We welcome the initiative taken by the government to utilise the surplus funds of the state enterprises to implement various development projects. The organisations with the highest surplus funds include Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC), Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), Petrobangla, Rural Electrification Board, Rajuk, Titas gas, etc. According to the finance ministry, the state-owned autonomous organisations held Tk 218,839 crore at banks until June 30 last year.
As of June 30, 2020, BPC and BPDB alone had a surplus fund of Tk 21,611 crore and Tk 19,474 crore, respectively. It makes absolutely no sense as to why such large sums of money should be lying idle in the banks while many of the development projects taken by the government remain unimplemented because of fund crisis. This daily reported earlier how many infrastructure development projects remained unimplemented or could not be completed in time because of uncertainty over financing. While the move to use underutilised funds is welcome, we hope the government will make good use of it and not spend it on vanity projects.
The government has already placed a bill in the parliament in this regard to bring the surplus money held by 61 state organisations to the national exchequer. According to the bill, the surplus funds will be deposited to the national exchequer after keeping aside the operational cost, additional 25 percent of the operational cost as emergency funds, money for general provident fund and pension, etc. It also states that the agencies will have to deposit the funds to the national exchequer within three months of completion of a fiscal year.
However, the fear of the bankers—that the law would hit hard our already cash-starved banking sector—in particular, should be taken into account so that the soon-to-be- passed law becomes implementable and people-oriented. Since the bill has now been with the parliamentary standing committee on finance for examination, we hope the committee will examine all the pros and cons before finalising it. The government should take expert opinions from those in the state enterprises and especially the banking sector, which would be the worst affected as most of the money was deposited with them.