The top bankers of Bangladesh have called for constructive criticism of the sector instead of only highlighting its weaknesses.
The Association of Bankers, Bangladesh or ABB organised a rare press conference attended by chief executives of around 40 banks in Dhaka on Wednesday.
It came three days after the Centre for Policy Dialogue or CPD claimed irregularities to the tune of more than Tk 225 billion took place in the sector in the past decade.
The top bankers branded the claim as “wholesale allegation”, but failed to come up with any concrete evidence to defend the sector.
Instead, they said now is the time for “praising the sector, not spreading evil propaganda about it”.
Bangladesh’s banking sector has been rocked in past few years by waves of loan scams and different types of irregularities.
Even MPs of both ruling and opposition parties, besides the BNP and its allies, have criticised the leaders of the sector for “lootings by disbursing loans recklessly”.
ABB Chairman and Dhaka Bank Managing Director Syed Mahbubur Rahman said they did not organise the press conference in response to the CPD claim.
“These have coincided,” he said.
He also urged all not to criticise bankers always, which he said “put them under mental pressure”.
“Bankers are not angels. They also do mistake,” he said.
The banks have over Tk 10 trillion in deposits now, and lent Tk around Tk 8 trillion, according to Mahbubur.
“It’s natural that some of the bank loans get defaulted. But there are many positives of the banking sector. Bankers will be discouraged if only the negatives are presented. It also has negative impact internationally,” he said.
ABB Treasurer and government-owned Sonali Bank’s MD Obayed Ullah Al Masud blamed lack of speed in getting electricity and gas connections after taking loans to open factories for default loans as, he said, interests on borrowing do not stop.
“Some rice will spill when you eat. It won’t be right if you see only Tk 225 billion bad debts out of Tk 8 trillion credit,” he said.
“Now is the time to sing the victory song, not to bring forth the negative sides,” IFIC Bank MD M Shah Alam Sarwar said, describing the banking sector as the “chief facilitating force of the country’s economy”.
“The year 2019 will be a year of big achievements for Bangladesh’s economy. But ill propaganda is being spewed now,” he added.