Slow pace in low-income groups’ stimulus loan disbursement

The Business Standard   10 August 2020

Tk266 crore of the Tk3,000 crore fund has been disbursed in 3.5 months

Disbursement of the Tk3,000 crore stimulus fund for low-income groups has been progressing at a snail’s pace even though three and a half months have elapsed after the package was launched.

The fund recipients include farmers, small traders, and cottage, micro and small entrepreneurs.

Of the total amount, banks disbursed Tk266 crore to some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) till August 6 from the package’s launch on April 20.

The figure was collected from the five banks but the Bangladesh Bank is still in the dark in this regard because banks have not sent the latest report yet, an official of the central bank said.

He told The Business Standard, “The central bank has formed a refinance scheme of the same amount as the stimulus fund. Banks are giving the loan to microfinance institutions or NGOs for disbursing it among low-income groups, including helpless women.”

The central bank would only be able to know the amount the banks have disbursed when they would apply to the former for refinance against the disbursed amount, the official said.

Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of the Policy Research Institute, told The Business Standard, “It has been observed that every measure taken for the export-oriented sector was implemented at the quickest time possible.”

However, other packages or measures were not implemented at the same pace, he said.

“For revival of the economy, emphasis should be given equally to all other sectors. Otherwise, economic recovery will be slower,” Mansur argued.

“Unless the stimulus packages are implemented effectively or equally, the V-shaped economic recovery plan of the government would remain elusive,” he added.

Meanwhile, to speed up loan disbursement among cottage, micro, small and medium entrepreneurs, the Bangladesh Bank formed a credit guarantee scheme in July.

Banks have already implemented the stimulus loans for export-oriented businesses in full. Also, they have already disbursed a third of the stimulus loans under the Tk30,000 crore package meant for large industries as the central bank asked banks to implement the package in full by August this year.

The government, since the first case of the novel coronavirus was detected in the country on March 8 this year, has announced several stimulus packages worth around Tk1.03 trillion to revive the economy affected severely in the last few months.

Of those, Tk5,000 crore was announced to pay salaries of export-oriented industries. Banks have so far disbursed Tk7,500 crore as the government later increased the fund size by Tk2,500 crore.

On the other hand, disbursement of loans from the Tk20,000 crore stimulus package meant for cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises remains below 5 percent.

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