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Experts at CPD dialogue

Banking sector at risk

Govt to take action against looters: Minister

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Staff Reporter :
Planning Minister AFM Mustafa Kamal on Sunday said that the government would take action against those whoever is the guilty for looting bank money.
"We are determined to do it and anybody will not spare if found guilty, and already some managing directors of banks are in jail," he made the comment while speaking at 'CPD Budget Dialogue 2018' as the chief guest at Lakeshore Hotel in the city.
Chairman of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Prof Rehman Sobhan, who chaired the function, expressed grave concern about the country's present state of the banking sector, saying the industries' heavy dependence on commercial banks for loans is unusual.
"Commercial banks are heavily dependent on short-term deposits to invest in long-term projects," he said.
CPD executive director Dr. Famida Khatun made a presentation on the analysis of the 2019 national budget. Besides Planning Minister Mustafa Kamal former commerce minister   and BNP standing committee member Amir Khasru Mahmood Chowdhury also addressed the occasion. Prof. Rehman Sobhan said everybody is familiar with the non-performing loans (NPL), which started during late president Ziaur Rahman and carried over by the successive governments over the years, which is not a problem of this government or that government. Historically, he said, the large industrial projects are largely financed by capital market and specialised banks. "But now the capital market is non-functioning and industries are heavily dependent on commercial banks for long term loans," he said. The Planning Minister, however, disagreed with the prevailing grim situation in the banking sector. "Everybody is talking about  the looting of the banking sector. But I don't think the situation is that much worse that banks are failing to pay depositors," he said.  Representatives from different government and non-government bodies and former bureaucrats also spoke on the occasion while CPD distinguished fellow Prof Mustafizur Rahman conducted the function.
Prof. Rehman observed that these commercial banks' dependence on short-term deposits to invest in long term projects are not usual practice. "This is totally unusual and this is a dangerous situation for a sustainable financial system". He also said Bangladesh is much more behind in economic progress compared with Vietnam and other neighbours. Bangladesh exports only $40 billion while Vietnam's export is over $200 billion, he said. Amir Khasru Mahmood Chowdhury said income of the 5 per cent people in the top level increased enormously that none can imagine. "These people are involved in the bank looting. But there is no action against them by the government. Rather, the government is helping them. Who are they everybody knows it," he said. The BNP senior leader said these people looted share market and are buying properties in Dubai, Canada and other countries. "If NBR wants to catch them, they can easily identify them". He criticised the government for decreasing taxes of bank owners and increasing the taxes of the bottom line people. He observed that the government has failed to create skilled manpower as education sector was destroyed by the work policies. He said Bangladesh's position in human development index was degraded and now 40 per cent educated youth are unemployed. State Minister for Planning and Finance Abdul Mannan said there is no scope to say everything is lost by the bank-loot. He said those people who are unemployed are in such situation by their own choices. "There are so many ways to be employed under the government's different initiatives. But they don't take those". Metropolitan Chamber president Nihad Kabir said attention for skill development of the workforce is essentially needed is not duly focused in the national budget. She demanded incentives for export promotion. Ganosastha chief Dr. Zafrullah Chodhury said the national budget was insufficiently focused on social and health issues.
President of Fair Election Monitoring Alliance (FEMA) Munira Khan said after the lowering the interest rates on bank deposits, people are not being interested to deposit their money in the banks. "If depositors don't deposit, how can banks collect fund and invest those money in industries", she said.

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