Published:  12:39 AM, 09 October 2017

Banking rackets: When fences eat up crops!

Banking rackets: When fences eat up crops!

Bangladesh Bank's principal functionalities are to run the country's banking sector in a dexterous way, to keep up the norms of monetary policy and to implement all required steps for expediting national economic growth.  But doubts and perplexities have become glare during the last several months about the capability and willingness of Bangladesh Bank to work for the country's betterment. Keeping in view the dilapidated shambles state-owned and private banks are suffering from, it appears to be absolutely vivid that Bangladesh Bank has not been at all able to initiate soundness in banking activities. Consequently corruption and irregularities have inundated the financial and banking administration of Bangladesh. 

Surprisingly, Bangladesh Bank's Governor Fazle Kabir seems to be totally carefree and indifferent to the ongoing disastrous circumstances that have hit banks hard. Fazle Kabir has not yet made any official statement to the nation about mishaps like Bangladesh Bank's cyber heist, fire outbreak, defaulted loans, financial scams, money laundering etc. Such evasive tactics by Fazle Kabir hints at the likelihood that he is deliberately and purposefully avoiding contact with media agencies. It has made all concerned highly worried about the country's economic pastures in days to come.

Reports from domestic and international sources have informed that 8 billion US dollars have been illegally transferred to foreign countries from Bangladesh during the last several years but the central bank has not yet taken any feasible steps to halt capital flight. It is not at all clear what Finance Minister AMA Muhith or Bangladesh Bank has done so far to prosecute financial culprits, including those involved in money laundering. Deposits by clients from Bangladesh are soaring in foreign banks--reliable sources from Swiss banks and Global Financial Integrity have conveyed such reports which are solid evidence of illegal money transfers.

Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir has even remained completely mute over the false propaganda about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Sajeeb Wazed Joy on social networks regarding the central bank's cyber hacking. Following Bangladesh Bank's cyber heist last year, unwanted bustle and uproar persuaded then governor Dr. Atiur Rahman to step down from his post. Dr. Atiur Rahman ran the country's banking sector very efficiently whereas after his resignation banks and financial organizations have dipped into a gulf of peril.

Another blazing crisis has been generated by virtually insurmountable amounts of defaulted loans. At present there are 1 lakh 10 thousand crore taka defaulted loans approximately with different banks while 30, 000 crore taka have disappeared through Bangladesh Bank's written off loans.  Bangladesh Bank's inexplicable actions and acute passivity have broadly facilitated illegal things to happen in the banking sector one after another. But it sounds quite disappointing that the central bank has till now done nothing tangible to eliminate the disorder and shadowy things occurring on financial and banking turfs repeatedly. These are inescapable instances of irresponsibility. At the same time it should be remembered that when the authorities are quiet in the middle of chaos and turmoil, such silence is equivalent to consent.

Remittances from Bangladeshi employees working abroad have steeply gone down during last couple of years. The rate of foreign direct investments (FDI) has nosedived too. Most of the financial experts hold on the opinion that investments and remittances are suffering downtrend because the central bank and Finance Ministry have spoiled the country's commercial prospects.

Under these circumstances, Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir and Finance Minister AMA Muhith should clarify to the nation for what reasons they are not going for tough measures on money launderers, loan defaulters and financial crooks. Otherwise it may be very conveniently speculated by people that the fences are eating up crops!

Several banks are reportedly suffering from capital deficit. Incidents of embezzlement by Hall Mark, Bismillah Group and Basic Bank perhaps could have been resisted if the central bank and Finance Ministry were more vigilant. Such pessimistic examples hurt people's confidence on banks and entrepreneurs lose their eagerness to invest money.

All achievements by Bangladesh and all its endeavors to move forward are likely to face obstacles if financial transparency and integrity in banking sector cannot be established. At the same time materializing accountability among the higher officials of different banks and their regulating authorities is another essential prerequisite.

The government should also scrutinize whether the ongoing development programs are being executed properly and whether these projects are being accomplished within the specific timeframe. Excessive expenditure and spending unusually longer time should be avoided. Exemplary actions should be initiated against those departments and officials who are not following the right procedure. Allegations about graft and anomalies should be objectively investigated and necessary steps should be taken up overcoming all favors and prejudices.

On the other hand, the unrestrained prices of rice, sugar, edible oil and other daily essential things have added more trouble to average people's life. It is quite ridiculous that top brass officials from concerned portfolios are saying again and again that there is no shortage of foodstuff in the country while at the same time food prices are going up by leaps and bounds.

Moreover, it has been reported by a few newspapers that some government organizations and ministries are playing a blame game with one another over the prevailing price hike which sounds very frustrating. If the government cannot control prices it definitely makes people outrageous and it cracks down hard on the ruling party's popularity too while the next general election is supposed to be held roughly within a year or so.

The writer is a columnist for  The Asian Age

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