BB offers Tk 1,000cr to save ailing cinemas
Bangladesh Bank yesterday declared a Tk 1,000 crore fund aimed at salvaging the country's ailing movie theatres.
Existing owners of cinemas and new entrepreneurs will be able to avail soft loans from the fund, according to a central bank notice.
The initiative comes from the banking regulator as the number of operational cinemas slumped below 100 due to a drastic fall in the number of audiences.
In its notice, Bangladesh Bank said there were around 1,400 movie theatres in the country during the 90s. The number has been on the decline over the years due to different hurdles.
''There is a strong requirement to give a boost to the film industry so that people can enjoy quality entertainment,'' it said.
The owners of existing halls will get finance from the fund to renovate and modernise their complexes. The central bank formed the fund in the form of a refinance scheme.
Under the central bank programme, banks will take out funds at 1.5 per cent interest while the end-users of metropolitan areas will get it at 5 per cent interest.
However, clients outside metropolitan areas can avail the fund at 4.5 per cent interest.
Borrowers will get a repayment tenure of eight years, including a one-year grace period.
The central bank formed the scheme by way of using its own funds and will initially disburse Tk 500 crore.
The rest will be given out subject to the proper utilisation of the disbursed fund in the first phase.
An owner of a cinema will take out a maximum finance of Tk 5 crore from the refinance scheme.
The fund cannot be used in the form of working capital to operate the halls.
Banks will take collateral and set a debt-equity ratio based on the bank-customer relationship, according to the central bank notice.
"This will be good as entrepreneurs will be able to modernise their halls to attract audiences," said Mian Alauddin, vice president of the Bangladesh Film Exhibitors Association.
Currently, there are 300 movie theatres in the country. Of them, 60-70 are currently operational.
The pandemic was a further blow to the halls as they lost audiences further because of the prolonged restriction on public movement that lasted between March 15 to October 15, he added.