Speakers at a roundtable discussion on Saturday urged the government to take swift measures to reform the banking sector and set up a dedicated commission to this end.
Noted economist Prof Dr Mainul Islam presented the keynote paper at the programme arranged by Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik at the Jatiya Press Club.
“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, Prof Islam said.
He also mentioned that the amount of classified loans as provided by Bangladesh Bank is totally false and the total amount of defaulted loans stands nearly at Tk 300,000 crore. “I urge the relevant authorities to stop the ill practice of hiding the true amount of defaulted loans,” he added.
Former Chittagong University teacher, Prof Dr 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,” he said.
Dr Islam’s other recommendations include reducing and merging less powerful banks, banning insider lending among banks and declaring Bangladesh Association of Banks illegal.
Shujan Secretary Dr Badiul Alam Majumder said economic mischief is sustained by political mischief. “Politics has to be ideology-based to eliminate economic mismanagement,” he opined.
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 percent... to the current government, the GDP growth is the only development,” he added.
He highlighted that among the MPs of the country, 61.7 percent 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 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 added.
Prof Dr Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir of Dhaka University, former Agrani Bank Managing Director 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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