Ensuring the availability of deposits at the rate of 6 per cent interest would be a big challenge for the implementation of the single-digit lending rate for all the sectors, top executives of the country’s banks said on Tuesday.
They raised the issue at the banker’s meeting held on the day at the Bangladesh Bank headquarters with BB governor Fazle Kabir in the chair. Most of the top executives of the central bank (BB) and the scheduled banks were present.
The bankers also demanded that the central bank keep small and retail loans along with credit cards outside the purview of the single-digit interest rate implementation.
They came up with the demand as finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal recently announced that the banks would have to implement the single-digit lending rate from April 1 this year for all sectors.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Eastern Bank managing director and chief executive officer Ali Reza Iftekhar told reporters, ‘We have informed the central bank about the challenges which banks might face when the lending at 9 per cent interest would be implemented.’
Mentioning that the banks were bound to implement the single-digit lending rate, Iftekhar, also chairman of the Association of Bankers Bangladesh, said that the availability of deposits at the rate of 6 per cent would be a big challenge.
Once deposits, especially the government agencies’ fund, are made available at 6 per cent interest rate, it would be comfortable for the banks to implement the lending rate, he said.
‘We have agreed to implement the rate as the direction regarding the issue has come from the high ups but the implementation of it depends on the availability of deposits at 6 per cent.
‘We have proposed that the central bank keep the lending rate of small and retail loans outside the purview of single-digit implementation,’ said the ABB chairman.
‘We are waiting for the central bank’s circular that would be issued regarding the single-digit lending rate implementation,’ he said.
The bankers at the meeting also iterated their demand for the revision of loan write-off policy as the revision would help improve the condition of banks’ balance sheet, he said.
Differing with the banks’ request to keep the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) loans outside the purview of single-digit lending rate, BB executive director and spokesperson Md Serajul Islam said that the exclusion of small and retail loans from the single-digit rate would contradict with the spirit of the move.
The small and women entrepreneurs are playing a vital role in employment creation as well as economic development, he said. ‘Why should not they be included in the facility?’ he questioned.
Speaking about the crisis in the non-bank financial institution sector, Serajul said that the BB instructed banks not to withdraw all of their deposits from the NBFIs at a time as the NBFI sector was passing a critical situation with liquidity crisis.
He also said that the central bank had been working to formulate a database of the collaterals borrowers gave mortgage against loans.
The database would prevent borrowers from using the same mortgage against several loans, he said.