Deposits in farmers’ bank accounts reached only Tk 338.02 crore after nine years of the introduction of a policy that allows farmers to open bank account with an initial deposit of just Tk 10.
According to a Bangladesh Bank’s quarterly report released on Monday, farmers’ deposits in banks were Tk 318.63 crore as of June 30, 2019, which increased to Tk 338.2 crore on September 30, 2019.
Deposits in the farmers’ bank accounts increased by only 6.13 per cent or Tk 19.56 crore in the July-September period of the current fiscal year.
However, bank account opening by farmers increased marginally by 0.44 per cent or 44,627 in July-September this year, taking their total number of accounts to 1,00,81,534 from 1,00,36,907 three months ago.
The amount of deposits in their bank accounts is a reflection of the farmers’ capacity to save, a BB official said.
As part of the BB financial inclusion programme introduced in 2010, banks are supposed to open bank accounts of farmers with an initial deposit of Tk 10 to ensure transparent distribution of farm loans and subsidies and to bring farmers’ savings into the banking channel.
However, the BB instruction barred banks from imposing any charge on maintaining these accounts thus making the banks reluctant to offer motivation to the accountholders.
Besides allowing opening bank account, the central bank earlier introduced a refinance scheme with a lower rate of interest to make the Tk 10 farmer accounts vibrant, but the initiative virtually failed, the BB official said.
The BB issued a circular saying that the farmers having Tk 10 accounts would get loans under a BB refinance scheme worth Tk 200 crore at the interest rate of 9.5 per cent.
According to the circular, the banks may impose a maximum seven per cent interest if they disburse loans under the scheme through microfinance institutions which will be allowed to charge rate of interest highest 9.5 per cent on the loans.
As of September this year, the banks disbursed Tk 155.44 crore to 47,326 farmers from the refinance fund.
So far, the government has provided subsidy to 21.45 lakh farmer accounts, while only Tk 68.44 crore was deposited in the accounts at the end of September, 2019.
Eight scheduled banks — Sonali Bank, Janata Bank, Agrani Bank, Rupali Bank, BASIC Bank, Bangladesh Development Bank, Bangladesh Krishi Bank, and Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank — hold the majority of the deposits.
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