Jamuna Bank Limited’s new chairman Fazlur Rahman has predicted that the COVID-19 pandemic will have long-term impacts on employment and healthcare that can only be tackled through an effective partnership between the public and the private sectors.
In an interview with New Age on Tuesday on the eve of the bank’s 20th anniversary, he said that unemployment and healthcare crises would cause many other problems as the catastrophic incident was unprecedented after the Second World War.
He was elected the JBL chairman in the 36th meeting of the bank’s Board of Directors in April amid the holiday enforced by the government since March 26 to tackle the spread of the COVID-19.
Fazlur Rahman is also the chairman of the local consumer goods giant City Group that owns more than three dozen subsidiaries engaged in the business or production of sugar, edible oil, rice, atta, mineral water, tea, etc.
He said that he went through a lot of upheavals in his 50-year career as an industrialist but not through such a widespread crisis that stemmed from the COVID-19 pandemic that affected almost all the countries, including Bangladesh, in a globalised world.
Fazlur Rahman said that immediate focus should be given on employment generation and healthcare system overhaul to such extents, challenges not heard or seen in the past.
He expected that the upcoming budget, to be announced on June 11 in parliament, would provide a clear guideline on recovering the economy from the adverse impacts caused by COVID-19.
The JBL chairman said that the banking business at home and abroad would also be affected.
But the effects, if short-term, can be manageable for the JBL, he said, adding that they had already taken measures in light of the government directives to keep the impact on assets and liabilities at a minimal level.
The JBL is also working on a plan, he said, about its business operation in the post Covid-19 period with a strong apprehension that there could be a spike in bad loans in the banking sector.
The JBL management has earned reputation for keeping bad loans at a tolerable level by attaching more attention to protecting advances, including monitoring the borrowers during the loan agreement, collecting non-performing loans, supervising risk management.
The efforts were meant for reducing the amount of bad loans from the bank, he said.
Advances turn, he said, bad loans when borrowers fail to pay the principal and the interest monthly to the bank, hampering the cash flow, considered a key to the credit business for any bank.
He said that he was also not satisfied with the JBL business performance as fund potentials were yet to be further explored.
He, however, expressed satisfaction with the profit the bank made in recent years from which it paid dividend to the shareholders.
But, he added, they are in a process of expanding the JBL business both at home and abroad based on good ideas that always guarantee a win-win situation for both the clients and the service providers.
Welcoming the government loan facility initiatives amid the COVID-19-induced economic downturn, he said that they had chalked out a business plan targeting better customer services and higher remittances.
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