Cash crunch hurting business and consumers
THE banking sector as a whole is suffering from a severe cash crunch. This has become systemic with the deterioration in law and order over the last three months. Consumers have had to face the full brunt of being unable to avail cash through the thousands of automated teller machines (ATM) that almost all banks now operate in the city. With the advent of the “petrol bomb” phenomenon that has become synonymous with blockades and hartals, most of these ATMs remained empty of cash as banks fear for the safety of their cash-carrying vehicles.
Looking beyond the inability to draw cash for customers and small businesses, the seemingly endless hartals have effectively ground entire sectors. The highways have been blocked in many parts of the country with the police struggling to provide security for goods-laden trucks to ply with relative safety, the supply chain of various goods has broken down. No delivery equals to no sales, which in turn translates into no cash for producers, distributors and retailers. Is it any wonder that clients are defaulting on loan payments to banks? And it is not only the private sector that is taking a hit from this prolonged political stalemate.
The countrywide unrest has slowed down implementation of the government's annual development plan. With visuals of violent street clashes between protesters and the police flashing across the globe, foreign investors are slowly turning away from Bangladesh, which unfortunately is being branded as a country not worth doing business in.