Commerce minister Tipu Munshi on Thursday termed the huge gap between interest rates for lending and deposit as ‘robbery’ committed by the country’s commercial banks.
Banks are charging high interest rate on loans while giving much lower interest to people on deposits, he said, adding that there was no such high interest rate spread in any country in the world.
‘The gap is more than 5 per cent in the country which can be called simply dacoity (robbery) as the gap globally remains between 2 per cent and 2.5 per cent,’ he said,
He made the comment at a seminar on strengthening consumers’ rights held in Dhaka.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh arranged the seminar where CAB members from across the country attended to share their experiences of working in the field.
Commerce minister’s remark came at time when the government has been instructing the banks to bring down the interest rate to single digit as businesses have been expressing dissatisfaction over high interest rate.
He said that banks even were not complying with the instructions of prime minister Sheikh Hasina to bring down the rate to single digit.
The government is working to reduce spread rate along with bringing down the lending rate within single digit, he said.
There should be a system on what rate the banks are paying to people against deposit and at what rate they are charging to borrowers, he said.
He made the comments in context of consumers’ rights, purchasing power and some other related issues at the seminar.
Tipu said that lower interest rate would create a business-friendly environment in the country which would also be beneficial to people.
There will be no purchasing power in absence of favourable business environment, he said.
In addition to making profits, businesses should uphold the rights of consumers, he said.
He also urged people to be aware about quality and price of products what they purchased saying that substandard food products posed a serious threat to consumer rights in the country.
CAB president Ghulam Rahman said that amount of non-performing loans increased due to mismanagement in banking sector.
Depositors are deprived of their interest while banks charge high interest rate to consumers on loans, he said, adding that this disparity should be eliminated.
He also urged consumers to get united to realise their rights.
‘Consumers are the lifeline of business. Their unity against bad business practices hurting their rights will definitely bear fruits,’ he said.
He suggested that the commerce ministry opened a wing to get feedback from consumers. They could participate in the decision making process of the government through the wing.
Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection director general Shafikul Islam Laskar said that uncoordinated mobile court drives created fear among the businessmen.
Commerce secretary Mofizul Islam said that consumers were often cheated while buying something.
‘We need to educate consumers about the complex issues of food safety and other consumer rights,’ he said.
Bangladesh Food Safety Authority chairman Mohammad Mahfuzul Hoque and CAB general secretary Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan also attended the seminar among others.
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