Dhaka Courier

Pseudo-neutrality and financial sector judgment

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Those who are dreaming for or opted for a body politic to be a hundred percent faultless have been living far off reality and in a heaven of fairy tales. Even their stance are guided by their subtle party centric upbringing of political philosophy. It might lie near or remote. In the absence of having a strong  and neutral in the true sense of the term citizenship imbued with urbanized culture, our real evaluation of socio-economic and political realities and variables will be marred by hidden partisanship. Ours so called neutrality is being acted upon outwardly showing up gesture. But that is not far off motivational stance that grew in us inherently and that fail to make us say a spade a spade. Even we are not ashamed of being failed to act neutral. Our visible civil society or “Nagorik Somaj” is doing the same job.

Even the part is being played by the honorable member of the election commission, Mr. Mahabub Talukdar is a part of the whole political process that seems to be aiming at making election  questionable. Albeit he must differ the going on in the commission and has the right to put note of dissent in any decision making. But why it will be made public at press in a way tantamount to opposition’s efforts of the entire game. What messages he intends to give have got the same impingement upon the efforts of Jaamat-BNP orbit of politics. We don’t know how far it goes with the question of moral responsibility so far as the body like election commission is concerned. However our democracy and the democratisation’s ripeness will be ended up in the process of growing matured citizenry far off feudal values which are lacking today.

Apart from opposition, this civil society is also set in to evaluate the economic and social achievements of the incumbent government using the same language and tone as opponents are doing. Only difference is, they are hiding their bias. Remember financial sector is not total economy. It only represents 2 point 74 percent of the GDP. So lacking governance in financial sector does not imply the tremendous success story in the entire macro economy suffers shortfall of governance. Then why a section of civil society cunningly uphold only financial sector disarray instead of other sectors of the economy in the name of evaluation. Why they are not saying about our transition to developing country from LDC? How? Why they remain blind folded to growth perspective, to dynamism in rural economy, to growth in infrastructural investment, so to say about our mega projects, state of electricity production, per capita income, a big stride in government employees’ salary structure, state of poverty declining or social indicators in some basic areas? Ongoing inflation rate remains comfortable, export regime is getting diversified with enhancing competitiveness defying impact of neo liberalism of the World economy. In a nutshell, our demand based growth efforts is getting momentum. Even those dailies who are inherently accustomed to see half empty glass of water, they also at time see, footwear consumption gets a boost due to rising purchasing capacity of people. They agree, the footwear sector is set to get a fresh investment of TK 177 crore through three companies seeking to grab a share of the country’s growing domestic market. This is just one example of economic reality. Without going in detail, how domestic market is growing? To answer, we will have to drag all the variables of sector performances of the economy to judgment. But our pseudo neutral civil society is one eyed to pretend not to see the buying spree of our commoners in rural and urban living at different festivals. But we have challenges also. Albeit mother loves her child in exchange of all. But she opposes her child not to give bitter medicine is far off reality. That does not mean one will be beheaded while at headache. Without enslaving souls, we are preferring to speak the truth and willing to say spade a spade. So we have challenges in economy.  Every economy has challenges at its different stages. What are those challenges? Broadly to say, we have burning inequality in our economic and social lives. A few have the lion share of resources. In Pakistan regime we fought against 22 families. Now we have 255 families grown in processes which are so rapid that ranked Bangladesh in first row among the countries in South Asia and who are taking away the lion share of the cake. Secondly Cost of implementing various projects and particularly mega projects are seriously outpacing the original costs slated for. Third Seemingly there was a deficit in governance both in economic and social sectors. Other challenges Bangladesh is facing is nothing new to her. Every developing country is facing the same.

But financial sector’s disarray demands separate analysis free from biasness and purposeful rhetoric. The much talked about TK.22,502 crore looting from banks is not totally correct. It is not such as if a gang of hoodlums bagged the money from banks and fled away. This is not the scenario. A noted portion of this money finds its way to businesses and got blocked due to unwilling change of trade cycle. Change in policies, bureaucratic entangle, change in World trade phenomena etc.  are always impacting our businesses. Unwillingly default of bank loan is natural, though undesirable. So this is the partial reality of the problem hovering on the financial sector. So no scope is left for financial sector to be flatly blamed for its disarray. It needs extensive reforms is the only answer. But this is not the whole truth. Partial truth. On the other side of the coin, today’s scenario of financial sector is partially attributed to lacking of governance.

The banking sector has expanded over the years in terms of number of formal institutions, higher number of financing instruments and bigger volume of assets. But the sector has been facing a number of serious challenges due to malpractices, scams and heists. These have affected the overall performance of the sector which are reflected through various efficiency and soundness indicators. Non-performing loans(NPL) as a share of total loans is exceptionally high in state owned commercial banks(SCBs) and different financial institutions(DFIs). As of June, SCBs had 28.2 percent, which is highest in the last ten years. About 47 percent non-performing loans were concentrated in 5 banks as of end June 2018. Classified loans as a share of total loans was more than 10% for 9 banks during 2016-2018. ICB Islamic Bank had more than 60% and BASIC Bank had more than 50% classified loans during 2016-2018. During 2016-2018, all SCBs had expenditure-income ratios was greater than 0.5. this reveals poor management effectiveness of these banks during this period. ICB Islamic Bank and The Farmers Bank have been making losses in the last three years. BASIC Bank, Rupali Bank and Agrani Bank made huge losses in 2016. All sources are from Financial Institutions Division, Ministry of Finance. Big guns and bureaucratic control distorted the smooth functioning of the banks which saw repeated violation of rules and regulation in loan sanctioning, loan rescheduling and loan realizing. In absence of proper reforms big houses were set to enjoy bank money like monkey’s cake distribution which were started long before 10 years of the incumbent. Default culture or bank money looting was started from eighties of the last century. We need an extensive reforms of banking sector and political leadership must be committed to this if voted to power.

Writer is a freelance contributor

  • Pseudo-neutrality and financial sector judgment
  • Issue 26
  • Haradhan Ganguly
  • Vol 35
  • DhakaCourier

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