Coronavirus Outbreak

Bank branches must be kept fully functional

Bangladesh Bank to allow banks to sell treasury bills, bonds

Staff Correspondent | Published: 22:00, Mar 22,2020


Branches of all scheduled banks must be kept fully functional to facilitate uninterrupted financial transactions during the outbreak of coronavirus, said Bangladesh Bank officials.

On Sunday, the central bank issued a circular to the banks, asking them to ensure adequate cash supply in their branches even in the areas where a lockdown was announced or would be declared.

In such cases, the banks have been instructed to take assistances of the local administration and law enforcing agencies if locked down is announced.

The BB issued the instructions to the scheduled banks amid moves by a couple of banks to shrink their operations in the wake of the epidemic.

The instructions were issued after a meeting headed by BB governor Fazle Kabir at the central bank headquarters in the capital on the day, a senior BB official told New Age.

A squeeze on banking operations would create panic among people along with making the situation worse, the BB official said.

The BB, however, asked banks to encourage customers to use cheques, money transfer and other online services instead of withdrawing cash.

The entities were also asked to keep closed evening banking and week-end banking activities during the pandemic.

Any bank employee having symptoms of cold must be sent to leave immediately, instructed the BB in a separate circular.

Besides, training sessions involving more than 10 individuals must be postponed immediately.

Training sessions involving 10 individuals have to be conducted by ensuring more than two feet distance between each of the participants.

The rules regarding sick bank employees would be applicable to the central bank employees too.

However, the banks will have to maintain adequate hygiene of its officials at the places of transactions during the pandemic, a

BB circular issued on the day said.

Besides, the use of sanitiser and other protective measures including the use of hand-gloves and masks must be taken to ensure safety of the cash officials of the banks, it said.

To cope with the liquidity requirements, the central bank on the day allowed banks to sell to it long-term treasury bills and bonds before maturity.

In case of selling treasury bills and bonds, the banks would be entitled to avail interest for the period of holding by the banks, the BB official said.

The banks, which have excess statutory liquidity ratio, would be entitled to avail the facility against their excess SLR.

Usually, banks can avail REPO (repurchase agreement) facility for the central bank against treasury bills and bonds.

The BB issued the facility with a view to preventing any sort of liquidity crisis amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Although there is excess liquidity worth above Tk 1 lakh crore in the banking system, some of the banks may face need of liquidity and that is why the scope has been introduced, the official said.

Besides purchasing treasury bills and bonds from the banks, the central bank today would decide on whether its policy rate should be reduced or not.

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