Finance minister AMA Muhith on Saturday said that the government was also responsible for the rising defaulted loans in state-run Sonali Bank.
‘The amount of classified loans in Sonali Bank is high. We, the government, are partly responsible and KYC (know-your-client procedure of the bank) is partly responsible for the classified loans,’ said Muhith while addressing the Annual Meeting-2018 of Sonali Bank in Dhaka.
Pointing to the government pressure for approving loans, Muhith said, ‘We [government] are responsible [for the classified loans] as we mount pressure on six state-run banks. As the largest bank, Sonali Bank faces the highest pressure followed by Janata Bank.’
He said that the government was trying to reduce the pressure on Sonali Bank, which has been mired in scams including the Tk 4,000-crore Hallmark loan scams, in recent times.
The conference was told that around 33 per cent, or Tk 13,798 crore, of total disbursed loans of Tk 42,276 crore of Sonali Bank has become defaulted.
In last one year the defaulted loans in the bank rose by around 26 per cent from a year ago.
‘We have decided that whenever you [bank] will recommend that any project is unfit after analysing it, we will try not to put pressure on you [ for loan disbursement against the project],’ Muhith said.
Muhith advised that the bank to strengthen its know-your-client procedure and to analyse any projects, for which loans are sought, properly.
He hoped that the bank would be in better shape in next two years.
The meeting was told that the number of loss-making branches of Sonali is now 181, down from 233 earlier, while the bank made an operating profit of Tk 1,178 crore in 2017 against Tk 425 crore a year ago.
Muhith advised the bank to change the location of branches which are making losses.
Comparing with the banking sector in 1972-1976 and 1981, he, however, said the banking sector was now going through a golden era.
Muhith expressed his dissatisfaction over the weaknesses of the banking sector saying that ‘I am not at all happy about it and I often admit that the banking sector has weaknesses.’
Bangladesh Bank governor Fazle Kabir suggested that Sonali Bank should undertake a time-bound action plan to make gradually those branches profitable which are incurring losses over the years.
He also suggested providing loans without any fear following rules and proper assessment, strengthening the loan realisation measures before filing cases against the defaulters, creating entrepreneurs through providing start-up capitals, creating compliance culture and ensuring the practice of proper risk management.
State minister for finance MA Mannan and Bank and Financial Institutions Division secretary Yunusur Rahman also spoke at the programme presided over by Sonali Bank chairman Md Ashraful Moqbul.
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