FE Today Logo

Top bankers deplore negative campaign against banks

Find the industry capable of withstanding mild shocks

FE Report | December 13, 2018 00:00:00

Association of Bankers Bangladesh (ABB) Chairman Syed Mahbubur Rahman speaking at a ‘meet the press’ programme at a city hotel on Wednesday — FE Photo

Top bankers have called for 'constructive' criticism of the banking sector, saying that their confidence level gets weakened if negative issues are highlighted.

The appeal came at a 'meet the press' programme, held at a city hotel on Wednesday.

The Association of Bankers Bangladesh (ABB) organised the programme to highlight the current scenario of the financial sector in Bangladesh.

The programme was organised, days after the recent Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) discussion that voiced concerns over scams in the banking sector.

At the discussion, the CPD said the country lost Tk 225.02 billion during the last 10 years to scams, irregularities and heists.

"We've arranged the programme to highlight the development of the country's banking sector," Ali Reza Iftekhar, managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO) of Eastern Bank Limited, told reporters.

Only partial information on the banking sector is now being published, he claimed.

Syed Mahbubur Rahman, chairman of the ABB, sought judicial support immediately to whittle down the amount of classified loans in the country's banking system.

"It's a job of the entire ecosystem, not the bankers alone," Mr. Rahman, also MD and CEO of Dhaka Bank Limited, said while replying to a query relating to the non-performing loans (NPLs).

Sohail R. K. Hussain, MD and CEO of the City Bank Limited said foreign direct investment from China is coming in both economic zones and other emerging sectors of Bangladesh.

"We expect the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) to rise in 2019," the senior banker said.

Even, banks rated by Moody's are able to attract foreign funds to meet their growing demand for foreign exchange, he added.

Terming the banking sector "hero" that contributes to the national exchequer, Mr. Iftekhar said it is the highest taxpayer in the country and it should not be demeaned as a villain.

He also said the country's banking sector is capable enough to withstand any minor shocks. Seventy-five per cent banks of the country will be able to withstand low-to-medium level shocks, he added.

"We want to move forward despite the problems," Anis A Khan, MD and CEO of Mutual Trust Bank Limited, said while explaining the ongoing situation in the country's banking sector.

Mr. Khan, a former chairman of the ABB, said the banks are working for the people by launching different products while providing services.

"We lose our inspirations if negative issues are highlighted continuously," the senior banker added.

M. Shah Alam Sarwar, MD and CEO of IFIC Bank Limited, said the name of Bangladesh is now identified as an economic development model, after China. "Each economic indicator has improved significantly in the recent years."

Obayed Ullah Al Masud, MD and CEO of Sonali Bank Limited, said loans contribute to the development of the society.

"Banks have contributed significantly to achieving 7.8 per cent GDP (gross domestic product) growth of the country," Sonali CEO said, adding the bankers work silently for development of the country.

Mohammad Shams-Ul Islam, MD and CEO of Agrani Bank Limited, said Bangladesh is now a role model in the world but negative issues push up the cost of doing business.

"We've already provided US $1.0 billion for the construction of the Padma Bridge," he noted. "We make impossible possible."

Abul Kashem Md. Shirin, MD and CEO of Dutch-Bangla Bank Limited, Bangladesh has already been able to develop its payment system significantly using modern technologies.

Ali Hossain Prodhania, MD of the state-owned Bangladesh Krishi Bank (BKB), said the country's banking sector is now established on a solid foundation.

"Our economy is now capable of addressing any challenges," Mr. Prodhania said while mentioning the current external sector situation of the economy.

Mahbub ul Alam, MD and CEO of Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited, an entrepreneurial class has already been developed in Bangladesh with financial support from the banking sector.

Describing various moves to boost the ongoing financial inclusion programmes, Arfan Ali, president and MD of Bank Asia Limited, said five transactions are being executed in every second through agent banking.

"Around half the population are now under the banking network across the country. It was 31 per cent in 2014," Mr. Ali noted.

Among others, Ehsan Khasru, MD and CEO of the Farmers Bank Limited, and Adil Islam, MD and CEO of Meghna Bank Limited, spoke on the occasion.

[email protected]

Share if you like