Tofail's Wrong Signal?
Industries Minister Tofail Ahmed's observation that flawed banking system breeds loan default is, in our view, a blatant misrepresentation of facts. What has really prompted him to issue such a sweeping statement we are not sure of; we nevertheless have no doubt that it would immensely encourage the bank defaulters. His words could well be construed as having a pronounced intention of winning support of a certain section of the country's business community for political gains, more regrettably maybe to get political funding from their ill gotten wealth. What's more, at a time when immediate recovery of classified loans holds the only chance to shore up a limping banking and financial sector, his position would leave Bangladesh Bank on a fragile footing in their drive to rid the system of the evil. We are shocked and enraged, to say the least, at the minister's irresponsible and, needless to say, extremely myopic diagnosis.
This paper has always suggested that a line be drawn between the 'wilful' and 'circumstantial' defaulters. That done, the former should be severely dealt with while the latter may be given certain allowances so that they could repay their debt without going bankrupt. Now it seems that our suggestion have fallen on deaf ears. Conversely, the people in power have gone about the wrong way in viewing the issue, so suggests the industries minister's observation. Yes, the financial and banking sectors stand beset with multifarious problems. Yes, systemic failure may have complicated the exercise. But, to put the blame singularly on the banking system is to simply send the wrong signal to those we are trying to cast the dragnet around.
While we utterly denounce the shift in the government's position on the loan default issue - we cannot view this as being anything else - the minister's emphasis on banking reforms has struck a responsive chord in us. It is imperative that the reform process be strengthened and completed without ado. Systemic failure aside, there appear to have been certain extraneous factors contributing to a stuttering banking system like political interference, unbridled exercise of directorial authority, etc. There is the dire need for enacting new laws and amending the old ones to desist unscrupulous businessmen and corrupt functionaries from being in a league to expropriate public money. We would request the honourable minister to refrain from making such dubious comments in future.