Bangladesh's non-performing loan situation is not as dire as is being reported in the news media, said Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal.
As of September last year, NPL accounts for 11.45 percent of the banking sector's total loans, according to Bangladesh Bank data.
In terms of amount, it stood at Tk 99,370 crore -- the largest yet in Bangladesh's 48-year history.
The rate of NPL is far higher in other countries, including the neighbouring India, Kamal told reporters after a meeting with the Bankers Association of Bangladesh (BAB) at his office yesterday.
At the end of September, the rate of NPL was 10.58 percent in India. In Pakistan it was 8.3 percent, as of March 2018.
“Everybody is worried about NPL. But the way it is reported in the media, it is not so high,” Kamal said, while instructing the central bank and the financial institution division to evaluate the information.
The new finance minister went on to assert that the total NPLs will not increase by even a penny going forward.
“As of today, what is on the balance sheet will remain the same -- it will not increase in anyway.”
He said he held the meeting with the bank owners on the condition that the sector's NPL cannot increase going forward.
“It is your matter now how the NPL will be managed or reduced.”
Quoting the bank owners, Kamal said they have assured him that the NPL will not edge up further.
“With the government's assistance and our own efforts the NPL will not increase from today,” said Nazrul Islam Mazumder, chairman of the BAB.
In response to a question from a reporter, Kamal said all businessmen are influential.
Asked whether he would take any actions against the influential businessmen who do not pay back loans, Kamal sought for a specific list of names from reporters that he will verify.
“If the businessmen do not become influential, how will investment come? From where will employment come and how will poverty be reduced?”
Influential businessmen account for 82 percent of the economy and it is impossible to run the economy without them, he said. “Your idea about the people is your perception.”