Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said on Thursday non-performing loan (NPL) will not grow by even a single penny from today, rather it will reduce.
He, however, said he would not go for action against the "big shots" and "powerful persons" who are the main drivers of economy.
About his stance on the NPL holders, he said, "The powerful persons account for 82 per cent of the economy. How can we go forward without these 82 per cent holders?"
"Can we take economy to a good level with the rest of the population who account for only 18 per cent of the total economy? This sounds absurd to me."
Mr Kamal said this to reporters after a meeting with the representatives of the Bangladesh Association of Banks (BAB).
"You [the media] don't have exact data on the people who possess the exact amounts of NPLs… which are still manageable," he said in his Planning Commission office.
"All businessmen at home and abroad are powerful. They are titled as powerful and heavyweight persons who conduct business, and who play good cricket."
"If businessmen don't become powerful or heavyweight, how will I get investment, how employment will be created, how poverty be eliminated and how the government will provide services," Mr Kamal quipped.
He said, "From today, the NPL won't grow as the BAB delegation assured me of working to reduce it. How the NPL will be reduced was today's moot point."
"… They (bankers) will give me reports on the amounts of bad loans at their respective banks. And they will give a schedule on the recovery of the loans."
When asked, Mr Kamal said: "I'm worried on the NPL as well as I'm not worried on it."
"I'm not worried about our total debts and deposits. If we think about our asset against deposit compared to other nations, we're not in the back step."
"Our NPL is only 12-13 per cent of the total outstanding loans. Look at India, how much their NPLs are!" the minister exclaimed.
"If the NPL is backed by asset, and if we have enough collateral and securities against loans, why am I to worry, I should not worry," he argued.
"I have to know about the real position of the bad loans and then evaluate them. Then I can tell you whether I should worry."
"On the assessment only, I cannot express my worry on the NPL before the nation," Mr Kamal maintained. He said they (bankers) assured him that they will not allow the NPLs to extend further.
"I've told them that it is your business how you will manage or take care of it. My point is you can't increase the NPL from now on…," he added.
About the central bank reserve heist, Mr Kamal said, "I'll see the Philippines judgment report and our report. Then we'll share our position with you."
BAB Chairman Nazrul Islam Mazumder said, "We'll prepare lists of two groups. Some NPL holders went broke after doing 10 years of good business for different types of shocks."
"And some have left (business) after borrowing from the banks," he added.
"First, we'll review the lists and then sit with the central bank and banking division. We'll go for legal action against the defaulters who will be in the second category."
"The finance minister has assured us of giving all-out support in this regard," Mr Majumder mentioned.
He, however, said the businessmen who have become defaulters for different shocks on their business should not be come under punishment.
IFIC Bank Chairman Salman F Rahman and Premier Bank Chairman Dr HBM Iqbal, among others, attended the meeting.
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