‘Finance minister uses trick to simplify process of writing off bad debt’

Prothom Alo English Desk | Update:

Speakers talk about the dire straits of the banking sector at a roundtable, organised by Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujon) at National Press Club, Dhaka on 12 October. Photo: UNBDiscussants at a roundtable on Saturday urged the government to take swift measures to reform the banking sector and set up a dedicated commission to this end, reports UNB.

Noted economist professor Mainul Islam presented the keynote at the programme, organised by Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujon) at National Press Club, Dhaka.

“Finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said he won’t give a single taka as loan to defaulters. He applied a trick to simplify the process of writing off bad debt. Different banks are now able to increase write-offs using this relaxed method,” he said.

Writing off more bad debts will help banks show less classified loans, professor Islam said.

He also mentioned that the amount of classified loans as provided by Bangladesh Bank (BB) is totally false and the total amount of defaulted loans stands nearly at Tk. 300,000 crore (three trillion).

“I urge the relevant authorities to stop the ill practice of hiding the true amount of defaulted loans,” he added.

Former Chittagong University teacher, professor Islam further said a tribunal can be set up to bring the top 10 loan defaulters of every bank under justice.

He said as long as the banking sector is forced to give long-term loans, there can be no solution to the problem of loan-defaulting. “It is a must to set up a high-powered commission to make recommendations based on required analysis to reform the banking sector.”

Dr Islam’s other recommendations include reducing and merging less powerful banks, banning insider lending among banks and declaring Bangladesh Association of Banks (BAB) illegal.

Shujan secretary Badiul Alam Majumder said economic mischief is sustained by political mischief. “Politics has to be ideology-based to eliminate economic mismanagement,” he said.

Former deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank Khondokar Ibrahim Khaled said, “Although both the parties hate each other, Awami League and BNP have contributed to increasing the amount of defaulted loans.”

“Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman never boasted about the GDP although country’s then GDP was nearly 8 per cent... to the current government, the GDP growth is the only development,” he added.

He highlighted that among the MPs of the country, 61.7 per cent are businessmen. “It proves that money is the source of power,” Ibrahim Khaled said.

BNP’s reserved seat MP Barrister Rumeen Farhana claimed that the government took no action against ‘bank robbers’. “Loan defaulters and fraudsters have been provided with many benefits but no action was taken against those who robbed the Bangladesh Bank,” she said.

She also mentioned that the country’s stock market has been destroyed systematically.

Eminent columnist Syed Abul Maksud said, “Everyone is using the state as per will but we are unable to do anything.”

He sarcastically suggested that it will be better if people stop using banks and store money in their houses.

“The only way to bring order in the banking sector is to bring democracy and justice on the right track,” Abul Maksud observed.

Dhaka University professor Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir, former managing director of Agrani Bank Syed Abu Naser Bukhtear Ahmed, Awami League advisory council member Inam Ahmed Chowdhury and Shujan president Hafiz Uddin Khan also spoke on the occasion.

   
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