Published:  03:16 AM, 20 June 2019

BB mum about top borrowers

Bangladesh Bank (BB) has not yet disclosed the names and particulars of the top loan borrowers despite repeated calls from economists and financial experts.

The economists and financial experts called upon the regulatory authorities, including the central bank, on several occasions to expose the facts and figures associated with the top loan borrowers to ascertain the true extent of defaulted loans, but Bangladesh Bank has been silent over the issue.

Many believe Bangladesh Bank has become a rubber stamp organization, which is unable to exercise  its authority over loan scammers and financial fraudsters. According to central bank data, bad loans hit all-time high of Tk 110,873 crore (1.108 trillion) in  the country as of March this year.

The Asian Age has published a number of reports and articles on defaulted loans and urged Bangladesh Bank to unveil the details of the top loan borrowers, including defaulters. But the central bank has been suspiciously quiet on the matter. The central bank even does not care about the Right to Information Act.

Bangladesh Bank even did not take any action against those involved in publishing Bangladesh Banker Itihash (Bangladesh Bank's History) in which father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's pictures, roles and contributions were not stated.

Rather, pictures of Pakistani dictator Ayub Khan and East Pakistan governor Monayem Khan were included in that book. The High Court has meanwhile ordered stopping the sale and publication of the book.

Bangladesh Bank's Governor Fazle Kabir wrote the preface of the book and it was published with his consent.
Now questions have come up whether the top loan borrowers and loan scammers are more powerful than the Finance Ministry and Bangladesh Bank.

At present, the state-owned and private banks are inflicted with nearly Tk 144,000 crore defaulted loans, including written off debts. Economists have said that there is no good governance and accountability in the country's banking sector. Allegedly influential loan defaulters run  Bangladesh Bank which is why the central bank cannot execute any measures to recover defaulted loans. As a result financial scams and corruption are going on without cease in the banking arena of the country.

Powerful loan scammers often escape through the loopholes of banking regulations by getting stay order from courts.
Banking irregularities pose grievous threats to the country's economy, according to economists.
Prominent citizens have requested the government higher-ups to take up strong initiatives without delay to streamline the banking turf.

Bangladesh Bank's former deputy governor Dr Khandaker Ibrahim Khaled told The Asian Age, "The Finance Ministry and Bangladesh Bank should not compromise with the mega defaulters. Rather tough action should be initiated to recover defaulted loans."

Former adviser to caretaker government Dr Wahid Uddin Mahmud told The Asian Age, "The regulatory authorities should take necessary steps to free banks from political influence and nepotism. At the same time, it is vital to establish good governance in the banking sector."

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said to The Asian Age, "The government should not show any flexibility to the people who are responsible for corruption in banks."

Professor Dr Abul Barkat, President, Bangladesh Economics Association, told The Asian Age, "Finance Ministry and Bangladesh Bank should not show any special favors to loan scammers. Rather, immediate measures should be implemented to recover defaulted loans."

-Asian Age Report

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