, the Act underwent minor amendments in 1976, but in the eighties there started gradual relaxation of the provisions under the act pioneered by Mr. Kazemi; the relaxations were neither very hasty nor very unthoughtful, rather they were gradual, well thought-out and compatible with the global scenario of international trade, investment, education, treatment and tourism.
However, a major amendment of FERA took place in 2015 under the government formed committee headed by me. The committee worked very diligently to make the major amendments, collecting the current Foreign Exchange Acts of many countries including that of neighboring countries for analytical purposes.
During that time Mr. Kazemi was the Change Management Advisor; we used to consult him very frequently and he helped us a lot by giving the logic of high technicalities and valuable references to make the Act up-to date.
Moreover, the Exchange Control Manual (ECD Manual) was updated under his guidance with the collaboration of Mr. Ziaul Hasan Siddique, former Deputy Governor, Bangladesh Bank. Even the forex reserve management and deployment of funds in different currencies could not have done without his advice. He was, in fact, a legend in the realm of foreign exchange management.
Mr. Kazemi was a unique genius in Bangladesh Bank who could properly read the implications of any policy circulars in the financial market alias overall economy. He used to play a pivotal role in treasury management, determination of repo, reverse repo, special repo CRR, SLR and other central bank tools that are used for execution of the monetary policy.
He used to advise the Governor and Chief Economist what should be the features of monetary policy and the policy transmission mechanism. Dr. Atiur Rahman used to call him a 'gold mine' and a wise guardian of Bangladesh Bank.
Almost all the past Governors namely M. Nurul Islam, Dr. Farash Uddin, Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed, Dr. Atiur Rahman and the present Governor Mr. Fazle Kabir liked him very much because of his knowledge, wisdom and dispassionate evaluation of a financial situation. Bangladesh Bank's Chief economists who were hired from World Bank, IMF, foreign universities respected him very much because of his knowledge power.
During the tenure of my advisorship (2016-2019) to the Financial Sector Support Project, we used to sit on the same floor of Bangladesh Bank and would also take our lunch together; Dr. Faisal, former Chief Economist also used to join us after sometime for tea.
We used to have very fruitful discussions on different branches of knowledge along with the various aspects of the socio-economic condition of the country. We were impressed to see how diverse was his knowledge – a man of versatile knowledge ranging from science to arts.
Even being a man of science background, he had tremendous command over language, literature, art, history and social science It was due to this reason that he was a voracious and indiscriminate reader and he continued his reading habit until he became ill.
I did have a cordial personal relationship with him and the members of his family. I and my wife used to frequently visit his home and they accepted us with unforgettable hospitality; we realised what a soft hearted man he was under the veneer of an apparent hard shell – a kind hearted human being with a great soul.
At his sad demise on 22nd June, (Friday) I must say that the nation has lost an invaluable asset, a very innovative brain, a unique personality who will exist in the hearts of thousands, nay, crores of people for a long long time.
May Allah bless him with peace in the afterworld; may Allah also grant patience and endurance to his family members to bear the irreparable loss.
Md Ahsan Ullah is the former executive director & advisor of Financial Sector Support Project in the Bangladesh Bank.