Finance minister's dismissive attitude disquieting
Dismissing the public outcry over the Sonali Bank loam scam out of hand, Finance Minister AMA Muhith has termed the sum of public money embezzled petty.
Not stopping at that, he even called the media publicity of the incident exaggerated and aired the view that it has damaged national image.
We are left dumbfounded by such observation from a senior member of the cabinet presiding over the finance portfolio of the government.
First, how could he have made light of the fraudulence involving over Tk 3500 crore?
The sum thus siphoned off from a single branch of a state-owned bank is as high as 23 per cent of the government's allocation for the social safety net fund!
How many kilometres of roads could be built and repaired, bridges constructed or hospitals established with that money? Or how many people could be employed if the money was invested in an industrial enterprise?
Even if we set aside the amount of money, the manner in which the embezzlement took place put the very integrity of the bank into serious question.
How could the large scale swindle happen with so much public money without any head rolling?
The incident has created a wide crack in the public's trust, on which the financial institutions exist and function.
Now the way to regain the public trust thus lost is not through ignoring the seriousness of the issue, but addressing it by striking at the root of pervasive corruption in the financial sector.
We are sad to note that rather than expressing gratitude to the media for unearthing the scandal, the finance minister has chosen to lash out at it. By blaming the media, he has not only denied himself the benefit of valuable information, but may have also betrayed his lack of grip over things. He has also sent a wrong signal to people at large.
We cannot accept his comments on the issue.
We think he should not trivialize Sonali Bank, Hall-Mark scam; instead he must go all out to ensure speedy recovery of the lost money as well as restore the bruised confidence of the clients in the bank.