Monday, February 19, 2018 | ePaper

Banking is easy for big loans and bad defaulters : Reasons to be investigated

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Given the incredible amount of default loans, impossibly higher interest rates, and organised boardroom corruptions - it seems our banks and financial institutions have turned into exclusive domain of vested interest quarter to serve the rich and the corrupt ones. There is almost no instance where the interest rate is below a double-digit, and also pre-conditions for submitting collaterals have become pointlessly complex for honest entrepreneurs and businessmen. The point, however is that the exclusive group of the moneymaking mafia in the country remains far beyond the reach of the law. Most of them are not only loan defaulters by thousands of crores, they have illegally laundered even more to other countries.
Just to give a clear glimpse, the Banking sector grapples with a staggering amount of more than Tk 63,365crworth of unrecovered bad loans. Disclosures by the Swiss National Bank show deposits by Bangladeshi citizens at various Swiss banks soared to some 62 percent year-on-year in 2013. It stood at Tk 3,236 crore in 2012, up from Tk 1,991 crore the previous year, and the money deposited in Swiss banks is only a tiny fraction of the total amount which is siphoned off illegally. Other lucrative international destinations for laundering money are reportedly - Malaysia, Canada and UAE.  
More shockingly, according to the US-based Global Financial Integrity (GFI) some Tk. 3.57 lakh crore - an amount almost the size of Bangladesh's current national budget - has been swindled from the country over a period of 10 years until 2014. On an average, Tk. 35,992 crore has been illegally laundered each year. And this couldn't have happened without the active involvement of our public and private banks. Much painfully, when the government introduces harsh tax mechanisms for squeezing the last penny out of our pockets - it is not the financial elite but rather the ordinary's lower and middle class hardworking people who feel the financial crunch.
In terms of applying for a loan - it has been reported many times that it is almost impossible to get it without bribing the board of directors responsible for approving loans.
However, much of the banking sector should stop catering to the needs of the few wealthy ones those who have become rich at the expense of usurping public money. Rather puzzlingly, our banks usually tend to make the wealthy wealthier and a criminal into an even bigger criminal by avoiding extending all helping hands. Also it's time to introduce massive reform measures to restructure the banking sector.
The banking sector has not developed as banking expertise. There is too much politics and too much corruption. The result is that defaulters are powerful people. We have banking without the thinking that banks are not for political favour. But should be a bastion for the country's economy. 

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