Business leaders seek policy clarity from political parties | The Daily Star
12:14 AM, August 20, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:31 AM, August 20, 2013

Business leaders seek policy clarity from political parties

Political parties must clearly outline in their election manifestos the course of action they intend against scandals that marred the banking industry recently, speakers said yesterday.
“It is urgent to bring discipline to financial institutions. So, the major political parties have to specify the goal in their upcoming election pledges,” said AK Chowdhury, a founding partner of Hoda Vasi Chowdhury, a leading chartered firm in Bangladesh.
He spoke at a discussion, 'Stakeholders Meeting on Upcoming Election Manifesto of the Political Parties' organised by International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB) at its office in Dhaka.
Even minimum accountability can prevent banking scandals significantly and political parties have to be bold against the wrongdoers, Chowdhury said.
In recent times, swindlers have taken large amounts of money from state banks. Hall-Mark and five other companies took away over Tk 3,500 crore from Sonali Bank between 2010 and 2012 on forged documents.
Janata, Agrani and Rupali banks were also to blame for their involvement in lending to fake companies. Recently, BASIC Bank came into focus for irregularities in lending of over Tk 4,000 crore, greatly risking the depositors' money.
Private banks were also scandalised along with the state owned ones. Bismillah Towel, a terry towel maker, has allegedly taken away over Tk 1,000 crore on false documents from some banks, including Prime, Jamuna and Janata banks.
“Banking reforms are a must for prudential regulation,” said M Abul Kashem Mozumder, a professor of public administration at Jahangirnagar University.
The political parties should prepare their election manifestoes to ensure a good business environment in the days ahead to attract the voters of the business community, said Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Suhel A Choudhury, a former commerce secretary, also urged the political parties to clearly outline policies to achieve 8 percent GDP growth in their election pledges.
Besides, election hopefuls should also provide an outline on how they will commission at least two special economic zones in five years, he said.
Political parties have to make honest commitment against all types of political violence during shutdowns, even if they do not win, said Priti Chakraborty, director of Bangladesh Chamber of Industries.
Humayun Rashid, managing director of Energypac Power Generation Ltd, urged the parties to single out railways and waterways as priority projects in their manifestos.
“Rail and waterways are trusted and cheap modes of communication. Political parties have to give importance on modernising the sectors,” he said.
Habibullah N Karim, a former president of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services, stressed finding ways to reduce costs of doing business.
Hafizur Rahman Khan, president of IBFB, and Mahmudul Islam Chowdhury, immediate-past president of IBFB, also spoke.

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