3 bonuses in SoBs despite Tk 10,666cr bailout fund

Shakhawat Hossain      | Published: 01:08, Aug 25,2019 | Updated: 01:19, Aug 25,2019


State-owned commercial banks excepting BASIC Bank Limited have provided three incentive bonuses to their staffs just before the recent Eid festival despite failing to improve their financial position due to growing bad loans.   

The government even provided Tk 10,666 crore as bailout fund to them in three years since 2014-15 to meet their severe capital shortfall stemming out of loan scams, said officials of the financial institutions division.

BASIC received highest amount of bailout fund of Tk 3,390 crore though it was on the verge of bankruptcy due to its huge defaulted loan. The crisis arose after its previous board of directors under chairmanship of controversial Sheikh Abdul Hur Bacchu extended fictitious loan of around Tk 6,000 crore. 

Two other scam-hit banks, Sonali and Janata, received Tk 3,003 crore and Tk 814 crore respectively, although Sonali Bank could not recover a single penny of the Tk  3,500 crore embezzled by little-known Hallmark Group in 2013.

The FID officials said BASIC had not disbursed any incentive bonus to its 2,108 staff this year.

But 48,864 officers and employees of the Sonali, Janata, Agrani, Rupali and Bangladesh Development Bank received the incentive equivalent to their monthly basic payment in line with  the decision of the banks respective boards, they said.

The officials said that incentive received by the banks looked ‘indecent’ because of huge bad loans in their loan portfolios without informing the FID.  

Agrani Bank managing director Mohammad Shams-Ul Islam, however, said there is no binding for the state-owned commercial banks to take approval from the banking division although they used to inform it in the past.

The obligation was removed once the banks were turned into limited companies since 2007, he said.

He also said the board of directors appointed by the FID with the consent from the Prime Ministers’ Office are entitled to take such decision.

The incentives were given against the operating profits made in 2018 by the banks although dividend received by finance ministry, owners of the banks, was around Tk 1 crore.

Janata Bank chief financial officer AKM Shariat Ullah said Tk 1 crore profit amount as dividend to the ministry of finance has long been a standard.

He said the amount was being fixed by shareholders during the annual general meeting.

He expressed his ignorance as to why the amount of dividend remained static at Tk 1 crore for long when Grameen Bank provided Tk 6.17 crore to finance ministry as dividend in 2017 for 25 per cent stakes held by the government in the Nobel Peace Prize winning bank.

The FID officials said provision shortfall of the banks against the growing defaulted loans is the main reason for the failure of the scam-hit banks to give dividend at the expected level.

According to annual performance inked between the FID and the banks for 2019-20, Sonali’s net profit plummeted to Tk 101 crore in 2018-19 from Tk 681 crore in 2017-18.

Sonali could reduce defaulted loan to 25.5 per cent of its total loan portfolio in 2018-19 from 33.27 per cent one year back.

Besides, the county’s largest bank is struggling to let go of its loss-making branches which stood at 93 in 2018-19 from 137 in 2017-18.

Janata is also facing a precarious situation following steep rise in defaulted loan to 40 per cent in 20180-19 from 15 per cent in 2017-18 because of its errant clients mainly Crescent Group and AnonTex.

The operating profit of the bank dropped to Tk 100 core in 2018-19 from Tk 250 one year back.

Following an effort in shrinking the number of loss-making branches they were reduced to 60 in 2018-19 from 64 in 2017-18.

The defaulted loan of Rupali and Agrani is hovering around 17 per cent in 2018-2019 while the amount is 46 per cent for BDBL.

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