Can Bangladesh be a “role model” for developing nations?

A.M.K. Chowdhury

People certainly want to see Bangladesh as a role model for developing countries. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on her return after attending the 68th UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) session  in New York from September 22 to 28 at a press  conference at Ganabhaban  said the outcome  of her visit was a great success. Elaborating the world leader’s opinion, the PM said that Bangladesh has become a “role model” for most developing nations. The PM further said Bangladesh’s participation at the UNGA has created scope to consolidate the country’s image globally and was able to highlight the government’s multifarious successes in national and international arena as reported in an English language daily on October 4, 2014. (The Daily Observer)
“The bank is the blood of modern economic development.” The bank plays a great role in the economic development of a country. Central bank is the main government controlled bank in a country, which controls the financial affairs of the country. Without bank the economic development of a country cannot be possible. I am quoting here some news reports about the banking activities in recent days.

Tk. 11,000 crore misappropriated
Dishonest businessmen have misappropriated about Tk. 11,000 crore from five states-owned banks (SOBs) during the last six years, taking advantage of the bank’s poor oversight and weak credit risk management. They have swindled the fund, constituting fake business entities and presenting forged documents of Sonali, Janata, Agrani, Rupali and BASIC Bank.
The loan default of these five SOBs has increased to an alarming level and many loans of the banks have been written off by this time, pushing them on the brink of collapse.  Loan default of Janata Bank increased by 85 percent, Sonali by 65 percent, Agrani by 40 percent and Rupali by 17 per cent during the last six years. Total loan default of these banks stood at Tk. 19,000 crore. In addition, these banks wrote off loans worth Tk. 15,000 crore. Series of loan scandals occurred in public banks during the last six years. They sanctioned loans on political consideration. Political appointments in bank boards never produced a positive result. The government had to dissolve the board of BASIC Bank due to corruption and irregularities in loan sanctioning and misappropriation of funds by its chairman and board members. (The New Nation, dated September 27, 2014).  The Awami League (AL) has been in power for the last six years.

Bank scams
The  Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC)  approved a charge sheet  against  seven people including a deputy general manager of Rupali Bank on charge of swindling  Tk. 69 lakh from the bank. During investigation, the ACC found that the accused in collaboration with each other plundered the money from Rupali Bank through back-to-back letters of credit (LCs) in the name of a fake business firm. (The Daily Observer, dated September 27, 2014).
On detection of irregularities in sanctioning fund six banks in the public sector suspended CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities recently. These banks are: Janata, Sonali, Rupali, Agrani, Bangladesh Development Bank Ltd. (BDBL) and BASIC Bank. (ibid, dated September 24, 2014).
The ACC submitted charge – sheet in one case out of 47 defalcation cases against two officials of Grameen Bank in Raypasha Karapur Branch in Barisal. The ACC filed 47 cases against Branch Manager and ten officials for defalcation of Tk.5 crore 53 lakh 7 thousand 428 in October 2012. (ibid, dated September 29, 2014).
The ACC interrogated four officials of  Janata Bank at their Swgunbagicha office on charge of misappropriation  of Tk. 12 crore 21 lakh by showing  exemption of interest against sick industry. They are: Md. Abdus Salam Azad, general manager (administration), Md. Azmal Hoque, deputy general manager, corporate branch, Ajoy Kumar Ghosh, asstt. General manager and  S.M.Abu  Hena, asstt. General manager, regional branch. (The Daily Naya Diganta, dated September 30, 2014).
The ACC filed cases against five officials including former DGM (deputy general manager) of Sonali Bank with Moijheel Police Station  on charge of embezzlement of Tk. 6 crore 17 lakh only. They are: GM Baqi Billah former DGM, corporate branch, Md. Abdul Hai, former AGM (asstt. General manager), Sorwar M Mostafa Kamal, managing director, Rahan Garments (Pvt) Ltd., Saidur Rahman Khan and anpother director Abu Sayeed Sahriar. (ibid, dated October 1, 2014).
The ACC interrogated three officials of Sonali Bank on charge of embezzlement of about taka seven thousand crore through  fake LCs and loan forgery. They are: Noor Mohammad, AGM, Abdul Jabbar, senior Executive Officer and Soukat Ara Khanam, Executive Officer of Sonali Bank. (ibid, dated October 2, 2014). Such examples are many.

Appoint honest and able professionals
At long last Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman urged the government to appoint honest and able professionals on the board of SOBs to ensure transparency and accountability and for better service. The Bank Governor also requested the government to remove dishonest, unskilled and opportunist directors from the boards of SOBs. (The Daily Observer, dated September 24, 2014),
When this is the condition, then how could Bangladesh become “role model” for most developing countries in the world we fail to understand? If the banking activities continue in this way then how the dream of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for building Bangladesh as a middle income country by 2021 and a developed one by 2041 be materialized we do not know.
Unless corrupt chairmen, board members and officials are removed and the practice of political appointment in bank boards is stopped economic development of Bangladesh cannot be ensured.

Source: Weekly Holiday

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