Saturday, November 25, 2017

High Court questions Bangladesh Bank's power to write off loans

  • Staff Correspondent,
    Published: 2017-03-02 01:52:36 BdST

The High Court has questioned the Bangladesh Bank's power to write off loans and asked for a list of the business entities and individuals whose loans were waived until Dec 31 last year and the amounts.

The Bangladesh Bank governor will have to submit the list within 30 days from Tuesday, Deputy Attorney General SM Moniruzzaman told on Wednesday.

The governor was also asked to inform the court whether any of the companies or individuals were also enjoying any other loan facilities and, if so, the amount of such loans.

A High Court bench set Apr 2 to deliver further orders on the suo moto rule issued following a newspaper report.

English daily The Asian Age published the report titled 'The Tk 30,000cr vanishing trick, 60% of defaulted loans from public banks written off' on Feb 26.

The report spoke of the 'alarming' situation of loan default, and said Tk 300 million "will have to be written off".

The amount is more than enough to take care of the education budget for this year, according to the report.

According to the Bangladesh Bank, the amount of waived loans is around Tk 450 million while the amount of defaulted credit is Tk 650 million.

The banks have been writing off loans in line with the Policy for Loan Write Off included in the Prudential Regulations for Banks.

The Bangladesh Bank states in the policy: "Banks may, at any time, write off loans classified as bad/loss. Those loans which have been classified as bad/loss for the last five years and for which 100% provisions have been kept should be written off without delay."

The High Court asked why the provision relating to "waiver of loan or part of loan" contained in Section 28 (1) of the Bank Companies Act, 1991 and the power given to the Bangladesh Bank to "waive loans", as contained in Sub-Section 9 (Cha) of Section 49 of the Act, would not be declared against the Constitution.

Besides the Bangladesh Bank governor, the finance secretary, Banking Division secretary, law secretary, the comptroller and auditor general, and the central bank's Banking Operation Division general manager have been made respondents of the rule.

The registrar general of the Supreme Court was directed to communicate the order to all the respondents by 'special messenger'.